“I loved OUTCRY this year,” he said, “but I just think it was too produced for a worship event. Just too much.”

Have you ever had a log-jam of thoughts? So many things flying through your brain that you end up saying nothing? Or just frowning and nodding like an idiot? That was me that day.

As I stood in that circle of people I respected and looked up to, I was so surprised by this comment that my brain froze. I thought “Too much for Jesus? Does more production mean less heart?”

We’ve all heard the comments. Worship services that are “too distracting” or “not tasteful” or (my personal favorite) “too much of a show.”

But does a gifted lighting director or stage designer not have a place in worship? What about gifted producers, graphic designers or video editors?

Is worship only genuine when you put less effort into production?

Kari Jobe has always been such an inspiration to me. Over the years I have been a part of nearly 50 events with her and Cody, and have seen such a genuine heart for Jesus and purity in worship. I’ve also seen an amazing amount of creativity and boundary pushing in her art.

I recently went to her Garden tour. Everything about it was so thought through. The video content was amazing. The flow was purposeful. The pre-show music was garden sounds as you entered. They even pumped a scent into the air when they started! And her opening comments struck something deep inside that I’ve been longing to hear.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Try worshipping with your eyes open. -Kari Jobe[/pullquote]

“Tonight, we have put a lot of thought and intention into everything. The video and graphics have all been designed to take you on a journey. Tonight, try worshipping with your eyes open.”

With your eyes open.

God cares about art. He cares about beauty. He created it. And when artists in the church are released to dream and execute with excellence, the message of Jesus is amplified and glorified through his bride in new and compelling ways.

In Exodus, we catch a glimpse of God’s heart for intentional art. Art that doesn’t just look good, but it means something. And artists who are filled with the spirit of God to accomplish their calling.

See, I have called by name Bezalel.. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,  to design artistic works…and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you: the tabernacle of meeting, the ark of the Testimony and the mercy seat that is on it..

–Exodus 31:2-7–

The tabernacle and the ark were highly produced visual art commissioned by God. It was authentic and intentionally-created with excellence. Both of these occupied the same space.

Authenticity and production are not mutually exclusive. The heart and intention behind production matters, but the production in front of the heart and intention matters too.

Christians, let’s stop pinning authenticity and production against each other. They can—and should—occupy the same space in a healthy way.

I have much more to say on this subject! More to come…

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  • Aaron Barnett

    Ryan, just read your post on eyes open and the thought of Ephesians 2:10 came to mind. You are Gods masterpiece created in Christ Jesus. Even tho this verse is demonstrating that God has made us perfect and holy we are also his beautiful gift. We as believers get to radiate our gifts he has given us and give them to people. It’s the power of giving what God gave you. He says we were created FOR good works. I believe, just like you said. We are created intentionally for his intentional purpose. To connect with people. Craig G says: “God gave us the ‘what’ but he didn’t give us the ‘how’ to reach his people. Love this read thanks for taking the time to write and put your thoughts on paper. Much love brother. Keep doing what you’re doing.

    • ryanromeo

      Yes Aaron! 100%

  • Sue Romeo

    Love it! Such a great perspective!

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