Cultivating the Arts in the Church

By Kathryn Kircher, UA Staff

This is the second article in a series of interviews with Pastor Homero Garcia from La Iglesia in Mundelein, Illinois, and Matthew Pelletier, one of the worship leaders there.  Our first conversation centered around the power of pastoral encouragement for artists in the church.  In this installment, we’re discussing how to cultivate worship arts in the church.

KK: Pastor Homero, could you say something about how you view art in the church?  In addition to music, are there any other artistic expressions of worship in your church—dance, visual arts, etc?  Are there other ones that aren’t there that you’d like to see being expressed?

HG:  I love the arts.  I see them as a gift from God—a gift that needs to be used in the church, and outside the church as well, of course.  Aside from music, we have dance, we have people who like to do graphic design, and a little bit of drama.  

MP: We don’t have any prophetic painting, baking, or sewing at the moment.

HG: We used to have a prophetic painter, but she’s not with us any more.  It’s mostly dance, acting, singing, and graphic design.  I don’t know if decorating the church counts.

KK: Absolutely!  Because it’s an expression of creativity to honor the Lord and bless the Body.

HG: So we have a couple of people who like to do that in the church.

I think one area that I would like to see our congregation grow in is worshipping the Lord in a very spontaneous manner—spiritual songs, new songs, prophetic songs.  Those are very powerful when we get together.  I think the whole congregation is afraid to try, so we have been encouraging them to take risks and do that.  Some of them do, and I know Matt and some of our other worship leaders have.  But if many of us in our congregation could do that, it would be awesome!

KK: In addition to the things you’ve already mentioned, what ideas do you have about how music and the arts can be cultivated or encouraged in the church?

HG: One thing we have been trying to do—and Matthew is a key part of this—is having a school of worship in the church.  Over the past five years or more we’ve started what we call ECFA: Escuela Christiana de la Formación de los Adoradores, which translated in English would be Christian School for the Formation of Worshippers.  We try to encourage people to join the school.  We have people like Matt who teach them how to play acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, keyboard, how to sing.  And then they put together a group of people and teach them how to worship the Lord together as a band.  Sometimes they play on Sundays.  I think that’s one way to cultivate the arts and worship in the church.

MP: Homero is always encouraging people to serve in one way or another and that is one way to serve: in the arts.  I think that helps.

Another thing is to be willing to try, and to let people make mistakes.  Homero is really good at that, too!  Not making mistakes (laughter), but letting other people make mistakes in order to grow and not throwing them under the bus when they do.

HG: Many years ago we used to have worship conferences.  It’s another way to keep arts and worship on the front burner, if we have those kinds of events.

MP: At the beginning of 2020, the worship teams had a meeting to talk about our vision for the year.  We’d said, “Let’s try to get more original songs, and let’s have a conference to have someone teach us how to do that.  Maybe we all know a part of the songwriting process, but maybe there’s somebody who could help us with the whole thing.”  

We had those plans, but they didn’t work out due to the pandemic.  But we did have one fellow—Jorge Morales Kaiser from Chile—who taught the worship teams over Zoom. We got to do some practical, hands-on activities and started to write a song.  It was pretty painstaking over Zoom, but after this online event was over, we finished the song.  Now we sing it at our church on occasion, so it was good!

HG: Another thing that happened is at the end of last year, we had a conference.  Matthew wrote a song specifically for that conference.  I see that as another way to cultivate the arts and worship.  Let’s have these kinds of events, and you can say to the artists, “This is the theme of the event.  Why don’t you think about creating something for it?”  In our case the theme was healing and deliverance, and Matthew wrote a song about healing that was very good.

We’ll continue our interview with Pastor Homero and Matthew next time on the topic of collaboration, including Matt’s impressions of participating in a United Adoration Creative Session.

Listen to the Matthew’s song, En Ti Me Quedare Domingo, that he wrote in the workshop with Jorge Morales Kaiser. Matthew is playing the guitar and his daughter Larina is singing.  His son Aidan is on the keyboards in the back.

This is another one of Matthew’s songs, Heal Me, that Homero requested for a recent conference.

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