Presenting testimonies to this generation

Vintage Mic

“I shall remember the deeds of the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.” – Psalm 77:11

Testimonies are powerful things. Check out the outcome of Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4: her testimony is part of a great move of God in a Samaritan village. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you all this. Other than the Bible, the books that have most transformed my Christian view and walk have been the stories of God working in people’s lives. These have included gangsters becoming evangelists (“Run Baby Run” – Nicky Cruz), the beginning of modern missions to inland China (Hudson Taylor – “A man in Christ”) and stories of what God is doing in modern day China (Brother Yun – “The Heavenly Man”). Not only these famous ones, but also testimonies from friends of things big and small. Stories catch people off-guard who are otherwise closed to talking about God. It is easy to argue with a theology. It is a lot harder to argue with that theology when it comes through in someone’s story.

I am aware that many people do find reading difficult, or are just too busy to sit down and read an entire book of someone’s testimony.  This is particularly true for non-Christians who are interested in exploring the Christian faith. Also, just the nature of distributing books means that people are unlikely to come into copies of testimonies unless someone gives one to them directly (side note: give out testimonies! It can be a powerful ministry in itself!). Finally, many encouraging testimonies of our friends may never be written up and published.

So how can we address these difficulties of presenting one of our most powerful tools? This might be where you come in. An encouraging trend recently has been the production of testimonies in non-book forms. The story of Nate Saint, Jim Elliot and the other men martyred in Ecuador during the 1950’s was recently made into a film. Brother Yun’s testimony has been produced as a manga comic. David Wilkerson’s “The Cross and the Switchblade” was even made into a theatrical play. I see openings for more innovative presentations like this.

Consider over the coming weeks translating your own story, that of a friend or of a Christian who has greatly inspired you into whatever you do best. If you’re a painter, paint a testimony. If a musician, sing or rap it. If you’re into poetry, video making, drawing, sculpture or whatever else, there is so much room to tell of the “deeds of the Lord”. Like the Samaritan woman or the many others who had their lives changed through meeting Jesus, we don’t have to say anything too complex. We have tasted and seen that the Lord is good – let us share our discoveries with those around us!

-Stephen

CompassionArt Giving Away 100 Million Songs

CompassionArt - Creating freedom from povertyRecently I posted about the CompassionArt project which is a fantastic project bringing together some of the worlds best-known Christian recording artists (Paul Baloche, Steven Curtis Chapman, Stu G, Israel Houghton, Tim Hughes, Graham Kendrick, Andy Park, Matt Redman, Martin Smith, Michael W. Smith, Chris Tomlin, Darlene Zschech,Kirk Franklin, Amy Grant, Joel Houston, Leeland Mooring, Christy Nockels, tobyMac and CeCe Winans).

I’ve been waiting patiently for my copy of the album to arrive in the post…but now I can get a sneaky preview!

CompassionArt are giving away 100 Million songs, on a first come, first serve basis. The special download features 6 songs from the album, and in return CompassionArt ask that you donate whatever you can afford to the cause.

The artists that have contributed to this album  have all done so for free and have given all rights to their work to CompassionArt, so that all of the proceeds can go directly to the various causes that CompassionArt support.

So, enjoy, give generously, and spread the word….CompassionArt 100 Million Song Giveaway

Note: This is only available to people in the USA and Canada as a special promotion leading up to the North American release of the CompassionArt Album. If you are in UK you can purchase the full Compassion Art Album on Amazon

– James

5 Benefits of Having an Online Presence as a Visual Artist

“Why have an online presence as an artist? Isn’t it a lot of hard work for little gain?”

For me, the internet was one of the main ways that I got interested in art, and so I would say that as a visual artist, I have never been without an “online presence”. Because of that I am extremely shocked when I come across people who are talented artists and have no online presence whatsoever!

If there is one thing I have learned as an artist in terms of “getting out there” it is the truth in a little saying that my Dad used to say: “The more dirt you throw at a wall, the more likely some will stick”. My thoughts on this have always been that, even though I may not be the most “talented” artist in the world, if I were to show my portfolio to every person on this earth, there would be enough interest in my work for me to make a very decent living selling my work to those people.

Because recently I have been in contact with so many visual artists who don’t seem to have any of their work online, many of whom seem quite daunted at the prospect of making that happen, I will be starting a series of articles which will run over the next few weeks. These articles will cover different ways that you can have an online presence as a Visual Artist, from very simple, easy to use, image sharing services, to the more advanced stuff like setting up your own website.

So why bother? What will the benefits be? Below I have listed 5 ways in which I believe taking these steps could benefit you as an artist.

