We all know that Jesus commissioned the church to make disciples of all tribes and all nations. I believe the body of Christ hasn’t fully understood this mandate since often take it for granted that the tribes and nations are a representation of physical places on the earth. This is true, but there is a deeper meaning to this mandate.
Being part of a global missionary movement called YWAM (Youth With A Mission) for ten years, helped me understand this mandate in a deeper and clearer way. Making disciples of all nations refers not only to a geographic space but also to cultures.
In modern society, we have many cultures and subcultures — cultures within the culture. We can also consider these tribes or people groups.
Often as a church, we do not realize that maybe the person who needs to be discipled is our neighbour or our colleague at work, and the list goes on.
So in this list, I include Christian artists who are also called to make disciples.
I believe Christian artists should be a part of artistic movements in order to fulfil their calling and shape the artistic culture. Christian artists should be making disciples just like all other Christians.
Let’s look at some strategies we can apply in order to be successful at this.
Realizing the need
Artists, like any people group or “tribe” need to have space where they can be themselves and express their potential as artists. Although this need is starting to be met inside the body of Christ, we still need to realize that we need to stop making disciples with a stamp. The church has always tried to make disciples by creating a church culture. I do believe we need to create a Christian culture, but we must do it through sharing values and by directing people to Jesus.
Often this process has been done by shaping people to a behaviour that would fit into a standard dictated by human thinking and human traditions without allowing expression that is outside of the box.
Just lately, Christian artists are welcome in our churches, but I believe they should also be able to go out and shape the artistic world. In order to fulfil this mandate, artists in the church should have the possibility to create artistic communities where the artist can align with the Word of God in a way that allows their gifting to be realised and not restrained.
If we don’t understand this, there will be a missing part of the Kingdom of God here on earth. Jesus came to redeem everything, including the arts.
Creating the environment
How can the church create an environment for Christian artists, allowing them to be championed and discipled?
First of all, artists should be discipled by other artists. If we do not have mature artists in our communities that have the potential to disciple others, we must make the first generation of artistic disciples. How can we do this?
Let me suggest some steps and guidelines that will help us understand this process. Making disciples is neither easy nor impossible.
- If you are a leader of the youth group (starting from the youth is probably the best way, but do not restrain it only to that age), try to identify those who have artistic gifting.
- Talk with them and try to understand how real their passion is and how committed they are to it. Maybe they have never considered going deeper in their gifting. (This often depends on how they have been supported by their family). It’s important to understand the level of commitment. Only time will reveal if there is a real passion, but it’s always good to have a talk about it.
- Having a specific and intense time of discipleship could be very good. Organizations like YWAM offer very good discipleship courses allowing people to discover themselves in Christ. Through this process, the candidate will probably understand if this is his calling or not.
- We need to realize that good artistic training is just as important as having good discipleship. If we want to be effective and reach artists, we need to immerse ourselves in that culture. I always cite the biblical examples of people like Daniel and Joseph who were trained within a secular environment, but without getting influenced by it. In fact, they were the ones who influenced the environment.
- Last, but not least, create an artistic movement and community where artists can find their identity and be championed. Christian artists should be free to mix with secular ones. Creating an artistic space outside of the church can be a good solution since it will be a neutral space.
Being a Spiritual Father and Mother
One of the biggest needs in our churches is the need for spiritual fathers and mothers. We live in an age of orphans. There is a great need for people who will champion the younger generations. This requires a lot of love and commitment, especially when it comes to Christian artists. Discipling an artist can be quite challenging. Artists tend to be quite sensitive.
Being a spiritual father and mother does not mean controlling the life of the disciple, but supporting them to help them reach their calling and find their identity in Christ. Unfortunately, some spiritual fathers and mothers can become controlling, and this can produce a lack of growth, heartache and rebellion, much like it would with a natural father and mother.
First, we need to understand that God is the one who brings change to the person, not us. Second, we need to have grace with the people we disciple. We need to be able to correct and give guidelines, but disciples must be free to make their own choices, knowing that their choices have consequences.
In my experience as a school leader in YWAM, there was a time when I had to address issues with a student who was not willing to follow the course. I gave many chances for them to change their attitude, but when nothing changed I was forced to dismiss the student from finishing the course.
We all come from different contexts and we all see discipleship in a different way. Regardless of our leadership style, our way of discipleship must always come from a place of love. This is the only way to gain trust and disciple the new generations.
Don’t create a bubble for Christian artists
Another mistake the church has done and keeps doing is to create a bubble for Christian artists or for whatever people group we reach out to. Often there is the realization of the need to reach a certain people group, so we start to move towards that direction, and once we have reached these people we just shape them according to our church culture.
Often I see Christian artists in the church living only in this environment and therefore they are not able to express their full potential since the environment where they are growing is very limited. Instead, if we challenge our artists to check out the work of professional artists, we will help them realize what the standards are for someone who wants to be an artist. Of course, they need to have God as their inspiration, but I believe that Christian artists should be able to go beyond just drawing the cross, a dove or a rainbow.
Our environment determines how we speak, write songs, draw or whatever art we are producing.
If we want to reach artists, we need to understand their culture!
I hope the church understands that discipling Christian artists does not mean isolating them from the world with the fear they will be contaminated by it. Instead, it’s helping them grow (especially in their character) to win their battles. Then they can go into the world and make disciples without getting influenced by a worldly culture, just as Daniel did.
I hope we realize the need to reach the subcultures present in our societies today and that being fathers and mothers is the way to champion the new generations who are in great need of God’s love.
I hope you have enjoyed this article. Feel free to ask questions and let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.
God bless you,
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