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Outreach and the Artist: Sharing the Gospel with the Arts

Outreach and the Artist: Sharing the Gospel with the Arts

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by Constantine R. Campbell

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Whether you are an artist whose talents are an untapped source of energy for your church or a ministry leader wanting to involve artists and the creative arts in your outreach efforts, Outreach and the Artist will renew your vision. Musician and biblical scholar Con Campbell offers encouragement, wisdom, and practical tips for evangelism with,


Whether you are an artist whose talents are an untapped source of energy for your church or a ministry leader wanting to involve artists and the creative arts in your outreach efforts, Outreach and the Artist will renew your vision. Musician and biblical scholar Con Campbell offers encouragement, wisdom, and practical tips for evangelism with, through, and to the arts:


Evangelism with the Arts. While the abilities of Christian artists may serve the church internally, artists within the church usually have enormous untapped potential for outreach.


Evangelism through the Arts. People’s natural love for various artistic mediums provides a connection-point to exploring life’s big questions with unbelievers in non-threatening and engaging ways.


Evangelism to the Arts. Christian artists are uniquely positioned to make an impact in artistic networks, which often have no Christian witness or presence and tend to be shut off from conventional methods of outreach.


Spreading the gospel is a task worth every God-given resource we have, and artists and their creative gifts are no exception.

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Zondervan Publishing
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Outreach and the Artist

sharing the gospel with the arts

By Contantine R. Campbell


Copyright © 2013Contantine R. Campbell
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-310-49496-6




I was an artist before I was a Christian. My artistic life began at age ten, when I became obsessed with drawing cartoons, inspired by reading and loving Garfield cartoons by Jim Davis. I developed my own comic strip, complete with characters, plots, bad jokes, and the rest. By age twelve I had drawn over two hundred cartoons in my series. Before I turned twelve, the series had been considered seriously for publication in a local newspaper, but was knocked back because of my age.

Around that time I started to get serious about painting and had a private art tutor who taught me how to handle oils, pencils, and watercolors. I worked on still lifes and a few portraits. By this time, art was more important than school or anything else. At age twelve I moved to a different city with my family, and some of my cartoons were published in a local newspaper. Shortly after that I lost interest in the visual arts—for the time being, anyway. I got into athletics and at age fifteen competed in the state championships for the 800 meters.

But something else had been bubbling beneath the surface from age twelve. I had started to learn the saxophone. I had learned piano from age six, but wasn't really into it. The saxophone was different. It was fun and I practiced regularly. By age fifteen I had gotten pretty good at it. Then I discovered jazz. One of my uncles gave me a Stan Getz record and I listened to it, and only it, for a full year. By age sixteen I had become hooked on jazz, was learning to improvise, and was practicing hard. Before long I had decided to become a professional jazz musician once school was finished. In my final two years at school, I was practicing between four and six hours a day. I barely bothered with schoolwork and couldn't wait for it to be over so I could go to jazz school. I had also rediscovered the visual arts, working on a sculpture for my high school certificate on a major work consisting of some old instruments that I pulled apart and welded into a big treble clef.

For many musicians, music begins in the church. For me it was reverse. Music led me to church. In my second-to-last year at school, a hip, young music teacher came to teach at my school. Miss Benn breathed new life into our school's music department with positivity and enthusiasm. I had a mild crush on her, like most of the other guys. Anyway, because I was good at saxophone, she asked me to do a few gigs with her band. Turns out it was a Christian band. The guys in the band were great people—fine musicians, but really on about Jesus. Eventually they took me with them to their church, and throughout my last year of school I was going to church each Sunday night. I thought I was a Christian, but the truth was that I had little to no understanding of Christian faith—not helped by the fact that the church did not really teach the Bible. My true god was Jazz, and I didn't see any problem with that.

When I finished school, I moved to Canberra to study Jazz Performance at the Canberra School of Music of the Australian National University. I had been going to church the year before this, so I figured I would find a church in Canberra. I picked one at random out of the phone book and went along. From my point of view, it couldn't have been more random, but now I see God's hand in it. For the first time in my life, I heard the Bible taught clearly, and it blew me away. While I was progressing in my jazz studies and being confirmed in my idolatry (more on this later), simultaneously something else was bubbling beneath the surface. I was becoming a Christian.

By the end of my first year of studies at jazz school, I had become a Christian, had starting dating my future wife, Bronwyn, and was wrestling with the place of jazz in my life. It was becoming increasingly clear that jazz had been occupying the place of a god in my life, and as a fast-growing Christian this would not do. And so the battle between Jazz and Jesus was underway. I wanted to be a Christian and wasn't going to give up on Jesus, but I had become used to my life revolving around music. The more I studied the Bible and was involved in church, the more unsettled I became. I fluctuated between thinking that I had to give up jazz altogether and thinking that God wanted me to be a professional jazz musician for his glory.

In my second year of studies, I won the prestigious James Morrison Jazz Scholarship, which is awarded each year to one jazz musician in Australia (of any instrument) at age nineteen. To win that competition had been my goal since I was sixteen, and I took it as a sign that God wanted me to be a jazz musician after all. Why would he allow me to win if that wasn't the plan?

It wasn't the plan. In my third year of university the question came up again in a big way. I went to a midyear Bible conference for university students, called The Focal Point. My pastor, Dave McDonald, taught the Bible that week on the theme of the church. It was seriously good Bible teaching, and I was deeply challenged from the first day. The challenge was that believers should not be building their own Tower of Babel, but be concerned for the building of God's church. Working as copartners with God in the building of his church is actually the first vocation of all Christians.

