Editorial by Danielle White
Many tourist destination in Europe happen to be old churches, some as far back as the Middle Ages or the Renaissance. Even in the Americas and other countries, you can witness the beautiful artistry of these churches and chapels. The architects and artists of the time wished to communicate the greatness of God through the architecture they built or the beautiful murals they painted. Just look at the Hagia Sophia as an example of this type of architecture. This beautiful building was once a great symbol of the once very powerful Christian Byzantine empire. Its interior is decorated with stunning mosaics and marble pillars with coverings of great artistic value. The building’s most outstanding feature is its large dome, which is said to have changed architectural history. Even Gothic architecture, with it’s large scale, intimidating presence and echoing halls, were meant to make the church goers feel small in the presence of God and reflect on His greatest. The echoing of the halls came into play when the choir began to sing and it felt as if you were ascending to heaven with their songs of praise. The patrons if these churches and the artists themselves took great pride in the building of these churches, chapels and cathedrals. Artists were invited and paid to come into the church, in order to bring their artistic talents and use them for God’s kingdom. For many reasons, this trend of arts in the church has died off, however there are a few trying to continue this practice through more modern means.
One Indianapolis church has introduced dance and live painting during worship. I’ve even gone to a church program in Frisco, TX, where poets and singers take turns coming up to the mic and used their God given talents to speak and their experiences and the greatest of God. It was all improvised and allowed the artists to take pleasure in using their talents in a Godly and spiritual atmosphere. This also makes them feel appreciated and valued by the church. Instead of an artist working alone in their studio or a poet going into a jazz club, they can begin to feel more at home in the church; receiving great grace from God, showing in their works and fellowshipping with other Christians and Christian artists alike. I feel this is very important, because it can be difficult being the Christian artist in a field that can be very secular and in some cases harmful to the spirit.
Just today, I was talking with a sister in the church about art and how we wish to serve God with it. She’s studying architecture and landscaping, while I’m studying sequential art and graphic design. We came to find that we both wish to use our talents in similar ways; in bridging the gap of understanding and love between God and man. This was very encouraging and graceful and from it we truly became closer friends. We began talking about how great it is to feel useful in a church that gives us something to do and helps us to dream big for God’s kingdom. This sort of fellowship, not just for artist, but for any specialized field is vital. The church is going to be filled with all sorts of people, so it’s important to make each and everyone feel needed and have an outlet for them to enjoy, while not having to go away from the church.
The church is God’s house, a place for worship, prayer, fellowship and communion with God. And I thank God, that He’s so awesome and so creative that He gave us the ability to do all these things in so many different ways within the Spirit and grace of God. I hope many more churches can begin to encourage artists and many others by having more creative activities, programs and act of worship. As one article by J. Scott McElroy and Jessie Nilo beautifully states, let the church be a place in our society and “culture to experience beauty, creativity and transcendence”, because God is truly all of those things and with the gifts He given us, it’s our duty has His sons and daughters to show our thankfulness by giving it back to Him.