A college community explores the place where the arts and faith intersect

By October 11, 2012

USA (MNN) — The Church and the arts have had an on-again/off-again relationship for a couple of millennia.

At one time, the Church was the driving force of the arts, but that influence faded into near obscurity during the 20th century. As a result, it seems there was a time where artists grew suspicious of the Church, and the Church grew suspicious of artists.

In today's culture, the arts are closely tied in with young people. Music, poetry, theater, visual arts and dance all invite and serve as community forums, in many parts of the community except the church.

The InterVarsity Christian Fellowship launched its National Arts Ministry to help university artists find ways to connect their art, life, and faith. Their definition of "art" includes the traditional media, as well as some of the less tradition, like performance art, architecture and design, or film. InterVarsity's goal is to answer the question of whether or not they can stay relevant to their discipline and still be a Christian.

The support provided by a Christian arts community encourages believers to challenge themselves in their creative disciplines, and challenge themselves in the day-to-day living of their faith.

This month, the ministry team is releasing a series of seven videos that deal with common questions and issues that artists struggle with. "Are the arts of any real importance?" "Where in the Bible does it say God thinks the arts are important?" "How do I get off the performance treadmill?"

The first three videos are available now through the InterVarsity Arts Ministry Facebook page. They feature InterVarsity National Arts Ministry Director Dick Ryan talking about how art, life, and faith connect for years — often with college-age artists. The next set of videos is coming the last week of October, and another set will come in November.

This Christian arts community embraces students, faculty, and staff who create a welcoming forum space in colleges and conservatories across the country. They're meant to be places of safety for artists of all kinds to find honest encouragement in both their work and their lives.

They're also encouraging students to participate in Urbana 12, InterVarsity's Student Missions Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. Urbana runs December 27-31, 2012.

Staff list the top 5 reasons to go:

5. The Arts Lounge – a great space for discussion, meet-ups, and creating – there will be slam sessions, live music, and times to pray and meet with a mentor.

4. Arts Seminars on topics ranging from Culture and Mission to Panel Discussions with professional artists, actors and dancers.

3. Fantastic, high level performance art presented as an integral part of the plenary sessions.

2. Exhibitors – from missions agencies doing arts outreach to Christian Grad programs in the arts to professional organizations for Christians in the arts.

1. God wants to expand your view of what's happening in the world.

Please pray that God would continue to reveal effective ways to serve college students in the arts and that He would fill InterVarsity Arts Staff with wisdom as they plan for the future.

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