I just got back from Richmond, IN where I attended the Church of the Brethren Church Planting conference held at Bethany Seminary. I did a mustard seed presentation (a quick 30 minute presentation) on engaging the arts and music scene through church planting. Below are the notes from this presentation. I. Introduction of Self Ryan Braught- Husband, Father, Missional Church Planter of Veritas, a missional community in Lancaster, PA.
Scripture- exodus 31
II. Our Story (with pictures)
For the past 3 years we have been engaging the arts and music scene in Lancaster city in a number of ways.
For 2 1/2 of those years we had a space called The Community Room on Prince on the 3rd Floor of a building. While the space wasn’t designed to be an art gallery and a music venue we used the space in such a way.
Since October of this past year we have a new space called The Community Room on King which is set up more like an Art Gallery, a Music Venue, and a performance arts space. (Show pictures)
We have used both spaces in a number of ways to engage the arts and music scene in Lancaster, PA.
1. Each 1st Friday of the month is First Friday and is an arts related event in downtown Lancaster. We use our space to feature a local emerging artist. They hang their work for a month and can sell their art.
2. 3rd Friday of the month is called Music Friday and is a night dedicated to music in downtown Lancaster. We use our space to feature local emerging musicians. We do a coffeehouse and open mic night.
3. For the past 3 years we have been a venue for the Launch Music Conference and Festival. Launch is a 2 day conference for musicians to learn more about the industry, as well as play out in a dozen venues around the city.
4. We are also a stop on Art Walk, a two day event held two times a year (Spring and Fall) which promotes the art scene in Lancaster. This past Art Walk (May 3-4) we featured local High School students from one of the schools in the area as well as the interactive art installation called Before I Die.
5. Every so often we have what we call an Open Studio night where we open our space to artist to come and work at their craft in community, as well as get input, ideas, and suggestions from other artists.
III. What we have learned about engaging the arts and music scene through church planting.
1. It will take a very long time to build trust with the art and music scene. Longer than you probably expect. Artists and musicians haven’t always had positive interactions with church. 2. Drop your agenda. Just bless them. They will smell an agenda a mile away…and want nothing to do with it. 3. (In the church)- use their gifts in worship and discipleship. 4. (in the church)- give them some direction but not too much. No direction isn’t good, but too much direction stifles artistic creativity. 5. Engaging the arts and music scene may or may not grow the “Sunday morning experience” numerically but it will grow the community’s missional engagement and heart. 6. Look for good art and good music no matter the religious orientation of the person. Art, truth, and beauty is pleasing to God and is God’s creation. If you truly want to engage the art and music scene try to stay away from overtly “Christian” art and music. We have had artists and musicians who were followers of Jesus and their music and art reflected that but not in a “propaganda” way 7. It adds value to the local scene by allowing visual arts and musicians a place to showcase their art. 8. Art is cross cultural, a non-threatening invitation to conversation & community. 9. Being a venue for art/music has offered us local news coverage & interest (free marketing). 10. It has served as a bridge for us to invite people into the space who would probably never set foot there on a regular Sunday morning.
IV. Ideas around engaging artists and musicians.
1. Ideas for musicians within the church: What if you released a CD of original music from musicians within your congregation. And give the CD’s (download cards) out to people in your community. (hand out download cards) 2. Ideas for artist within the church: take a space within your “building” and use it as an art gallery, and feature a member of the churches art each month. 3. Idea: What if you worked with local musicians to release a CD of original music and sell the CD with proceeds going to a local non-profit? Then throw a CD release party with the bands, and the local non-profit. 4. Turn your space into an art gallery and use it to engage local artists. 5. Many schools are having to cut their music and arts programs due to lack of funding. What if the church (or churches) in an area decided to get together and provide music and art education by using the gifts and talents of local musicians and artists? 6. Contact your local school and see if the art department would be interested in having their students do an art show. Promote the show, provide food, etc…Great way to bless emerging artists, make relationships and connections in the community, and engage the arts. 7. Connect with your town and see if they have the idea of doing a Friday night event like 1st Friday that will get people “downtown” and visiting shops, restaurants, businesses, galleries, etc… Consider pulling together a group of leaders in your town to talk about the idea. 8. Open Studio: Hold a night where you open your space for artists to come and create art, meet other artists, and develop their craft all in community. 9. Local Mural: Connect artists and the community by creating murals on walls in public places like parks,walls, etc… And work side by side with the artists as they create the murals. Seek permission as well as where murals could be created by contacting your local governmental officials. 10. Battle of the Bands: Hold a battle of the bands where local musicians that you have developed relationships are the judges and the winner of the battle gets some recording time in a studio.
V. Q & A Time VI. Prayer