Ever since my trip to London last spring, I have realized how deficient most evangelical churches are in the arts. It’s most obvious in the plain walls of our churches, but the problem extends into our homes. So I was interested in Outreach and the Art: Sharing the Gospel in the Arts.
The author, a jazz musician, focuses on things he has witnessed in his career, while inviting readers to apply his observations to other fields as well. The book is divided into three main categories: outreach with the arts, through the arts, and to the arts, with related chapters on practicalities and the danger of art becoming an idol. Each chapter also features an artist profile with an artist from a different field, providing different perspectives.
I found chapter 3 “what works and why” especially important for those in leadership positions in the church, as it points out the need for communication between artists and the church. For example, I may sound nice to offer snacks during a jazz concert, but that might undermine the artist’s significance at make him no more than background music.
I also appreciated chapter four, “outreach through the arts.” While art can be seen as an evangelism tool, there’s also the danger of treating it only as a tool. The author reminds people that while the message can trump the medium, there is also a time for developing a quality medium as well. One quote references a group of Christian musicians and says [critics feel] “this is authentic music because it is inspired and shaped by the musicians’ beliefs rather than simply providing a vehicle for their message.”
I think Outreach and the Artist is a good book for starting a discussion on the roll of art in the Christian world.
I was given a free e-copy of this book from Thomas Nelson’s BookSneeze program but was not required to give a positive review