LeAnne Martin
Christians in the Arts

Monday, December 17, 2007

Looking Back: Nigel Goodwin, Part 1

As the end of the year approaches, I’ve been thinking about all the fascinating people I have interviewed since starting the blog in September 2006. Those of you who have just joined me recently may not have time to check out the archives, so for the next couple of weeks, I’m going back to the beginning, to those first interviews with two of my favorite people in the arts. Enjoy!

In my next few posts, I'm going to be talking to two experts about using the arts to reach our culture for Christ. My first guest is Nigel Goodwin, Executive Director of Genesis Arts Trust. Nigel is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art who worked in theatre, film, TV, and radio for over 10 years. He trained under Francis Schaeffer at L’Abri. Through Genesis Arts Trust, Nigel encourages and supports Christians in the arts, both celebrities and “unknowns”, all over the world.

LeAnne: What is the church’s role in our culture today?

Nigel: Except for a few notable exceptions, sadly it’s been a role of withdrawal. That goes back to the end of the 19th century, beginning of the 20th, when the culture was beginning to lose its Judeo-Christian roots and become more secular. Instead of the church being salt and light and engaging, there was a huge withdrawal, a disengaging. We built our own colleges and universities—our own subcultural system, rather than counter-cultural.

I think Christ calls us to a counter-culture. If He had withdrawn at any point from the world, the world would be worse than it is. But the Holy Spirit still broods over the world. God has never given up on the world that He so loves. True, we are called to be in it and not of the world, but we are called first to be in it—in it with a different frame of reference, a different way of thinking, of understanding, of seeing. We need to take our Christianity out of the comfort zones of the church and into the marketplace. We ought to be in engagement, not disengagement.

LM: How can Christians in the arts impact in our culture?

NG: We will bring the light into our culture. Light is substance, darkness is not. You don’t need a lot of light. If you strike a match in a room, you’ll see something. God isn’t asking for a headlamp. God doesn’t ask us to bully the culture because it’s got us wrong. He asks us to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. He asks us to be gentle, creative, winsome in the culture.

The arts gifts are given by the Giver of every good gift. A gift has to be received, unwrapped—worked at—and given back. It is for the Giver’s glory, to show Him to the world, and for our good: as we give it back, it blesses us and blesses the watching world who see the Body of Christ as distinctly different.

We need to learn in the church to make people hungry for Christ. The prince of the power of the air does not have to be the prince of the power of the airwaves. If we retreat, someone else will be there. You can spend a lot of time in the cultural wars arguing about what you don’t like rather than spending time creating an alternative so people can make their choices. Give them something different. Invest in writers, in quality writing. Why is so much church-based art bad art? Why doesn’t it have the excellence and professionalism we see in the world? Does God make cheap? Is a rose ever cheap? Is an oak tree cheap? No. God made quality.

Coming soon: In early January, I will be unveiling a new look for the blog and a new website. More details later.

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