Helping Christian Artists Succeed

Each year hundreds of artists make the move to a major city to pursue
their ambitions in the arts. This opens the door to a lot of unsolicited
advice: “Be sure to have something else to fall back on.” “Give
yourself a time limit after which point you should move on to something
else.” “Beware of losing your morals in the theater.”

But rarely will you hear someone say: “Moving to New York? Get ready
for a spiritual awakening!” or, “Hey, you should check out this great
church there!” Can you imagine if the churches in New York City or Los
Angeles or Chicago became so engaged with artists in the city that being
an artist there was inextricably tied to questions of faith and
calling?

On a crisp, autumn morning this November, I met in the loft space of the
Neighborhood Church in the village. Sitting around a breakfast table
with artists and pastors from various churches in the city, we talked
about how to serve the growing number of artists in our congregations
and communities. One pastor wept as he testified to God’s faithfulness
in making a place again for artists in the church, and explained that he
himself had once been an aspiring painter but quit after he became a
Christian. At that time, there was no one to help him integrate his
faith and his work as an artist.

 

That morning over breakfast we recounted the names of early contributors
to art and faith dialogue: Francis Schaffer, Madeline L’Engle, Hans
Rookmaker, Calvin Seerfeld, Colin Harbinson, Nigel Goodwin and many
others who helped to build a bridge theologically and relationally for
artists to find a home among Protestant, evangelical churches. We sat
together in awe of those who came before us and prayed for the
reconciliation of artists and the church. The rapidly growing number of
artists in the churches of major cities and the lay leaders equipped to
serve them gives hope to the vision of Gospel renewal in and through the
arts.

 

The Church has a unique message of hope for the artist. Through the hope
of the Gospel we understand that our artistic work, not just our bodies
and souls, could one day be purified and included in the new, eternal
city of God. This belief in the eternal significance of our earthly work
and bodily life gives the people of God a unique opportunity to speak
into the hearts of artists about the one topic that concerns them
most—the issue of calling.

 

Artists, like all people, want their lives to matter. Their work is an
expression of their life. Even in an era in which a sense of
hopelessness and meaninglessness tends to pervade much artistic
expression, I contend that all artists sense or long for an eternal
significance in their life and work. One doesn’t have to look far
beneath the surface of many contemporary artworks to find this resonant
longing. Perhaps the artist’s struggle to make sense of a world that
seems caught between the dreaming and the coming true is one way in
which the Spirit is working to renew the frayed fabric of culture.

See Also

 

It is truly a unique time in which the Church could play a major role in
the shaping of many artists through their relationships and experiences
in the evangelical churches of major cities, the cultural centers of
the world. The intentional inclusion and care of artists that is
becoming commonplace in churches around the globe is laying the
foundation for a movement of the Gospel in the arts community through a
network of churches that will engage, equip and mobilize artists with a
renewed sense of their callings. Let’s pray for the artists that God
will bring, and the churches that will receive them.

This article originally appeared on RELEVANTmagazine.com.

 

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