“God is fully sovereign in election at the same time as human beings are fully responsible to believe. Both are clearly taught in the Bible. Our job is to believe them both even if we cannot fully explain the way they work together.”
In his classic book The Master Plan of Evangelism, Robert Coleman makes this observation: “What is more revealing about the disciples is that at first they don’t impress us as being key men. None of them occupied prominent places in the Synagogue, nor did any of them belong to the Levitical priesthood. For the most part, they were common laboring men, probably having no professional training beyond the rudiments of knowledge necessary for their vocation. Perhaps a few of them came from families of some considerable means, such as the sons of Zebedee, but none of them could have been considered wealthy. They had no academic degrees in the arts and philosophies of their day."
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.
Most Christians have some sense that artistic methods, and artists themselves, could be and should be powerful sources of evangelistic efforts. But most artists and musicians will confirm that they feel most conventionally trained and serving church leadership doesn’t have the foggiest idea or vision of how to envision artists to be used; nor even possess the simple conviction to give artists and musicians permission to come up with ideas on how to engage the community around them for the sake of the Gospel. In fact, often musicians and artists will tell you that they feel that church leadership doesn’t really trust that they will get the “content” of the Gospel right, or communicate it well.
It is important for those who are discipling worship leaders to realize that those being discipled should evidence the character of Christ in their daily walk. It is seen in how the artist interacts with others, develops relationships, and partners with other musicians in genuine ministry. In fact, demonstrating the character of Christ is the ultimate goal of discipleship; and the ultimate indicator of whether or not discipleship has truly happened.
When it comes to personal evangelism, feelings of obligation, guilt, and duty have never been effective motivators for me. On the other hand, experiences of God’s provision, accessibility, love, and forgiveness naturally flow out of me in Gospel witness to others.
My life’s work and my passion are to motivate the Church toward thinking more deeply and seriously about the importance of creatives and artists who serve as “imaginative expression specialists.” And, toward these ends, my goal is for pastors and others in church leadership to treat singers, musicians, fine artists, dancers, and others as not just performers but as key strategists on the evangelism and outreach teams. Why? Because God has gifted artists with the ability to uniquely communicate his infinite, unfathomable transcendence.