When you create a piece of art, you may experience a hint of what God likely felt, and in doing so, you also may be able to understand God’s love even more.
Despite God's beautiful example, many people don’t incorporate the arts in their spiritual lives. Setting up a faith-focused artisan community can help change that. What’s more, an artisan community may be the perfect way to bring people from multiple generations together in one ministry.
Here are some ideas on how to get started.
Organize a few artisans to start the process
This should be a shared effort. As with any new initiative, it needs a leader who understands that the "why" is as important as the "how" and "what" of the ministry.
Take time to determine the "why" and "what" of the ministry
Why do we need to encourage creativity within the church as well as in the community at large? What arts do you wish to cultivate?
Determine how the community will interact and work together
You can have a gathering of artisans from all disciplines or group them by discipline. Your facility and the material needs may dictate how you organize things.
Creativity does not start and stop during an hour on Wednesday night, so you may not need regular meetings. Participants might want to gather to share their work and discuss individual projects. Workshops might become a good reason for weekly gatherings. If artisans are coming together to work, be sure your space has good natural light for people to paint or sculpt. Also, provide the right setting to pursue other arts. Don't be afraid to ask what the artisans need before creating a space.
The environment you offer will show artisans the depth of the church’s passion about this new community. Designate and design your room/rooms according to what is needed. Room colors and displays can help provide inspiration.
An improv or dance group needs open space. Painting and drawing tools and furnishings would be helpful for a visual arts group. Give access to a computer with appropriate software installed. This will particularly benefit groups pursuing photography and graphics arts.
Decide on introductory efforts for the church
Here is a list of ideas:
- Create an art gallery for Holy Week or Advent.
- Work with a local restaurant or coffee shop to display visual arts.
- Work with a theater or coffee shop (that has a stage) to host a poetry reading.
- Work with your city's public works department to do beautification projects around the community.
- Collect short stories or memories of the church and create a print book.
- Use the group's photographs of the community to create a photo book about the community.
- Bring in guest artisans to share their talents with your community.
- Work with the pastor/s to have a sermon series with artistic elements used throughout.
- Integrate the artisan community into worship: painting during the service, using photographers' images for PowerPoint backgrounds or sermon illustrations.
- Make videos of each ministry within the church.
- Share poems, improv or music with older adults or even as part of a prison ministry.
- Have family photo days where families from the community can benefit from some creative images.
- Create works of art for new homeowners you might know through Habitat for Humanity or participants in programs for battered women and/or those in recovery programs offered by the church.
- Create public art projects for your community.
- Offer scholarships and grants for artists within the community.
- Collect donated equipment or supplies to support and build participation.
- Have each of the participants come up with a grand idea to involve everyone in a common effort. Then let the whole group vote on or choose one idea to support financially and physically (similar to the concept of KickStarter).
- Work through The Artist's Way, a workbook that helps experienced and beginning artists tap into their creative side.
Promote the new community within and outside the church
While they might not be looking for a home church, artists may be seeking community with others pursuing their art. Promote your community at coffee shops, art stores and through other local arts groups both in person and online.
Gather ministry leaders at the end of the initial effort
Get together to assess the highs and lows and plan new projects to support the community that has emerged.