Todd Smith basically talks about the relationship and development between the arts and the church in detail. He uses many pioneers’ stories as examples to elaborate the correlation between the arts and the church. He also indicates the appearance of dance, theatre, and music in the church. All these four elements, theatre, music, dance, and art generate a creative church.
In 1919, “Methodist churches had banned theater attendance by its members” (Smith 46). In 1922, “according to Candler, drama was being used for more than spontaneous missionary plays, Sunday school lessons, and social group entertainment and was being adapted for expressive purposes” (Smith 47). Theater has been significant to the church. Theater can provide Christian education and the true understanding of the Jesus Christ for Christian youth. Theater can offer Christian education through anywhere, such as churches, schools, home, camps, and so on. “Willow Creek Church, founded in 1975, began using theater as a means of reaching ‘seekers’ who were interested in church” (Smith 55). If the church uses theater wisely, theater can be a great benefit for the church to serve God.
Music is pretty important to the church. In fact, music communicates the gospel. Every church has music to worship God. 1 Chronicles 16:42, “Heman and Jeduthun had trumpets and cymbals for the music and instruments for sacred song” (1 Chron. 16:42 ESV). Therefore, we believe music is a part of worshiping God. “Dating back to early eighteen century New England, singing schools were meant to reform church music, worship services, and educate churchgoers” (Smith 62). Music sometimes exceeds the spoken word in expressing moods and feelings. “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise” (Psalm 98: 4). From this Bible verse, we should know that sing unto the Lord, and show others His salvation through singing. “It is in the nature of things that people should want to ‘sing to the Lord,’ and the practices associated with religion in Old Testament times share with those of all religions in making provision for man’s response to this commandment of natural law” (Routley 6). “Sing to the Lord” has been revealed in the Scripture for many time. Since the Bible is infallible, we should obey what the Bible says, sing to the Lord, and make a joyful noise.
Dance is crucial to the church. Dance shows the body language. “The body language is equally partial to the words” (Mount Shoop 37). Sometimes, dance is better for people to understand the whole concept. Todd Smith shows us an example of a pioneer, Keith and Kathy Thibodeaux. They utilized dance to get support and funding for the church, but others were doubters and thought that dance was inappropriate. “Once churches saw that our costumes were modest and tasteful, and our choreography was paired with a true heart of worship, their doubts of inappropriate vanished” (Smith 118). Some types of dance are not adequate for the church, but this does not mean that all types of dance are not proper in the church. Christian dance adds little color and creativity for the church. Dance also is able to give what she or he has for the edifying of the church’s people.
The appearance of the arts in the church is obvious to see. In pioneer creative catalyst’s story, John Franklin’s story, Todd Smith points out that the correlation of the arts and the church has been gradually changed. “The art is found acceptable if it has religious content or is employed in the service of evangelism or worship” (Smith 160). Nowadays there are many arts depicting the stories of Jesus Christ. Arts are very vivid, and there is a story behind each art. “Art helps us know the hope and envision better. It creates an intimate awareness of the particulars of life, a larger and more refined sense of who we are individually and corporately, and often some new sense of the larger whole to which we are related” (Vrudny and Yates 43). The art has been helped churches preach the gospel, tell the truth, and the art is convenient to carry on or share with others. In some ways, the art spreads the gospel faster and broader. “Art is one of the ways we exercise a faithful presence in our particular sphere of life” (Smith 161). Todd Smith hopes that “a new generation of Christians will take up the challenge and lead the way to renewed engagement and appreciation for he God-given gift of the arts” (Smith 164).
No matter what way we use in the church, the aim of it is glorying God. All we do is trying to find a better way to love, obey, know, and glorify God, and appreciate what Jesus Christ has done for us. Todd Smith also writes that people use their individual talents to serve the Lord.
Routley, Erik. Church Music and the Christian Faith. Agape, 1978.
Smith, Todd. A Creative Church: the arts and a century of renewal. Kendall Hunt Publishing Company, 2014.
Mount Shoop, Marcia W.. Let the Bones Dance Embodiment and the Body of Christ. Westminster John Knox Press, 2010.
Vrudny, Kimberly, and Wilson Yates. Arts, Theology, and the Church. The Pilgrim Press Cleveland, 2005.
The Holy Bible. English Standard Version. Wheaton, III: Crossway Bibles, 2007.