Artists are people, too!
Don’t use artists and don’t ignore artists
Artists are both different and the same. Artists typically do have an intrinsically different take on situations and life. There are different approaches for conveying meaning, both to and from artists.
At the same time, the spiritual needs are the same. The need for relationship is the same. The needs may be expressed in terms that are outside of typical approaches, but the needs are the same.
Artists are not there just to make your place of worship pretty or to serve on the worship team. And they aren’t automatically more spiritual because they are an artist.
On the other hand, just because they may seem eccentric and maybe even stand off-ish doesn’t mean you get to pretend they aren’t an important part of your congregation. It just may be they are important for reasons other than their art.
Arts ministry, are you sure?
If you or your church are contemplating some form of arts ministry or are wondering how to have an affect on arts and culture in your local community, I would encourage you to first look to the artists in your congregation. Start there. If you aren’t getting that right, I have major reservations (short of some miracle of God) that you will do anything much better outside your own group.
Does that mean you should not want and try to have an impact on the larger community? Absolutely not. But think of the mistake a pastor makes when he serves his congregation without care for his family. Care for those closest to you first. These are the people God has given you to care for in the first place. This is absolutely your first priority.
I am hesitant to talk about the benefits of doing this and what you will learn. Caring for people, especially those who are part of your direct community, is something that is its own justification. This is not a project, not a system of “7 how to’s for helping artists”. But you will learn about yourself, what you really want to and can accomplish, and these friends will help you answer the questions of why you want to do this and how you can be of best effect. They will likely have a better idea of what the local arts community actually needs than you.
And you won’t seem like a hypocrite. Why would the larger community believe you want to help them when you cannot or will not help those who are closest to you?
Top down leadership
Besides, if you are in church leadership, how your congregation will value art and artists will largely be directed by you. This kind of attitude is top down. But the impact will be bottom up. The affect will be carried into the community by your congregation (including the artists). It will be a natural, organic byproduct of your church. If you care, they will care. And when they care, everyone else will see the Church cares. I can’t think of a better, more effective ministry than that.
This is not about war. This is about care.
Just some thoughts,