I work at this place called YWAM Sarasota, where we do cool stuff with art and missions and Jesus. I had the privilege of writing this post for their blog, which you can read here. It was written after a breakthrough brainstorming session in the kitchen, dreaming about the heartbeat of our Marriage of the Arts Discipleship Training School.
What does one do when they have encountered the Living God? For us, we must express through art. Poetry comes alive, paint flows from the brush in worship, and new melodies are birthed that make your heart sing. We don’t want to make art for art’s sake. That’s not it. There’s this unspoken spouse, missions. We marry art with missions because it births something so powerful. We create because we are made in the image of the Creator God. We create in response. We create with a message. Not for art’s sake… But because we believe that God wants to transform the nations, in every sphere of society. And for us, right now, that sphere is ART.
I don’t care what anyone else has told you about art, but God LOVES art. He is the most creative person who EVER LIVED. And to think that there isn’t a place for you as an artist in his kingdom! That’s almost like spitting in his face. To reject the very thing in yourself that is the beauty of who he is reflected in you. You love the harmony of lines arranged just so and the beauty of a well-composed photograph FOR A REASON. Don’t believe the lies. Don’t believe them! God waits to be wanted. He waits for you to INVITE him into your creativity. That doesn’t mean that your art becomes all about sheep and crosses. Really, please don’t do that. But what I’m saying is that he wants to create with you. He wants to dance hip hop with you. He wants to write punk rock songs with you. He wants to recite an awesome poetry slam with you. He wants to draw manga with you. He wants to write novels with you. He wants to animate movies with you.
None of it is more or less spiritual than writing worship songs or dancing in church or painting crosses. What makes a difference is that you invite HIM into it. That you know who HE is, and therefore know who you’ve been created to be. God wants to reach into every art form, every sphere of society! He created them in the first place! For too long the world of missions has existed within the borders of what is traditionally acceptable. Of what is “spiritual”. And art has existed over here, in this other place, where it’s “not spiritual”. What the heck! Everything has a spiritual side to it. Everything is spiritual! God never put missions in a box. He never said that the Great Commission was supposed to be carried out in a certain way. What he said is that we need to “GO and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20) That means through any and every avenue possible. That means through art, also, but not just sheep and crosses art. Through every type of art. We believe that change is possible, and that we can transform nations and disciple individuals even in the sphere of the arts.
Any and every kind of artist and creative is welcome at the MOTA DTS. Whether you are a dancer, a photographer, a writer, a fine artist, an illustrator, a musician or songwriter, into the handmade arts, a graphic designer, an actor, craftsman of any kind, you are welcome here. You are invited in to a creative community where you will encounter God. Imagine during a time of worship, a big canvas is placed on the floor, and you are invited to respond to God through creative expression! Imagine that art supplies are placed on a table, and you’re given a topic to explore and process with the Holy Spirit! The possibilities are endless.
Forget anything you have ever learned about “traditional missions” and imagine with me. Imagine what happens when you play a song you wrote in an airport terminal that inspires a young Chinese university student so much that he switches seats to sit next to you on an airplane for 14 hours, and you get to share Jesus with him. Imagine what happens when you do a photography project in a cafe in Tokyo, and get to pray for and speak identity over a Japanese business woman. Imagine what happens when you knit a blanket that gets taken to Africa, and it gets wrapped around a baby who then is completely healed from AIDS. Imagine what happens when you write a poem that brings tears to the eyes of an army veteran and he is set free from PTSD. Imagine what happens when you dance over a village in the mountains of Nepal and the whole village is set free from bondage!
The possibilities are LIMITLESS.