The arts during Christmas may symbolize the Incarnation and thus speaks in a profound way to the meaning of “God with us.” Adapt the suggestions below to local customs.
The following article describes how visual and verbal elements have been used throughout the history of the church, noting how the modern church has not allowed visual elements to have a significant role in worship. It goes on to describe how the visual arts can be revived and how we can learn to communicate and receive theological truths through the visual arts.
In the midst of poverty and starvation, Christian faith and native talent in Africa are inspiring a wealth of art for worship. This art is one means by which African Christians express their faith while borrowing from their indigenous cultures.
Of all the theologians and church leaders who are cited as being opposed to the use of visual arts in worship, Protestant Reformer John Calvin is perhaps the most famous. The following article describes the cultural context in which Calvin worked and the specific nature of his views on the visual arts in worship, suggesting that Calvin was more concerned with confronting idolatry than with opposing the visual arts in worship.
Christians have responded to various art forms in many ways over the centuries. Four typical responses are described in this article. These approaches to art in general necessarily influence how the Christian community approaches the visual arts in worship.
The twentieth century has seen a significant recovery of the arts in both secular and religious culture. The following essay delineates some of the areas in which the arts have emerged within the church and discusses the contribution that the arts make to the worship of God.
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.
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.
Cooperation in ministry is essential if we care to position ourselves before the Lord in such a way where He might choose to use us to impact our communities, our region, or our nation for Christ.