Outreach And The Artist: Sharing The Gospel With The Arts

June 6, 2013 — Leave a comment

_225_350_Book.873.coverIt is hard to imagine two books could be any more different. Back in the fall, I reviewed Constantine Campbell’s Paul and Union With Christ, an encyclopedic study of both the exegetical and theological usage of Paul’s “in Christ” language. It was thorough, exhaustive, and top of the line NT scholarship.

Apparently, Campbell is not just a top-notch NT scholar, he is also an incredible jazz saxophonist, who uses his artistic giftings for outreach. To give his insight into this endeavor, he has written Outreach and The Artist: Sharing the Gospel With the Arts. Unlike the 500+ page book published by Zondervan Academic, this book weighs in at just over 100 pages, and is really even shorter than that implies.

But, if you are looking for some seasoned wisdom on how to integrate artistic endeavors into the mission of your church, this is the book to get. In it, Campbell provides 7 short chapters as well as 7 artist profiles (mini-interviews that span 2-3pgs). In the chapters, Campbell explains first, his own testimony and background in music. Then, he explains to readers how to best do outreach with the arts (chapter 2) and goes the extra mile to explain what does and does not work (chapter 3). Evangelistic outreach is not limited to being done with the arts, but as Campbell explains, it can be done through the arts (chapter 4) as well as to the arts (chapter 5). Building off this last chapter, Campbell offers first and explanation of the uneasy relationship artists sometimes have with the church (chapter 6) and then how for many artists, there is the constant struggle to make the arts their idol (chapter 7). You can tell as you read, this is a struggle he knows from the inside (both the relationship to the church and the idolatry issue) and his insight is valuable.

Overall, this book can be read in a little over an hour, but the guidance it offers takes much longer than that to apply. In some ways, this would be a good book for both artists and church leaders alike. Campbell writes as someone who straddles both worlds, given his status as a seminary prof as well as performing jazz musician. Artists of all types, but especially musicians will resonate with his writing. Having been involved in outreach with, through, and to the arts for a long time, his advice on how to do it all well will be a great help to church leaders who want to branch out into this territory.

Though I would have liked a longer book, this book works as a conversation starter and perhaps part of the shortness is to entice artists who might not have the patience for a lengthier work. Campbell’s advice is not definitive, nor the last word (nor would he lead you to believe that), but as an intro to the subject, I think he hits his mark.

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I'm an avid reader, musician, and high school Bible teacher living in central Florida. I have many paperback books and our house smells of rich glade air freshners. If you want to know more, then let's connect!

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