The Arts in Evangelism
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” Psalm 19:1
From each day’s sunrise to the moon and stars each night, from fields and forests to oceans and rivers, creation clearly reflects the invisible qualities of God, so that people are without excuse.
And since creation, God continues to use art in all things, in each of us and in evangelism. Even the sacraments, Augustine described, are visible signs of the word. And think of Billy Graham’s ministry. Everyone from George Beverly Shea in 1943 to DC Talk in 1994. One message. Many creative expressions. Art and entertainment are not used for sugar coating the Gospel. Instead, they provide another means to convey it. So why, as evangelists, would we not use it as a form of communicating the best news in the world?
That’s exactly why I have collaborated with AJ the Animated Illusionist. He combines music, illusions, dance and of course, humor with audience participation. He has opened for Ray Romano and Howie Mandel, performed at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, and he even performed in the World’s Greatest Magic Show in Las Vegas for three years. He has traveled to China, Japan and all over Europe with his talents. But with all his success, he has chosen to use his artistic talent and creativity for the Gospel.
AJ and I have been partnering for over 25 years as part of our Dignity Revolution school assembly programs and community outreach events. For me, he’s much more than an opening act. His performance visually translates my very message. He is an integral part of communicating the Gospel. We appear in front of schools during the day and partner with local churches to provide community events in the evenings, where we are free to share the Gospel. So many are drawn back at night because they want to see more of AJ’s incredible talents. From roaring laughter to quiet tears, AJ captivates a five-year-old Kindergartner or an 80-year-old grandma. He reaches the heart as well as the imagination, puncturing pain and cutting through cynicism. What amazes me the most is his anointed ability to reach even the most difficult 16-year-old in the crowd covered with a dark attitude and sarcasm. Youth is truly what he is called to do and, no matter what form they come in, it’s where he excels. He is more than an illusionist, more than an on-the-surface entertainer. He is a proclaimer of the Gospel, presenting the message of hope and faith in so many of his pieces.
Do I believe in the power the arts have in spreading the Gospel? Absolutely. So much that I asked AJ to perform at my mom’s funeral. He performed a sketch called Life, starting as a baby in the womb all the way to a wheelchair bound senior who finally surrenders to Christ. More than 200 people surrendered to Christ that day.
Together with AJ, I have seen thousands year after year come to faith in Jesus. As evangelists, I am sure we all have. But faith doesn’t come just by hearing the word of God, it can also come by seeing the word of God. Just like in life, people learn in different ways. Why wouldn’t we then share our message in different ways as well? This creativity enables us to reach people of all abilities, wherever they may be. It’s even more important today as it becomes harder to hold people’s attention in a world of instant gratification and attention deficits. There is so much---dare I say too much---busyness, noise and distraction. So many times, even our voice gets lost amidst life. But by using the arts, we can break down barriers, captivate audiences and approach almost any topic with grace. AJ does just that. God is using his talents to display the Gospel and the glory of God.
Let’s embrace the arts and use what God has given us to bring more people to Jesus.
Author and international speaker, Bob Lenz, has an intense passion to share the love of Christ, reaching nearly half a million people with the gospel each year through community outreaches, festivals, church events and conferences. Bob is considered among the best school assembly speakers in the nation, presenting value-based messages on anti-bullying and suicide prevention. Bob is also an annual speaker at Lifest. You can find out more at lifest.com.