Serving through Art


The connection between arts and religion has been strong throughout the centuries.  For some reason however and perhaps with the exception  of music this relationship seems to have been valued less valuable or important in the twentieth century. In this article I will explore some options where it comes to servant based creativity. Which brings us to the question: how can artists benefit their churches and is there a need to consider the possibility of a community based approach involving the local churches?

In this post I use “art” as meaning visual arts, music, dance, writing, poetry and whatever else you can think off.

Where it comes to music I think it has by now well integrated into many ministries, but that is just one of the many possibilities. Also art may well serve as a means of ministry, of means to “bring others back home.”  Just look throughout history and it is hard to deny that there are many great works of art, music, literature, dance and even cooking that have been inspired by God. I only have to look at my personal conversion history to realize that Christian music has been a factor to keep my interest besides others, and ultimately a very important factor in “bringing me back home.” Art has this innate possibility to show us different sometimes less obvious aspects of reality, it has this power to touch us deep within. With this in mind I could imagine art being used even as a form of evangelism.

Think Local

Consider being a mentor or teacher without having an eye on the elite of the discipline or congregates. Would it not be great to be seen without the hype and marketing of industry “gatekeepers” and make art, music, writing something that is accessible for each and everyone, either to enjoy as a spectator or an actual creative. It is exactly the hype and dramatization that end up seeing the artists removed from its own community of support often for the sake of pursuing the big bucks. Consider the local community as a first focus and any successes as a local attractor. All of this without giving up any big, international aspirations (art as evangelism).

Serve Instead of Being Served

I may well misunderstand things but as far as I can see it the desire of a Christian artist looking to serve though art is not to be a star, but to serve God. Regardless of any achievements in terms of status inside and outside your community: any achievements were God’s plan for you and not your own great things. Your talents were God-given and so are any achievements based upon these talents. Therefore it makes sense to stay faithful to your local community and effectively and efficiently serve them as one way to ensure that you are effectively serving ‘the body of Christ.’

Be a Servant

Paul instructs us to do our work ‘heartily unto the Lord.’ In the context of this post that means that your art, craft, music dance, writing or handiwork is an offering of worship to God, whose image we bear: YOU CREATE BECAUSE HE DID (the imago Dei). The motive or motivation comes not from a pursue for fame but from gratitude an to be who He wants you to be to the best of your talents, you work for the glory of God as opposed to your own. Since it is part of your calling to entertain and since you are most likely already part of a church – the body of Christ – it is makes sense to connect with people locally (besides the other endeavors).

In this all there is no room for elitist mentality. Let’s by all means not lose sight of  the fact that we are given our gifts by God to serve His people. So does it not make sense than – in order to create a niche for your gifts – that you be a servant to your congregation or community with your specific talents? We can exercise all our God given creativity to make our work and skills available to our congregation or communities without compromising our dedication to excellence.

Be Creative

Often times, with the exception of music, pastors and leaders do not have a clear view on where to fit in the possibilities of an artist. At the same time, and bringing it back to the artist: we are creative people and therefore it is up to the artists to look at trying to find ways in which to integrate our arts and crafts into the lives of our fellows. Therefore we will have to look for ways in which our art can truly support our ministries, while at the same time providing an opportunity for discipleship, fellowship and community and encouragement meeting both material and spiritual needs.  Would it nit be just fantastic is we’d be using our creative gifts for the blessing of others and through that the glory of God. So, it is not just about the big events, but also for instance the personal band to small group or even family type of setting, in which praise and encouragement are the leading factors: a direct involvement which cannot be replaced by any other experience.

Be a Mentor

Use your skills to sharpen the skills of others and through that your own. Christian mentoring in this setting is more than just teaching. It is discipleship: a relation in which artistic skills are part of the equation next to a Christian worldview. You may well think that your success comes from creating that one thing that you my well never achieve. In actual fact your real achievement may well end up to be in how you reached or influenced others to get the best out of themselves. Our creativity and art gives us an opportunity to invest our lives in that of others.
Therefore, any elitist mentality should be banned: ELITISM ALIENTATES.

Serving God Through Art

If there is anything that is clear than it is probably that there are a lot of creative people associated with Harmony Church. I felt I needed to do something with that given. So I ended up looking around to find that there is room for an artists’ organisation within the context of Christian life and ministry.

