As the 1st world has progressed since the industrial age our ability to be creative has grown exponentially. Now, anyone with a computer and some time can create art. But somewhere along the way art was transposed onto marketing and now we are in a world a little confused by the difference. You’ll need both in your church, so you need to make sure you understand the differences between art and marketing.
The other thing we gained in the 1st world was mass consumption. Being a consumer in our world is almost a job in and of itself. Being a consumer is part of being alive, period. Without it you’d die. But with the ever-changing landscape of culture and opulence in America and other 1st world countries we have muddied up the waters of creativity.
Why are we talking about consumption? Because consumption is the key to understanding the difference between the two.
This year I attended the Lift conference in Atlanta and one of the speakers was David Crowder. He described art as the reformation of culture to display a new beauty not seen before. It was a brilliant session and he is very wise on the “why” and “what” of art. I agree with him, but I think there is another dimension to this idea because of our increasingly complex human existence. As mankind has learned from art and implemented those ideals into marketing we have inadvertently blurred the lines between the two. Both art and marketing are consumed and so we begin to break down how we value the two.
A Simple Question
What do we do to start identifying one over the other? Ask a simple question,
“Does what I am consuming push me to God or does it call me to myself?”
Art calls you to a more guttural and primal desire, it pushes you back towards God. If what you’re consuming in general pushes you to desire and consume God it is art without a doubt. However if what you’re consuming calls you to consume a person, place, thing, or product, it is in fact marketing. Both are valued, and both have purpose but they are not synonymous.
Art leaves you satisfied on some philosophical, emotional, or spiritual level; marketing leaves you hungry, wanting, or inward focused.
We need to be mindful of this dichotomy as we create for our church bodies. Sometimes you need marketing to bring people in the doors, and sometimes you need art to elicit that call back to our creator for teaching and admonishing. When our art becomes marketing we lose the authenticity and earnestness of our mission. Imagine if your music director picked the songs for worship on a sunday based on the Christian top 10 list and made no effort to build up and solidify the teaching that week. Graphics and video are no different; they should require just as much thought and energy. They use different senses but both are either art or marketing. When I am creating I always view the process through this lens: at the end of the day you need to make sure the art you create edifies God and not men.