You may have heard that Bono of U2 is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (USA Today) and in months past was almost a consideration for the World Bank leadership role. His music is fantastic and indeed the band U2 is a bigger-than-life icon. But, what does this mean to us artists who are the "little guys" plugging away in our locales throughout America and the West? I believe this is evidence that artists indeed effect change significantly in our present culture and that even though there is a lot of bad out there we indeed have a unique calling to do things that are higher.
One example is how Kieth Green, one of my heros, challenged so many young adult Christians to join YWAM and missions. I think of how Rich Mullins was a modern-day monk who inspired the young to a simple life and honest faith. I think of how people like Michael W. Smith who founded his Rocket Town youth center and outside of these Christian insiders there was a post I made about Simple Plan and how they are helping kids.
In a local church, I can see great possibilities. What are we doing in our local churches to change our cities for the good? How are we thinking globally? My prayer is that the evangelical church in America would wake up and see the need to finally include artistic-types into their fold and forgo giving them up to the world. Nurture them and send them out. For too long our church environments have been suspicious, demeaning and utilitarian with our artists. It is nice to have them sing a solo, but to allow them speak their heart about world hunger!?
I remember one personal story. I was putting on a Christmas show for a small church in the San Jose Bay Area. As a young 20-something I thought that Christmas was about giving and that I would charge one can of food to be donated at the door for admission to our show. We would have those large bins to hold them and then leave them up all December at the back of the church and give it to the local food bank. My pastor sat me down and dryly said, "Rich, only liberal churches do that." I was shocked. But, this is not uncommon.
The best thing for an artist is to think of his art as bigger than himself and for others. To rob that and leave them to the world’s view of art as ultimately a narcissistic self-expression is a shame. Artists will not have all the answers, but they will have the questions. Who is the Bono in your church youth group? Who is the next Michelangelo among us?
What do think? Do we need artists in the church? In society?