Artists In Ministry & Missions

Tag: Evangelism

Artistic Expression In World Evangelism

When an entire village of Bolivian Indian ranch workers came to the Lord awhile ago, some missionary friends of mine were faced with very big questions. What do we do with this entire village of people that now know the Lord as Savior?  In what ways do they worship?  How do we teach them to study the Bible when most of them don’t read? And when they have no Bible-base music in their own heart-expressions, what do we suggest they sing?

My missionary friends encouraged the Bolivian Indians to make up their own musical expression using texts right from the Bible. They understood the importance of culturally appropriate communication and affirmed the leadership in the village, that it would be best to sing songs they composed themselves.

When evangelization happens in its fullness, culturally appropriate and sensitive communication is crucial. In many parts of the world, due to lack of literacy, much communication will be through artistic or imaginative expression. Music, drama, storytelling, painting, architecture, mime, puppets, crafts, festivals, movement, ritual, and on and on, are all forms of artistic expression.

Artistic communicators are Christians endowed by God with unusual wisdom in creative things. They may be pastors, teachers, musicians, painters, writers, managers, factory workers, farmers, or housewives. They are simply Christians with a vision and ability for actively incorporating appropriate artistic forms and methods into worship and evangelism.

People generally hear and understand with their hearts long before they hear and understand with their heads. And their heartstrings are generally plucked, not by the academic and the apologist, but by the artist and the poet.

This reality leads me to shout from the rooftops that Christian musicians and artists play a critical role in world evangelization these days. Where the Great Commission has truly been carried out, the penetrated cultures most often worship and proclaim their faith in their own mother tongues, heart-music and cultural styles. These heart-languages and cultural styles are very often uncovered by indigenous artists, or better stated, arts ministry specialists.

Whether in ceremonies, liturgy, pageants, visual or movement expression, music, storytelling, or other dynamics of gathered expression, it is usually the arts ministry specialist who helps facilitate the believing community in its public and private expressions of worship.

That said, artists passionate for God because they’re overwhelmed by their own salvation through His work in Jesus, are essential in the Church’s strategies, methods and efforts in world evangelization.

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7 Evangelism Environments Artists Create (Part 1 of 2)

Given the objective Truth of the Gospel never changes, the PROCESS of evangelism is much more about helping people encounter Christ than it is explaining Christ—and ARTISTS are some of the most powerful God-designed servants God uses to create the environments wherein people experience the God-desired fruit of evangelism—people reconciled to God through the work of Christ.

In fact when we emphasize explaining over encountering God’s Gospel, we raise at least two barriers to witnessing (1). The first barrier is the fear that I’ll make a mistake, that I’ll miss something.  The second barrier is the fear that I’ll be rejected.  Plus, these barriers are both about me, not about the one or ones I’m praying will access God’s help, healing, love, forgiveness and life.

All this to say, and the point of this blog post: if church and mission leadership strategically turn to the artistic Kingdom servants in their networks, they will embrace untold creative resource for designing at least seven environments wherein they and their vast army of normal Jesus-loved-people-loving volunteer Christians can meet with, pray for, care for and share (2) with people in their neighborhoods and communities the Bible mandates us to evangelize.

So let me suggest at least these seven evangelism environments artists (3) are God-designed to create:

  1. Environment-Designers—artists are the ones God capacitied to imagine, then design, the culturally appropriate gathered events of the community—worship liturgies, celebration rituals & memorializations:  all the various community gatherings, funerals, weddings, rites-of-passage; any GATHERINGS in which the community manifests its ‘heart & soul’ (its transcendent reality—the expressions of the sum of its participants) in tangible terms.  Community cannot do design these gatherings well without the artistically gifted.
  1. Heart-Strikers of Humanity—artists are the specialists God has given humanity to sculpt “environments” wherein people’s hearts can enter and touch the Transcendent Realities of life, and of GOD.
  1. Relationship-Makers—the environments artists design always promote human interaction that produces relationships.  Remember that artists are hardwired to be . . .
    • curious about culture expressions (yes there are exceptions)
    • intrigued by & interested in cultures’ ways (yes there are exceptions)

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