For years I have been speaking about the role of the church as the wellspring of the arts for a society. I have also talked and written about worldview and the arts. When I speak on these things, it usually stirs up the hearts of young Christian artists who have found little support in the church, or even had their dreams crushed by the church.
Many churches view art as nothing more than decoration, sometimes an enhancement for worship or evangelism. There is little recognition of the arts for beauty’s sake, or art that speaks prophetically to culture. Yet artists profoundly shape culture, and culture is upstream from politics, economics, and the laws and structures of society.
Plato made a stunning observation: “Give me the songs of the nations, and it matters not who writes its laws.”
I’m so happy to introduce our readers to a new initiative, founded by a dear friend and co-laborer from India (who asked us to withhold his name). His program uses a great play on words: the Create Commission.
Please read his exciting news below and rejoice with me.
– Darrow Miller
The Create Commission.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.” These words, the Great Commission, have been the touchstone for all I’ve pursued since returning to India in January 1999—specifically, the desire to see the church disciple not just individuals but every sphere of life. Right from the start, whether in the sweltering heat of a typical one-week training for 25 rural church-planters, or training 10 local families in a church within eye-sight of the Taj Mahal, we used to mention that art has a role in seeing truth shape culture.
“The Great Commission cannot be completed through evangelism alone,” was (and still is) our message, “but requires bringing God’s truth to bear on every sphere of life, seeing truth transform not just individuals but entire nations. Art plays a unique role in this.”
Over the years, with … a deeper understanding of the Creation Mandate—the original task which God gave Adam and Eve, to fill the earth, cultivate the garden, and create culture—I find myself getting only more excited about the consequences of taking both seriously—the Great Commission and the Creation Mandate—exploring the role that art plays in ‘discipling a nation.’
Borrowing a bit from math, The Creation Mandate + The Great Commission = The Create Commission, which is what we are calling our work under Reconciled World.
The Create Commission’s work fits into three categories:
Making Art that Speaks to Society
We bring together artists for three-week residencies at our art studio. During this time artists seek to understand a particular social issue from a Kingdom perspective. They then take time to create art that speaks to that issue. This art is then shared through exhibitions, short YouTube films and other organizations.
Mobilizing the Church in Art
Given the importance of art in speaking to a nation, the church in India is desperately short of Christian artists. It’s not considered a secure career option, nor do parents have much theological understanding of God’s value and purposes for art, so they discourage their children from this path. To address the lack of Christian artists we are setting up a scholarship and mentoring program for young followers of Christ to pursue Bachelors of Fine Arts (BFAs) and Masters of Fine Arts (MFAs). The goal is to see artists with a biblical worldview entering the art world called and equipped to bring truth to their nation.
Ministering Dignity and Healing through Art
Art does more than just speak—it heals. By giving voice to pain that people can’t express through words, art heals. We collaborate with other organizations to take art to the destitute, to children living in slums, and to at-risk adolescent girls. As they create art, they are able to share emotions and trauma in a new way, allowing healing and support to happen. The opportunity to create art also brings a new sense of dignity and self-expression to the marginalized.
The Create Commission is raising funds for a permanent art center—an ‘Art Ashram,’ a long-term project to make the vision of art discipling a nation sustainable.