The Tragedy Of Our Church Communication: Do We Worship Beauty?

by Bobby Gilles

in Church Communications,Worship Leading

In Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives On Worship And The Arts, Harold Best writes,

“Psalm 29:2 admonishes ‘Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness’ (NKJV) … When we mention the beauty of holiness in the same breath we use to speak of God as consummate Artist, we set a trap and then fall into it. Because of our flirtation with the idea that beauty is truth and truth is beauty, and because of the tendency of many to assume that the purpose of the arts in worship is to create a sacred bridge into the holy of holies, we are prone to reverse the order of the verse like this: “Worship the Lord in the holiness of beauty.” p. 39

Aesthetics is important, and beauty is a wonderful gift from God. We care about it deeply at our church Sojourn, demonstrated most clearly in our visual arts ministry. But for Christians to live as if we must “worship the Lord in the holiness of beauty,” is to accept an unChristian ethic that devalues holiness, and the many works of God (including people) who don’t match up to our current cultural and personal definitions of beauty.

This kind of thinking leads to things like the story I heard a few years ago of a church that arranged for all of their young, “beautiful people” to sit on the first several rows in their worship service. A photographer took pictures of the worship service for their church brochure and website, focusing on the front rows. “Come to the beautiful church,” their promotion seemed to say, which is just a new spin on the “Drink our beer and you’ll be popular with supermodels” advertisements. That story, and Harold Best’s quote, led me to write the lines:

Lord, we fall upon our knees,
We have shunned the weak and poor,
Worshiped beauty, courted kings
And the things their gold affords

in the modern hymn of repentance and confession, Lead Us Back.

Thank God for aesthetic beauty. But more so, cultivate an appreciation for the deeper beauty of holiness. And help your congregation do so, in all your church communication and worship liturgies.



Dirk January 3, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Thanks, Bobby. It’s an interesting thought to realize that much of what we consider beautiful is really affected by our particular culture. Perhaps our attractions are more affected by “nurture” than “nature.” Hmmm. Got me thinkiing today. Many of our churches are just places where people with similar likes and dislikes assemble in order to feel better about themselves. May God grace us to love what He loves and hate what He hates.

Bobby Gilles January 3, 2013 at 4:46 pm


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