by A. Scott Moreau and Mike O’Rear
From drama in local churches to images of Jesus in paintings and sculptures, from music reflecting God’s glory in local idioms to films about Jesus, artistic expression spans a spectrum of ideas, materials, media and imagery that helps Christians of all cultures think more clearly about Christ.
From drama in local churches to images of Jesus in paintings and sculptures, from music reflecting God’s glory in local idioms to films about Jesus, artistic expression spans a spectrum of ideas, materials, media and imagery that helps Christians of all cultures think more clearly about Christ. It challenges our presuppositions and pushes us to broaden our horizons even as we appreciate the creative talent God has given his worldwide body of believers.
You might expect that arts would find a natural home on the visual medium of the World Wide Web-and you would be right. A search on Google for sites that have the words "arts" and "missions" yields about 285,000 hits. Clicking on advanced search and removing the words "degree" to eliminate educational programs, we still received about 192,000 hits. A search on "arts in mission" with the quotation marks forces Google to search for the exact words between the quotes, and reduces the number of hits to 118. Removing the word "degree" reduces the hits to eighty-six, a more manageable number! We invite you to experiment with your own search, but you might want to check out what we offer first. As usual, we have developed a MisLinks page (www.mislinks.org/practical/arts.htm) that provides numerous links that focus on the arts for this installment of Missions on the Web.
On our page we start with general directories to help you find resources. From there we provide links to the performing arts of drama and dance, followed by music. After that are links to visual arts, which explore the Christian message as seen through paintings, sculpture, film and so on. Finally come journals, articles and collections of articles that help clarify our thinking on missions and the arts.
On our Web page we link you to sites that are missions-or cross-culturally-focused. In this article we don’t have the space to mention every source listed on our page, so we’ll focus on the most useful or interesting to us and remind you to browse to the page of the most up-to-date collection of links. It is appropriate that we provide a warning to our readers. This is an area of the Web that, in the name of free expression, is filled with artistic material that is inappropriate for Christians. We have worked hard to filter out any sites that provide links to offensive sites or images. However, if you should find any connections that are inappropriate please notify us and we will drop the link.
In spite of the high number of hits found through Google, most of the sites found for this page were not located through Web search engines. Arts-related missions pages, we found out, are best discovered by browsing through Web directories that arrange their links within selected topics.
Disciple the Nations (http://disciplethenations.org/) is the site most focused on our theme. One subsection of the site is The Great Commission Worship & Arts Center (GCWAC) (http://disciplethenations.org/index9.html). The vision for GCWAC is to "effectively partner with churches, schools, missions and ministries in order to train, equip and release biblically established artists and musicians into their roles in seeing cities, nations and ethnic groups discipled into becoming wholehearted worshippers of God." This site provides more than one hundred links in various artistic categories through the index page (http://disciplethenations.org/rield/index67.html), including forty articles. While the reasons for the somewhat haphazard site architecture are not clear, the specific focus of the site as a whole makes it worth the time to wade through the various links and crosslinks to find help you may need.
Evangelism.uk.net (www.evangelism.uk.net/) is pragmatically focused. Its goal is "to offer suggestions and ideas to UK Christians and churches to encourage and enable their evangelistic thinking and action, and to help evangelism get done." The Creative Arts: Organizations page (www. evangelism.uk.net/ creative_arts.htm) has links to fourteen organizations. Another dedicated Web directory is the International Worship and Arts Network (www.worship-arts-network.com/). The site has as its vision to glorify God "by 1) influencing, challenging and resourcing artists who will declare the supremacy of Christ among the nations; and 2) by serving local churches in facilitating worship that is both artistically and culturally relevant. " Towards that end they provide a multitude of helpful connections. The Arts Index section of the site (www.worship-arts-network.com/arts-index.html) connects you to twenty-one subpages covering topics such as dance, ethnic music, puppets and computer graphics. The links page (www.worship-arts-network.com/links-index.html) provides dozens of links in nine categories (including Artists, Global Music, Web Evangelism and so on).
A number of the major Web directories include a section on Christianity and Arts. Again, not necessarily missions-focused, they still provide potentially helpful resources for you to check out. We offer links to the appropriate directory sections of AltaVista, Google, LookSmart and Yahoo. Google’s directory for arts in Christianity (http://directory.google.com/Top/Society/Religion_and_Spirituality/Christianity/Arts/) includes seventeen sub-directories with over 4000 links. Some of the more unique subdirectories include comics (four links), computer wallpaper (nineteen links) and Orthodox Icons (forty-six links). Yahoo’s directory for arts in Christianity (http://dir.yahoo.com/Society_and_Culture/ Religion__and_Spirituality/Faiths_and_Practices/Christianity/Arts/) is much smaller, with seven subcategories and less than two hundred links ranging from architecture (fifty-nine links) to theatre (forty-one links).
