Last week I shared with you The Plan for a wide scale recruitment campaign at our church encompassing four areas of the arts:
- Technical (I wrote a specific post explaining why I called our audio visual volunteers Technical Artists)
Today I want to share what actually happened.
I was curious and a little nervous going into the first Sunday, particularly because of the Live in the Lobby piece:
- How would people react?
- Would they be in a hurry and just brush past?
- Would they complain about the lobby music feeling like cocktail hour?
- Would anyone respond and sign up?
I was excited about the actual services because we were presenting Painting Pictures of Egypt, by Sara Groves, and I had been able to do a cool design of the lyrics for projection. This song fit perfectly with my plan to have something special in the services in relation to the arts.
The services went wonderfully. People loved Painting Pictures of Egypt. The pastor giving the announcements set up Arts in Worship and Live in the Lobby wonderfully.
As soon as the first service was over I dodged out to the lobby to play. A bassist and I did some improv on worship songs as well as a little bluesy jazz. The response was warm and a good number of people seemed to be stopping by the information table.
Before the second service a trumpeter played solos and excerpts and we used that as the prelude music, simply keeping the doors to the lobby open right up to the beginning of the service. After the second service the men’s quartet started singing in the lobby. People crowded around for more than 20 minutes, soaking up the music and having a great time.
By the time the morning was over we had 15 responses ranging from children to adults, and many people had commented on how much they liked the Live in the Lobby concept. Needless to say, I was thrilled.
That week we divided up the responses between the leaders of the difference areas of the arts and contacted almost everyone. My assistant put together a spreadsheet with all of the information and we began tracking responses and interests. The majority of responses the first week were for Musical Arts, but we had a good number of Visual and Dramatic Arts responses as well.
Here is the Arts in Worship Information Request we asked people to fill out.
Right up until the second Sunday the visual arts leader was fine tuning which artists would be displaying their art in our one-Sunday-only gallery. People had heard that someone was showing art and calls came in asking for the opportunity to participate. In the end we had five artists in the lobby: a photographer, 2 painters, 1 mixed medium artist, and 1 artist with painting and paper sculpture. Ages of the artists ranged from teenager to senior adult.
By the time the first service started they were all in place, sitting on stools or standing in front of their art, and our visual arts leader was actually working on a large painting. As people arrived they came right over to check the art and had a great time talking. Before and after both services people were milling around, asking questions, and enjoying the art.
The artists were greatly encouraged, and the people who saw the art, both children and adults, came away inspired and jazzed.
We had only three actual responses from artists, but we also had several verbal responses. We followed up on all of them and found out we have more artists at our church than we thought. Both I and our visual arts leader were overwhelmed by the experience that day.
We did not have a visual art element in the services that week, contrary to my plans, and we forgot to tell people to sign up for Arts in Worship, but the exposure in the lobby made up for it.
The final week we focused on the Dramatic Arts.
In the services we once again encouraged artists to sign up, and we had a dramatic reading of a Scripture text from the Message translation.
For Live in the Lobby the Drama Team decided to do short scenes from their fall production of Old Testament Rewind, a Willow Creek ensemble script compressing the Old Testament into a humorous 45 minute experience. The portion of the lobby designated for Live in the Lobby was set up like a small stage use all of the props from the show.
We received a handful of responses that Sunday. The actors had some difficulty making themselves heard over the crowd noise in the lobby, but they had particular success walking around the lobby interacting with people while in character.
My Favorite Part
My favorite part of this whole experience so far has been the spiritual conversations and life stories that have been initiated through the discussion of the arts in worship. People have been drawn back to the church. Artists have been challenged to seek God more deeply.
While not everything went as well as we had hoped (later on I plan to share lessons we have learned from this process), the bar has been raised and there is an expectancy about the church. I believe we are poised for a new expression of the arts at Covenant Life Church.
Later this week I will share the follow-up and First Step Weekend results with you, so stay tuned!