Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Art - Takin' it back!

Art in the church. For as long as I can remember, this has been a controversial and often adversarial subject. 

I remember when I was pre-teen a music group was set to perform at our church. My family arrived early that evening because my mom was a greeter and my dad operated the sound system - which consisted of four microphones, four knobs, and one on/off switch.

The singing group arrived and before long all twelve members (six men and six women) were dressed in their matching lavender-colored maxi-dresses, polyester suits, and perfectly coiffed hair-dos. The piano player sat down at the baby grand to make sure the instrument was tuned to his satisfaction, a couple of players tightened the loose strings on their guitars, and then...dun dun dun. Are those drums?

The pastor stuck his head into the still mostly empty sanctuary, called the leader of the group aside. In a hushed whisper he informed the young director that drums were not welcome in this here church. "Those are tools of the devil."

True story.

Now days you can find a drum kit on nearly every single church platform in America - except of course, congregations associated with The Church of Christ, as they don't play musical instruments. It seems odd to me that rhythm instruments were not allowed in most churches until fairly recently considering the Psalmist says, "Praise him with crashing cymbals". He encourages us to praise Him with dancing, with stringed instruments, with the tambourine, with the harp, and with the trumpet. That's Psalm 150, by the way.

It wasn't until the late 1970's and early '80's that live drama became more of a church mainstay. I knew pastors in that era, however, who still preached against going to the movies or secular live theatre venues to see plays or musicals.

I believe all things were created by God, through God, and for God. I believe it because the Bible tells us so. Yes, He even created Hollywood, Broadway, Bollywood, and small town community theatre companies everywhere. I believe God Himself gifted Picasso, Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Van Gogh, and Monet with immeasurable artistic talent. God poured music into the hearts, minds, and piano playing fingers of Liberace, Barry Manilow, and Billy Joel. He created Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Kurt Cobain.

Yes, art was created by God as a gift to His kids–a gift of beauty, inspiration, joy, excitement, energy, and life. School districts have cut their budgets down to nubbins, and art education is always the first to go. Perhaps it's time the church takes back that which we have so readily handed over to the world.

Proverbs tells us to "train up a child in the way he should go [according to his bent] and when he is old he will not turn away". The artists among us are being turned away - by the schools and by the church. I say we take seriously the admonition to train up these talented young people. We can nurture their talent and teach them God's amazing and unconditional awesomeness.

Come on Church. Get off the pew and start a children's choir, create a theatre company, find a place for young filmmakers, and teach young musicians. Find instructors who not only have "a heart for the ministry", but the talent and education needed to train up quality artists. There's nothing worse than the bless-his-heart-he-tries church artist. We're representing the God of the Universe, for heaven's sake. We need to bring in the first string players on this one.

I say it's time The Church takes back art. It is, after all, God's gift to us. We have no business complaining about the movies, television, music, plays, and comedy offerings out there today when we're just sitting in our pews and on our hands and not creating superior alternatives.

Get off the pew!

1 comment:

  1. Couldn't agree with you more. Growing up in the church as a teenager, I heard the pastor and others talk about the evil of Hollywood. In fact, everything outside the church seemed to be evil. Politicians. Psychologists. Other denominations. I hope the tide is turning, and we will see churches embracing the arts.