Missions and the Arts

by A Scott Moreau and Mike O’Rear

In 2002 we first developed a MisLinks page connecting to missionally-focused arts resources. Eight years is a lifetime on the Web, so we have returned to our Arts page to update it with new resources.

In 2002 we first developed a MisLinks page connecting to missionally-focused arts resources. Eight years is a lifetime on the Web, so we have returned to our Arts page (www.mislinks.org/practical/arts.htm)1 to update it with new resources. Of the seventy-nine links on the page prior to this update, fifty-three (sixty-seven percent) still operated, seven (nine percent) had changed URLs, and nineteen (twenty-four percent) were no longer available as far as we could tell. In working through new links and reorganizing the page, we consolidated some categories and added three new ones (“General,” “Performing: Storying,” and “Movies/Videos”). Because we previously discussed the links that still operate, here we will focus our attention on the nearly forty new links in two categories: resources of a general nature, and resources focused on a particular art or medium.

Resources of a General Nature

Directories
To the previous directories we have added einet.net (www.einet.net/directory/4235/Arts.htm), a directory developed by LOGIKA Corporation, which “designs, develops, markets, and licenses Internet search products tailored with unique features to meet the identified needs of individual market segments.” There are eight sub-directories, from architecture (four links) to performing arts (sixty-eight links). Most of the links go to church or other U.S.-based sites that focus more on arts in local worship and evangelism than on cross-cultural mission.

General
One of the new categories is “General” links, by which we mean sites that offer a variety of resources. Artists in Christian Testimony International (ACT; actinternational.org/actintl) “is an evangelical, interdenominational Christian ministry that mobilizes, sends out, equips, and supports artistic ministers and missionaries.” There are numerous ministry departments under the ACT umbrella, including dance, drama, music, visual arts, and literary. Each of these offers links to personal ministries of people affiliated with ACT. International Association of Artists in Christian Testimony (IAACT) is a ministry department of ACT, and offers a means for linking Christian artists together.

Arts with a Mission (www.artswithamission.org), a YWAM ministry based in Tyler, Texas, is oriented around the idea that education in the arts is an integral part of community health and development. In their School of the Arts, they offer studies in topics such as biblical worldview of the arts, theater arts, writing, music, and dance.    

Imago (www.imago-arts.on.ca), a Canadian-based organization whose values are rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition, builds upon the concept that people are made in God’s image. Their “mandate is to affirm the artistic gift and find ways to encourage and facilitate creative initiatives in the arts that will make a contribution to Canadian cultural life.” Imago’s projects list includes playwrights, musical performers, and writers. The featured artists include sample paintings and sketches embodying issues Canadians face in contemporary life; they offer resources such as online newsletters and links to books that engage the arts from evangelical publishers.

The Aesthetic Elevator (theaestheticelevator.com) is a collection of various blogs and links to artists with the orientation of “exploring the visual arts, architecture, and community planning in the context of American culture and the Christian faith—towards a well-considered visual environment.” Not explicitly cross-cultural, the way the site explores aesthetics in contemporary life through a Christian lens is a wonderful example of a contextualization in a Western setting.

Missionart.org (missionart.org) is the personal site of Roger and Abi Lowther, a musical couple who are part of a church-planting team ministering in Japan through concerts, ministry to professional musical artists in Japan, and worship services. In monthly podcasts entitled “clearArt” and written meditations, Roger explores Western and Japanese art in compelling and compassionate ways, linking artistic expressions to the beauty of God’s creation, the human endeavor to connect to God, and the passionate ways art expresses God’s creativity.

International Arts Movement (www.internationalartsmovement.org) seeks to act “as a catalyst which inspires people to engage culture’s spheres of influence.” Based in New York City, they offer lectures, performances, exhibitions, screenings, projects, and workshops around the United States.

Colin Harbinson’s site (www.colinharbinson.com) offers resources (www.colinharbinson.com/teaching) such as CDs and articles on topics ranging from “The Arts and Spiritual Warfare” to “Arts as Authentic Witness.” Harbinson, senior associate for the arts with the Lausanne Movement, founded the International Festival of the Arts (IFA; www.colinharbinson.com/ifa), which was held three times from 1992 to 1999 (Russia, Bulgaria, and China) to bring together artists in multiple disciplines for international cultural exchanges to “affirm spiritual and moral values that celebrate beauty, meaning, and hope.”

