Good Advice for Young Artists

How many young artists have abandoned the Church because they weren’t offered any good advice, mentoring or a place to use their artistic gifts? Or, to put things in perspective, how often has the Church failed to acknowledge, affirm and empower young artists to use all of their creative talents to reflect the beauty, truth and goodness of God in this world? Imagine what might happen if young artists were given the very advice and help they needed to pursue who God has called them to be and what He has called them to do?

In this video, professional photographer Virginia Dixon shares her story of coming to America as a young girl and eventually becoming a professional photographer. Whether you are young or old, take a moment to listen to Virginia’s story and consider how you can encourage a young artist today.

Never did Virginia imagine that God would give her through the universal language of the visual arts to express the values she cares so much about. Not only does Virginia offer excellent advice to young artists, her words offer key reminders that parents and church leaders need to consider in raising up a generation of young artists who will create new culture to reflect the creative heart of God.

    • It was only through the lens of a camera that Virginia began to see the world differently. Artists help people see things they wouldn’t otherwise see.
    • Creative gifts are meant to be received. We have to actually acknowledge that we have received creative gifts from God.
    • Enjoy your creative gifts. God put them in you to enjoy them and share them. Your gifts aren’t meant for self-indulgence, but to be shared.
    • Don’t get caught up in the mechanics of the gifts. Use your gifts and use them well, but don’t lose sight of the origin of your gifts.
    • Ultimately, the goal of all creative gifts is deep and intimate relationship with God the Father, our Creator, the ultimate Artist.

Do you know a  young artist who needs to be encouraged with their God-given creative calling? Is he or she a photographer, painter, writer, dancer, filmmaker, sculptor or musician? Have they been told that their creative talents are wonderful gifts from God and that their art form is desperately needed by the Church to bring the beauty, truth and goodness of God to this broken world?

In his book, Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts, Steve Turner writes that the Church, particularly after the Protestant Reformation, has long had an awkward relationship with the arts. Nowhere is this seen more in the Church’s failure raise up new generations of young artists to reflect and bring the Story of God to this lost and hurting world. If Christians desire to influence our culture towards what is good, true and beautiful, then it is essential for us to encourage and mentor young artists within the Church to hone their gifts, talents and abilities as an offering to God.

We don’t need to combat or attack culture, but rather create new culture. Nowhere will we find a more art-savvy, creatively equipped pool of talented people than the younger generation among us. They are eager to be taught, affirmed, mentored, encouraged and sent out to use their creative gifts for God’s eternal purposes. Imagine just what might happen…

Questions: Can you think of any examples of young artists being encouraged to develop their creative gifts within the Church and this world for kingdom purposes? What are some practical ways we can help young artists use their gifts and pursue the creative dreams God has given them?

I’d love your comments and questions.

Click here to order your copy of Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts by Steve Turner. It’s a great book for artists of all ages or for anyone who wants a better understanding of the role of the arts in the Church and our culture. It’s a great tool for one-on-one mentoring among artists or small group discussions.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, snarky or off-topic.

  • EYCF

    i am a musical theatre performer and director and I fully support what this succinct article is saying. praise God for your sharing! It is appreciated 🙂 Christian artists need to be supported by the Church, and also need to come together to spur each other on toward love, good deeds and godly artistic expression for Christ’s highest glory! 🙂

    I think it’s also important for Christian artists to know that they can enjoy the process of making their art – many feel guilty when their art-making feels good because they are afraid that they are becoming selfish and self-indulgent. However, I do sincerely believe that God also very much wants His children to enjoy the process of using their gifts! maybe you could expound on this point a little more? This is my personal opinion, and I would love to hear discussion about it, and if anyone can provide some insightful Bible verses on this particular point, that would be great too!

    • Joey O’Connor

      Thanks EYCF for your excellent remarks on this subject of artists enjoying the God-given process of art-making. The first thing that comes to mind is that all things that are good, true and beautiful come from God and are meant to be enjoyed. This includes the gifts God has given everyone, including artists, and those who benefit by receiving them like listening to beautiful music, watching a great film, or enjoying musical theatre.

      We would never criticize or call a surgeon or a plumber self-indulgent by excelling at their work…we’d hope they’d perform it to their highest ability!

      I love this story of The Anointing of Jesus at Bethany, where Jesus honors a “seemingly” wasteful and extravagant act.

      While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume,
      which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.  
      When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

      Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the
      world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Matthew 26:6-13

      This story is a wonderful apologetic for the place of art in the Church and for artists who bear the name “Christian” to bring more beauty into the world.

      Thanks for your thoughts. I hope you’ll join us again soon! Happy New Year!

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