Starting the book off, Todd Smith illustrates how the United States of America was in a position where it was ready for some change to occur, near the end of the 19th century. Many events led up to the long historical preparation for the countries long artistic change that was leading up to the 1900’s. One important event and work or art was the creation of a summer camp in Chautauqua, New York by John Heyl Vincent and Lewis Miller. This camp was established to help enable Sunday school teachers, as it also opened the door for an artistic movement in the church. Also, singing in Sunday schools had started to appear in the U.S. In addition, tent revivals also began begin to show up In the U.S. in a way to express themselves. In some way music is a form of art, it is used to express one’s self and in the 1900s this was a new form of art being established. In the 1900’s they would take songs that were not Christian and change the lyrics to ones that fit into a Christian doctrine.
Also, when people knew the bet it was easier for them to learn the music. Smith then starts to define for the reader the abundance ways the Church used Art and how it got brought to America. The theater was created in the 20th century, but actually started in the 1900’s. Since the 1900’s people that were Methodist Church were unable to go to any form of theater performances because of the drama behind all the acting, but then it is seen in the later readings that the church began to see how drama could show some of the love of God and make people understand on their level of understanding. Now in the United States there are several of hundreds of buildings all over the country that have Christ filled acting straight from the bible.
The book talks about a specific place in Pennsylvania, called Sight & Sound Theater that only shows stories straight from the Bible. The expansion of music in the art form did not stop growing after that, one man James Vaughan made a huge impact in the creation of art in music. James Vaughan began his own music company, which released a different form of music such as music books. He filled these music books with some of his own work and some other artists. Vaughan then began a trend because many different popular companies and very well-known songwriters started writing “southern gospel music”, this is now today what they call it. Smith also began to speak about how arts became more important in American churches because they began to see how important visual learning was in the bible. One organization that the book talks about is Young Men’s Christian Association, it illustrates how many Christian men created architectural bureaucracies, and how the construction of the church needed to be better. Also, visual aids were used to demonstrate bible lessons in church.
In the same context, many other creations were taken from this small movement, such as the comic book and using some film to teach the bible more clearly. The last main point that Smith discusses in his book is the art through dance. Through Christian history dancing was thought upon as a sin but in the 20th century when the different art forms were coming alive, so did the art of dancing. The book talks about two main movements in this time “The Charismatic Movement” and “The Jesus Movement”. Through many years of fighting what Christian’s thought was a sin, many dance schools and different organizations popped up with the goal of bringing people to Christ through dance. Now a colossal amount of universities and colleges now have majors and classes that you can take to be more enriched in the beauty of dance.
Smith also begins to go into the spreading of how we as a people should disciple God’s word across the world. He also talks about how the church as a whole has dealt with not so strong points and the stronger points, but Christians always come out as winners, because they have Christ on their side. As this book displays throughout there is a lot of discussion on what is appropriate and what is not appropriate to God and in the church, but as people of God, we should not be ashamed to worship God and display his love in every form possible, should it be song, agriculture, or dance and as Todd Smith tries to explain in his book all forms of art are beautifully different, but God looks at them as all different forms of worship. Having this hope to lean on, the hope of eternal life, is one of the best things about being a Christian and having a God that loves us unconditionally.
Smith, T. (2014). A Creative Church. Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.