Posts Tagged ‘Christian art’

Let’s start with the basics. I know some people use the phrase “for Christ’s sake!” in a “taking the Lord’s name in vain” kind of way. That’s not what I am doing here. I am being literal. You see every so often I try to evaluate my life and my work for the purpose of staying on mission. Also before I go any further, you may be on a different mission in your creative life and that is okay and between you and God. Today I am speaking for me, in the hopes of giving others clarity as they seek to follow their own mission.

My personal mission is pretty simple and not at all original. I want to know Christ and make Him known. Fleshing that out a bit more, I believe every human being is gifted by God to do something great in this world. My life was radically transformed by two things. Someone cared enough to introduce me to Jesus Christ. That is first and foremost, but secondly someone showed me I could use my gift to serve the Lord. Those two things took a suicidal young man with a drinking problem and an extreme and profound fear of speaking in public and made me who I am today. For that I am eternally grateful and part of my “make Him known” mission is to live that out by helping others to come to know Jesus and find and use their gifts to serve the Lord. Another way that this manifests for me, is that I want to help the church embrace creativity and creative people and I want to see creative people embrace the church. And that brings me to art.

Some would say, as artists, that we just need to make art for arts sake. I know I do some of that, and I do it unapologetically. As artists, we all have to continually hone our skills, but it’s funny. If I want to be truthful, even when I am trying to do art for art’s sake, I’m thinking, and praying, about how I can use it to open the door to sharing the Gospel. I can’t really get to artists who have not yet embraced the church if I only create in the Christian realm. If this is my motivation, is it really art for art’s sake? Probably not. More than likely, it’s art… for Christ’s sake, and I’m okay with that.

In my ministry to the church, art for Christ’s sake is, of course more expected and I know for a fact I could not do it any other way, for this reason: a lot of what I do in the church is live, speed painting. Were it all about the art, I don’t think I could do it, because the time limitations would make the level of perfection I desire impossible. It’s really difficult to do a perfect painting in six minutes or less. On the other hand if I am doing art for Christ’s sake, the art is a tool to draw people in to the message. If it does that it has served it’s purpose, even if the finished piece is imperfect. Staying on mission allows me to hold that perspective.

At the end of the day, the art I create will not last. When God makes all things new, my work will likely pass with the old order of things. What will matter is, was this art used to bring people into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ and/or did it spur them on to love and good deeds that were use to serve people and bring them into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ? My prayer is that this is the end result of everything I create.

My name is Dave, and I do art… for Christ’s sake. For me that is more than enough. How about you?

StryperThis one is going to take some explanation so please bear with me. I remember in my early days of faith, when I first discovered “Christian rock.” It was amazing for me. Having been to over seventy rock concerts before my conversion, I was having difficulty. The lyrics of some of my favorite songs, songs that had shaped my pre-Christian life, suddenly didn’t sync up with my new faith. Then came Stryper, and dcTalk and the Newsboys, etc. and all of the sudden there was music to bridge the gap between my old music and my new faith. My feathers used to get pretty ruffled when a musician who happened to be a Christian would try to differentiate, we’re not a Christian band, we’re Christians in a band… I used to see them as turncoats but I can now see it a little differently.

Is there such a thing as Christian music or Christian art? By strictest definition, probably not. Jesus didn’t die to save art and music, He died to save people. Our creations as Christians exist as a manifestation of that new life. Our work is not Christian, we are Christians trying to do God honoring work. We talk a lot about redeeming the arts (you no doubt can point to pages here where I have talked about it). What’s really happening though is God is redeeming artists, who then create from a new world view. I know this sounds like semantics, but it’s not. See when we set out to create “Christian art” it narrows our focus and it can also narrow our reach. I remember Michael W. Smith being rejected for a Dove Award for “Love Me Good” ostensibly because it wasn’t “Christian enough.”  I’ve met the man. He is “Christian enough.” He simply chose to write a song that wasn’t outwardly Christian and he took some flack. My question is why? If our mission is the great commission, then getting our work beyond the walls of the church is really important. We don’t need our work to be “more Christian.” We as artists need to be more faithful followers of Jesus and let our light shine into the darkest corners of our world. Our work is part of the act of shining, but it only truly shines when it is empowered by the love of Christ. Our mission is not to make Christian art, our mission, as spelled out by Jesus Himself, is to make disciples.

I met another Christian music artist who spelled it out pretty clearly for me. He referred to his band as a “youth group band.” Their mission is to edify the church, to create work that uplifts and encouraged the people of God to do the work we are called to  do. In a sense, if we are talking the five fold gifts from Ephesians 4, their calling is pastor/teacher. He then began to talk about other bands, bands whose work goes beyond the church. Their gift is more in the realm of evangelistic/apostolic. Which is more important? YES??? My presentations like Pictures of Jesus are more the first type of work (though definitely wandering into evangelistic), while some of my newer things I am hoping you hear about soon, are the latter. Both are designed to honor God and with his help, they will.

Maybe we need to stop trying so hard to make Christian art and start living more God honoring lives, offering our work to God to be used as He would have it used. One thing I know for sure. My most effective times of ministry as an artist were the times when I got out of the way, and made what I felt God leading me to make.

What is God calling you to make?

There are basically two kinds of art I like to do.

If I am going to be with the art if I am doing the work in public, I want to do a piece that makes people ask questions. Art that leads to a story. This is also why I make videos and a big part of the reason why I like to draw cartoons. The piece that I am going to do while you’re working on your pieces is probably my favorite example of this type of art.

If the art must stand alone, I still want it to be thought provoking but I want the meaning to be pretty clear. I want people to get the story. Because for me the art is about the story. Watch the video to get the whole story.

Bible Reading Guide
An important part of following God is knowing what He wants and a great way to know what He wants is to read His Word. Follow this plan and you will finish reading the Bible in a year.
Exodus 9-11
You can also download your own chart here.