ow does an artist share his faith in a genuine way? How can a singer use her talent as a communicator rather than a performer? Two key elements are a strategic vision and a servant’s heart. First, a strategic vision develops from the artist’s clear idea of the goal that he or she wants to achieve, an idea which then organizes and informs every step toward that goal.
When people go to worship, whether in groups or alone, God designed them to need to exercise their imaginal intellect as much as any other dynamic of their being—including their rational intellect. When people worship God alone, they “practice” focusing their faith toward God through the gate of their imagination. As they couple their imagination with their intellect, they will imagine the unseen realities they "know" are true in Scripture.
Art is a part of life. It is not something people can choose to omit from their lives. Artistic expressions—imaginative human expressions—are more than a form of human communication. They are the substance, the amniotic fluid, in which human relationships live and grow—human-to-human, and humans-with-God.
This preconceived concept about art, and its relationship to the Church, does major damage to the Church’s ability to pursue artist expression as a means for making worship central to the mission of the body of Christ. Church leaders need to reject this modern view of artist expression, which excludes the imaginative realm of metaphors, symbols, and human expressions (or signal systems), and come back to a biblical view of the arts. In doing so, they will find new vitality for worship as the central agenda of the churches.
Given the orientation Protestant theologians have concerning the mind, the characteristics of the imaginal capacity of human intellect are sometimes lost. It seems that the Protestant community somehow takes a one-dimension view of that the human mind is only given to rational and information ideal. Certainly, a life of faith will often move on past what seems rational to the “average person.” And, even the thoughts and mental engagement involved in worship itself encompasses much more than rational exercise or information.
The Hebrew term for imagination is either yatsar or yetser. Yatsar means to fashion in the mind before forming in time and space. That is, to fashion in the mind also holds in its meaning the capacity to imagine, to invent, to form, to frame (in the mind’s eye); and the emphasis of the term is in on the ability to see something—that could be real and true—in the mind’s eye BEFORE it is actually formed in time and space.
There are three biblical truths God reveals about uniquely capacitated artistic specialists. It is God who is the prime mover in all this. And God did this for the sake of the worship vitality of His community of worshipers.
In Exodus 35 we see one of the most helpful summary passages in Scripture that reveals a description and role of the artistic specialist in the life of the believing community. This Old Testament passage highlights the role of the artistic expression specialist in the generally and worship-life of the believing community. It also provides critical instructional details that are specifically applied to specialized servants of God that were “filled with the Holy Spirit” and given “the ability to teach others”
Artists are far more than wacky eccentrics; they are “imaginative expression specialists” (a term I’ve been using for several years). And they have been created by God for the purpose “of leading people into touching the transcendent realities God, and life. So hopefully these twelve areas will help you see more clearly how and why “Artistics” are so important to the way God has designed us and the way we related to Him, and to ourselves and others.
The reality of the content of the gospel (the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, God’s Son, the righteousness of God whose death paid the penalty for my and your sin—1 Cor. 15; Rom. 3) does no good without connection with the giver of the gospel. And artists are specialists at creating environments wherein human creatures can connect with their creator.