Karina and I are going to Austin, Texas in a couple weeks. We are going to attend a conference:
Transforming Culture: A Vision for the Church and the Arts
Speakers include Andy Crouch, Eugene Peterson, Luci Shaw, Sarah Masen, and John Wilson. Some of the seminars include "Visual Homiletics - How do we Preach to the Eye as Well as to the Ear?"; "The Spiritual Formation of Artists: Nurturing Heart and Mind"; "Leading Artists and the Beautiful Mess of their Mind"; "Beyond B-Movies and Church Bulletins: 10 New Ways the Church can Patron the Arts and Practice Common Grace."
I particularly like this piece from their website:
Does it matter how we treat the artists in our communities?
Most artists, whether in NYC or LA, in Seattle or Austin, want very little if anything to do with the Church. It strikes them more like a rationalist’s university classroom or a pragmatist’s business meeting than like anything resembling the rich world of God’s creation filled with all its supersensory wonder. They look at the Protestant Evangelical church and they see an aesthetically arbitrary arrangement. They see a fickleness about beauty. They see an imagination handicapped by Enlightenment presuppositions. Why should artists want to become members of a Church that either ignores, dismisses or rejects their nature and vocation? Yet they too are sheep Christ seeks to bring into his fold.
IN SUM, WE WANT TO GIVE THOUGHT TO THESE 3 AREAS:
1. The arts and the corporate worship of the church (its liturgical actions and its sacred spaces).
2. The arts and the pastoral care of artists (the discipleship and community formation of artists).
3. The arts and the renewal of the culture (the impact against the zeitgeist, the redemption of the centers of art).
I think good things could come from this. Karina has always had lots of artist friends. As a musician, I have always sought ways to make worship more artistic, more beautiful. And we both know lots of artists who fit the above description perfectly - the last place they would visit is a typical evangelical Church. So perhaps we'll grow and learn in our ministry to artists, and perhaps we'll find some great ideas for incorporating art into our church life.
On a related note, when I was first told about this conference (by friends of Luci Shaw, who I've been pestering to set up a meeting with Luci and me. . .), they asked "know anybody in Austin?" And of course, I didn't.
Then, a couple weeks later, I discovered that our old friend David Clucas lives in Austin, and plays in a band there (I blogged about it last month). Coincidence? And about two weeks ago, we were over at my brother's house picking up some camera equipment for Karina, when my brother's girlfriend mentioned they were going to Texas to see her family. "Where?" I asked. "Austin," said she. "When" I asked, knowing and yet not believing." "The first week in April." Coincidence?
I think God wants me in Austin in April.