Arrest Their Senses
By Darlene Zschech
“It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision.” -Helen Keller
Many years ago now, when I first had the idea to start the very beginning of a conference with an opening of some sort and not just dive straight into the worship, there were three words that I felt the Spirit of God whisper into my spirit, “Arrest their senses.” I felt that all these pastors and leaders were flying from all over the world, to yet another conference, and they were tired, worn down. Many were at their wits end, desperate for God to speak to them and refresh them. And somehow I felt God was nudging our team to widen the creative borders, engage people’s senses at a higher level: arrest their glassy-eyed stares with maybe, just maybe, a storyline from heaven that we could bring to life in a fresh way.
And it became a tradition for us. Finding the perfect Scripture that told the story of the conference, writing soundtracks to the Holy-Spirit penned lyrics that would promote wonder and an engagement of the imagination, and creating visuals that reflected that story became one of my yearly highlights. Such is the wonder of lyric, melody, and visuals woven together creating a sense of possibility for even the most worn-out heart.
So what is that all about? Music, art, any form of creative expression is best used when it tells a story… when it is writing itself into your story. That’s when it is so very powerful. And this is where I love the use of great visuals in worship. Is it absolutely necessary? No, of course not. Some of the most powerful worship services I’ve ever encountered have been in the midst of the most poverty-stricken places on earth, where worship is not just a lifestyle, and definitely not enhanced with P.A.s, lights—where organic, simple, heavenly worship is their life, and often the only thing keeping them alive. (A good lesson for us all.)
But if you have the ability to support a lyric with pictures, then people’s minds can engage in a totally different way. Visuals are there to enhance, to serve, to bring to life in a 3D manner what maybe you had only previously imagined.
But in the realms of visuals, it’s important for us to remember one of the great leadership skills when leading the church in worship: remove the barriers for people.
Personally, the only time I dislike visuals in church worship is when it becomes distracting—more of a show than an instrument of support. But apart from that, I love to play with different cycs, colors, pictures on screens etc. to see what we can come up with. Of course on a personal level, when I am really engaged in worshiping Jesus, typically my eyes are closed. I am not distracted, and I feel like I see so much as the eyes of my heart are opened and my mind is filled with pictures that I could never have seen with just my natural sight. This is an important visual lesson for us to keep in mind when we find ourselves giving too much importance to the visual aspect of our worship services.
I started here with with a thought from Helen Keller, and I want to leave you with words from Paul as he instructed the Church to always lean in to see God, leaving all of us with no excuse.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20
Okay lovely ones, I encourage you to use what is in your hands, every day, to pour your lives out in worship, in spirit and in truth, and don’t discount yourself or your team if you don’t have all the latest and greatest in technology.
Just keep leading people to Jesus. In the end, he is all we need.