  1. Having people view your work

    Ok, so, this might seem a very obvious thing, but having an online presence, if done correctly, can get literally thousands of people looking at your work. Using an example of one of the services that I will be covering in the next few weeks, at one point my MySpace account had over 14,000 friends, with a large proportion of that number regularly checking out and giving me feedback on my work. I’m sure that’s more people than you could fit in most, if not all of the worlds biggest gallerys!

  2. Meeting like-minded people

    One great thing about the internet is that it is so easy to find people who share similar interests to you, even down to very specific niches. This is great as an artist, as sometimes it can be very lonely. Certainly for me, I started off very interested in street art, and none of my friends locally were interested in that at all. Through image sharing sites and simply being able to refer people who I’ve met in forums etc to my website, I have been able to make a lot of friends online who I can talk to about the kind of art I am interested in, who can give me their feedback on my work, and moving on to my next point, it can be a great opportunity to….

  3. Get Inspired!

    I have found that the more I contribute to image sharing sites, the more I tend to look at other people’s work on those sites. This is great for inspiration & ideas and also great because it works both ways! Being involved with things like image sharing sites and blogging really brings about a sense of community, and as well as being able to receive feedback on your work, you can view other peoples work and get involved in the conversation!

  4. Selling your work

    I would say that 90% of the physical artwork and design/illustration services that I have sold have been online. You visual artists who haven’t got an online presence are loosing out on loads of business! There are many different ways that you can sell your artwork or creative services online, and I will be running through some of those techniques in my articles over the next few weeks.

  5. Getting seen by people within the industry

    Would you believe me if I told you that all of the galleries that I have done solo exhibitions at, and companies that I have done design work for have found me through my sites, profiles and blogs on the internet? You should, because its true. I would say that the vast majority of people within the creative industry use the internet as their number one source for finding fresh talent and new artists to work with. But if you have no presence online, how will they find you?

Seeing more Christian artists have an online presence is something that I am extremely passionate about, both for the benefits that you will find as an artist, but also for the importance of having a bigger Christian presence within the industry, being salt and light in the world.

To make sure that you stay up to date with the latest articles on this topic, please subscribe to our RSS feed, or if you are not sure about that you can receive updates on our new posts via email.

– James

He Is Here – Christmas Animation

This is a beautiful animation that tells the Christmas story through arty drawings. Unfortunately I am not sure who the artist is, but it is available to download and use at your church through a site called Shift Worship.

Shift Worship looks like a fantastic resource for churches who want to make more use of multimedia (which I personally think is a very good thing!) and I will definately be making a case for our church to purchase a membership.

I feel very inspired by this video, and feel very challenged personally to be creating more stuff like this to give myself an “artistic workout” but also to worship God and help others in their worship.

– James

Bus shelters show nativity scene

This is, in my opinion a feast for the eyes!

The image is a poster for a Christmas advertising campaign in the UK by The Churches Advertising Network. They have produced some really fantastic Christmas and Easter campaigns in the past, and are totaly in line with the heart we have as an organisation.

It’s so great to see stuff getting out there that is provoking thought!

For more information check out the BBC news article.

– James

Senior Adult Choir Hip-Hop

Ok, so, I saw this video the other day through one of our friends on Twitter, and for the last couple of days I’ve thought to myself “Should I, Shouldn’t I?”, but, i’ve done it! I think that this video is fantastic, it’s one of those ones that I WISH I had thought of myself! According to the blurb on the youtube page the video was created as an intro to a student retreat to, “set the tone” for the weekend, and to me it is genius! What a fantastic way of getting the students’ attention, seeing their grandparents perform Hip-Hop tunes!

Love it!

– James

CompassionArt

When I first heard about this project a week or so ago, I got excited….and then when I saw this video I got EVEN MORE excited! I think that this is going to be a great album, it’s got some great names on it, and it’s all about serving those in need. So praise God for this project, I for one am definitely going to support it and as well as grabbing a copy for myself, maybe an extra one or two for Christmas presents.

If you would like to know more about CompassionArt and find out where you can get a copy of the album and book in your country please visit the CompassionArt Website.

– James

It’s Personal #3 – My story about being a son starts with being a dad

Here is the third video testimony in the series produced by North Point Community Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Recently we have also shared It’s Personal #1 and It’s Personal #2.

The reason that I am showing these videos seperately is that I think they are amazing. What a great use of media to share peoples testimonies in this way! I pray that God will really use these videos to reach people and speak truth into their lives. I praise God for his awesomeness, and the way that he beautifully transforms lives.

– James