Painting during church services and similar events is growing in popularity. As visual art during church flourishes so will the attempts to define this type of painting. One name which has been frequently used is “prophetic painting.” Another common description is “Worship Painting.” Both names are correct although there appear to be some differences. While the names aren’t necessarily important, the art and the process are. Visual art was vital to the worshipers understanding of God and His ways during the age of the Renaissance. As churches became more utilitarian in appearance, visual art was lost as a vital part of the church. Is it now making a comeback?
- God may speak to many different people through the one piece of art.
- Prophetic art is an invitation into a divine partnership.
- It is art that carries a message from the heart of God to strengthen, encourage or comfort.
Helen Calder of Enliven Publishing, says, “It takes more than skill or talent to be a prophetic artist. The prophetic artist is someone who has a spiritual gift of prophecy, and who is also gifted and called by God to minister through art.” In Prophetic art, God is relaying His Love and direction through the work of the visual artist. The visual artist receives what the word is through images of some kind in spiritual form. As Calder further says, “A prophetic artist reproduces that picture, vision, or concept in art form.” Basically, the prophetic artist translates the message through visual artistic means.
Painting during church services can also be called “Worship Painting” and is created as an act of worship with the rest of the worship team. In a wonderful article for Experiencing Worship, author Manuel Luz, refers to painting during church as, “Live Painting,” and makes a number of important points:
- Live painting is an act of creativity. And the act of creativity reminds us that we worship and are made in the image of an Eternally Creative God.
- Live painting is a non-verbal expression of the sermon.
- God meets us in the act of creation. The Holy Spirit is our Inspirer. He works not only through the artist to express each brush stroke, but also works through the audience to ascribe meaning to that colored canvas.
- Art can be Prophetic. The artist of faith has the ability to tell the story of God, and share the heart of God, through means beyond mere words.
- The painter (or other visual artist) is considered a worship leader, and often stands alongside the other members of the worship team.
Visual art painted during church can be “Prophetic,” an “act of worship”, or both. Manuel Luz makes another important point. Art during church must be professional, so to speak as the purpose is to focus on the message and worship of our Lord and cannot be undertaken lightly. And as such Luz says, “we cannot settle for art that is simplistic, derivative, superficial, propaganda-driven, or mediocre, for it reflects on the message. And our message is that of God’s love through Jesus Christ. If the story of God is to shine from our work, and we must be diligent and committed to pursue excellence, originality, and honesty as we express it.”
All of these points are valid and important. My first experience with painting in church came at the request of a church who was seeking artists to paint on a particular topic during the lead up to Christmas. It was a very moving experience for me. The second experience was to paint a painting to be displayed on Easter. I painted the painting in my personal studio and delivered it to be hung the day before Easter behind the altar. The second one turned out to be as moving as the first. My third experience was painting during church in the sound booth while services were taking place. That started when I began getting visions in my head of the meaning of the sermon. I’m not sure whether I call my painting, “Prophetic” or an act of “Worship.” To me, the distinction doesn’t matter. I call them “Inspired by the Spirit.” I don’t know what the next step will be. I’ll just wait for inspiration from the Spirit of the Lord.
My next workshop is about creating Worship and/or Prophetic paintings. Join us HERE