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Visiting Scholars Resources You Can Use

Calvin Institute of Christian Worship visiting scholars have produced resources you can use in church, small group, and classroom settings.

Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW) visiting scholars have produced resources you can use in church, small group, and classroom settings.

Most CICW visiting scholars have worked and studied in several fields, disciplines, and places. Their interdisciplinary lives spark creative connections for new research and relationships. Because they love crossing academic and cultural bridges, visiting scholars know how to talk about their research to non-specialists. As active church members, the scholars are eager to share how their discoveries can help Christians and congregations.

Here’s a sampling of scholarly resources you can use in specific settings to introduce a topic and keep learning together.

Visual arts in church

Scholar. Lisa De Boer teaches art and art history at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. For the 2011-2012 academic year, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship hosted De Boer as a visiting scholar. She researches the role of visual arts in North American churches since the 1950s.

Resources. Watch as Lisa DeBoer summarizes the changing role of visual arts in churches in this 7-minute video clip. What strikes you most about how the visual arts have been or are being used in Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches? What idea from this video would you like to pursue in your worship setting, and what first step might you take?

Watch as DeBoer talks about creating a sustainable church arts ministry in this 6-minute video clip. What’s the difference between churches using visual art in worship or in another setting? DeBoer talks about practical realities when artists and congregations work together. Which of her tips might benefit worship planners in your church or school?

Print and hand out copies of this brief interview with Lisa DeBoer about learning to appreciate liturgical art. Discuss examples of liturgical art that enriched your faith—or left you cold. How do you think the art you describe was meant to affect worshipers?

Suitable settings. You might use these resources in a church education class for teens and adults or for a worship arts committee meeting. They would also work in art classes in Christian high schools and colleges or in worship and pastoral ministry classes in seminaries.

Keep learning together. Form a visual faith discussion group. Start with this essay or resources listed in visual arts showcases on architecture and liturgical art or worship images and screen use. Look at visual arts in worship images of how several congregations have used art throughout the church year. Devote several weeks or months for your group to slowly go through Dwelling with Philippians: A Conversation with Scripture through Image and Word (Eerdmans, 2010) by Elizabeth Steele Halstead.

Lament as a gift in worship

Scholar. Andrew (Andy) M. McCoy teaches ministry studies at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. He has degrees in vocal performance, counseling, and divinity, and is a registered counselor whose work focuses on survivors of sexual abuse. His PhD and visiting scholar research (July 2010 through June 2012) dealt with Christian worship amidst suffering.

Resources. At the 2013 Calvin Symposium on Worship, McCoy offered a session on the role of lament in global praise and worship music. You can briefly introduce his main themes from that session and use YouTube clips that he used.

McCoy said, “When suffering and persecution get bad enough, we all lament or cry out. When congregations collectively experience suffering and persecution, lament may well bring people together for worship and more worship. When the suffering and persecuted church comes together, lament is a gift—and so is the vibrancy of their praise.”

McCoy also noted that when churches keep their own pain hidden or don’t acknowledge horrific current news, lament “becomes marginalized, vague, or non-existent in worship….The greatest gift the church can give to those in suffering and persecution may not be praise but intercession through lament.”

Read Psalm 113 together and keep your Bibles open to it while you watch and discuss two music clips.

  • Watch this music video of Brooke Fraser singing “Desert Song.” How do these lyrics about a desert prompt you to pray? Does the song move you to pray about a metaphorical desert in your personal life? If the video included images from an actual desert, how might that change your prayer? Do you see links between the song and psalm?
  • Watch this music video of Graham Kendrick singing “How Long” outside the Chinese Embassy in London. What sort of prayers does this prompt? What links do you see between the song and psalm?

Close by talking about the kinds of sin or suffering your church names most often in prayer—domestic violence, addiction, cancer, mental illness, local tragedies, abortion, poverty, environmental degradation, people affected by war or HIV/AIDS, racism, conflict within your congregation. What do you avoid bringing to God during congregational prayer? How can praise be authentic when it’s paired with lament?

Suitable settings. You might use these resources in a church education class for youth and adults or for a worship arts committee meeting. They would also work in Bible or psychology classes in Christian high schools and colleges or in worship and pastoral ministry classes in seminaries.

Keep learning together. Global Christian worship expert Paul Neeley attended this session. He suggested repeatedly singing Kyrie Eleison (“Lord, have mercy”) settings from all over the world—to help people connect with and pray for those countries. Neeley’s blog includes an annotated list of lament in worship resources.

