The Church's Need for Artists, Filmmakers, and Musicians - Radical

The Church’s Need for Artists, Filmmakers, and Musicians

What does it look like to serve the Lord with our giftings? How do we steward our talents for the Kingdom of God? In this interview, Andrew Peterson explains the vital role of artists, filmmakers, and musicians within the Church. Just as Jesus demonstrated love and the gospel’s truth through story, so can we. Peterson breaks down how to practically illustrate the beauty of the gospel and build the kingdom through artistic gifts. We are called to function in every element of the world as believers making Christianity present in our lives and homes.

  1.  Unsustainable Negation
  2. Denying Divinity

The Church’s Need for Artists, Filmmakers, and Musicians

Andrew Peterson, thank you so much for joining us here at The Radical Booth. You recently talked about art in the culture of the church, and you even said that the relationship of the church and art are a little more symbiotic than what you even experienced when you were growing up. And as you’ve been an artist for years, what are some things that you’re seeing that have been encouraging about those things kind of going more hand in hand and being a little more symbiotic and not mutually exclusive?

Well, I mean the sound systems are better in churches than they were when I first started out. That’s one thing that’s been kind of nice. But no, I think that there have been several times, for example, there’s a guy named Sam Smith, S.D. Smith, wrote a series called The Green Ember for children, and he hosted a conference on storytelling at a church, I think in West Virginia.

Authors in the Church

And I kind of showed up and I saw all of these authors and Sunday school teachers and pastors talking to kids about storytelling in books and how to look for God’s truth in stories. And I saw all of these kids, nerdy kids walking around, they were exactly like me when I was a kid, only when I was a kid, there was no framework for, the Lord can speak to you through totally through these things. And maybe if you’re a kid who grew up loving comic books and movies and playing guitar in your bedroom, maybe there is a seat at the table and at the kingdom for somebody like you.

Artists, Filmmakers, and Musicians

And so I think that was a shocker for me when I was 19 or 20 and I began to realize that there was a way for me to serve the Lord with my gifting, because I didn’t think there was like, so I’d never considered the ministry. And I think that’s not a surprise anymore. I think it’s people are beginning to say, yeah, we need filmmakers who are believers. We need songwriters and artists of many stripes. And so I’ve been encouraged over the last 20 years of music that is the conversation’s almost becoming like, “Well, we don’t need to talk about it anymore because people are doing it.” So.

Yeah, I think people have seen just the power of good story and so they value storytelling even more. And they’re seeing that being played out in other avenues of arts, not just literally storytelling in front of a group of people. It can be done through music or it can be done through, I don’t know, the Jesus story, Bible or something like that. So.

I think that one of my favorite quotes, and I don’t even know who said it, is that, “If you want someone to know the truth, tell them. If you want someone to love the truth, tell them a story,” that Jesus used story as a way to wake up our hearts. And so to go and do likewise is pretty obvious to me.

Amen to that. You’ve been playing music a lot with your kids lately. Kind of two questions on that is one, what’s it like, as a father, to be able to just observe your children creating just God-honoring art? And then secondly, how do you and Jamie cultivate hearts of worship in your home?

Music in the Church

I was super nervous about pushing music on my kids. I didn’t want them to feel like they were expected to follow in my footsteps at all. And so we didn’t even make them take piano lessons. We tried it for a year and if it got weird, we were just like, “No, no, no, you just do whatever you want.” So what we did instead was we just put a lot of musical instrument, we always had a piano in the house.

We always had guitars leaning against the corner. My oldest son is an artist, so they were always art supplies just kind of around. And so we kind of set the table so that they could gravitate to the thing that they wanted. And it totally worked because my oldest son plays guitar and bass and my other son plays drums. My daughter plays piano and accordion and sings and my wife sings.

And so we realized one day, we have a band and I don’t have to pay any of them. That’s the most amazing part. So we’ve done quite a few shows and to see them… I was talking about it, our home is just a home where it was taken for granted that whatever gifting you have been given, whatever passion you have, that there’s a way to build a kingdom with it. And so seeing my kids growing up in that culture, it’s been a very natural thing. And as far as worship as a family, I was listening to a panel yesterday where they were giving really practical advice on, you should have a time of singing and a time of Bible reading in your home every day and cultivating. I think those things are great, obviously, but our family is really bad at it.

Learning to Love the Bible

We would pray at night, almost every night before bed and try to model for the kids a love of scripture. I get up and try to read my Bible in the morning and whatever it may be, but it’s more like an organic thing. It’s like, well, we’re believers we’re going to function in the world as if God is our king and we are his subjects and we’re just going to kind of live this way. I’ve had to let myself off the hook for not having a family devotional time every night.

Instead, we just read the Narnia books. And so, one of my mentors in college said, Roger Chambers, he said, “The Christianity ought to be as ordinary in your home as corn flakes and dirty laundry.” And that was a very formative thing for Jamie and I is like, we just were like, Christianity is going to be a part of the conversation. So it’s not going to feel weird if we stop and pray. It’s not going to feel weird if we go, “Hey, I wanted to tell you about this verse that I read the other day.” So it’s just a part of the culture.

Yeah. That’s awesome. One last question would just be, if you had the opportunity to speak to someone who is maybe just going through a difficult time and feels far from the Lord, what’s something that you would encourage them with to just remain steadfast in their worship of the Lord and just in pressing into the Lord in those moments of feeling far away? And I ask that because one of the things that I appreciate about your music is you’ve always been really transparent about even being in moments of that and writing from those places. So how would you encourage someone who may be experiencing a far feeling from God?

The Church’s Need for Different Mediums

Yeah, The first thing that comes to mind is I would just say, read the Psalms. The older I’ve gotten, the more astonished I’ve become by how honest and frank the psalmists are, and they give my heart permission to express these things to the Lord because there’s this feeling of propriety that kind of comes with prayer. Like, I’ve got to say things right and I’ve got to say just every other word, and I’ve got to have a prayer voice that I use, when you don’t see that in the Psalms.

Michael Card is one of my heroes and a dear friend, and he said one time, at no point in scripture does God ever say, “How dare you speak to me that way?” At no point in scripture does God ever say, how dare you speak to me that way? Which is to say he always invites the conversation.

And I think that’s the trick. If you’re feeling frustrated or empty or whatever, then you can’t shock him. Maintaining any engagement in conversation, even if you’re blaming him, even if you’re saying, “Where were you when I needed you?” It’s crucial. It’s a part of the story and it’s a conversation that he is eager to engage you with.

That’s a good word, and I think just a great way to end. So thank you so much for just taking the time to come talk to us, think about some of these things. Really appreciate your time, Andrew.

Thank you.

Radical Staff

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