Publisher’s Book Description:
Whether you are an artist whose talents are an untapped source of energy for your church or a ministry leader wanting to involve artists and the creative arts in your outreach efforts, Outreach and the Artist will renew your vision. Musician and biblical scholar Con Campbell offers encouragement, wisdom, and practical tips for evangelism with, through, and to the arts:
Evangelism with the Arts - While the abilities of Christian artists may serve the church internally, artists within the church usually have enormous untapped potential for outreach.
Evangelism through the Arts - People’s natural love for various artistic mediums provides a connection-point to exploring life’s big questions with unbelievers in non-threatening and engaging ways.
Evangelism to the Arts - Christian artists are uniquely positioned to make an impact in artistic networks, which often have no Christian witness or presence and tend to be shut off from conventional methods of outreach.
Spreading the gospel is a task worth every God-given resource we have, and artists and their creative gifts are no exception.
When I saw the title of this book, I jumped at the chance to review it. Being a Worship Pastor and working heavily with the arts in the church I always look for new thoughts on and forms of expressing the gospel of Jesus through the arts. It’s my believe that the church should be the most creative place on the planet. As we grow in our understanding of God our expressions of Him should grow as well.
I wore a shirt for quite some time that I picked up from a #SEEDS conference in Oklahoma that read “Make Art Not Gimmicks”. The church struggles with this. It’s easy to rip off the creative of someone else. It’s easy to pull something from YouTube and replicate it. Art is work. It’s hard and messy, but it’s rewarding.
Christ-followers have the beautiful command to take the gospel into all the world. The gospel being the love and truth of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. The gospel is the good news of sins forgiven. I’m reminded of the quote “Go out into the world and preach the gospel, and if you must, use words.” This quote is often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. What else can we use besides the spoken or written word? We use our actions and art.
A recent project by Bethel Music called Without Words is an entirely instrumental album. Their teams hoped to capture what an instrumental “worship” record could be. It’s a beautiful expression of art to God.
Constantine Campbell writes on what this expression could look like in the book Outreach And The Artist. Focusing on real life experiences birth from his Jazz Band playing at church outreach events, Campbell lays out the do’s and don’ts of how to use the arts in outreach. It’s vital to the understanding of this book that Campbell is clear on outreach as evangelism to the lost. This is not an arts event for the edification of believers. It is a strategic plan to bring the lost to a place where they can hear the gospel.
I did find myself having to dig through the veil of jazz band stories to find the nuggets of wisdom in the writing but overall I enjoyed the book. Here are some of my favorite quotes:
“You gave up jazz for God, and he gave it right back to you.” So true. But when God gave it back to me, it was with a higher purpose than ever before. (on reclaiming the arts)
Lots of singer-songwriters, for example, can imagine themselves hitting the Christian music circuit, playing their Christian songs for churches, youth groups, and CHristian events. Christian actors and playwrights might likewise take their Christian dramas and skits on the church circuit, and so on. Of course that is a great thing, and it’s a wonderful way for believers to use their gifts for edification of the church. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about outreach. (on outreach)
A potential problem in recruiting an artist for outreach is that they may feel that their art form is a bit obscurantist, poorly understood, esoteric, and definitely not mainstream. The more “artistic” the artist, the more this will be true. (recruiting artists for outreach)
The arts are about life. And because the arts are about life, they relate to Jesus, because Jesus is about life.
In order to express the human condition, the artist draws on his or her creativity. I believe that creativity of human beings is part of what it means to be made in the image of God. Our God is a creating God, and those in his image are also creators.
Artists care about quality. It’s part of what makes them an artist.
…maintain artistic integrity while choosing tunes that some listeners might now, tunes that were easy to listen to, and keeping solos short(ish)… think of it as artist education mode. Be an ambassador for your art. Help people to like it an appreciate it. Don’t leave them in the dark. (on bringing people with you in understanding your art)
Realizing who my audience is means that I can help set the sequence in motion.
Aim to move someone one step along the way. Aim for a second date.