Imagine looking at a painting or sculpture, listening to a piece of symphony music, jogging with your iPod playing the latest Dave Matthews Band album, or walking through a folk art center. Do these activities have anything to do with Christian discipleship? Or to put it differently, does 1 Corinthians 10:31 (“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”) have anything to do with engaging the arts? And if so, should the church through its ministry have anything to do with helping believers think about such questions?
The best of the Reformed tradition has answered that question with an emphatic “yes.” After all, the answer to the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism boldly declares “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” All too often we regulate “glorifying God” and “enjoying him” to “spiritual” activities such as praying, reading the Bible, listening to sermons, and doing good works. But Christian discipleship demands that we think through and increasingly live for God’s glory in the full warp and woof of our lives.
And that includes the arts. What do we mean by the arts? The term “arts” comes from the Latin ars, which means, “to arrange.” As the word developed, the “arrangement” of creation included a wide-range of applications: music (classic to contemporary, solo to orchestral, composition, conducting), the visual arts (painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, clay, ceramics, wood), the language arts (literature, poetry, creative writing), media (film, video, audio, screenplay writing), dance, design arts (architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, urban design), theatre (including playwriting, puppetry, storytelling, acting, directing, design) and so-called “hidden art” (art that is found in the day-to-day areas of life, such as sewing, food preparation, flower arranging, gardening, creative recreation, environment).
In order to help our congregation to think “Christianly” about the arts, we offer a range of opportunities to engage and reflect upon the wide ranges of arts. We have book clubs that read a wide range of non-fiction and fiction and discuss these books from the resources of the Christian worldview; we host periodic movie nights for adults as well as families in order to discuss the art of story-telling; we attend area concerts and host musical events in partnership with the University of Southern Mississippi and Festival South; and we periodically bring in artists who stretch our minds and hearts for God’s glory.