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.
When evangelization happens in its fullness, culturally appropriate and sensitive communication is crucial. In many parts of the world, due to lack of literacy, such communication will be through artistic or imaginative expression. Music, drama, storytelling, painting, architecture, mime, puppets, crafts, festivals, movement, ritual, and on and on, are all forms of artistic expression.
The Christian Arts community is often clearly confused about what ministry IS. I’m clearly convinced of it! Not that other parts of the Christian community aren’t confused—they are. But Christians out of music and arts backgrounds oftentimes certainly face confusion when it comes to ministry. Let me see if I can help clear up some of that confusion by simply asking a few questions, then answering them biblically.
Worship and evangelism are central to the Christian faith, but worshiping God is much more than attending church on Sunday, just as evangelism is much more than saying religious words to an unbeliever. As artists, our missionary strategy needs to employ every available means of communication—speaking, listening, playing music, storytelling, using parables and proverbs, dancing, drama, visual arts—as we seek to make men, women, and children worshipers of God.
This article assumes the LORD is doing something new in the hearts of Church leaders: giving some a new desire to gather artistic Kingdom servants into their congregations, and disciple them for His service; especially for the service of facilitating innovative gathered worship. So, this paper looks to offer church leaders six principles that, if followed, will GATHER artistic worship leaders into their congregations, and accelerate releasing them into His service of worship.
I strongly believe there exists (at least) one major area of neglect by most conservative evangelical mission works — THE ETHNIC ARTS. A close evaluation of a people’s music and other art forms provides the major road maps to grasping their thought patterns, value structures, and communication norms. Though cross-cultural missionaries have for years attempted to become more sensitized to anthropological considerations, because of our generally low view (or inadequate view) of the role of the arts within our humanity or our Christianity, very few have an awareness of the need to take care to observe a people closely in these areas.