Friday, March 18, 2011

The Future Role of the Arts in the Church, Part Two

In my last post, I wrote about my belief that the church, in the future, would more likely organize itself into smaller, organic pods of believers, and live out faith in these smaller clusters. I posed the question that given this new form of the church, how would the arts be manifested in these smaller communities and how might devotional arts impact culture from this context. Here are my opinions:

1. Worship will be less programmed. I believe that it is far more likely that, while small worship gatherings will still have times of worship and discussion of God, it will not be the programmed, polished, consumer-oriented product that we currently see. My prediction is that worship will arise more naturally and organically. I also foresee less congregational singing, and more congregational discussion.

2. More art will originate from within small community. These days, one could attend about any contemporary church and hear familiar songs. Not because great hymns of the ages are being used frequently, but because the same 50 songs are coming from the top music artists and publishers in Nashville, and local churches are simply copycatting these songs. While there are many great songs to be used from these resources, I think in the future, these smaller communities will form their own artistic expression in music, art, poetry, video, etc. The "canned" material will be less important to the faith community, and natural expressions of congregants own experiences will be more highly valued.

3. Art will be formational. We will attempt to understand [literally, stand under] art in our communities. We will stop seeing it for merely its emotional impact in supporting a theological point, and will begin to see the theology of individual artworks. We will treat them as we would a sermon or a curriculum, and attempt to derive our own spiritual anchor points from these works of arts.

4. Art will seem more secular in nature. Rather than limiting expressions of God to come through approved "Christian" channels [using approved "Christian" words and phrases], we will begin to see God's movement in art outside the church, and incorporate it into our own expression. We will allow the goodness of what is being done in the world to impact our Christian experience. We will appreciate and celebrate good art wherever it is found, even incorporating it into our communities. [We already see this at work in some circles, particularly in music and video, as many contemporary churches use secular music or box office hits to illustrate points or deepen meaning in worship services.]

5. The church [even in these small faith communities] will begin to understand itself as a steward of art, which it will use to impact the world for good. The church will more and more realize that "every good and perfect gift" comes from God, and will use the goodness and beauty inherent in its art to impact culture. I think it will not be uncommon for the church to be a regular host for art shows, concerts, ballets, movies, etc. as it begins to understand itself as an administrator and executor of goodness and beauty.

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