I’ve talked recently about why Christians should care about art, in this new series I’m going to talk about why Christians should specifically encourage each other to work in secular art fields as well as overtly Christian ones
Reason 1: Secular Art can be a Mission Field
We know Christians values have been leaving our culture for a long time.
Artists can help change that because artwork always communicates at least subtle messages about what life is all about.
So, artists trying to do that are really like missionaries in a foreign land — they’re trying to bring Christian ideas into places that either have forgotten them or never had them in the first place.
Now, what does the Bible teach about missions work?
Different books of the Bible cover different aspects of that, but the book of Acts gives the most detailed picture of early missions work, and it shows an interesting pattern: whenever early Christians wanted to present Christianity to new towns or places, they frequently start by trying to build a connection with their audience.
They didn’t just show up in a new village and start talking, they usually found some way to connect their ideas with teachings that their audience already believed, or they set themselves up as being somehow part of the same group.
For example, Peter starts his talk to the crowd at Pentecost by talking about the prophet Joel.
Why? Because his audience is Jews or Jewish converts, so they all respect the Old Testament Prophets. If he can establish what he’s sharing fits with the Old Testament Prophets’ teachings, the audience will listen.
So, missionary work usually involves an initial step where you try to step into the world of your target audience. They won’t voluntarily step into your world, they won’t listen to someone who’s obviously from a different world without being a bit guarded, so you have to create empathy by stepping into their camp a little. When you do that, they’ll respect you enough to listen to what you have to say.
So, artists trying to do the equivalent of missions with their artwork need to do something similar.
They must find ways to bring their art into the circles of people they’re trying to impact. That means working in secular music, film, and trying to bring Christian ideas into those arenas.
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