Latino Protestants

Scholar. Maria Cornou is from Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she taught biblical studies and was
administrative director at International Baptist Theological Seminary. She holds degrees in public accounting and theology and is finishing a PhD in theology. As a visiting scholar (September 2012 through September 2013) she is researching Latino Protestant congregations in Kent County, Michigan.

Suitable settings. Use these resources in church education, music, or outreach ministries or in Spanish classes in school settings.

Resources. Print and hand out copies of this interview with Maria Cornou about the most-used Spanish-language Bible translation. It’s available in both English and Spanish. What most surprises you about this interview? Did you know the proportion of Latino Protestants is growing throughout the Spanish-speaking world?

Maria Cornou will participate in Los Protestantes: Latino Protestantism in the United States
(June 24-28, 2013). You can attend a public lecture at Calvin College given by the seminar leader, Juan Francisco Martínez. Public lectures are archived here.

Keep learning together. Read Walk with the People: Latino Ministry in the United States by Juan Francisco Martínez. Read Spanish-language interviews with top Christian musicians such as Pastor Danilo Montero and Doris Machín. Each interview includes discussion questions. The Ingrid Rosario interview is also available in English. Jaime Lázaro, a Peruvian journalist and pastor living in Colorado, did the interviews. Browse CICW resources in Spanish.

Contemporary Christian music

Scholar. Steven R. Guthrie worked in church youth ministry and music ministry before becoming a religion professor at Belmont University, where he founded the Religion and Arts major. His articles and books deal with music, theology, and the Holy Spirit’s role in creative arts. He also does keyboard, percussion, and vocals for SixtyFour, a Beatles cover band in Nashville, Tennessee. He was a visiting scholar from January through June, 2012.

Suitable settings. Use these resources with people who like to read, whether they are in church education, music, or worship ministries. They could also be useful in music or performance classes in school settings.

Resources. Guthrie has done extensive interviews with people in the Christian music industry in the United States. Each interview includes questions for reflection and discussion. Interviewees include:

  • Jim and Kim Thomas were touring and recording artists before starting a Bible study for professional musicians. That group grew into a church of 1500 members, The Village Chapel in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • Singer, songwriter, and recording artist Ginny Owens explains how she broke into the Christian music industry and how it’s changed in the last decade.
  • Darrell Harris founded Star Song records in 1976 and worked closely with Petra, The Newsboys, Twila Paris, and the Gaither Vocal Band. Now he is the chapel dean at Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies in Orange Park, Florida.
  • John Thompson, director of creative and copyright development at EMI-CMG Publishing, explains how publishers help churches and songwriters connect.
  • Brad O’Donnell, vice president of A&R at EMI-CMG label group, discusses why worship music has become more popular and profitable.

Keep learning together. Read Resonant Witness: Conversations between Music and Theology, a book edited by Steven R. Guthrie and Jeremy Begbie. Don’t miss Guthrie’s excellent article titled “The Song-Shaped Soul.”

How the Holy Spirit Re-humanizes Us

Scholar. Steven R. Guthrie, described above, also wrote the book Creator Spirit: The Holy Spirit and the Art of Becoming Human.

Suitable settings. These brief video clips about themes from Creator Spirit can help you start discussions in church education classes, worship committees, or small group meetings as well as in religion, theology, or art classes in Christian schools.

Resources. Watch this 4-minute video in which Guthrie shares what he’s learned about living in the Holy Spirit. What do you think of Guthrie’s claim that the work of the Holy Spirit is to make us “truly human”? How does this fit with how you’ve understood what it means to be spiritual or Spirit-filled?

In this 4-minute video, Guthrie talks about living by the flesh versus living in the power of the Holy Spirit. Before watching this video, how would you have described what it means to live by the flesh or to live a spiritual life? Does Guthrie’s explanation make you think any differently about how God views your physical, embodied, everyday life?

Guthrie gives examples in this 7-minute video of how the Holy Spirit uses the arts to re-humanize us. Which examples most struck you in this segment? Does it spark ideas of how the arts could help you see yourself or see someone else more like God does?

Keep learning together. In this link to Guthrie’s book Creator Spirit, you’ll find four short videos in which he talks more about his book. Watching the videos can help you decide whether you’d like to read and discuss it.

Also in this Series

Visiting Scholars Connect Worship and Life