After launching the Renew the Arts podcast, we started getting lots of feedback. All of it was encouraging, and a lot of it contained (even from some of our most supportive fans) some skepticism about the amount of emphasis we place on arts in the church. The arts might be important, but are they actually essential in any way to the work of the church? Sure, we like them, but can’t we actually do without them in the church and still be okay? Is it really that big of a deal?
Are the arts really that central to the life and work of the church?
Obviously, we think the arts are important, but I want to take this concern seriously. It might seem that we’re exaggerating the importance of the arts just because we like or make art ourselves. It might be assumed that we’re inflating the significance of our own contributions or attempting to manipulate people into giving to our superfluous hobby horse by making it seem more essential or “on mission” than it actually is.
And, initially, when I began to address this concern, I just brought up all of our usual talking points in my head. This felt redundant. If people hadn’t already been convinced, how would saying the same things again make any difference? So I realized, after grappling with this question for the better part of a day, that I needed ways to know if and when we had gone too far. How would I know? And this is what I came up with:
I will admit that we are overstating the importance of the arts in the Church:
- If … the arts in the church are already, for the most part, excellent — challenging the church and wooing the world.
- If … churches are already a haven for creative Christians, fostering their creativity and encouraging them in their callings.
- If … art is not important to teach the truth, preach the gospel, and understand the sacraments.
- If … art is not a significant part of everyday human flourishing.
- If … art and entertainment are not massively influential—particularly in this generation.
- If … art is not integral to healthy worship.
- If … God did not design each human being in His image as creative.
- If … the current American church is healthy, filled with the spirit, and growing.
- If … art is never explicitly commended by God, in Scripture, for the conversion of souls.
- If … we are saying art is the only way God can convert sinners.
That’s my list. I’d be interested to see what you would add to it! Help us know where you think the line is, and we will continue to champion this cause as much as we feel called to, within godly parameters.
And on a personal note, I want to say: we are doing this because we love Jesus. I don’t care more about arts than Jesus, the church, or the kingdom. We love His church. We love the artists in His Church. We love the way that God made all of us in His image, as creative beings after the Creator, who can communicate in word, but also in things seen, touched, tasted, and smelled.
We are deeply concerned that the church is pushing artists to the fringes. We are concerned about how millennials are flocking out of the church. We are concerned that the vast majority of the church’s art is designed to comfort and coddle a church in disrepair and decay. Are we wrong? We are worried that the power of creative persuasion is, when not utilized by the church, monopolized by people outside of the church. We are concerned about what lazy worship tastes like in the Lord’s mouth, and we would like to take a serious look at the contemporary worship of our church and make absolutely sure the Lord doesn’t want to just spit it out. Sound too harsh? This has been an issue for the church in the past. Humbly consider Malachi 1 and Amos 5:23.
But we are also encouraged. We are encouraged that more and more artists in the church are pursuing their calling and creating honest, creative, thoughtful art. We are excited about the opportunities Christians have to share the truth in channels that speak to the heart. We praise God for sharing His truth in ways that speak to our mind, and also our heart, in scripture. We are eager to see worship renewed, to see a creative revival that will leave the church with the best creative output we’ve had since the Reformation. We’re excited to see the fruit of a church fluently and effortlessly sharing the truth and speaking to our times in beautiful, captivating ways.
Help us make this a reality by holding us accountable, but also by supporting us if you think we’re on the right track.