ArtServe was an initiative of the former Methodist Church Music Society (MCMS), which started life in 1935 as a fellowship of Methodist organists and choirmasters. At that time, not only were these the only people in most churches with any responsibility for music, but also music was almost the sole art form regularly used in worship.

MCMS was established to 'cultivate and co-ordinate all the musical resources of Methodism in the interests of public worship.' The society was formally recognised by the Methodist Conference in 1948 and in 1974 became part of the Division of Ministries within Methodism.

In the 1990s MCMS became an independent organisation and later a registered charity. However it worked closely with the Methodist structure and was a member of the Methodist Creative Arts Forum, a group established to support and develop the use of all forms of creativity within the Methodist Church.

When funding for Creative Arts was withdrawn, MCMS and other interested groups met to explore ways of filling the gap. It was eventually decided that the best way forward was for MCMS to set up a new organisation. ArtServe was born in 2008 and initially ran alongside MCMS. Eventually, MCMS activities and assets were transferred to ArtServe and MCMS formally ceased to exist as a separate organisation on 31 August 2010.