This past week we wrapped up a week of kids music camp. Before that I was directing a summer marching band. The week before that it was starting up our summer sports program. And before that it was planning for our scouting program.
I'm still amazed at how many 'worship ministers' (and church leadership teams) discount arts (and sports/activity) programs, thinking that they don't have a place within the church today. I must say ... these people are VERY short-sighted.
Although the summer marching band camp wasn't associated with the church, all the other programs were in some way connected to a church or ministry. And each of these programs do (or have the potential) to be a worship-training program for young members of our churches AND the ability to influence the community around the church.
This doesn't mean that you should necessarily start an 'outreach' program that uses the arts. Often that turns out to be as phoney as everyone (in the community) expects it to be. But when you just create a program for children that is focused on using whatever performing arts field (or sports, or whatever) but specifically focus on worshping God through that event - and helping the kids learn how to worship through that medium - it's amazing what 'outreach' happens naturally.
If you have a good program, led by people who know the medium and are passionate about seeing that medium used to glorify God, the word tends to spread and the program grows. That doesn't mean that it will be 'financially viable' (i.e. pay for itself), but then again, that's not what ministry is about.
If you're sitting there planning your next worship set during these summer months an aren't doing something a bit different to engage the young artists (and athletes) in your congregation (and community), I encourage you to take a walk outside your office (and outside the building) and ask the Lord to give you a vision to do more than just live within the worship box. And start living your worship in every-day ways with other artists.
AND ... if you find a church that is ready to start a church marching band let me know ... I've been walking around outside with that vision for years!