The vision, mission and priorities of a church's arts ministry
Recently I was asked if I possessed a job description for my work as an arts pastor during my years at Hope Chapel. I don't unfortunately. I have instead a mish-mash of documents that together spell out what I had been charged to oversee. My work, as with many pastors, was a composite of different tasks: heading up the arts ministry, giving leadership to our adult education program and serving on the preaching team, along with a host of knick-knacky, one-off jobs.
What I do have, however, is a document that identifies our vision, mission, philosophy of ministry, priorities, goals and activities as an arts ministry. I can't recall if I've shared that material yet, but I offer it here in case it might be helpful to some. It illustrates one community's interpretation of what the arts, in all its forms and uses, might do to serve the life of the church. Whether I still agree with the phrasings or emphases or purposes represented here, which I had a substantial hand in authoring, I still believe in the basic trajectory of the statement and, more than that, I deeply believe in the community that labored together to bring it life.
This is part one of our statement along with a slideshow below.
Vision statement: to seek a re-formation of the church in its understanding and practice of art so that we might be the people of the triune God experiencing the fullness of beauty, truth and goodness.
1. To provide artists with opportunities for community and for expression.
2. To foster creativity in all aspects of the congregation.
3. To be a gracious, subversive presence in the city of Austin.
Philosophy of ministry:
1. Loving well, living well (the kind of community we wish to cultivate).
2. Excellent and compelling (the kind of work we want to produce).
Values of HopeArts
1. The Glory of God. Paramount in all our activities is the glory of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. “Thine is the glory,” we remind ourselves in the Lord’s Prayer; we have seen the glory of the Christ, the Word enfleshed; and it is the Spirit of glory who rests upon God’s saints. It is under and on behalf of that Trinitarian glory that we live and move and have our being as artists.
2. Hospitality. We want every artist who participates in the arts ministry to feel welcome, to feel encouraged and safe to perform and display their work, and that both amateurs and professionals be honored.
3. Community. Axiomatic to classic Christianity is the recognition that our fullest expression as human beings will occur only in the context of community. In a reflection of our triune God, we strive to honor each other in our relationships, to do our work out of love for our community, and to foster community among all ages.
4. Collaboration. The autonomous artist may achieve great success by gathering fame around himself, but with this success will also come loneliness and fear, competitiveness and envy. We choose to believe that collaboration and cooperation in art-making leads to abundant life as well as to a profoundly satisfying experience for all included.
5. Honesty. Our desire is to encourage the kind of art that honestly represents the human experience in all its loveliness and terror, its romance and despair, its silliness and gravity. A good story, as Flannery O’Connor once commented, needs no justification.
6. Subversion. We desire to subvert our culture with good art, art that is allusive in its invitation to God's kingdom. We believe that art can awaken those asleep to the truth, including ourselves, and can expose the cultural lies that beset and deform us daily.
7. Holism. In Genesis 2:9 the writer tells us that the trees God made were “pleasing to the eye and good for food.” Echoing this holistic model of creativity, we wish to release artists to make the art that the Spirit has inspired in them, whether for practical purposes or for the purposes of aesthetic delight.
1. Teach good habits of artmaking and good ideas about art.
2. Rebuke bad habits of artmaking and bad ideas about art.
3. Model good habits of artmaking and good works of art.
Lastly, here is a video that features highlights from our 2002 arts festival, at the time when we first began to choose our venues for the festival around the city of Austin.