I knew that I had been building my own little Tower of Babel in the form of my jazz career. It was my own little kingdom, and while I wanted it to be for God's glory, deep down I suspected it was for my own. During the next few days I prayed a lot, talked a lot, and determined to sort out my priorities once and for all. On the last day of the conference, Dave challenged us again. He argued that if, as had been established, we should be focused on serving the church, the next question is how best to do that. For some people, it would mean being a solid Christian in the workplace. For others it would mean doing so as a student. For others, it might mean changing your job. For some it would mean quitting their careers and going into full-time Christian ministry.

Well, my number was up. I knew that I could better serve the church in full-time ministry than as a full-time musician. Sure, there would have been lots of ministry to do as a musician, and I know Christian musicians who do that well. But for me, there wasn't any question: my heart was changed, and I wanted to go into full-time ministry.

After The Focal Point, I talked to Dave about my new desire to go into ministry, and he told me to come back in a month. If I still felt this way, then we'd talk. A month later, we talked and decided that the following year I would begin work with him as a ministry apprentice. Two weeks after my jazz studies concluded, Bron and I got married, and after the summer I began working in full-time Christian ministry. The jazz god had been put down; Jesus won that contest, and life would continue without music. Or so I thought.

It turns out that God had other plans. He used my abilities in music for ministry in ways that I could not have predicted. I kept playing lots of "secular" gigs while doing ministry work full-time, but the big surprise was the way that jazz would become a powerful tool for evangelism. The way all that happened comes later, but for now I will say that God blessed me with the combination of two great loves: playing jazz and talking to people about Jesus. I didn't dream it was possible, and in fact I initially thought it was a crazy idea. But God has given me many opportunities to serve him with (and without) a saxophone in my hands. For that I am very grateful. As Fiona McDonald (Dave's wife) once said to me: "You gave up jazz for God, and he gave it right back to you." So true. But when God gave it back to me, it was with a higher pur

Excerpted from Outreach and the Artist by Contantine R. Campbell. Copyright © 2013 by Contantine R. Campbell. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Constantine R. Campbell is Associate Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the author of several books, including Paul and Union with Christ; Verbal Aspect, the Indicative Mood, and Narrative; and Outreach and the Artist. Dr. Campbell is a preacher, musician, and author, and lives in Chicago.

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Outreach and the Artist: Sharing the Gospel with the Arts 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
seascapes12 More than 1 year ago
Outreach and the Artist, by Con Campbell, is part personal narrative, part self-help from the world of art mingled with religion. I was fortunate to receive a copy through Booksneeze® and read about ministering to the artists’ community in a relevant and real way, using the platform of the arts to share the beauty of God’s creative side with those who may never enter into a church. The title itself is pretty plain and straightforward, with not a lot to look at visually for the cover, but inside is filled with Campbell’s lessons of being both an artist and a Christian, and how he blends both worlds. While not the most intriguing read, his assessments are straightforward and an honest look at this avenue, and I liked how he added other artist testimonies on how they use their God-given gifts to share hope in their sphere of influence. He is very straightforward with his message, through the pages it’s clear this was a burden put on Campbell’s heart. It wouldn’t be high up on my recommendation list, but the message is one that the artist world needs more of.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Outreach and the Artist really stood out to me, being a Christian and an artist. I found the idea of a book that gives help to artists who are Christians alluring. Especially explaining the challenges that real artists face in spreading the gospel, and how they approach hurdles and triumphs. This book is also a wonderful resource for churches looking to reach out using artists and the arts. That being said, I feel that there was a disproportionate amount of musicians featured in the book, and would have liked to see artists from other fields, such as photography, graphic design, videography and illustration, as well as examples of work. While the book was a bit short, it definitely has some great ideas and stories of gospel through the arts. I would just love to see the author take this idea further, and believe that in the end, this book could have been expanded a lot more and covered more topics and artists. *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com [...] book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 [...] : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
uncommongirl More than 1 year ago
Synopsis: In Outreach and the Artist, professional jazz musician and New Testament scholar Con Campbell shares practical tips for outreach and evangelism with artists, through art forms, and to artists. He shows ministry leaders how to partner with artists more effectively and gives artists a clearer sense of how their gifts and talents can be used for spreading the gospel. A book about evangelism and creative arts that is written for those placed in either of these positions. There are short story like examples that perfectly illustrate the author’s point.  Sorta an autobiography by the author’s own admission. Con is a knowledgeable source both in the arts and evangelism. He shares his experience with a genuine intent to inform and encourage. The author explains the “why” behind his suggestions. Each chapter ends with a brief artist interview. Since I started featuring art posts this year on my blog as a way to appreciate artistic talent and share God’s word visually through art, I was excited to review this book. I found it to be encouraging and biblically insightful.   God is the ultimate Artist. He is the Creator of all things. He delights in color, sound, shapes of all kinds, and unstraight lines. Every person he has made is entirely unique. What an artist is he! Not only does God create, but he recreates too. In Christ Jesus, we who were bent out of shape, distorted, and rebellious creature are transformed into the likeness of Christ. God’s life-giving Spirit indwells us, recasting our inclinations and the desires of our hearts that we might love and honor our Creator. We are the very artistry of God! We are the products of his handiwork and the pinnacle of his creation. God delights in his creation, his re-creation, his people. It is little wonder that the Creator God should see fit to bring the arts into the service of his work of re-creation. What could be more appropriate? The creative arts involved in the re-creation of people. (Conclusion page 115, Outreach and the Artist)