Focused Resources

Performing Music
The Global Consultation on Music and Missions (GCoMM; www.gcommhome.org) was first held in 2003 in Ft. Worth, Texas, during which participants launched the International Council of Ethnodoxologists (ICE), “a worldwide network for those involved in cross-cultural arts ministries.” By 2004 committees were being formed to initiate another GCoMM. The next GCoMM, scheduled for July 4-7, 2010, in Singapore, is organized under the theme “Many Tribes, Many Songs, Many Peoples, One Saviour,” with three goals for conferees: “learn how to use culturally relevant music to reach and encourage others with the good news, share knowledge and experiences with like-minded believers from both similar and diverse geographic areas, [and] celebrate God’s manifold wisdom through multi-ethnic praise.” They invite Christians from “around the world to come to learn and appreciate the use of culturally appropriate music and creative arts to fulfill God’s call to evangelize to every tribe, people, and nation.” The conference will offer specific workshops for musicians, creative artists, mass media leaders, and ethnodoxologists.

The International Council of Ethnodoxologists (ICE; www.worldofworship.org) “exists to encourage and equip Christ-followers in every culture to express their faith through their own heart music and other arts.” The site offers links to a wonderful collection of resource people and a library of articles organized by major category and searchable by word in the articles. A search (worldofworship.org/library_powersearch/index.php) for articles with the word “music” yields twenty-eight articles; a similar search for “worship” gives twenty-one articles. They also have links in fourteen categories, from “Academic Ethnomusicology” to “World Sacred Music Festivals.” The ICE site is easy to use, offers wide-ranging resources, and is easy to navigate.  

Musicians for Missions (www.musiciansformissions.com), a YWAM ministry, “not only seeks to prepare musicians for ministry through our various programs, but also to partner with other musicians and ministries with various projects.” They offer a newsletter, links to training through YWAM’s University of the Nations College of the Arts, a journal of projects and events, and a store offering DVDs of associated musicians. They challenge viewers to “become a musicianary”—a captivating neologism that embodies their passion.  

The final music site we mention is Heart Sounds International (HSI; www.heart-sounds.org), a ministry division of OM USA, which “exists to help ignite biblically appropriate and culturally relevant heart worship in places where Christ-followers are restricted, persecuted, or unknown.” In addition to information about HSI, a media store, and a well-developed list of projects (including things such as statistics and music samples), the HSI site provides more than fifty links to additional resources in four categories (www.heart-sounds.org/links/index.htm): worship & arts, world music, technical (equipment, tutorials, and software), and educational (courses or information about worship, ethnomusicology, or media studies).

Performing: Storying
Our second new category is that of storying. However, since we developed an entire page on storying links (www.mislinks.org/topics/stories.htm; see Moreau and O’Rear 2004), we invite you to check that out rather than repeat it here.

Performing: Dance/Drama

Of the three new links in the dance/drama section, the only one intentionally cross-culturally focused is Ethnodrama (www.ethnodrama.com). The site focuses on “Ethnodramatology,” which is described as “an emerging field which focuses on the study of the dramatic styles of the world’s cultures.” The site is maintained by Bill and Dr. Julisa Rowe, who are affiliated with Artists in Christian Testimony. Unfortunately, at the time we checked the site, there were limited items offered. However, there was a script for a drama performed in Kenya and “A Guide to Ethnodramatology” (a DMiss project, with supporting videos on two CDs) for sale.

While Christians in Theater Arts (CITA; cita.org/site) focuses most of its energy on training and engaging Christians in theater across North America, they recognize the missional possibilities of theater and provide a short-term theatrical trip to Jordan in 2010.

Creative Arts Europe (www.creativeartseurope.org) “is a network of artists and art lovers who aspire to enrich their society through the arts.” Initially registered in Germany in 1994, they are currently active in seven European countries. They attend to the personal and professional well-being of artists, connecting the Church to the arts, and enabling the next generation to appreciate the whole of life in relation to the gospel, with a focus on the arts.


Visual Arts
The Overseas Ministry Study Center (OMSC) inaugurated an OMSC artist-in-residence program in 2001, and over the years has developed a rich gallery of images from the artists called “Art at OMSC” (www.omsc.org/art.html). They also offer five books and an additional CD of the artists’ works for $19.95 each.

Comix35 (www.comix35.org) is on the other end of the art spectrum. It is a collection of six comics sites, each with a different niche in the comics and graphic novels milieu. Of particular interest is the Christian Comics International site (www.christiancomicsinternational.org/cci_home.html), with links to Christian anime, graphic novels, and other illustrated literature for use in evangelism, discipleship, and spiritual growth.

Stoneworks (http://stoneworks-arts.org), a “global arts partnership committed to arts education, spiritual formation, and cultural reformation,” has as their motto: “forming artists to reform culture.” They offer workshops for churches and organizations to help develop creatively appropriate ways to “reclaim the world of the arts and the imagination for Christ.” Their newsletter, MOSAIC, is available online (stoneworks-arts.org/mosaic.php).

