what kind of art does a movement require? | pt 2 | stories of followers

At Granger, we’ve been chewing on the question of how we leverage our art for the sake of the movement of Jesus.  It’s not exactly a new question; we’ve been using art to reach our community since day one.  However, we believe God is calling us to an ongoing evolution of our effort beyond the weekend service to take the present reality of the Kingdom of God to our world.  I’m still sorting through a lot of this, but I thought I’d share my thoughts with you while I’m chewing on it.  And I’d love to hear from you, too.

You have to see this video from TED that Aaron Niequist turned me onto when he put it on his blog – it’s clever and funny, but I think it’s profound.  Derek Sivers says that a movement requires that people get a glimpse of its followers.  (People don’t emulate leaders; they emulate their fellow followers.)   Paul seems to be working with the same logic when he tells the Corinthians to imitate him as he imitates Christ (1 Cor 11:1).

If we buy into Sivers’ analysis of the anatomy of a movement (and I do), then art has a critical role to play in elevating the stories of the movement’s followers.  We in the Church ought to be fiercely committed to telling the truth with our art, but I don’t think that always means doctrinal, dogmatic truth.  Sometimes it means human truth, when a life is opened up, absent of pretense or masks, and shown to others.  We need to use our art to magnify the human voices of Jesus’ followers. 

A lot of us have seen the I Am Second videos that do exactly that – they’re full of real people who are identifying themselves as followers (saying “I am second to Jesus’ lead in my life”).  Here’s one of my favorite examples from Granger of art used to elevate the story of a follower of Jesus:

My Story from Granger Community on Vimeo.


Using art to tell human stories is an important part of telling the truth.  It’s a way of allowing the stories of the Gospels to jump off the pages of Scripture and into our 21st century lives.  You can put on a killer event that has a huge impact without telling real stories.  I’m sure God can use something like that.  But if we’re looking for the portable, far-reaching, exponentially-growing, world-changing, injustice-confronting, beautifying movement that we believe the Holy Spirit is ready to carry out through our churches, I think the stories of Jesus’ followers have to be given a significant place in our art.  They provide traction for everyone who is standing on the sidelines wondering if this movement is for them.  We’ve recommitted ourselves to the priority of telling those stories at Granger as we enlist our art in service to the movement of Jesus.  I think our movement requires that kind of art.   

Has your life been changed by art that revealed the story of a follower of Jesus?  Have you seen the movement of the kingdom catalyzed by art that tells the truth like that?  Tell us about it in the comments.