Remember the emotion, passion and controversy surrounding Mel Gibson's
release of "The Passion of the Christ" last year? It was one of those rare
Hollywood moments that grew from a movie release into an event. Once you were
in your seat watching, you couldn't help but be riveted by it. The acting,
music and dramatic interpretation all combined to make the story of Jesus'
crucifixion truly come alive.
photo by john swain
If you're a fan of movies, you'll know there's nothing like them to move you
toward a particular emotion. (But, while movies, drama and music can stir in us
strong emotions, we must be careful not to value emotional experience more than
a genuine encounter with God.) Just as God can use the medium of film to awaken
the senses and the spirit, He's producing fruit among Christian artists. Of
course, this is nothing new to our Lord.
Throughout history God's people have excelled at connecting with God and
fellow believers through the arts. Second Samuel 6 chronicles King David's
dancing before the Lord; Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there is a time to dance; Exodus
15:1-18 records the song the Children of Israel sang after crossing the Red Sea
on dry land.
The forms of expression may have changed a bit, but tapping into the
creativity God has gifted us with is still one of the most effective ways of
demonstrating our love for Him and communicating the abundance of His love for
As a pastor, some of the most successful and effective outreach programs we
used included generous use of the arts. Music, video clips and dramatic
presentations are wonderful ways to utilize the creativity of our fellow
Christians and allow them to express their God-given gifts in ways that bless
others and further God's kingdom.
Many times a person without Christ may not step through our church doors to
hear a sermon, but they'll show up for a musical, drama or special Christmas or
Easter event. It's during those times especially that God can work through the
creative arts to touch hearts and change lives. Art that points to our Maker
can leave nonbelievers thirsty for God Himself.
Churches making efforts in this area are refusing to surrender the arts to the
current mainstream culture. Remember that for centuries the Church was the
primary benefactor of the arts, commissioning artwork that orbited around
Christ as a means of teaching Bible stories and truths about God.
Several of our church-planting missionaries are starting churches with an
emphasis on using the arts to reach non-Christians and impact the culture.
These churches are meeting in theaters, concert halls, dance studios and art
galleries. Churches like the The 411 in Manhattan's Times Square and Sojourn in
Louisville, Kentucky, offer galleries for artists to share their work. While
the art is not the message, it provides a vehicle to bring the unchurched in
contact with the God who loves them.
Two of the most important mission fields in North America today are our
cultural centers-New York and Hollywood. The entertainment industry is filled
with artists and craftsmen who desperately need to hear about the Master
Designer. The North American Mission Board has commissioned a missionary to
artists who use their crafts in Hollywood. Victorya Rogers is reaching out to
writers, actors, set designers, music composers and many more with the
By reaching non-Christians with the gospel and by supporting Christian artists,
we can have a major influence on the culture in North America.
With God's influence and the creativity that comes through knowing Him in
Christ, Christians can bring a higher level of meaning and worth to the arts-a
contribution from which the entire world can benefit.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC