A Creative Church: the Arts and a Century of Renewal (Book Review)

Corey Bourassa - Prosfessor Wright - Art 105-001 - 25 April 2017

Todd Smith, the author of the book “A Creative Church: The Arts and a Century of Renewal” is currently the chair of the Studio and Digital Arts department at Liberty University and director of the University’s art gallery. In 2014 Smith published this book for creative Christians along with anyone who wants to glorify God through various art forms, in order provide them an accurate documentation of the many activities that contributed to renewal of the arts within the church.

Smith’s book covers six (nine chapters in total) major sections that contributed to religious renewal. Those sections are “setting the stage and voices of renewal”; Smith then list some major events and people who contributed to art renewal within the areas of “theater, music, visual arts” and “dance” (VII).
Within each major section of the book, Smith lists a great amount of historical background information of different events ranging from the late 19th century to early 20th century. These events along with pioneers of the moment helped ultimately contributed to the larger picture of the renewal art movement within the church.

One of my favorite parts of Smith’s book was that he addressed the role of arts within the church in relation to the non-religious culture around us. He explains why the church was having such a hard time relating to secular art. Smith writes “Christians should make Christian art is the reason so many evangelicals are uncomfortable with art in general or with art found in the various locations of culture.” (160) To expand on Smiths, idea, he says this false assumption that Christians should create Christian art is resulting in the church not truly living out the gospel in the cultural context they are living in So we should create art so we can say, in what every we do, we do it for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:32).

We should create art so we can say, "that in every we do, we do it for the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:32).
When it comes to my personal opinion of this book, there were qualities I liked such as how Smith wrote this book from an historical standpoint rather than his own personal opinions of this movement. Smith did an excellent job accurately recording all the major pioneers and their contributing events, which allows the reader to see the overall big picture.

Whether if I thought the material was interesting, I did learned that as it was then is as it is now, art and the church are inseparable. Regardless of the time we are living in, the church will always create art, and our creativity will always point back to our creative God. Additionally, I also learned that never just one large event changes culture, but it is always a large chain of small event that take place over time to start a movement.

I learned that as it was then is as it is now, art and the church are inseparable. Regardless of the time we are living in, the church will always create art, and our creativity will always point back to our creative God.

So what does this all mean for us? Well, I think, we as a church should always be creating art, not just “Christian or religious art” but art that is relevant to the culture without reflecting the evils of the world. When we create art, we are reflecting how God made us in his image.

When we people create art, it is a ministry that reflections how this earth so intuitively designed, we begin to see all creation as art, and therefore there is one Creator over all creation, God, the one who paints the sky with His finger
As Christians, we should create art in whatever way that most expresses who God made us to be, and let the surrounding culture see; Art is a form of worship so let us live a life of worship.

To conclude this book review, this book provided accurately wide range of contributions that lead to renewal of art within the church. The author Todd Smith did a fantastic job of putting so many different historical events together and documenting there significance. Overall I would say this book is a someone what tedious book to read through, but will definitely change the way you see art, the church and God.

Works Cited

Bauer, Michael J. Arts Ministry: Nurturing the Creative Life of God's People. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Pub., 2013. Print.

McElroy, J. Scott. Creative Church Handbook: Releasing the Power of the Arts in Your Congregation. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2015. Print.

Smith, Anthony Todd. A Creative Church: The Arts and a Century of Renewal. N.p.: Kendall Hunt, 2014. Print.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (ESV), Containing the Old and New Testaments. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011. Print.

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