Spend a few minutes gazing at the natural environment, and it’s evident that God is creative. There are between 9,000 and 11,000 different species of birds. No two human beings have the same fingerprint. God never seems to run out of variety, and one of the ways we reflect God’s creativity in the world is through artistic expression.
Art is everywhere. There are ancient drawings on cave walls and petroglyphs etched on boulders in Wyoming. Murals in urban centers tell community stories using images instead of words. When we’re old enough to hold a crayon, someone gives us a piece of paper and invites us to draw. Words, too, are powerful tools of creativity. As he reflected on his body of work, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote that “we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker.”
Congregations are called to celebrate art and embrace creativity because we are “made in the image and likeness of a Maker.” While we regularly challenge people to serve and to use their administrative skills, how often do we cultivate creative gifts beyond the gift of music? Are we looking for young artists in our children’s and youth groups? Who are the talented writers in our faith communities? Some people are visual learners, which suggests that art has a profound theological purpose. Seeing the word may help some people to hear the word. Where does art show up in your ministry?
A Chicago church has installed a trio of stained-glass windows to help its members reclaim their past, honor their present and look ahead to their future.
By Celeste Kennel-Shank
The poet and professor speaks about the impermanence of words and the faith that compels poets to practice anyway.
Q&A with Christian Wiman
Iconographer Kelly Latimore creates art that uses a traditional style to depict contemporary people and, he hopes, to bring people together.
Q&A with Kelly Latimore
Art shapes faith and faith shapes art at Convergence, a combination church and arts center that makes space for the creative exploration that artists crave — and the church needs.
By Edie Gross
Before you go…
The arts have always been a big part of my life, and I think it’s worth reflecting on how to bring art to the forefront of our ministries.
Recently, a church member posted about himself on social media. In his post, he gave thanks to God for the gift of drawing. He included a picture of his art, which was a self-portrait caricature. I realized that I did not know this man was an artist. After admiring his work, I immediately recognized why I did not know about his gift: the church has never given an invitation for him to step forward with his gifts and use them in ministry. Thankfully, he serves in other ways. But I think it would be a beautiful thing for him to bring his artistic expression into the ministry so that we can all see what God can do with and through this wonderful gift.
Feel free to contact me and the Alban Weekly team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next week, keep leading!
Editor, Alban at Duke Divinity