War, Propaganda, and Art
As history has shown us, people’s mindsets can and have been swayed through the use of art as a cultural agent of change. Specifically in times of war, countries have used art and designed propaganda to bolster support for a their cause. If you live in the United States you’ve probably seen a few wartime posters in history books. But how does this history apply to those of us who work in churches? Before we get to that let’s look at a few examples.
Propaganda is “the organized dissemination of information, allegations, etc, to assist or damage the cause of a government, movement, etc…” Propaganda is usually repeated and dispersed over a wide variety of media in order to create the desired result in audience attitudes.
If you happened to be around in 1917 you would have seen this iconic poster created by James Montgomery Flagg all over the place. Created in 1917, near the end of World War I, “Uncle Sam” was given an identity that has lived on in the minds of future generations.
Some of the most famous American wartime art was produced at that time. When the US Government saw that World War II was coming, and that the US would eventually become involved, the government kept producing pro-war propaganda. Though the American public wanted to focus on rebuilding and sustaining the economy after the First World War, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, it was inevitable that America was going to enter the war. With production of wartime materials being the greatest advantage that the Allies had, most posters that we have come to know focused on what the “everyday” person could do for his or her country.
But how does this history apply to those who work in churches?
The enemy is waging a war on all of us and we have been called to action through our art – to share a story of grace, hope, truth, and love. But how?
We need to focus on the task at hand
As a worship/creative arts pastor, I’ve found myself caught up doing things just to do them – rather than to tell the Story from an angle that people haven’t heard or seen before (or need to be reminded of once again). This requires focus to trust in God for His leading and submitting to the Holy Spirit’s direction as we craft our services and creative endeavors. And then we hustle to do the best job we can with the vision He has given to us. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Rely on God to help you visually present the story.
We need people to join us
What you are trying to accomplish every week – it can’t be done alone. You need people to join your cause. You need people to catch on to the vision and the story. Instead of just advertising through your art, what if you enlisted people? How would that change your approach?
We need to feel a personal responsibility to use the gifts God has given us to further the Gospel
What gifts has God blessed you with that you are not using? God has given each of us gifts that He wants us to use for His glory, and to bring honor to Him. I’d encourage you to make a list of those gifts and set a plan of action for how you can begin to use those gifts to lead others closer to Him. If you don’t know, ask someone close to you, where they think your untapped potential lies. Then ask for accountability from them, that you may begin to develop and use those gifts to their full extent.
It’s a fact that there is a war going on around all of us (Ephesians 6:10-18). How will we use our art to create a culture of hope and love around us? Focus on the task at hand. Rally others to your cause. Use the gifts God has given you.