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How we dampen artistic spirits at church

How we dampen artistic spirits at church

Philip Ryken at the Gospel Coalition writes:

Christians called to draw, paint, sculpt, sing, act, dance, and play music have extraordinary opportunities to honor God in their daily work and to bear witness to the grace, beauty, and truth of the gospel. How can pastors (and churches) encourage Christians with artistic gifts in their dual calling as Christian artists?

He offers a list of how we tend to do just the opposite, discouraging the arts and artists in our churches. For example, we:

Treat the arts as a window dressing for the truth rather than a window into reality. See the arts as merely decorative or entertaining, not serious and life-changing. “‘Humor’ artists by ‘allowing’ them to put work up in the hallways, or some forgotten, unused corner with terrible lighting, where it can be ‘decoration,'” David Hooker told me.

Embrace bad art. Tolerate low aesthetic standards. Only value work that is totally accessible, not difficult or challenging. One example would be digital images and photography on powerpoint as a background for praise songs. Value work that is sentimental, that doesn’t take risks, that doesn’t give offense, that people immediately “get.”

Value artists only for their artistic gifts, not for the other contributions they can make to the life of the church. See them in one dimension, not as whole persons. Specifically, discount artists for leadership roles because they are too creative, not analytical, too intuitive.

He offers other examples here. What do you think? How can the the church help to cultivate art and artists in more nurturing and creative ways?

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Paul Woodrum

As long as the first question is, "How much will it cost?" churches will be held hostage by the producers of unimaginative catalog goods.

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