It's a tough financial climate out there for everyone, and no-one feels this harder than Christian ministry, and few of those feel it harder than arts ministry.
The world is passionate about the arts. Music, film, entertainment, theatre, dance, painting, sculpture - art in many forms. Far more interested in that than in the Church. But while the Church bears a message from its Founder that is unpalatable due to our nature, but vitally important, the opposite is often true in the arts. Is it because of this local church leadership remains (by and large) inexplicably disinterested in the arts, not perhaps understanding the possibilities the arts offer for communicating the Gospel?
So what does Christian arts ministry bring that the Church is missing out on?
Well, first of all we're using a medium that already has the attention of the world at large. Just not always the leadership of the established local churches. Second, we're bringing the message of the Gospel through that medium - but that sometimes involves making connections with the non-Christian in ways that church leaders find objectionable - and this largely because they confuse taste and content. Or taste and quality.
ie: If I don't like it, it isn't good.
On my first day in history class as a young music undergraduate at Edinburgh University, our lecturer asked us if we thought Debussy was 'a great composer'. I thought, 'no'. Why? Because I wasn't keen on his music.
I was dead wrong, and leared my lesson the hard way when the lecturer asked 'why not?'. His music may not (at the time) have been to my taste, but my taste (or lack thereof) didn't change the greatness of the composer.
We bear a great message - let's use a popular medium to get it across, without changing the meaning of the message, let's use a delivery system capable of penetrating the fog of modern ideas (of course that assumes that we are clearly communicating the message, but that's a whole other article).
Let's hold events that honestly declare the greatness of God, but in a way that 21st century mankind can absorb. It's like a soluble aspirin. Get the remedy, which is the truth, in there.
Which brings us back to the thorny issue of the cost of the arts in Christian communication. It costs money. It SHOULD cost us money. This is ministry. Origin has had to cancel two major events now simply because of lack of funding. We've heard rumours that we have 'a major funder' somewhere (I heard they were in Africa!). We'd love to be introduced to that person! Just for the record not only do we not have a major funder, we don't even have one church (at the time of writing) that regularly supports the ministry. We're entirely faith-based. God will provide through His people.
Which brings us neatly to Sat 3 September - a fundraising bike ride. You'll find the details on the website under events (or past events, if you're reading this after 3 September!). Could you sponsor a cyclist? Come to the BBQ and Beach Concert?
Well controlled and focussed upon the glory of God, the arts can be an army (or dare I say, a Trojan horse) for God. Yes art can be an end in itself, expressing an idea such as beauty or terror. But how much more powerful when the message communicated also encompasses the eternal destiny of the observer. We pray that this weapon will be used in the coming years.
Colin Peckham, Artistic Director, Origin Scotland