As Christians we sometimes have relegated the visual arts to the very fringe of life. We often dismiss our own creativity as impractical to the work of evangelism. But is this what our Father in heaven intended? Our God is the father of creation and He has given us His ability to create.
For Christians to come together and create beauty for the glory of God is the new practical way we can show people the beauty of the Kingdom of Christ.
There are several practical ways churches can lift up the homeless through the beauty of art. Creating a positive and encouraging living space can be just as important sometimes as basic things like food and clothing. In Philippians 4:8 we read that “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
- S. Lewis stated, “We do not want merely to see beauty . . . We want something else which can hardly be put into words – to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.” The church creating beauty allows us to become a part of something bigger and more important than ourselves and allows us to reach out to the community in an important way.
At New Life City Church in downtown Kansas City there exists an incredible mural by artist Travis Stewart that visually portrays the gospel of Christ. In the mural, Steward depicts his spiritual journey and testimony of becoming a Christian.
Stewart proves that creating beautiful art can provide a positive living space and is very important for emotional health. Homeless people can see the visible gospel on the walls. Not only do the people who are living in homeless shelters benefit, but also the students and members of the church who create the art and murals are blessed by using their gifts for Christ.
Visual Manna recently trained a group of young people to go out and create murals at City Union Mission.
During the Renaissance, few people could not read and write. The church commissioned beautiful art to explain the gospel story and impact the people with the message of the Good News.
In today’s culture, people do not read a lot. Creating a visual gospel can have a resounding effect on the unchurched.
“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.”
Looking at a beautiful work of art or creating a work of art can lift the spirits.
“Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens… When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” – Psalm 8:1, 3-4
Paint parties have become a very popular thing lately. When you add the element of the powerful word of God to this experience, works are created and the Lord is glorified in a fun and exciting way.
You can do a number of very popular Biblical themes. Samples are “Jesus Was Born on a Starry Night,” “Be Still and Know that I am God,” and “All About Angels/Psalm 91” to name a few.
The idea of doing a paint party and talking about the beauty and glory of God is something that is really fun and relaxing and allows the people involved to not only have a delightful time with their friends, but to create a painting that reminds them of the Bible verse each party is based on. In this particular party seen above, it was a fundraising event to raise money for the human trafficking ministry ABBA HELPS.
Another great ministry is teaching children. Art is being eliminated in some schools because of the extra expense. Having tea parties and going places where there are children that are not exposed to art is a great outreach for the church.
Training young people to do this is so very important. Visual Manna is currently training young people to do all these things in missions.
Mission groups not only show the love of Christ, but the wonderful art activities that teach fine motor skill development and encourage originality and creativity as well as model manners and kindness. Here are pictures of a paint party we did at an Alzheimer’s home where clients each did a painting and then we put it together into a mural.
What makes art Christian art? Is it simply Christian artists painting biblical subjects like Jeremiah? Or, by attaching a halo, does that suddenly make something Christian art? Must the artist’s subject be religious to be Christian? I don’t think so. There is a certain sense in which art is its own justification. If art is good art, if it is true art, if it is beautiful art, then it is bearing witness to the Author of the good, the true, and the beautiful
As Christians, we are constantly looking for new ways to reach people for His Kingdom. The visual arts are quickly becoming one of the most effective ways to publicly reach people. Through paint parties and other social events, we can learn to express the Spirit for others. With every brush stroke we are able to share in our Father’s beautiful creation, we make His world a little bit more beautiful. And making the world a more beautiful place is a pleasing offering to Him.
By Sharon Jeffus | Metro Voice contributor