Brehm Center's Aossicate Director, Nate Risdon, was recently interviewed by Adam Joyce of the Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation, and Culture. Among other things, Nate talks at length about the pressures artists face in churches. Nate says:
Time and time again, I have seen artist taken to task for creating a work that they created out of devotion. Typically, an artist’s work is an expression born out of an understanding of their vocation, yet it is dismissed because it doesn’t quite fit into the traditional definition many churches have for “vocation.” Artists of different stripes express the mysteries of this world with the concrete material of this world. This is why they are important for the church. There is no dichotomy between faith and reason – there is just being and living into what it means to be fully human.
When a composer picks up a pen to mark a notation on her score, this act is hard fought, an act of deep devotion on her part. The task of creating can be arduous. Artists do it because they ultimately know they must do it. Something drives every artist to create, and many times artists create because of that driving force, to make meaning of it. This is why it doesn’t matter if an artist claims a faith, they will always describe the act of creating and performing as spiritual or otherworldly. Almost any artist you speak with can describe a moment when something else took over, when they were lost in themselves, and the world around them ceased to exist. As a Christian, I call that a transcendent moment shared with the God of this universe—these moments happen when I have fully committed myself to this work, when the work and I have become one in some mysterious sense. I am certain that God honors our wholehearted devotion to doing work that is pleasing and good. God models this for us in the Genesis story. He recognized his work was good and he celebrated that goodness.
Artists, like others doing work for the common good, need to be celebrated for what they do. Their devotion to their vocation pleases God just as much as the work of a missionary in the field or a celibate nun devoted to the poor.
Nate goes on to outline five steps churches can take to better interact with artists, how artists can better interact with churches, and what resources have helped him as he's develloped his own sense of calling and helped others develop theirs.