For the past twenty years, I have been lamenting, publicly and privately, the decline of the arts in church. If you have had even one serious conversation with me, or if you have attended any of my songwriting seminars, or if you have read my book (“The Craft of Christian Songwriting“ —shameless plug), then you know this to be true. The decline of the arts in the church pretty much follows the decline of American culture. And I believe that is because the Church has chosen to follow the culture rather than lead it.
So, it’s nice for an old curmudgeon like me to occasionally see a young hipster offer up a similar viewpoint. The more the merrier, I say. In the current online edition of Relevant magazine, David Ryan Gutierrez offers up “Five Ways the Church Can Make Great Art Again.”
I particularly like his Point #3: Demand a higher standard. This is exactly the point of my book. (What you haven’t read it yet? Shame on you. Stop right now and order it.) Far too often we Christian songwriters are content to mimic the world and settle settle for “God gave it to me,” instead of searching for our own unique creative spark and then working alongside the Creator to craft a well-written song.
In his essay, Gutierrez focuses on the term “art,” and that is well and good. Personally, I prefer to keep things a little more earth-bound and focus on craft. Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to think that art follows craft. Until we master the craft, we are unlikely to create any real art. And Christian songwriters are far too often guilty of not having bothered to master the basic craft of songwriting.
Read Gutierrez’s essay. See where hits home with you. Let me know what you think.
And for crying out loud, read my book.