As long as I have lived in Kansas there has been an ongoing Kansas School Board debate about school funding. Like many other States, Kansas never seems to have enough funding and no more wants to raise taxes for education. A few years ago the School Board threatened to defund the theater/arts/music programs in our schools. It ended up being an empty threat but it stirred something in our church that has continued to this day. The threat to defund theater/arts/music programs left us asking why we ever allowed the schools to be the primary teachers of Art in our community. Since then we’ve started weekly displaying Art based on the weekly teachings, we are encouraging song writing, and we are teaching photography classes. It’s been tough to initiate because as William Dyrness states in his book Visual Faith, “in recent history at least, art and Christian church have not been on good terms.”
Art and the church have become separated and specialized and I appreciate Dyrness pointing out the impact this has had on our ability to influence culture. As churches get larger and larger it becomes more difficult for your average Joe to contribute in worship through the Arts. Unless you’re a highly skilled musician, or have been painting for years and years, there’s little to no chance you’ll be visible to the corporate body. Some how this needs to change and our churches should create a nurturing atmosphere for those looking to develop their gifting’s in the Arts.
I really appreciated how Dyrness points out the critical importance of this issue for the Church. Dryness states, “this period of history…offers some unique opportunities for Christian witness and spirituality—not only to renew themselves but in doing so to impact the larger culture.” Dryness goes on to say, “Art, then, may be a means, indeed one of the only means, that will catch the attention of this generation.” I think Dryness may be overstating the significance of Art, yet I think he is onto something very important. Art/Theater/Music can grab the attention of culture and I would hope by releasing our imaginations to the work of the Holy Spirit we would strive for more then low budget B movies.
Steve Scott says, “Unless we are moving forward in seeking the genuine transformation of culture, then we are standing still and it is transforming us.” I wonder how history will look back on us in regards to the arts? I wonder what the lasting pieces of Art will be from my generation? I wonder where the next great artists are going for their development and inspirations? I sure hope they are being given the opportunity in the Church.
I tend to hope, along with Dyrness, that the Spirit is coming upon God’s people in fresh ways and restoring a passion for the Arts that can have a positive impact on our culture. I look forward to seeing this play out and I hope I am not one standing in the way of making it happen for others.
 William A. Dyrness, Visual Faith: Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001), 11.
 Ibid., 21
 Ibid., 22
 Ibid., 23
 Ibid., 159