It Won’t Happen Fast Without Non-Artist-Advocates
For the arts to become effectively used in evangelism the Church needs Non-Artist-Advocates or it won’t happen fast, if at all.
Most Christians have some sense that artistic methods, and artists themselves, could be and should be powerful sources of evangelistic efforts. But most artists and musicians will confirm that church leadership doesn’t have the foggiest idea or vision of how to envision artists to be used; nor even possess the simple conviction to give artists and musicians permission to come up with ideas on how to engage the community around them for the sake of the Gospel. In fact, often musicians and artists will tell you that they feel that church leadership doesn’t really trust that they will get the “content” of the Gospel right or communicate it well.
That may sound a bit harsh. But I’m deciding these days, after some 49 years in Church and mission ministry, to speak more frankly about these things. Though there’s been some very good progress in Church leadership feeling the importance of artists and musicians in ministry, we are still not seriously and aggressively tapping into the reservoir of these dynamic and God-designed “specialists.” God has created artists to engage the community and culture through their imaginative and emotional intelligence–to encounter the objective (yet transcendent) reality of the Triune GOD we love, worship and serve.
Church leaders still remain skeptical that artists and musicians are really declaring enough content about God. Mission leaders still overlook the fact that “indigenous” Christian community formation is expressed through artistic human forms of expressions (metaphors, symbols, and human signal systems). Congregational and Denominational leaders do not provide budgets or the systems which affirm the development of quality artistic methods and efforts of community engagement via the arts.
We are still thinking too much about entertainment, and too little about encounter–and how artists and musicians are the best God-designed facilitators of the latter.
So how could things change? Well, a lot is needed. But a strategic starting place is the rise of non-artistic-artist-advocates. We need Christians who will advocate for the reality that we must embrace artistically gifted disciples as ministry initiators. And, to have a sustained, long-term plan, – we need the following, not very popular, but very strategic, concerted efforts to press for …
More artistically gifted people in the clergy (the Church’s gatekeepers, budget developers, and permission-givers)
More artists on “ministry strategy development” teams
More artistic-ministry efforts
All these areas are generally initiated NOT by artists but by artist-advocates who are NOT artists, or clergy and Christian ministry staff (like yourself) who are functionally advocates for those for the above-mentioned needs. So, I’m praying for you to play into that role—whether you are directly playing the guitar or writing songs or sitting in the broadcast chair.