I am taking an art ministry class with Artfruition.com and this week’s lesson was about embracing artists across disciplines. It was a very thought provoking session. The question was posted about loving artists across disciplines and how we connect with the body of Christ. This was my response.
I find this so exciting and yet extremely challenging, not so much for me but for the people I work with. The stated mission of AMOKArts is to help creatives in the church and help churches to be more creative. I find that it’s not so much that churches are not open to the arts, but that they don’t know what to do with artists, except musicians, but even in that case, the musicians usually are limited to a specific genre. So a great dal of what I do come down to educating people and helping them to see new possibilities. I feel this is extremely imperative for the church. If we don’t do this, what we are left with is a church that uses very few people in the worship experience. The rest of the people are relegated to an “audience” role, for lack of a better word. This is a really bad situation, because if most of your people are audience members, they will leave you for a better “show.” This weakens the church and it is, at least to some degree, our fault.
We have a scriptural mandate in 1 Peter 4:10 and several other places to use our “whatever gifts” to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. What this means is that the Lord has endowed His people with gifts and talents, that are to be used to draw people into receiving God’s grace. People are intended to be instruments of grace. Were we to do this, people would find more than just something to do, they would find what they were created to do and in essence a big part of the meaning of their lives. This fires my imagination and Spirit for what the church could be. This is a big part of why I believe I am here. My dream is of the church becoming a creative hub in the community where all people, not just the artists, but all the people to see how God might use them to be instruments of grace and that as they live that life, the church becomes magnetic, the love of Christ is revealed, communities are transformed, people are saved and the world is changed.
As far as loving artists and pastors, I have the unique position of being both and I believe God has done this so I can speak into both worlds, helping pastors relate to artists and artists relate to churches. It’s about a lot more than making art. It’s about helping people to receive artists, it’s about helping artists come under the biblical authority of the local church. It’s about helping artists realize the position the artist is in and the incredible responsibility they have to their congregations and the incredible trust required to put someone before their congregation. It’s about breaking down stereotypes churches seem to have about artists and helping artists not to reinforce them. If there is a truly loving relationship between pastor and artist, trust will be built on both sides and the pastor will become the artists greatest advocate and vice versa. Ultimately it would be awesome for the church to be sending artist ambassadors into the arts communities and getting churches to create venues available to artists. It’s about turning the church into a place where artists can thrive and a safe place for them to fail, since all creativity requires failure and the guts to try again.
One of the biggest disappointments to me is all the closed doors and walls there are between artists and the church. I never cease to be amazed by how many churches won’t even give my ministry a shot because for one reason or another they don’t think it will work with their congregation. I face these barriers even though I am an ordained minister and church pastor, whose ministered in hundreds of venues. It shows me there is still a long way to go and a lot of work to be done. It also makes me appreciate every opportunity and makes me work very hard to bring every person who trusts me enough to bring me in the best possible ministry I can give, I think the arts could be taken a lot more seriously in the church. If the church can’t see the power of the tool the arts can be, their eyes are closed, because the rest of the world has mastered them and uses them quite effectively to bring a multitude of other messages to the forefront. God can do what we can not. We need to keep being faithful and make the most of every opportunity.