Permanent Markers

On my way to and from the office are two buildings I can’t get enough of. One, a two-story office building, has the most beautiful roofline of repeating round arches over a lacy infrastructure encased in walls of glass. The other is a city library built a few years back. The design is fairly modern and appears as a collection of square and cylinder blocks of brick set next to each other in the most pleasant way. I’ve heard that taking different routes to get to the same destination is supposed to keep your mind sharp but these two buildings keep me traveling the same roads. I don’t drive by these buildings to learn something new; I drive by them to be inspired.

I wonder if the visuals we use for worship are given the same opportunity.

Because it’s late or the money’s tight or volunteers are too few, we often resort to paper, fabric, and pixels when wood or metal might be more fitting.

Happy Anniversary

Milestones in a congregation’s life are great times to spend more time planning and more money carrying out more permanent visuals to mark these important moments.
Some ideas to get you going:

  • Don’t be shy about asking to serve on the celebration team. Almost everyone recognizes the impact visuals have, but these same people often feel unqualified to direct it. Be there to help them dream big, and make sure your visual efforts (signs, bulletin covers, displays, etc.) are well-integrated.
  • An anniversary is a great time to design new—or renovate—pulpit furniture. Give these significant symbols in our worship a reason to be noticed again.
  • One church I visited had a major—and modern—renovation, but designed part of the new building to include a large stained glass window from the original building. The church recognized these windows were symbols of something deeper than the cut glass they were made of.
  • What about commissioning a series of paintings by different artists for each month of your anniversary year? Or setting up a year-long art exhibit around a theme as part of your celebration? If that’s too much, schedule a different person each week (or month) of the designated year to provide a flower arrangement—and make sure to give them a chance to tell a story about the person/people being honored.
  • This might be a good time to commission a metal sculpture for outside your church building.
  • Consider launching a program like a summer art camp or to start an endowment (of any size) to support the arts in your church.
  • In the area where I live, a number of schools and churches have erected “standing stones” outside their buildings to symbolize their God and their faith. These are large landscaping stones set on end, often with a plaque of some kind explaining what they stand for.

Whatever you do, take advantage of these special times to praise God with visual art and, in a permanent way, to mark God’s faithfulness in the past and your full expectations for the future.

Dean Heetderks (info@reformedworship.org) is art director of Reformed Worship and director of Proservices for the Christian Reformed Church.