What a Pastor would Like Artists to Know

Guest Blog from a Pastor (name withheld)

(In my previous blog I shared 3 Things that Artists Want Pastors to Know. I offered for a pastor to write a counterpoint to the article and got a taker. These are great insights for artists to heed as we work together in ministry!)

Pastor praying for congregation

Please allow me to offer some balance to the discussion.

Performers might not realize that in some cases the congregation is not really interested in having anyone come to sing or act during the time that is normally used for congregational worship and preaching.
From my experience it seems that more and more the preacher has to sell the church on the idea of a live performance . . . (I have personally had great experiences with performance ministry. I have taken part in it and have supported it through the years, so I know how good it can be) . . . so when things don’t go well, it turns out to be a bad reflection on me, the preacher, who made the decision to have the performer come.

Just for information sake areas of criticism include:

1. The performer was late and has kept people waiting and even caused the service to be delayed.

2. The quality of the performance or ability to connect well with the audience/people during the performance and/or after the service is lacking.

3. The information given at the end that’s used to raise money for the sponsoring ministry appears to be more important to the performer than the spiritual message of the performance itself.

4. The performer exercises too much poetic license and even distorts scripture during the performance.

Even if/when these sort of things happen, the performer leaves with money both contractually promised and graciously given while the preacher is the one who receives the criticism and must endure comments like, “I hope we never do that again.”

Those of us who make the decision to have performers come to our churches are putting a lot on the line and are placing a very important part of our own ministry/reputation in the hands of someone who may or may not do the job as well as advertised or anticipated.

As I see it, Performance Ministry is heavily dependent (now and certainly even more so in the future) on the relationship the performers have with church ministers. I think it good advice for the performers to consider the minister’s position in all of this and to understand that we have a lot riding on what you do when you visit our congregations both in regards to members and those who might happen to visit that day.

Make sure that what you bring is equal or better than what we are risking by having you bring it.

4 thoughts on “What a Pastor would Like Artists to Know

  1. Tim Lowry says:

    I would be curious to know if you would rather have performers work outside the context of a worship service? Would it be better to have a an evening concert or special event that is entertainment/good clean family fun/a gift to the community? Would expectations and stakes change?

    1. Chuck Neighbors says:

      Tim, I’m not sure the writer will respond, but based on my conversation with him I’m not sure he would prefer that. I think he would agree that in our current culture it is so very hard to draw an audience outside the regular worship service time. Things have changed so much for those of us in arts ministry. I remember a time when a worship service would not have been an option and it was an evening program and the potluck supper or nothing. Now, at least for me, it seems it is the worship service or nothing.

    2. Chuck Neighbors says:

      Here is a reply from a pastor that I received via email to your question,Tim:

      “People are really not willing to come to special events like a concert or play.

      Every year at our church we struggle to know what to do with our mission team who has just returned from Mexico. They are excited to tell the church about their trip. They want to use Sunday morning to do it, but a lot of people are bored by their report. They want “church.”

      So we try having a special event, a Mexican dinner and a report on the trip with pictures and testimonies. Hardly anyone comes and the mission team feels bad and even embarrassed by the poor turn out.

      Many things that were once special to the church have lost their impact, I think because of technology. When a missionary comes to town . . . no big thrill, they see things about them on Facebook all the time.

      An actor or singer comes to town . . . they can stay home, eat popcorn, and watch all the entertainment they want on HD and surround sound. No big deal and nobody is asking for a love offering.

      It’s all very sad Chuck. Church people are kind of spoiled.”


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