Ok, so I know you’re probably saying “What the heck?” as you read the title of this article, but take a breath and put away your stones. Really… my heart in this article is to get Christian artists to think for a moment why it’s so important that we get outside the walls of the local Church with our creative expression.
We’ve all felt it… a suffocating insulation that leads our heart to say “I can’t do this any longer! There’s got to be more.” What if, just for a moment, you considered the idea that God created this uncomfortableness that seems to be calling you to more. What if it’s the Holy Spirit that’s calling you out into the marketplace with your creativity? Some of you would celebrate but for some artists this feeling is something that’s to be embraced, but rather suppressed because of their own religious mindset. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ver heard from Christians who are artists telling me stories of how leaders have encouraged them to “lay down” their creative expression in the marketplace in order to “serve the Lord”; as if to say it’s not godly to get paid for what you do creatively or that the only way you can serve the Lord is within the context of the local church. As Jack Taylor says, “I’m not anti-church, but I am pro-Kingdom.”
Here’s seven thoughts I hope will give you the courage to step out of feeling insulated and into the wide, beautiful, freedom-filled place of the Kingdom that Father has for you within culture.
7. A Variety of Experiences Inform Our Art: Creative depth and spontaneity are the results of an artist’s combined experience, skill, connection to their spiritual source and inspiration. The more an artist enlarges their capacity, the more opportunity they have to create with God. Artists must continue to fill their “creative well” with great art, music, writing, life experiences and beauty in order for the Holy Spirit to have something to move upon within them.
6. Worship Can Happen Anywhere: God lives in the spontaneous worship expression of his people – not just in a church service. Worship can happen anywhere people offer their heart and creative expression to God. In that context, all creative expression becomes an invitation from the artist to God to release His power and presence in and through their art.
5. Called to Go and Tell: The Gospel of the Kingdom, as preached and modeled by Jesus, has always been a go and tell message, not just come and see. Everyplace artists place their feet – and artwork – they carry the Kingdom.
4. Artists are Cultural Prophets: Artists are prophetic messengers to culture who are designed to release the light and life of God in places that need it the most using language that can be understood without religious jargon. It’s been said that “if good preaching and good singing were going to change the world, it would have already been done.” People are hungry for an encounter with God and artists are uniquely equipped to translate the Truth of the Kingdom through their creative expression.
3. Big Fish, Little Pond: The local church was never designed to be the complete venue for all creative gifting and expecting such can lead artists into deep frustration. It has been said that “Impression without expression leads to depression.” Most of the creative gifting inside the artist community can and should bless, build up and edify the church but it finds its full expression in the marketplace.
2. Harvesting Provision by Revelation on Assignment: The marketplace provides opportunity for artists to both make a living from and share their art with people who are willing to invest in their creative expression. Financial provision for artists allows the time and freedom to focus on the art making journey. For everyone in the Kingdom, God releases ideas that generate money in the marketplace to create our provision in line with our specific assignment.
1. Institutions Typically Breed Insulation. While it is essential for every artist to be relationally connected to other believers within the body of Christ for their own spiritual health and community, they must resist the temptation to withdraw from culture and lose their voice. Involvement in the wider culture informs our worldview and allows authentic relationships to develop. Institutions breed insulation but relationships birth relevance.
So what do you think? Let me hear from you in the comments below!
Matt Tommey is an artist, author and mentor who is passionate about empowering artists to thrive spiritually, artistically and in business.