Historically there appears to be a rise of the influence of the Gospel and with that a rise of its influence in the arts. This connection has been strong throughout the centuries but for some reason seem seems to have been valued less valuable or important in the twentieth century. Where there was and is attention for it more than once is turns out to be market driven “copy-catting” or avant-garde elitism. TRULY SERVANT BASED CREATIVITY appears to be a RARE OCCASION.

An initial hurdle appears to be posed by having arts seen as an actual profession. The concept of being a professional artist does not seem to come natural to everyone. Admittedly it is somewhat easier nowadays when you are into music or design, but how many of us know at least someone that got told “what about you try to get a real job” or “how about you first learn to do something useful.” In addition to this we all know probably one example of someone making it known to his pastor or reverend that he is an artist to be told that “the choir can always use more singers.” In that sense the church more than once appears to be a reflection of the material world, in which there is not always a place for the artist (other than music).

The life story of Van Gogh, one of my favourite Dutch artists is probably highly illustrative. Van Gogh was initially trained to be part of the Dutch pastorate. However, he found out early that he was not so-called “pastor material” or a “leader.” That is in the more traditional sense of the word. At the same time however he longer deeply to serve with his gifts, it was just that the church had no place for him. Instead of accepting him and welcoming someone with such unique abilities and talents, he was cast aside and now, looking back, see what the church has lost with that.

Which brings us to the question: how can artists benefit their churches and is there a need to consider the possibility of a community based approach involving the local churches.

Think Local

Consider being a mentor or teacher without having an eye on the elite of the discipline or congregates. Would it not be great to be seen without the hype and marketing of industry “gatekeepers” and make art something that is accessible for each and everyone, either to enjoy as a spectator or an actual creative. It is exactly the hype and dramatization that end up seeing the artists removed from its own community of support often for the sake of pursuing the big bucks.

Consider the local community as your first focus and any successes as a local attractor.

Serve Instead of Being Served

I may well misunderstand things but as far as I can see it the desire of a Christian artist looking to serve though art is not to be a star, but to serve. Regardless of any achievements in terms of status inside and outside your community, it is important to remember that those achievements were God’s plan for you and not your own great things. Your talents were God-given and so are any achievements based upon these talents. Therefore it makes sense to stay faithful to this local community and effectively and efficiently serve them as one way to ensure that you are effectively serving the body of Christ.

Famous examples are easy to find as to how this works out. Consider Bach or Rembrandt. Hey did their thing and shined there where God had planted them. Their real fame was not in their lifetimes but after they died.

Be a Servant

Paul exhorts us to do our work heartily unto the Lord. In the context of this file note that means that your art, craft or handiwork is an offering of worship to God, whose image we bear. YOU CREATE BECAUSE HE DID (the imago Dei). The motive or motivation comes not from a pursue for fame but from the glory of God. Since it is part of your calling to entertain, it is important that you connect with people locally.

In this all there is no room for elitist mentality, to make us lose sight for the fact that we are given our gifts by God to serve His people. So does it not make sense than – in order to create a niche for your gifts – that you be a servant to your congregation or community with your specific talents? In all this we need to exercise all our God given creativity to make our work available to our congregation or communities without compromising our dedication to excellence.

Be Creative

Often times, with the exception of music, pastors and leaders do not have a clear view on where to fit in the possibilities of an artist. At the same time, and bringing it back to the artist: we are creative people and therefore it is up to the artists to look at trying to find ways in which to integrate our arts and crafts into the lives of our fellows. Therefore we will have to look for ways in which our art can truly support our ministries, while at the same time providing an opportunity for fellowship and community and encouragement meeting both material and spiritual needs.

We need to be using our gifts for the blessing of others and through that the glory of God.

So, it is not just about the big events, but also the personal band to small group or even family type of setting, in which praise and encouragement are the leading factors: a direct involvement which cannot be replaced by any other experience.

Be a Mentor

Use your skills to sharpen the skills of others and through that your own. Christian mentoring in this setting is more than just teaching: it is discipleship: a relation in which artistic skills are part of the equation next to a Christian world view.

You may well think that your success comes from creating that one thing that you my well never achieve while in actual fact your real achievement may well lie in how you reached or influenced others t get the best out of themselves.

Our art gives us an opportunity to invest out lives in that of others. Therefore, any elitist mentality should be banned: ELITISM ALIENTATES.

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