Journals/E-zines/Articles
The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship site (www.calvin.edu/worship) “promotes the study of Christian worship and the renewal of worship in worshiping communities worldwide” and offers numerous resources focused on related issues. The “Worship Worldwide” page (www.calvin.edu/worship/global) has links to books, slideshows, music and songbooks, events, teaching resources, stories, and multimedia. For example, one resource is “Ethnodoxology: Calling All Peoples to Worship in Their Heart Language” (www.calvin.edu/worship/stories/ethnodoxology.php). In addition to the two-part article, there are links, opportunities to start discussion groups, and teaching resources.

The Lausanne website offers numerous issue-focused pages (www.lausanne.org/connect/issues.html), one of which is the arts (www.lausanne.org/issues/the-arts.html). The arts focus page links to selected Lausanne resources. For example, at the 2004 Lausanne World Forum, one of the issue groups was “Redeeming the Arts” (www.lausanne.org/2004-forum/ig17.html) from which the Lausanne Occasional Paper on redeeming the arts was developed (www.lausanne.org/documents/2004forum/LOP46_IG17.pdf).

Movies/Videos
While broadband existed and video streaming was possible in 2002, sites such as YouTube (started in 2005; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YouTube) did not yet exist. Thus, the Movies/Videos category did not even exist in our 2002 Missions and the Arts page.

We found several websites that utilize movies to communicate with a missional intent. For some, the focus is on media as art, such as Deidox.com (deidox.com), founded to bring “compelling stories to life through short documentary films.” They offer online previews films, and two levels of licensing for purchasing (individual and institutional). The video story of Li Yang (deidox.com/films/li-yang-new) tells how he came to Christ, offering fascinating footage of church meetings and Li Yang’s daily life in ministry (with faces often blurred to maintain security).

Illuminati Pictures: Burn (www.illuminatipictures.com/burn) is a cutting-edge training institution billed as “a creative lab for Christian filmmakers.” They offer classes as well as links to some fascinating video productions that engage the culture with challenging faith-based questions.

ProjectGod (www.projectgod.com/index.php) is “a team of highly-motivated individuals united by God to revolutionize Christian film.” They produce and offer short films, and offer seventeen on their site dealing with a variety of themes. However, it appears they are no longer in operation, as their “news” section does not list any items since February 2006, and they did not respond to an email request sent as we wrote this article.

Among those for whom the art of their productions is as important as the message, specific productions are their primary focus. Kabul24 (www.kabul24movie.com) tells the story of twenty-four Shelter Now International Aid workers who were taken hostage while working in Afghanistan.

As We Forgive (www.asweforgivemovie.com) vividly portrays two Rwandese women struggling with forgiveness and reconciliation after the 1994 genocide.

Hearing Everett (www.hearingeverett.com) tells the story of a family coming to grips with the hearing loss of one of their children and in turn learning how to help deaf children in another culture.

Other video resources are not as much focused on art as they are on utilizing videos to inform and communicate. For example, twentyonehundred productions (www.intervarsity.org/2100) is the multimedia department for InterVarsity—perhaps best known for their Urbana multimedia productions. Their site offers a number of the twentyonehundred videos (at the time we checked, ranging from Urbana 1996 to 2006), clips from films suitable for use in college campus ministry, and selected reviews of movies.

Christianity Today and the Lausanne Movement collaborated on the ongoing series of Global Conversations pieces (www.lausanne.org/global-conversation/featured.html) aimed at focusing attention on significant issues from multiple Christian perspectives from around the world in preparation for the Capetown 2010 event. Among the resources are videos on the topics of the various conversations (vimeo.com/user2335876/videos/sort:date), with new videos being added as the conversation series unfolds prior to Capetown 2010.

Finally, World Christian Video Directory (www.worldchristianvideos.org) lists thousands of Christian videos in hundreds of languages with descriptions and information on where to obtain each. They offer the lists by title, organization (including distributors/resellers), language, and country.

Conclusion
The Web is in many ways tailored for a variety of artistic forms. Images, videos, music, storying, and exhibits all work well in the Internet medium. Drama loses some of its impact, but can still be viewed and used in powerful ways. One example is the LifeHouse Everything skit (www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyheJ480LYA; viewed more than twelve million times). Mission-focused artists continue to take advantage of the possibilities, and we hope our page helps you think of creative ways to harness arts for missional purposes. As always, if you know of pages that contribute to engaging arts and mission, send us the link.

Endnote
1. All URLs begin with http:// unless otherwise indicated.

Reference
Moreau, A. Scott and Mike O’Rear. 2004. “Missions on the Web: And So the Story Goes…Web Resources on Storytelling, Myths and Proverbs.” Evangelical Missions Quarterly 40:2: 236-242.

….

A. Scott Moreau is editor of EMQ and a professor in the Intercultural Studies department at Wheaton College Graduate School (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 Two-thirds World. His email address is mike@gmi.org, and the GMI web address is www.gmi.org.

EMQ, Vol. 46, No. 2, pp. 232-237. Copyright  © 2010 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS).  All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS. 

 


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