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?
It’s a question on many of our minds since Billy Graham died: What now?
This iconic moment for American evangelicalism paints a clear picture of what has weighed heavy on the heart of Christians, even before the passing of Billy Graham: who will carry the gospel into the next generation? The conversation has a tinge of hopelessness, as millennials flood out of the church at an increasing rate. “America’s pastor” is dead. Will the church in America die with him? It almost looks like it will.
I grew up hearing a narrative about Roe v. Wade. Maybe you heard it too. It goes like this:
Abortion in America used to be illegal and socially frowned upon. Then, in 1973, the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, forcing abortion on a predominantly pro-life culture in a radical act of judicial activism. Once abortions on demand were legalized, the number of abortions suddenly skyrocketed. Overnight, Roe v. Wade both legalized and normalized abortion, and if we are ever going to suppress the legal killing of unborn babies, we first need to take political action to overturn this decision. [2016 edit: And that’s why you need to vote for Donald Trump, since there’s an open seat on the Supreme Court].
When I was eleven, I wrote a daily devotional I imaginatively titled “Daily Devotions.” I started at Proverbs 11, because of my age (of course). I made it as far as Proverbs 11:7—a whopping week long. Surprisingly, it never got picked up by any publishers, but my parents asked for a copy.
The unreasonable self-assurance I had then is a little embarrassing to me now, but I am proud of myself for being so dedicated, early on, to one goal: revival. Years before I could vote, I would often respond to the classic question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with “Either a pastor or a politician.” This was met with mixed responses, which I have come to understand.
With fire pumping in my young veins, I volunteered for countless political campaigns of upstanding, dedicated, righteous individuals. This turned into full-time summer work.
“How long will you turn your face away?”
Lamentations, the latest release from forward-thinking music collective Bifrost Arts, encourages Christians to make room in their worship for lament and sadness, and it gives what it encourages. Few things could be a better balm for the modern church.