Introducing the Church and Art Network

The new “network of networks” seeks to connect, educate, and encourage Christians in the arts.

By Luann Jennings, founder and director

Church and Art Network (C&A) is a new ministry that provides helpful information and supportive relationships to arts leaders in churches, Christian schools, and faith-based arts organizations and programs, as well as to individuals working in the arts, education, and ministry.

I began C&A in 2010. During fifteen years of working in church arts ministry, I was struck by how often I and other arts leaders felt ill equipped and alone. The community of Christians working in the arts had profoundly shaped my own spiritual and professional journey, and I knew that others, particularly emerging leaders, could also benefit from the encouragement and experience to be found within these relationships.

The network is made up of organizational and individual members and is open to anyone. Membership is free and reflects a commitment to engage with the rest of the network. Members are spotlighted at times throughout the year in both the C&A website and monthly eNewsletter and can make announcements about their work in both locations as well.

Anyone can sign up to receive the monthly eNewsletter (go to www.churchandart.org), even without becoming a member, and can utilize the website for information about members and their activities and about faith and the arts.

In addition to creating a formal network of members and communicating about their work, C&A provides helpful introductory information about different aspects of the arts and faith and links to more information for those who wish to research further. Currently, the blog and “Resources” page serve that purpose while a number of short articles by notable scholars and practitioners in the field are in development.

C&A also convenes small gatherings based on region and special interests. The first gathering was held in New York City in early March 2011. Future regional gatherings are in planning for the Washington, D.C., area, Atlanta, and elsewhere. Topical gatherings for high school and college arts students and their parents, and for scholars working in faith and the arts, are also under discussion.

Finally, in addition to the formal network of members, information about faith and the arts, and small gatherings, C&A offers consulting and speaking/teaching services. I have fifteen years of experience in arts ministry and twenty-five years of experience in arts leadership. I have consulted by phone with many leaders and artists who need to talk through tough issues, and have spoken and taught at a number of churches and Christian schools. If I can’t personally help with a particular situation or need, I will help find someone who can through the C&A network.

Many organizations and ministries are doing important work in the arts and faith. I hope that C&A will serve and benefit all of these organizations. C&A is really a network of networks. I’d love for someone to hear about C&A, go to our website, and use it to find out about another organization that would meet his or her needs better. For other people, what C&A is doing in education, encouragement, and networking is really what they will need most, even if only for a season. I hope these folks take what they learn though C&A back to their own organizations and serve them more ably. Really C&A is about serving God by supporting and communicating about what he’s already doing.

I will begin fundraising soon to be able to develop educational content on the website, plan gatherings, and spend more time connecting with members and others. Your prayers for this process are appreciated. It’s a difficult economy in which to start a new ministry and to raise funds to support it. But I feel that God is strongly calling for this work to take place and will provide for it.

You can get involved with C&A by joining as an organizational or individual member at our website, www.churchandart.org. If you have any questions or would like to be in touch with me directly, email luann@churchandart.org.

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