Finally, we also searched several Christian Web directories to see what they offered on missions and art. For the most part, they focused on arts without a missions connection. Even so, our page gives you links to several of those sites, including Christian Resource Index, Christians4Europe, CrossDaily, CrossSearch, East of Eden and ReligionsResources. As an example of the types of resources available through these directories, CrossSearch provides an extensive Arts and Entertainment directory (www.crosssearch.com/Arts_and_Entertainment/) with over 2800 links arranged in twelve categories from "Craft Arts" to "Visual Arts."
PERFORMING ARTS: DANCE AND DRAMA
One major focus in artistic work is performance, including dance, drama, mime, music and so on. We divided the performing arts into two major sections. First are resources related to dance and drama, and second are music and ethnomusicology.
The Christian Actors Website (http://members.tripod.com/~caws/ welcome.html) offers searching, messages, advice, links, and jobs focused on acting and Christian theater. Christian Sacred Dance (www.Christian dance.com/), sponsored by One Accord Ministries, has as its mission to "train and mentor a new generation of dancers dedicated to glorifying God, evangelizing the lost, and edifying believers in the Church and community with sacred dance." This large and well-organized site gives you access to resources such as props, helpful information on starting a dance ministry in a local church, educational opportunities, workshops and more. CrossSearch (www.crosssearch.com) offers a Drama and Musicals directory (www.cross search.com/Arts_ and_Entertainment/Performing_Arts/ Drama_and_Musicals/) with links to almost fifty sources for Christian drama productions, plays, musicals and other theatrical performances. There is also a subdirectory focused on youth and children with an additional six links.
Disciple the Nations has well over 100 dance-related links (http:// disciplethenations.org/index76. html#DANCE) including scriptural studies, graphics, training centers and 18 links to international dance sites. The drama and theater section (http:/ /disciplethenations.org/index76.html#DRAMA) has over fifty links giving you access to scripts, training, articles and theatrical resources.
DramaShare (www.dramashare. org/) is a large, well organized site that offers royalty free scripts as well as "assistance in writing scripts, makeup, lighting and sound, mime, puppetry, clowning, choral reading, interpretive movement." To fully access the site, you must be a paid member (currently $85.00).
Dramatix (www.carey.ac.nz/drama) "is a community effort sharing quality Christian drama scripts from around the world." Most are free, some require a royalty payment. The site also has more than eighty links to other drama sites from around the world (www. carey.ac.nz/drama/linkpages/links.html).
Finally, the Network of Biblical Storytellers (www.nobs.org/) has been organized to encourage everyone to learn and tell biblical stories. They provide access to storytelling networks and their annual storytelling event. They also offer several links to other storytelling sites and access to their Journal of Biblical Storytelling (www. nobs.org/journal.htm).
PERFORMING ARTS: MUSIC
Music is another of the performing arts. With the development of the field of ethnomusicology, there are many secular sites that offer help for the Christian who wants to explore musics of the world. Additionally there are helpful sites that explore sacred music from around the world.
The first music site is African Choral Music Resources (www.pitts.emory. edu/theoarts/multi/Countries/Africa/ african_res.html), which offers over a dozen links to helpful sites together with bibliographic and other resources.
The Australian Christian Artists Network Website (www.acan.org.au/) focuses on contemporary Christian music in the Australian context. They keep you up-to-date on current concerts, let you sample songs and introduce you to Australian Christian musicians.
The International Worship and Arts Network has a section on ethnic music (www.worship-arts-network, com/ethnic-music-index.html) giving you links to books, training, events, organizations and other resources.
The Ethnomusicology, Folk Music, and World Music (www.lib.washing ton.edu/music/world.html) page is a massive set of links provided by the University of Washington libraries. The site provides hundreds of links divided into subsections including organizations, archives, research centers, online publications and recordings. It also includes sections with links for each continental region of the world.
Finally, the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) has developed an ethnomusicology page (www.sil.org/ anthro/ethnomusicology.htm) focused on "promoting indigenous music by researching music within the culture, encouraging musical creativity and assisting the development of applications." Their site contains links to numerous articles and important ethnomusicology sites with an academic bent.
The third and last branch that we accessed is that of the visual arts. Ranging from paintings to sculptures to cartoons, visual arts provide a message for the eyes that reaches the heart and head.
The Arts in Missions Visual Arts Links (www.worship-arts-network.com/Links-VisualArts.html) offers over a dozen links to major sites incorporating visual arts. The Asian Christian Art Association (ACAA) (www.asianchristianart.org/index.html) provides a wonderful set of galleries of Christian art from Asia. Founded in 1978 "to encourage the visual arts in Asian churches," the site provides an ever-changing set of paintings as well as drama, all by Asian artists and playwrights. The ACAA is ecumenical in orientation and the Website includes a broad range of materials that span the theological spectrum.
Celluloid Jesus (www.ntgateway.com/film/) "provides a comprehensive, annotated series of links to good internet material on Jesus films." It links to the movie sites themselves as well as to other sites that post materials related to Jesus filmography.
CrossSearch Arts and Entertainment section has a Visual Arts directory (www.crosssearch.com/Arts_and_ Entertainment/Visual_Arts/) that provides over 130 links organized in ten subdirectories from Calligraphy to Stained Glass. The vast majority of the links provided are to the sites of individual artists or dealers.
