Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Call for Christian Artists!

Dear Christian Artist,

For the purpose of this post, I am going to define "artist" as anyone who produces any creative work, such as a painter, a musician, a writer, a songwriter, a movie producer, an actor/actress, a photographer, etc.

You are rare! Did you know that? You are a rare gem in the Christian world. Why? Because in the creative field, there is more freedom. You know this. Your ability to create and to twist and to pull anything you feel like. That is the freedom I'm talking about. And, of course, the world has taken that opportunity, that freedom and used creative works to demonstrate perverted and vile things. Sex, immorality, rudeness, a blurring of the truth, etc. The world has taken the expression of the human self and used it to portray ungodly material. So, the Christians left that world, that creative sector.

Why would a Christian want to participate in Hollywood, for example, if they would either have to compromise their beliefs or be picky about what they do and not get jobs? Most, I would say, do the former, and its really hard to do the latter. What the world sells wants to hear. So, to produce something Godly most likely wouldn't sell.

So, you are a rare specimen, and that makes you even more important. As Christians, we should together infiltrate the creative fields. We should go like an army, marching forward and taking a stand. When God calls us to be "in the world, but not of it" this is what He was talking about. We will participate in the world's creative field but not partake of the world's food.

Even more excitingly, there are creative fields where Christians have changed the genre around. Consider music for example. Before Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant in the 80s, there was hardly any popular Christian music. Look now! Christian music has its own shelf in stores like Target, Walmart, and Barnes & Noble just because Christian music has just become a force. It's selling. People are buying it.

Consider next the new slue of Christian movies that are coming out nowadays. I am so inspired by Sherwood Baptist Church. Check out their movies (Facing the Giants, Fireproof, Courageous) if you haven't already and watch the commentary on those DVDs. They are so motivated to reach the world through movies. Now we have other movies like the Narnia movies, Veggietale movies, Standing Firm, To Save a Life, Passion of the Christ, etc. that are stepping up behind the Sherwood Production movies.

However, what is working against us? Why hasn't all creative fields taken huge steps such as movies and music? Well, Christians have a tendency to produce BAD stuff. For example, take Christian fiction. This is my field, as a writer, and I'm going to frankly bash this area. Christian fiction is on a general scale horrible. In comparison to the writing available in the secular world (not saying that its all well-written but as a whole), Christian fiction doesn't have much to work with. It's often riddled with cliches, poor unrealistic characters, and very very similar plot themes and settings. I'd say that 75% of Christian fiction is set in the past, such as a Western or Victorian novel. Why? Because its easier to talk about Christian themes in a world that was more accepting of them.

Christian artists have a reputation of producing bad stuff. Why? My theory is that Christians have an awkward time of trying to get their message out. We want to try and encapsulate a person's journey to redemption in 150 pages. Some publishers even require authors to incorporate Bible verses and a story of redemption in their books.  Talk about restricting the creative process!  I also think that because so many talented Christians have left the public field, sticking to use their creative skills in other areas or in smaller venues such as their home church, there isn't as large of a talent pool to choose from.

This astounds me! As Christians, we have access to the Creator of ideas! Shouldn't we be "owning" everyone? We should be having such creative and mind-boggling ideas that we take the creative fields by storm. Every single one of them. And look why the Christian music and movie industry are taking off! Because the quality is good or at least improving. Non-Christians would be willing to be exposed to Christian ideals/teachings if its well-done. I don't know how many comments in response to Sherwood films on Youtube that I saw that said, "I'm not religious or anything, but I would totally see this."

We have no excuse, in my opinion, to be putting out mediocre stuff. We should be trying our hardest and depending on God to supplement to produce something that both God and the world will deem worthy of attention. We've got God on our side. What have we to lose?

I am writing this as a call to Christian artists everywhere to embrace your field of choice. USE it to glorify God in all that you do. You may be poor and starving, as the saying goes, but lean on God to give you wholesome success for your creativity. God created the world in seven days. Think of how awesome His inspiration is going to be in our lives. Let us step out into the world, and show them what we've got. Let our work shine because its got the Creator's fingerprints all over it.

Soli Deo Gloria