Monday, February 20, 2012

Where Do Artists Fit in the Church?

If you have the gift of teaching, evangelism, hospitality, or helps, there is a place for you in the Church. If you have administration skills, musical talent, or simply like to serve, there is a place for you in the Church. But if you are an artist, a writer, a poet, or an actor, you’re out of luck.

Makoto Fujimura, founder of International Arts Movement, believes that:

Christians often misunderstand the role of creativity. Few churches get involved in the arts, and as a result, many creative individuals feel separated and alienated from God and His body of believers.

That’s how I’ve been feeling lately — “separated and alienated.” Probably because the last few weeks, in our church, we’ve been talking about spiritual gifts and callings. The funny thing is: It’s not ignorance of my calling that alienates me; it’s awareness of my calling that alienates me.

I mean, where do artists fit in the Church?

The church needs people to man the nursery, host Bible studies, organize social events, plan outreach opportunities, visit the sick, counsel the hurting, and recycle bulletins. But… poets? Seriously. What practical purpose do poets serve in the local church?

It’s a conundrum. On the one hand, if God “calls” some members of His Body to write fiction, direct theater, sculpt, or paint abstracts, how do those callings practically relate to the local church? If they don’t, are we prepared to say that artists and actors are peripheral to the real mission of God on earth? And if they’re not — if artists actually serve an important role in the Body of Christ — why isn’t there more of a practical place for them?


Jillian Kent said...

I think we have to make that place, Mike. We talk about what God has led us to and how it can minister to those in the church as well as outside the boundaries of the church. Just as Christian fiction is coming into it's own, I believe the arts will develop over time and it's our responsibility to take advantage of opportunity as it arises. Great fun in my opinion. Just like this artist you've probably seen. We just have to think out of the box.
We need to take risks. Jesus did. My daughter has been in Guatamala, Sri Lanka, London and Spain for the past year and a half with Youth With A Mission doing all kinds of things artistic. You might want to share a book trailer with your church as it may relate to a sermon. Just a thought.

Bruce Hennigan said...

I guess I should consider myself blessed. For 15 years I was the drama director at my church and my pastor, a published author, insisted that all dramas be original and written by me.
When I quit the drama ministry to write, he asked me to form the "Scribes of the Round Table" and teach others how to write drama. Then, I was asked to join the "Production Team" for our worship service where I did everything from graphic ideas to writing video scripts.
My pastor retired two years ago and our new pastor was our worship pastor under my former pastor. He has carried on the artistic legacy of my former pastor.
I don't think we are where we could be in utilizing all of the artistic talent God has sent our way, but our church has a glimpse of a vision for the arts. Just today, I attended a brainstorming session for an upcoming volunteer emphasis weekend. I was stunned at all of the creative ideas that came out of a room full of 20 people. And, the staff present were open, receptive, and excited to utilize these "artistic" ideas.
So, maybe such churches are few and far between. I know I should count my blessings that I am a part of such a church. I would encourage you to stay the course. God can find a place for you at your church or somewhere else where your fantastic writing skills can be put to use. But, it can also backfire on you.
Thursday, I have a four hour meeting with our LifeGroup (Sunday School) pastor. Since I am a "published author" and I've written in the past for LifeWay, he wants me to help write our own curriculum! How can I turn that down?
Now, I can tell you right off the bat that writing Sunday School curriculum is NOT as exciting as working on my next novel. But, it is putting my talent of writing to good use (well, we'll see if it is good!) for God.
I will pray for you. I know you're talents in writing and blogging can be used for God in your community.

Bruce Hennigan said...

One other thought.
We added a book store/coffee shop to our church.
When I launched my last book, I held the event at the book store. It benefitted the church and I sold over 100 books. Now, the Well (our coffee shop) asks me to hold "seminars" on writing and getting published to bring in people to the coffee shop.
I don't know it your church has such a venue, but you might consider holding a "writing" seminar and create you own artist's group at your church.
I started an online group that meets once a month and we call in the "inkwell". So far, only about a dozen have shown up, but it is growing.

Ann Bracken said...

Who says our place has to be practical? Some people need the impractical to be reached. If we can touch even one heart, bring just one soul to the gospel, how great will be our joy with them in heaven?