7 Questions for churches with an "arts ministry"
I am increasingly in situations where people ask me what I see going on with churches and the arts. Recently, I had a radio station ask me the question: "David, what churches are doing a good job with an arts ministry?" Honestly, I don't make the best interviewee. I usually answer with something like, "Well that depends." Context is everything. How you define your terms matters. And very little is a straightforward answer. And then the host cuts to commercials.
More often than not I will qualify three terms in that question: church, good, and arts ministry. First, the image that people conjure in their minds when you say "church" is not as broadly common as it was fifty years ago. From megachurches to house churches, as we'd say in Guatemala, "De todo hay en la viña del Señor." There's a lot going on the vineyard of the Lord. Second, the grounds on which you may regard your ministry as good will be as far ranging as the philosophies of ministry that inform a church leadership. And third, some folks may feel very comfortable describing what they do in terms of an "arts ministry." Others will feel the need to amend the phrase.
With that said, however, I find myself with two clear desires: one, to describe as fairly as possible the wide range of artistic activities that takes place in churches today, and two, to promote publicly the efforts of churches beyond my kin. I know Hope Chapel pretty well (or at least I used to). I know what's going in churches around Austin. I know of Imago Dei in Portland and Redeemer Presbyterian in NYC. But when the radio host asks me "What's going on?", I'd really like to be able to say, "A heck of a lot, you know."
So if you have a minute or two, I'd love to hear answers to the seven questions I've listed below. If you have time to answer all seven, perfect. If you only have time to answer one or two, I'll take it. You can write me by email: david (dot) taylor (at) hopemail (dot) org.
Many thanks in advance. I look forward to telling the world about what God is up to in your church context. For fun I've included two videos below with two very different visions for the arts.
[PHOTO ABOVE: artwork that Phaedra created for All Saints Anglican in Durham, NC, to celebrate the Easter season. They're two 8'X3' panels with 250 sheets of gold leaf. See here for details of the work.]
1. What is the stated vision or mission for your artistic efforts?
2. What kinds of activities do you have happening at your church that make intentional use of the arts?
3. With regard to the performing arts, what kinds of things do you have going on that you’re particularly excited about?
4. With regard to the visual arts, what kinds of things do you have going on that you’re particularly excited about?
5. Can you share with me a good story? By “good” I mean a story that involves a significant moment of insight or transformation, whether spiritually or personally, whether relationally or missionally, in the life of your congregation. The possible contexts may include: the corporate worship time, a small group setting, a missional outreach, out in the marketplace, or simply something that took place in the thick of life.
6. What concerns do you have about your arts ministry vis-à-vis your church?
7. Where would you like to be in five to ten years from now?