Religions Art Gallery: Christianity (http://religion-cults.com/art.htm* CHRISTIANITY) is a broad religious site offering links to art from many of the religions of the world. Two sections on this page are of special interest. The first, Chinese Bible Paintings, links to eight pages of Chinese art ranging from Creation through the life of Christ. The second, "Pictures of Black Jesus and Mary" links to several images of Jesus from a variety of black cultures and settings.
The Text This Week site (www.textweek.com/) provides several Web pages helpful for sermon preparation. Two of them focus on arts. First is Art Concordance (www.textweek.com/art/art.htm) with links to hundreds of image collections. Focusing primarily on paintings, the sites offer links to art works on biblical themes arranged in an alphabetized list of topics. Another way to access this material is through the Bible and Art site, which is split into Old and New Testament sections. Each is organized through a pull-down menu; together they list over 130 topics. The New Testament collection (www.silk.net/RelEd/bibleart.htm) ranges from "Adulterous Woman" to "Zacchaeus," and the Old Testament collection (www.silk.net/RelEd/ bibleart2.htm) from "Abraham" to "Water from the Rock."
The second section of The Text This Week site is the Movie Concordance page (www.textweek.com/movies/ movies.htm). This page lists movies with links organized by spiritual theme from "Abraham" to "Wrongly Accused."
The final visual arts link is to a large and well-organized collection of European art on the Web. The Web Gallery of Art (www.kfki.hu/~arthp/indexl.html) "contains over 10,100 digital reproductions of European paintings and sculptures created between the years 1150 and 1800." They are arranged alphabetically by artist, though you can take Web tours of various types of art as well. You can search the entire collection by artist, title, text or location.
Seeing art is one thing-wrestling with its implications or thinking through its strategic use is another. Towards that end, in addition to the actual arts links, in this last section we provide access to a multitude of helpful articles and journals on missions and the arts on the Web.
Arts Bridge (www.buildabridge.org/ArtsBridge/faithing.htm) is a Web-based magazine of news, information, articles, resources and curriculum for incorporating multicultural arts in church and community life.
Ethnodoxology Journal (http://members.aol.com/ethnodox/) bills itself as "a journal devoted to the multi-faceted music and worship of God’s people around the world." The page does not offer content; you can order a subscription to the journal through the Website.
Ethnomusicology (www.Indiana.edu/%7Eethmusic/publications.html) is the journal for the Society of Ethnomusicology (SEM). The site offers tables of contents, abstracts and a search of indices for the journal together with other materials from the SEM.
Image: Journal of Arts and Religion (www.imagejournal.org/) "explores the relationship between Judeo-Chris-tian faith and art through contemporary fiction, poetry, painting, sculpture, architecture, film, music and dance." The site provides you with access to tables of contents of back issues as well as other information related to the journal.
The well-known Mission Frontiers (www.missionfrontiers.org/) has published three thematic issues on missions and the arts over the years. All three are available in their entirety via the Web: Worship and Missions (May-August 1996) (www.mission frontiers. org/1996/0508/wandm.htm), Dramatic Arts (March-April 1997) (www.missionfrontiers.org/1997/ 0304/dam.htm) and Worship That Moves the Soul (June 2001) (www.missionfrontiers.org/2001/02/ 200102.htm). Each offers a wealth of missiological reflection on the place of various arts in missions work.
The Network for Strategic Missions Knowledge Base (http://www.strategic network.org/index.asp?loc=kb), with over 8,000 articles on missions, offers over thirty articles in Arts (www.strategicnetwork.org/index.asp ?loc=kb&mode=b&fto=677&) and its four subtopics and over fifty articles in Music (www.strategicnetwork.org/ index.asp?loc=kb&mode=b&fto=655&) and its two subtopics.
The last site we’ll mention is the Worship Links articles page (www. worshiplinks.com/articles.htm). It offers links to over fifty articles, most of them with a focus on worship but several that incorporate thinking on the arts as an element of worship.
As promised, there is an abundance of Web-based material that is helpful for incorporating artistic thinking and expression in missions. As people made in God’s image, the arts are gifts given to us by God that enable us to worship him more deeply as we are inspired by the creativity he has given to the artistically talented in the body of Christ. Whether singing, dancing, playing instruments, writing, painting, drawing or dramatizing, each type of artistic expression offers us a window to better worship our King of Kings. We encourage you to grow in your own appreciation of the role of arts in mission by browsing the sites using the Mislinks Arts and Mission page. We also encourage you to e-mail us additional links to add to the site.
A. Scott Moreau is editor of EMQ and chair of Intercultural Studies at Wheaton College (Wheaton, Ill.). His email address is A.S.Moreau@wheaton.edu and the Wheaton Missions Department web address is www.wheaton.edu/intr
Mike O’Rear is the president of Global Mapping International (Colorado Springs, Colo.), which is dedicated to providing access to information for church and mission leaders, especially in the Majority World. He also serves as Lausanne senior associate for information technology. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and the GMI web address is www.gmi.org
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