Dean R. Heetderks

Dean Heetderks ( is art director of Reformed Worship and director of Proservices for the Christian Reformed Church.


Articles by this author:

  • At the Foot of the Cross

    This column has addressed the “cross/screen” dilemma once before (“There’s an Elephant in Our Sanctuary,” RW 79). Here you’ll find another proposed solution to the problem.

    An artist I worked with some time ago said he would never include a cross in his art in any form. It was simply too powerful a symbol for him. At the time, I didn’t know how to respond. His reverence humbled me and changed the way I think about this most-recognized symbol.

  • Light of the World

    Visually many of our celebrationsaround Advent and Christmasfeature light as a main ingredient.Lighted trees, sparklingstars, warm candlelight, glisteningsnow, bright reflective wrapping andbows—all are turned on “high” duringthis season. Yes, we’re fighting off longgrey days and even longer dark nights—but in so many ways we’re remindingeach other that even though darkness isall around, the Light has come.

  • Dyed and Draped to Heaven

    For some time, I’ve thought about how to portray music visually. How does one art form honor another? What could be done in our spaces to reflect the prominent position that music has in our worship?

    What first comes to mind, of course, are clichés: a huge banner featuring a loopy treble clef. Flocks of brightly colored eighth and sixteenth notes soaring off into the sky. That sort of thing. Nothing wrong with these, mind you (you may have one of these hanging in your church this very moment!), but I was looking for something a little more dramatic.

  • Signs of Life

    Lots of people walk or drive by your church building each week. What does it say about you?

    You keep the place fixed up. It’s accessible to people with disabilities. You make sure the landscaping is kept up. What else can you do to get your neighbors to visit your church? To pique their curiosity?

  • What Jesus Looks Like to Me

    How do we use children’s art in worship without the result looking like the local grocery store coloring contest? You know—the ones where the same Easter Bunny is colored a thousand different ways, all of the entries are pasted on the wall, and the winners just happen to be from predetermined age groups and convenient regional representations of the town/city/state/province.

    I think we can improve on this idea and incorporate the Crayola contributions of our kids into worship—with dignity!

  • Off the Wall

    Using Banners in Unexpected Places

    The large platform in the front of the church I belong to is made of wood. Recently, an hour or so before worship was to begin one Sunday morning, a large light fixture decided it had had enough and fell with a loud clatter to the floor—that is, we assume it was a loud clatter. No one was present to witness it. Because the area of the wood floor where the lamp hit had to be repaired and refinished, everything had to be removed from the platform. The platform furnishings were brought down into the worship space helter-skelter so the repair people could go about their business.

  • Milestones of God's Faithfulness

    Celebrating Anniversaries

    I don’t know about you, but when I think of visuals for worship, I’m inclined to think vertically. So it’s no surprise that much of what I have designed for worship includes wide arching lines running vertically. We could take many pages to explain why this might be, but for now I am happy knowing that my God is much bigger than I am. It feels most right to me to be “looking up.”

  • There's an Elephant in Our Sanctuary

    What to Do with the Projection Screen

    Many of our worship spaces were constructed before the era of projection screens. Like my church, they’re likely to have a cross prominently placed up front, with lights and speakers and organ pipes positioned “just so.”

    Enter the ten- by ten-foot white elephant some of these same churches have incorporated into their worship—the projection screen. What do we do with this beast?

  • Flower People and Banner People Unite!

    Like me, you’re probably sick of hearing about mergers and acquisitions. Every day, it seems, I have to learn a new name for my phone company or bank or Internet provider. Sometimes these unions are made in heaven, other times . . . let’s just say things were better as they were.

    Nonethless, here’s my suggestion for a merger. A merger that needs to happen: getting the “flower people” and the “banner people” together.

  • Move the Furniture

    The church I attend celebrated its fortieth anniversary a couple of years ago. The pulpit furniture—lectern, baptismal font, and Lord’s Supper table—had been there from the beginning. During those forty years, the building’s interior had been updated but the furniture had not. It was time for something new.