What is the role of the artist in a local church? It’s a question that is often asked in Christian circles, and there are many different answers out there. The use of art for the glory of God goes back to the beginning of humanity. The poems in Genesis, Bezalel and Oholiab’s work on the tabernacle in Exodus, the Psalms of David, are the ancient expressions of praise and worship of man to God. Since biblical times art and faith have been intertwined for the people of God.
While it is an age-old question, it’s one we still seek complete answers for. Culture changes quickly and the church gamely tries to keep up, with mixed results. It seems like we’re constantly trying to figure out how to share the beauty and truth of Jesus with our churches, and with our world. We know that art is powerful but how can a local church use it for God’s glory?
I won’t pretend to be able to answer this question for your church, but I can share with you how we address it for The Austin Stone Story Team. We believe that the role of a Story Team artist in the body of The Austin Stone Community Church should be in direct alignment with the church’s mission.
The mission of Story Team, and by extension our artists, is to inspire our church to worship Jesus for who he is, and to remember what he has done. Worship is the foundation of our church. We believe that worshipping Jesus Christ is the primary call of the believer. Story Team’s mission is to directly support and encourage our people in their worship of Jesus.
We believe that as we achieve our mission the people of The Austin Stone will be encouraged in their faith and obedience. We pray that through the faith and obedience of our people, and the power of the Holy Spirit, our church’s mission can be accomplished.
How we structure our team and how we prioritize our work are simply implications of this role and mission. All of the work and opportunities we offer our artists start in this mission.
For one example, story assignments directly reflect what God is doing in our church and how our people live on mission for him in Austin and the world. From stories of people who give their lives to go to the nations, to those mentoring at-risk youth, and the faithful missional communities bringing the gospel to their neighbors and co-workers, the stories we tell show the people of The Austin Stone living out our mission.
Because of the value and importance of the stories we tell, we also seek to equip our artists in craft and theology. In both big and small ways, stories of gospel transformation and mission help our church learn to think about the gospel and its implications. Just as the church strives to equip any teacher or MC leader, we must equip our storytellers to use their craft and knowledge of God to tell stories that are beautiful and true. Our storytellers must be equipped for the mission of the church in the same way we equip other leaders in our church. From our quarterly workshops to Artist Cohorts in our Men’s and Women’s Development Program, we make this training a top priority.
There is more to talk about on this topic, and we certainly will, but I want to emphasize this simple point before heading off into the details: we give our artists a specific mission that directly lines up with the mission of our church. It strengthens the church body, gives our artists a tangible vision, and unifies our team’s work with the broader church. We give our artists a mission, and they respond by running after it.
Artists who believe in what your church is doing want to contribute their skills. Don’t give them a job to do that is secondary to your vision. Don’t imagine their work as mere decoration. Give them a job that gives glory to God and advances the mission of your church. I promise you, they are hungry for it.