Creativity and the Church
“I don’t want you to think of art as a little frill or whipped cream on the cake of life. It’s more like steak and potatoes.”
– Dallas Willard
God’s Body, the Church, should be an institution which supports, fosters, and recognizes the vital importance of creativity, both as a means of edification for her members and as a medium which reaches nonbelievers. Art in its vast array of forms can touch the human soul in places which words and rhetoric simply cannot. This, of course, is not to discount the importance of sound, Biblically-grounded preaching within the church. But music, film, literature, dance, drama, sculpture, paintings: these things cannot be viewed as secondary or supplementary. These cannot be pushed to the fringes. Art must be viewed as a powerful and vital tool in the body of Christ…as something with a beautiful and wonderful potential to communicate the profound truths of the Kingdom.
Art has a way of resonating with the emotions. We are emotional beings, and our walk with the Lord cannot be merely intellectual or theoretical. After all, we are interacting with a relational God: a God who shed tears for the broken-hearted (John 11:32-35), and had an unending compassion for the poor, the marginalized, and the untouchable. As we begin to wrap our minds around the deeply moving, deeply paradoxical message of the Kingdom of God, art becomes a tangible expression of our bewilderment – our utter amazement – of what God has done and is continuing to do in the lives of those who seek Him. Furthermore, it serves as a tangible reminder of the beauty and wonder of the unseen God we serve.
What if the Church became known for its art? What if mainstream society began to look to the Body for creative inspiration? What if the Church became notorious for being a group of people who were bursting at the seams with creative energy, simply because the object of their creativity was the Creator Himself? It seems, at least in most cases, that the church is playing quite the opposite role. We’ve become very good at imitating culture, and we’re quick to grab the latest trends and logos and infuse them with a little bit of Jesus in order to appeal to our congregations. It doesn’t have to be this way. Perhaps originality is not the easy route, but it is, in many cases, the best one.
Let’s not marginalize or trivialize art, for it has power and potential. We were created in the very image of the Creator, infused with gifts and abilities which have a remarkable potential to communicate Kingdom truth, and bring glory to the Lord (Psalm 33:1-3). May we use our gifts and talents to the best of our abilities, and learn to appreciate those which were bestowed upon others. May we never grow weary of creatively expressing our love and devotion to our Creator.