When I tell people, particularly churched people, that I'm a Prophetic Artist I usually get one of three responses which I have helpfully categorized into 3 types: Response I, The Staunch Starchy; Response II, The Yes! this Speaks to my heart; and my personal favorite, Response III, The Wait, What the bl**p just Happened. Your fun guide to identifying and interacting with the most common responses of the Christian layperson.
The Response type I, The Staunch Starchy is usually identifiable by their initial attempt at conversation which quickly returns to awkward silence while they continue to “hover” around where you are working or setting up. This architype is identifiable and categorized by their unconsciously serious and concerned expression (their serious demeanor is what separates them from the Type II, also a hoverer, the popular Yes's).
The Starchies are truly committed lovely people with a deep concern for theology and theological correctness. They faithfully serve their local church, are typically committed important members of their community and while occasionally they can be young people, they tend to be of the older generations. Also, they are surprisingly prolific at responding on social media platforms. When an artist comes into the service they are at once politely interested but entirely concerned whether or not art is kosher. Typically, they have a baptist or calvinist background and they’ve never seen art done in church before or rarely (besides some old paintings of a very serious Jesus.) They are typically not sure Art is acceptable in church especially if it’s abstract and while they slightly like the idea they are concerned and generally uncomfortable with it and highly suspicious. Behavior-wise…they Hover. These are the folks that keep their distance but stay within conversation range typically wearing a polite smile and say "Oh, you're an artist, that's interesting." [Interesting = Weird. I imagine a fun Inner dialog like the following happening:
“Well at least she loves Jesus. She seems suspiciously normal and fond of personal hygiene despite the term 'artist.’ She doesn’t seem overly Jesus hippie. Eh, still is her hair red or purple? Hmm, still should be vigilant. *Noncommittally polite smile continues* Wait... *slight panic expression begins to take over*…she said ‘Prophetic’ *Wide Eyed expression of panic blossoms across face* she could be a..a...a...pentacostal! Wait...she might break out in tongues...quick someone anoint me with oil and pray...no, wait pentecostals do that….quick Holy water...…I’ll just not make eye contact and I’ll back away swiftly...".]
LOL. Ah yes, the Starchies. Typically they’re backing away so they can quietly go look up “art” in the original greek in their purse-sized pocket Strong’s concordance and cross-reference it to the Vine’s version just to identify the correct cultural meaning. I love Starchies. Of course I also love word studies....
As the Staunch Starchies hover, see description above for behavioral signifiers...…begin to loudly pray in tongues, for added effect alternate between loud and soft volumes while you do. Watch the fireworks. You’ve confirmed their worst nightmares, you pentecostal crazy you! For the extra brave Starchy that returns to hovering after the initial shock, you could take it to 11 with the following: Convulse. Oh yes! Full Holy Roller status! This is especially effective if you have long hair and a beard or even better —- both. Also throw in some head tossing and the occasional guttural screaming or just random loud noises…extra points for consistent rhythm and any fun effects the paint splatters from your exuberant hair whipping make on the canvas. Just don’t expect to be invited back and probably should take extra care to make sure the splatters don’t land other unintended places…like the pastor’s wife’s expensive blouse. Just sayin…
Have grace. Just as your journey to being an artist is typically a long one, their journey to discovering the incredible freedom we have is also one. Be sensitive and respectful. Especially if the Holy Spirit is actually manifesting distinctly on people in the service, the Starchy individuals are going to be incredibly uncomfortable with this occurring. Have extra grace, squish with it really. I’ve found that there are many different comfort zones within the christian community at large and for many people prophetic art or even prophetic ministry doesn't always comfortably fit within those boundaries. Especially if they aren’t entirely convinced of the validity of the Prophetic and other gifts to begin with. On days when borderline rude questions are asked, I generally work overtime to be considerate of those with this paradigm when I'm around it. I am happy to answer questions and frequently do and (once the Staunch Starchy circles back around again to try talking) I usually find success discussing the story of my journey, the stories of how God has used my art to impact his people both inside and outside the "church" and if a history buff is present, I love talking about the incredible history of art within the Church. I’ve found that usually a lot of grace, some sincere transparency and a bit of research goes a long way with this group.
....And of course, a healthy (and by "healthy" I do mean "regular") attention to personal hygiene is also...typically (always) recommended.
Stay tuned next time, when we'll spend a bit of time learning about the Response Type II affectionately known as the "Yes's."