Earlier this week, we visited an art gallery in London, and one of the discussions that we have been having here in Europe has revolved around art and the church. Over the last few years, more churches seem to be interested in engaging culture through art.
For example, Sojourn Community Church was planted in Louisville, KY in 2000, immediately launching an art gallery to connect with their community. In 2010 they have a thriving church as well as a thriving Art Center (The 930).
Those churches that are involved in the arts understand artistic creativity to be part of the imprint of the imago Dei in humanity. Some use art as a bridge for gospel connections, believing the common ground the arts can be leveraged in such a way as to lead directly to the gospel story. Others have a larger view of the arts, believing the creation of art itself is a work God creates people for and calls them to do. It can reflect the realms of creation or Redemption, and exists for the glory of God and enjoyment of man. Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York is leading out in this area through their cultural renewal ministry, the Center for Faith and Work. Here's a brief synopsis of their philosophy of ministry concerning the arts. From the CFW website,
The arts tell the story of our culture, and impact 21st century society as perhaps no other field does. To the extent that art reflects the heart of its creator, lives transformed by the Gospel serve as agents of cultural change.
Redeemer Presbyterian Church has a long history of both embracing artists in a loving Christian community and challenging them to express their faith through their lives and creative work to the glory of God and for the benefit of their industries.
Specifically, the Arts Ministry seeks to:
- build communities of artists where they can know and be known by God and one another;
- provide opportunities for artists to create in Christ-centered community, for the benefit of the church and our city;
- lead the Redeemer congregation to engage with the art of NYC and with its artists, for the purposes of cultural renewal.
One of the recurring themes I have noticed when talking about reaching Western Europe is art. We discussed it in Rome, Krakow, Marseilles, London, and now Paris. The art community is strong and, it seems, open. This means that gospel-centered (and good) artists have great opportunity here.