A Creative Church A Critical book review

In the book, A Creative Church, we see the forms of art in the modern church and the history of how much has changed throughout the ages. The author, Todd Smith uses his knowledge as well the help from others to show the many different forms of art seen in the church. Churches had to get creative in the way they used art, hence the title to this book. “There is a huge potential to marry the arts with the message of Jesus,” according to Constantine Campbell. This “marriage” is very clearly seen, thanks to author Todd Smith and his use of incredible detailed descriptions. Smith explains these many different forms including the church theater, music, dance, and visual arts.

Art comes in many forms. In fact, just about anything can be considered art. Anything that shows a sense of expression. One of the first forms introduced by Smith is theater in the church. Stated in his book, When Church Became Theater” Klide give directions on why and when this became so dominant. “These transformations in worship practice were closely linked to broader changes within evangelical Protestantism, which were …spurred by social and cultural changed throughout the nineteenth century,” (Klide 9). Churches used the theater and putting on plays to be able to better portray the many principles of God, in a way others could see. This development has greatly impacted many and continues to grow and become more commonly used in churches.

Another expansion that has been made in “church art” is by using music. A Creative Church starts out early by introducing music, this is because this is one of the earliest forms are art found in churches. Like other forms of art, music is one of the many ways people can express themselves. In churches the music is an expression to worship. Campbell writes, “What does jazz have to do with Jesus?” after a church advertises a jazz night. He explained that this jazz night brought out a whole new crown to their church who they then could talk to about Jesus. Music brings people together and is a great gateway into other conversations. Christians have never full out outlawed music as a form of worship, however some churches did prohibit the use of instruments and types of music being played. According to Smith, the Pentecostal church had rejected the act of dancing up until the Pentecostal movement (Smith 109). Smith goes on to praise the art of music in the form of worship in the church.

The next art form that Smith makes known is dance. Dancing has been seen as an activity that stayed outside of the church for many years. Denita Hedgeman, author of Guidelines to Starting and Maintaining a Church Dance Ministry, talks about how dance is viewed, very often in the church. She explains that the leaders of churches view dance as a way to keep youth and young girls out of trouble and involved in the church, but seeing adults dancing is disgraceful. She goes on to show that this is not the case. Dance is for everyone, and the Bible wants everyone to dance before the Lord (Hedgeman 14). The thought of dancing changed and was brought into the churches, during the twentieth century. This changed happened because of two movements. The two movements that caused this change were the Jesus movement and the Charismatic movement. This new development allowed people to glorify and worship God, by expressing themselves, just as many do with the art of music. Dance is a part of worship, and everyone is called to worship God (Hedgeman 14).

The fourth art form that is seen in the church is the visual arts. Many people think of the concept of art and drawings, paintings, and other visual representations come to mind. This is probably one of the most well-known and accepted art form in the church. Visual arts clearly are great when representing a Bible story. These types of visual arts served as a tool for teaching Bible lessons and showing what something may have looked like, rather than having to imagine. Many churches also contain stained glasses, with pictures and representations of biblical stories or a certain scene. These stained-glass art creations are also seen as a way to glorify and worship God. The visual arts Smith refers to, has a lot to do with architecture and the overall layout of a church. There are an abundance of way that visual arts are shown in the church.

Smith portrays four of the common forms of art in the church. Art can be just about anything created by anyone. The expression of self and something that is important to you, being created into another thing. This directly correlates with the worship in the church. There is a special “marriage” between art and the church. There is no right or wrong way to worship God, and using any form of art is acceptable. Smith explains that art should be in the churches and continue to expand in the ways it has for centuries. I agree with the way Smith spoke about the churches and how things have progressed and how they will continue to do so. It is interesting to think what forms of art may be making an appearance next. There is no limit when it comes to creativity and art. The church should be the perfect place to introduce these new ideas and share self-expression.

By: Michaela Runion

Campbell, Constantine R. Outreach and the artist: sharing the gospel with the arts. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013. Print.

Dillenberger, John. A theology of artistic sensibilities: the visual arts and the church. Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2004. Print.

Hedgeman, Denita. Guidelines to Starting and Maintaining a Church Dance Ministry. Tate Publishing, 2007. Print.

Holy Bible Esv Bible. N.p.: Crossway , 2016. Print.

Klide, Jeanne. When Church Became Theater: The Transformation of Evangelical Architecture. Oxford Universtiy Press, 2005. Print.

Smith, Anthony Todd. Creative church: the arts and a century of renewal. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt, 2015. Print.


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