Something that's been on my heart lately has been the negligence of the modern church to teach us what it means to be an artist/designer and a Christian. Growing up in a baptist church I was always taught to "spread the gospel" and in youth group I was told to bring my friends on Wednesday nights for free pizza. Not that I think those things are bad. I love pizza as much as the next guy. But there has to be more than just evangelists and pastors and free pizza in the kingdom of God, right? I can't think of one time I've heard a sermon preached or a class taught on the role artists/designers play in the Church. I've been to a few conferences around "creativity" in the church, but that's mainly geared towards women who like to knit and crochet and make jewelry. That's not relevant to me or anyone I know who love Jesus and designs.
The only thing I've found remotely close to this topic is worship. People tend to lump in artists with musicians. To this day it still irks me a little when someone refers to musicians as artists. The two, albeit similar, have totally different perspectives. Don't get me wrong, I am all for using art and design as an act of worship. In fact, I think at the core of every painting, drawing, design is an act of worship. But the fact remains, the role of the artists has been a big fat gray area in the modern church.
Where have all the artists gone?
Seriously? Where did we lose our hearts? At what point in time did we put down our dreams and replace them with jobs? A job without vision is like having a heart with no courage, weak. But we've all been drinking the same kool-aid... grow up, get a job, get married, have kids, pay your mortgage, retire early, live comfortably, and try not to piss anybody off along the way. That way we can live a safe, cushy life and die happily in the comfort of a warm bed. Well I'm here to say that's a pipe dream my friend, one you can chase your whole life and never end up finding. Life is unknown. From one day to the next we don't know what's going to happen. Life requires faith. A choice we must make each day. And we need artists who will lead. We need artists who will mentor and disciple. I hope and pray that God would use me to teach and mentor others younger than myself.
Insecure and emotional
Those are two words that come to mind when I think of an artist. Why? Because that's often how I view myself. Often I lose sight of who God says I am and judge myself among my peers. This is one area in particular that I think has been overlooked in the church. And as artists we need affirmation that what we're on the right path. So it's of great importance that we come to align our hearts (and minds) with what our Heavenly Father says about us, and how He affirms us because of Christ.
Go to the source
Everything has an end and a beginning, except for God. He is the author and finisher of our faith. He is the Alpha and Omega. He was and is and is to come. All things that were created in heaven and on earth were made by Him. He is the great I Am. So why do we settle for 2nd best? Why do we seek out dried up creek beds to drink from when there's a fountain of living water available? Why do we peruse the internet for inspiration when the source of all inspiration is knocking at our door? Why has the modern church been so lame in their attempts to be "relevant" to modern culture instead of leading the way for the culture? Because we don't believe that God really is who He says He is. We haven't asked for His help. We are pretty thick headed about doing things our own way until we run out of ideas.
So I want to ask the Lord for understanding in this matter. I want to know His heart for me as an artist. I choose to pray and ask for His inspiration over anything else. And I hope that as a church we will begin to acknowledge the artists among us and seek ways to meet their needs and encourage them. Just as God specifically called on Bezaleel to make the ark of the covenant (read Exodus 35:30-35), I believe He is still calling us today.
Update: I wanted to share this video I found that fits perfectly with my thoughts above. Please take a few minutes to watch.