Acceptance of visual art in church. Words vs Image

So I was talking to a pastor of a Lutheran church the other day. I had this question, "Why are churches with very contemporary worship styles so slow to incorporate visual art to the worship?"

Think about it. I'll use a local church as an example. The Life Church of Memphis is a large multi-campus church. It's got a contemporary worship band, concert lighting, a TV broadcast, set design, professional graphic design and video, casual but hip dressing pastor, etc. You get the picture. Lots of churches are like this now, and I dont have any problem with that. I enjoy it.

If you consider all of those innovative and contemporary elements in the worship, it just seems to me that the next logical step would be to include visual art. Why not have a painter creating a work live on stage or have a gallery space? You're more likely to find an acceptance and appreciation of visual art in a very traditional church such as a Catholic, Episcopal, or Lutherian church. I expressed this to pastor Dave. It lead to an interesting discussion about theology. Dave's comment was that Protestant churches focus heavily on the Word. At the base of many of these worship expressions are words - song lyrics, the script in a drama or video, the text in a design, etc. It's all expressions of words and often based on scripture.

I would add that it is also easy to define. Words have set meanings. Images on the other hand (such as a painting) are open to personal interpretation. There are no words. You could also argue that this is the same reason that interpretative dance or ballet is rarely included in worship services.

What are your thoughts?

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