Tyrus Clutter is an artist, writer, educator, and arts administrator. From 2003-2008 he was the Director of Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA) a thirty-year-old international non-profit organization that seeks to support artists, serve the church, and engage the culture. In that role he worked with thousands of artists and designers throughout North America, as well as hundreds of churches, colleges, and organizations. He has worked ecumenically with constituents throughout the entire spectrum of the Christian faith, including Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Mainline Protestants, Evangelicals, and Emergent Churches. He has coordinated conferences and workshops that have considered the role of the visual within worship, including overseeing grants from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.
Tyrus is now taking his knowledge of aesthetics and how visual art impacts and enhances church spaces and worship into the congregations themselves. He is available as a consultant for new projects and existing programs within congregations. A sampling of ways he can assist your congregation is listed here. Contact Tyrus at firstname.lastname@example.org to begin a conversation about how he can help your church re-vision worship and ministries.
Music has an extensive history within the Church. Styles have changed through the decades, but there has long been an educational system in place in the field of church music. Until recently, seminaries have not offered many courses, let alone degrees, relating to visual art. However, the title of Arts or Worship Pastor is often conferred on a person essentially trained in music, though sometimes expected to coordinate a variety of arts within worship and the life of the church. Mr. Clutter is able to offer support and resources to the Worship Pastor who feels less prepared to make visually oriented worship decisions that are also fully informed by theology.
worship space design
Far too often the term “worship” is narrowly defined by contemporary Christians. We tend to think of the time during which we corporately sing, pray, and listen to the Scriptures. But worship is an essential act and mission of the Church that extends into all areas of life. Every aspect of the way our church buildings are designed impacts what we do and how we respond when we are there. A building does not need to be lavishly decorated to impress God, but even the way a room is arranged reflects our theological concepts of God—intentionally or not. Tyrus is able to meet with your church leaders to evaluate your space and make suggestions about how to better suit spaces to the congregation’s missional statement. If the church does not yet have a mission statement or needs to update one, he can guide them through that process, as well.
Musicians within churches have long had ways of sharing their passion with each other. Whether it is a choir or a praise team, these musical members of the church spend many hours together outside of corporate worship. In some churches the same thing happens with those interested in dramatic presentations. With these natural shared interests it only makes sense that the “creative types” within a congregation would want to spend time blending their love of Christ with their love of the arts. Tyrus can work with the interested members of your congregation to consider how an arts group might manifest itself. It could be a ministry group involving single or multiple artforms. It could also be a small group that reflects on the spiritual life of the creative Christian. It may even be a ministry to those in the arts who would not otherwise consider coming to a church event. Tyrus will help you assess the needs and desires of your particular congregation.
Check out the 2009 interview with Tyrus Clutter that appears in Glimpses e-zine. In it you will find his thoughts on how Christians can more effectively engage the art culture.
The increased interest in visual art in the Church over the past four decades has produced a growth in the number of congregations utilizing galleries within their buildings for artwork. Some use this as a creative outlet for those within their congregation, while others find it an excellent way to draw new people into the space. All recognize how artwork expands our understanding of God and the Scriptures. If your congregation has considered creating an art gallery space, Mr. Clutter can review your space and provide possible solutions. Whether you want a permanent gallery space or wish to outfit a multipurpose area for occasional exhibitions, Clutter’s experience will be beneficial for your planning.
Some churches remain resistant to imagery within the church building. And while some traditions have used visual elements in worship for centuries, others feel that art should not be used in corporate worship. Whatever theological view your congregation holds, Tyrus Clutter can explore with you how hosting art exhibitions at your church can deepen the faith of the congregation. He can help you define what type of exhibitions would best suit your church and put you in contact with artists of faith who would be happy to share their work with you. Tyrus is also able to work with Christian Education staff and workers—including programs for children, youth, and adults—to devise materials appropriate for examining and exploring artwork in the context of faith. View the exhibition he produced at Trinity School for Ministry, a seminary that had previously never hosted exhibitions.
Some congregations are very traditional in their worship practices and the introduction of new visual elements may not be as much a part of their planning. That does not mean that there is no room for the arts within the life of these churches. Other ministries to various segments of the congregation, as well as evangelistic ministries, are well suited to the visual arts. Tyrus Clutter can help your congregation analyze how new ministries might complement the ones you are already providing.
Churches from various theological traditions are now utilizing the Church calendar for events beyond just Christmas and Easter. The seasons of Advent, Lent, and Pentecost offer excellent periods of reflection for the Body of Christ. Even for congregations that claim their members have little or no artistic talent, Mr. Clutter can work with persons of all ages to produce inspirational designs to enhance the worship space for a particular season or celebration. Designs and materials can be from the simple to complex and will incorporate the beliefs and concerns of your particular congregation.
Many churches now use video projection for various corporate gatherings. Few congregations have members who have any formal training or education in visual art or design. This can result in colors, font types, and imagery that are difficult to read or even theologically out-of-step. The breaking of copyright laws is another concern. Even if your congregation does not use still or moving images during sermons or songs, there are many visual nuances that can impact how the congregants interact with this media, each other, and God. Tyrus can review how your congregation is currently applying video projection and then work with the staff or worship teams to make any necessary adjustments for better viewing and theological awareness.