The Christian Arts community—I’m clearly convinced—is often confused about what ministry is. Not that other parts of the Christian community aren’t confused—they are. But Christians out of arts backgrounds oftentimes certainly face confusion when it comes to ministry.
Why are Christian Artists Confused about Ministry? Cutting to the chase, it’s at least because of three reasons.
First, human beings in Western civilization began to think of “the arts” the way we do (abstract objects and activities of creativity created as ends in themselves having no or little tie to everyday life and living other than their artistic value) during the 1500’s or so, mostly apart from the community of true believers in Jesus. This is a time when “secularism” began to take hold in the thinking of normal “marketplace” people; people who were separating themselves from any “religious” involvement, Catholic or Protestant. Why? Because the “protesting” church backed away from the “religious humanism” of the Catholic church (a form of religion with no connection to a “regenerated personal relationship with Jesus”—remember: Martin Luther was just trying to be a good Catholic believer, getting back to the Word of God and a vibrant personal walk with Jesus; he was not trying to cause a fuss).
Second, as the “protesting” (Protestant) church separated itself from both the Catholic church and the “secular society, in the process of backing away from the human corruption of the Church and the community, it backed away from a lot of the creative art that played a role in the Church, and it backed away from the entertainment art and the art-of-the-elite that was being developed in the “secular” market place (a “throwing out the baby with the bathwater” sort of thing).
Third, the “protesting” church (most of the Reformers, with the exception of Martin Luther and a few others) seemed to buy into a non-biblical view that there exist “things secular and things sacred”; and “the arts,” which already had prominence in the Catholic church and were gaining prominence in what they were beginning to view as “secular” society, were therefore seen more and more as worldly and thus inappropriate for “sacred” life, both living and worship.
With these three reasons in mind, it’s time we got back to the Bible, and God’s perspective on things. God wants creativity and artistic expression. He designed it into the fabric of the human species. Our ability to imagine and to “recreate” reflects His image (His perfection of creativity) in us.
Animals possess instincts. People possess imagination, a much more God-like capacity. People, not animals, are made in God’s image (Genesis 1: 26). When those creative and imaginative endowments are under the redeemed Lordship of Jesus, God’s Messiah, they are “sanctified”—set apart for special service unto His glory and purposes.
Christians out of arts backgrounds oftentimes certainly face confusion when it comes to ministry.
Do not see artistic expression as “secular.” Don’t consider artistic expression as “worldly.” As God created them, they are reflections of His image in us; and in fact, it is our duty to dedicate them—all our imaginative expressions and efforts—to His glory and for His purposes . . . of reflecting His truth, and beauty, and reconciliation in Jesus!! (1 Cor. 10:31)