Christian MediaCreativity

Regaining the Value of Christian Artists

Here’s a great quote from writer Steve Turner: “No one ever told me that it would be wrong for a Christian to become an actor or a songwriter, a novelist, or a dancer. It was implied. There were no role models. I can remember a well-known actress and a British pop singer getting saved, but then they gave up their careers “for the Lord.” Their testimony was obviously more highly valued than their talent. Like drunkenness and promiscuity, involvement in the arts was something best spoken of in the past tense. Christians seemed to acknowledge a work hierarchy. Evangelists and those in “full-time ministry” were at the top. Doctors, nurses and people in the caring professions came next. Then there were teachers, policemen, and the great mass of workers. Artists, media representatives, and people in show business would have
been in the lowest possible group, if they had been mentioned at all.”

Have you felt marginalized as an artist? Do the “professionals” in the church today get higher recognition? Does it matter? Will filmmakers be the next generation of teaching pastors? What do you think?

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  1. I have hope that the trend is changing. Our church is situated smack-dab in the midwest – considered an avant garde, artistic wasteland when compared with the 2 coasts. But one of our visions is to reclaim the arts. To find ways to nurture the artists in our community- and artists of all ages. One of our key hires was a creative director whose background was working for a Zippatoni’s here in St Louis. He brings creative energy to not just weekend services but a vision for how we do nearly everything. And a creative atmosphere such as this- literally draws out the artistic, gifted and creative– and raises the value of their gifts in terms of contributing to worship, evangelism, spiritual growth, communication- everything we do.

  2. Its tough being ” arty” in church. Yes they love you, and show you off a bit, but when it comes to work, someone else might re  write your script. Its humbling, re defining to a point. Beyond which, something inside starts yelling for mercy.  Filmaking i really believe, is such a whole new approach, its outside our pews, its out there with the street people,

    but I’ll say … tough. we have to work thru it with humor maybe,…

  3. I think it use to matter a lot – the implication growing up in the church was “Bible school good-entertainment industry bad” but the trend is that those of us who have been given an assignment (and persevered) from God to move in the media/ entertainment circles care less now about support or lack of from the church and are forging ahead with ideas and concepts to move the culture. The next challenge, I believe, is harnessing the energy of our group to focus on developing production and writing principles and skills. This is still lacking.

  4. I believe that when an artist creates a work (a dance, a skit, a poem, a picture) that is God inspired, it is God speaking to his people.  If we ever took the time to pause and look at how God has used these people, we might find the answers we have been searching for.

    I do not have the gift of the arts, but I love them none the less!

  5. I was a Drama Director for a mega church; producing, casting, acting, writing and directing sketches & mega staged productions. I conducted myself and produced the productions professionally on every level, yet I was not taken seriously as an actress or producer even though my work was embraced by the congregation. Instead, I was seen by the CEO (and a few others up on the ladder) at the time as “just an artist, and a women at that”. Double hit. Their attitude only motivated me to create outside the church. I believe filmmakers today have influence on our culture in the palm of their hand…. including Pastors. Steve Turner made several great points, one being “There were no role models”…. So true and very unfortunate. But WE CAN be roles models for the younger generation… it’s not too late!

  6. In my experience my artistic talent was always highly valued and respected but never enough to be properly compensated monetarily. People from around the world have found my art online and will contact me asking to use it for some church, missions, VBS project, etc. but they never offer any money for my goods and services and head for the hills when I let them know this is my livelihood and I expect to be paid for it.

    So, for me, I’ve never felt marginalized, never felt looked down upon or that my talent didn’t have value. I have felt and continue to feel that the Church has entitlement issues when it comes to my talent. “The worker deserves his wages.” doesn’t seem to apply to the arts.

  7. ArtistXero, you hit a nerve there with compensation in the arts…. you are not alone on your soap box…. move over! I was paid the lowest salary in the church the entire time I was Drama Director and I had huge & extensive responsibilities. Overtime (up to 70 hrs a week) which was not compensated. They got away with it because they called my title an “Administrative Assistant”…. debating the issue did not work. Is it entitlement issues in the church or is exploiting talent the issue?

  8. LOL….That was an attitude of entitlement! Sorry to hear the percent of this occurrence is so high. If it’s the artist’s duty to give their work away (or work for very low pay) to the church, it should be the churches duty to financial support the artist to keep them from becoming homeless….haha catch 22! But this was not my case, I lived homeless the whole time while producing large dramas seen by thousands of people in church, stadiums and television……… go figure (I was promised more money when I was prom’d, but it never happend). I didn’t have a real home to go home to and everyone high on the ladder knew it. Artists get the short end of the stick when it comes to working for a church and working in ministry no matter how financially successful they are. I only state my experience to illuminate the problem with the mentality that goes with some Christians and Christian leaders. The test on our end is, don’t hold the offense…. “forgive them for they know not what they do”. I think we made our point on the soap box ArtisXero =)

  9. So true Phil!  “Christians seemed to acknowledge a work hierarchy.”

    I can remember pitching a project to Dave Anderson (whom you know – works here at Cornerstone University) one day and on the way out the door we had this brief convo.

    “What if your son or daughter,” he said, “comes home and says, ‘Dad, I want to be a pastor/missionary/evangelist/doctor.”  “Great idea!” would be the typical response – “here’s where we’ll send you to school.”

    “But what if that same kid comes home and says – ‘Dad, I want to be a TV producer, Ad Agency Creative Director, Actor.”  “Son we’ll need to pray about that.”  That’s the cultural way of saying ‘NO WAY am I sending you to school for that.’

    And THAT’S why we absolutely suck at producing relevant, creative media!!

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