Church Art Festivals, Reclaiming the Art World for Christ

God is the Master Artist who expresses His beauty in our world through nature and through some He chooses to gift as artists. Yet many artists and patrons are alienated from God and His church. It hasn't always been that way. Pick up any art textbook, or visit any gallery and you will find that art based on God and His word are predominant in history.

As the original patron of the arts, the church commissioned many famous artists, including Di Vinci and Rembrandt, who are remembered for their religious paintings. So, where are the great artists today who create art about their faith? And where are the churches that provide a venue and market for their work?

It is clear from scripture that God desires to be worshipped. Most churches define worship as singing and praising God through music. But many churches just don’t know what to do with the visual artists. So here's a simple idea that can change your corner of the art world, that is for your church to sponsor an arts festival based on scripture.

The church-sponsored arts festival

In a nutshell, the arts festival has artistic credibility because it is juried by professionals, thereby drawing the best artists from the community. The church chooses the biblical theme which is incorporated into a sermon series. There is no entry fee, and artists receive 75 percent of the sale price. The best art receives cash awards and may be purchased by the church.

My church is completing our fourth annual festival this year and I have also consulted with churches in Dallas and Nashville. Themes thus far include the 23rd Psalm, Beginnings, Jonah and The Prodigal. Imagine 100 to 300 original artworks on one of these themes, created by local artist from your community and state, installed in the lobby or gymnasium of your church, and seen by thousands!

Arts festival: Platform for evangelism

Artists love these festivals, because it gives opportunities for their work to be seen and purchased. Our desire is for them to experience turning to God's word for inspiration, which gives their talent a transcendent purpose. Each piece in the festival is accompanied by an "Artist Inspiration Statement" written by the artist describing their creative inspiration and process. This gives artists, art patrons and church members an opportunity for spiritual conversations inspired by the art. It really doesn't matter if you have a big church or a small church; just as long as you have a sizable arts community and a vision to reach them.

Learn more about art festivals

A good first step would be to talk to a few of the artists in your church, along with key staff people to gauge their response. Visit to learn more about how other churches have done this.

Your church can make a major impact on the arts community by giving artists a reason to create works inspired by their faith, and creating a marketplace for their artwork.

Bob Snider was an art major at Ouachita Baptist University and received an MBA from the University of Arkansas. He is an award-winning artist and president of Mid Southern Watercolorists.

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