The problem is obvious: at worst, Christians are hostile to the arts as inimical to the church and to our faith; at best, Christians recognize the value of the arts but do little to cultivate it in their lives and when they do it is often in reactionary fashion to "secular" art. Well known authors Eugene Peterson, Lauren Winner, Jeremy Begbie, Andy Crouch, John Witvliet, and others, believe that this can be changed. In For the Beauty of the Church: Casting a Vision for the Arts, set out their ideas on the ways in which churches can appropriate art into their community and how they can minister to artists. The main problem seems to be that while many churches would welcome the arts, it is not altogether clear where it might lead them. That is the goal of this book, not to merely bring art in, but to find out how to minister artists and the art community in such a way that leads them to fullness and maturity in art. Thus, this book offers an extended reflection on art in the church, that is "the gathered community in its local manifestation and in its varied functions, such as worship, discipleship, community, service, and mission. This book will make an excellent read for any church that is struggling to incorporate the arts and artists into their community. It will also make a great read for artists who often find it difficult to live in the church community. It would make an especially good text book for young Christian artists who are studying the arts in college.
Think of your local church. Without art--music, song, dance, etc.--it would be a much poorer place. But if protestants have any vision for the arts, it tends to be a thin one. This unique book is an attempt to contribute to a robust, expansive vision for the church and the arts. Its specific aim is to show how the many parts of the landscape of church and art hold together. You can think of it as a kind of helicopter flyover, but one with expert pilots. The guides include the likes of Eugene Peterson, Lauren Winner, Jeremy Begbie, Andy Crouch, and John Witvliet, helping to inspire readers and empower pastor-leaders with a vision of the church and the arts that is compelling, far-seeing, and profoundly transformative.
W. David O. Taylor is a pastor, artist, and author. He is a graduate of Regent College and served for eight years as the arts pastor of Hope Chapel in Austin, Texas. He's currently pursuing doctoral studies at Duke Divinity School.
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