Art and the Church: an odd couple or Gospel powerhouse?

By October 11, 2019
art, hands

USA (MNN) — Sometimes it’s ignored. Sometimes it’s just poorly done. Art and the Church have a fickle history and artists don’t always know where they fit in the Great Commission.

We spoke with Melanie Spinks, an art professor at Wingate University, Leighton Ford Ministries representative, and guest speaker for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

She says rather than have a contentious relationship with art, believers can approach art with a missional mindset.

art

(Photo courtesy of Martino Pietropoli via Unsplash)

Spinks personally felt called to missions 20 years ago, so she approached several missions organizations hoping to use her artistry.

“I was already a young art professor at the time and I thought, ‘I would do anything for the Lord. Just give me a task,’” she says.

However, none of the ministries needed an artist. Spinks faced rejection after rejection, but it didn’t snuff her passion.

“I’m not a very emotional person, but every time I would hear about the nations my eyes would just tear up for the lost. I knew that God had called me and I have to plug in somehow to this Great Commission.”

Spinks signed up for a perspectives course and listened to a talk by Don Richardson. He shared the story of the peace child and how God hides redemptive analogies in culture to serve as bridges to the Gospel.

It was an epiphany for Spinks. She realized art can do just that — be the bridge for redemptive analogies to the Gospel.

“I feel like you kind of can bend the rules when you talk about art because art is so personal and people expect it to be subjective. They expect you to get [beyond] what is politically correct. Artists talk about politics and religion all the time because artists make artwork from their heart.”

art, sculpture

(Photo courtesy of The Digital Marketing Collaboration via Unsplash)

A poignant moment of Spinks’s ministry through art occurred when she taught at Georgia State University.

“At Georgia State at the time 20 years ago, the art department was not a place where you could express your faith. [It was] very antagonistic. Well, you could but there was a price to pay.”

Spinks taught a sculpture class and the students asked about her work. She offered to talk about her work outside of class and any students who wanted to come of their own free will were welcome.

Spinks didn’t expect many to attend since the open gathering was at 9 am — an impressive time for college students to show up unmandated.

“I was shocked that the whole class showed up except for one…. We had a really great relationship, really good chemistry in that class.

art

(Photo courtesy of Alice Achterhof via Unplash)

“So I got to show my artwork and also give my testimony along with it. They said that was the most helpful thing they had learned that entire semester.”

However, the most fascinating discovery came after the gathering. For the first time, her students started sharing their own Christian faith as well.

“I had a student in the background saying, ‘Hey, I’m glad you talked about being a Christian. I am too, but I’m the only one here.’ Then another student would come up and say, ‘I’m glad you’re talking about being a Christian because I am too, but I think I’m the only one here,’” Spinks says.

“After a while, I realized most of the class is Christian and we’re all just cowering because of the outrage of a few people who are intolerant.”

Please pray for Christian artists to have the courage and vulnerability in their work to point others to our Creator God. Ask the Lord to use art in the Church to open Gospel doors that would otherwise be closed.

You can view Melanie’s work right here.

 

 

Header photo courtesy of Amaury Salas via Unsplash.

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