A New Renaissance in the Arts: Why Now?
- Wednesday, January 06, 2010
A New Renaissance is rising. A movement to reintegrate the arts (music, visual art, dance, film, etc) into churches and reengage the culture with spiritual art is growing in many areas of Christendom. Evangelicals, mainline Protestants, Charismatics, Catholics and others are seeking to rekindle the relationship between faith and art. The Vatican is meeting with world renowned artists, Charismatics have released prophetic statements about the arts, and protestants are integrating media and the arts into services.
The Church was once the major patron of the arts, and many Christian leaders believe that it can and should be once again. But this renewed interest in the arts is far more than just church's attempts to stay relevant or to create propaganda to win converts. In fact, it may be an essential ingredient to the foretold preparation of the Bride of Christ, as well as a shift in the way the church impacts the world as a force for good.
The worldwide Church stands at a unique time in history, in a position that no other institution can fill. Her decision to embrace, encourage and disciple artists and the arts will benefit individuals, communities and the Body of Christ in profound ways, and enable her to better fulfill her mission of offering God's love to the world.
It starts on a local level. As local churches take the initiative to embrace artists and their gifts they will see a richness and depth to their services and community life. Just as God brings specific messages to congregations through their individual pastors and leaders, so He has specific insights to bring to local churches through the artists sovereignly planted in them.
Why this is happening
There are several reasons why this movement to re-integrate faith and art is happening at this point in history. First, as it affects the church, this New Renaissance provides an important catalyst to the maturity of the Body and Bride of Christ. Romans 12:4-6 says, "Just as each of us has one body with many members, and those members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us…"
God has designed Christian community as a place where every believer's gifting, large or small, can be discovered, nurtured, and developed for the benefit of the believers themselves, the Body of Christ, and the wider world. How can the Body properly function without the gifts that the arts and artists bring to it? Gifts of seeing and sight, intuition and knowing with the heart, creating and crafting with the hands, and more? Congregations and the Church universal will continue to miss a large facet of the personality of God if artists and the arts are not allowed to bring their gifts, observations, personalities, and visions into the Body of Christ to be nutrured and become part of community life.
Another reason for the New Renaissance is the fact that we live in an arts-saturated world. The arts - music, film, graphics, performance, public and visual art and more - are the language of the culture. We saw an amazing shift in worship music over the last 25 years. Where once 100 to 500 year-old hymns were commonly sung in the majority of churches, now most have at least one contemporary service where new rock-oriented worship music is sung, often with a full band. This change in music enabled new generations to find relevance in their church experience. A full integration of the other arts into the church is the next logical step. The arts meet people where they are by using language that is familiar and meaningful to the person encountering it. The arts provide connecting points for people who are unchurched and they enable us to express Christ's essence by showing, not always speaking. The arts create a work that has a life of its own and can be carried into the culture to make an impact far into the future.
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