The Worship Arts Leadership Institute wants to empower worship arts ministries within the church body by advocating the holistic growth of its leaders. Through the study of God’s Word, mutual opportunities of learning and networking, and supportive collegial relationships, WALi seeks to hone the skills of our art and sharpen our understanding of its divine utility, so that everything we do in worship reflects our Spirit-filled thanksgiving to God for what he has done for us in Jesus rather than the temporal adornment of the art itself.
The nature of the divine service is simple, but our leadership within it can become the very distraction that clouds the saving work of Jesus. Though often a criticism of modern worship, this problem isn’t new to the church. In Martin Luther’s Commentary on the Magnificat, he said it this way:
“Alas, the word ‘Gottesdienst’ has nowadays taken on so strange a meaning and usage that whoever hears it thinks not of these works of God, but rather of the ringing of bells, the wood and stone of churches, the incense pot, the flicker of candles, the mumbling in the churches, the gold, silver, and precious stones in the vestments of choirboys and celebrants, of chalices and monstrance’s, of organs and images, processions and churchgoing, and, most of all the babbling of lips and the rattling of rosaries.”
Human nature has always been at work within the church, and the setting of worship is fertile soil for temporal, artistic musings done in the name of our service to God. Like Martin Luther centuries before her, long-time worship evangelism advocate, Sally Morganthaler challenges modern worship arts leaders in a similar way with her words:
“It’s not enough to demonstrate the trappings of substance, whether that’s labyrinths and candles, or coffee-house banters. Many of us…bypassed the disciplines of theology, philosophy, history, and sociology. It’s time to learn the ‘trade’ from the inside out and stop fooling ourselves about our ability to both comprehend and bring meaning to people in our communities. It’s all too easy to play the hip dilettante, to grab quotes from pre-modern mystics, to cut and paste sermons with movie clips.”
Ultimately it’s about being a leader. What a leader knows isn’t enough by itself. Even that which a leader does can be mere emulation of a strong external pattern. What a leader is, however, makes all the difference in the knowing and in the doing. With our freedom in Christ as our foundation, WALi is all about sorting through these pieces together, allowing Him to shape us into what he would have us be in and for his church and world.