Faith Ministry

Christian Art: Don’t worry about the message

What defines Christian Art? Lately this genre has illustrated or portrayed the principles of Christianity all the while remaining PG-13. Precious Moments figurines, Veggie Tales DVD’s, and pastoral paintings by Thomas Kinkade may immediately spring to mind. But all that is changing. Although some boundaries help, playing it too safe can stifle creativity. So what can Christian Art do better? And how can we define this genre differently? These are the questions we posed to a group of artists (who also happen to be Christian).

Dallas McLaughlin

Dallas McLaughlin
Television writer and stand-up comic Dallas McLaughlin

Television writer and stand-up comic who is influenced by Steve Martin

What defines Christian Art?

I grew up in a Catholic home, which became a Pentecostal one, and it didn’t allow anything other than religious works to be in it. I spent my earliest years listening to Psalty’s Kids Praise records and recorded stories from the Bible. By age thirteen, I wore a lot of rayon and thought Petra was groundbreaking.

Within the next year, I was handed two cassettes (yes, cassettes), which completely changed my life: What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong and No Control by Bad Religion. There was no turning back. To hear music that wasn’t created to push one singular message was inspiring and felt real.

This is the where the clear disconnect appears when one talks about ‘Christian’ art in any form: it’s limited. And the only way to push those limits is by letting yourself progress. Not away from God, but with him, into your own heart.

At some point, Christians collectively felt like it was our job to spread the Word. We should have been fired decades ago. So fine, you believe in the apocalypse, but what do you think about it? More importantly how does it make you feel–not only about you, but also about your loved ones? Forget what your church is gonna think or what your Bible study is gonna say. Christian artists can do better, and even be better, if the artists allowed themselves to be free of the chains they place on themselves.

When John Davis became a Christian, he quit Superdrag, one of the finest pop-rock bands of all time. He didn’t feel right singing old songs he had written about things that were unholy. He then decided to keep writing music as a Christian artist, and in all honesty released some of the worst songs of his career. He limited what he could accomplish because he was scared of something that was never intended to be frightening.

If God gives you everything in your life, then he gave you that breakup. He gave you that flat tire. He also gave you an incredible gift to express your feelings. Stop worrying about the message and start worrying about your art. Having God in the title doesn’t mean you did your job.

If you push yourself, stretch your creativity and stay completely true to who you are, then what you believe in will never be misrepresented or misunderstood. As much as the church urges you to trust in God, I firmly believe the first step is trusting in yourself.

More in the series: What defines Christian Art?