Walk into any downtown area and start talking about the arts, and a stampede of bystanders will rush over, ready to be entertained. Mention the Gospel, however, and defensive walls are immediately raised.
In our entertainment-driven culture, we have to face facts: generally speaking, people are just more interested in the arts than they are in Biblical truth. By bridging a conversation from the arts to the Gospel, however, we can instantly capture the interest of our friends and neighbors and approach them in a relaxed, non-threatening way. The Gospel seed is planted before they even realize it, and no matter their response, they are sure to walk away thinking of the arts – and of God – in a whole new way.
So how do we make the connection from the arts to the Gospel in a smooth and natural way? Here are seven “conversation bridges” you might want to try:
Bridge #1: Painting
To truly understand a painting, you need to give some thought to the contrast in color and shading that you see displayed. You can think of each painting as a miniature battle between light and dark. You can point this out as you view paintings with your friends, and ask them why that is. Could it be the reflection of a cosmic battle between good and evil?
Mention the Creation account (Genesis 1), and the way the entire universe was nothing but utter darkness until God created light. This is exactly what happens when someone believes in Christ, and He sheds light into the darkness of their hearts for the first time, making them a new creation.
Helpful Verses: John 8:12; 2 Corinthians 5:16-18
Bridge #2: Literature
Bookworms all understand the idea of literary themes: every good plot is tied together with a recurring theme or two, which run throughout the course of the story and develop as the action moves along. The more you read, the more you begin to realize that there really isn’t a such thing as an “entirely original plot.” Humans tend to tell the same stories again and again, borrowing from the literary traditions of our past and adding a few embellishments of our own.
While discussing this phenomenon, you can propose that perhaps we’re all simply retelling One Story, a Story that has been printed on the pages of our hearts since before we were born. You can point out modern books and movies that reflect the Gospel pattern, and tell your friend or neighbor that this particular plot line dates all the way back to ancient times, and can even be found in the Bible!
Helpful Verses: John 3:16-17
Bridge #3: Film
Everyone loves a good movie, especially in America, and we love talking about our favorite movies almost as much as we enjoy watching them. Of course, anyone could tell you that even the best movie director cannot make up for terrible acting. Good acting – and I mean really good acting – is hard to find, and we appreciate it when we see it.
You can easily move from this topic of conversation to talking about the way we all tend to “put on an act” at certain times in our real lives, which is sure to bring about a humorous tale or two. You can point out that this was a problem all the way back in Jesus’ time, and that Jesus warned against being “hypocrites” (or actors) in real life. The fact is, even the best actors cannot act their way into Heaven.
Helpful Verses: Matthew 6:1-34; Matthew 23:27
Bridge #4: Sculpture
While examining sculpture, it is almost as if you can “feel” the sculpture’s presence (the textbooks describe this as entering the object’s “sensory space”). This is an interesting phenomenon to discuss, and helps us to understand why people in ancient cultures would actually bow down and worship these sculpted objects.
You can ask your friends or neighbors what they think causes this sensation of “presence” while looking at a sculpture, and if they think it is crazy that some people actually worship statues. If it’s not crazy, then why do people do it? You could propose that maybe it is because our hearts were created to worship, and we’re simply looking for the right object to offer our worship to. Of course, a manmade object could never be as worthy of worship as the living, breathing, Creator of the Universe!
Helpful Verses: Exodus 20:3-6; Jeremiah 10:3-16; I John 5:21
Bridge #5: Architecture
Do you know the difference between sculpture and architecture? Both art forms separate inner space from outer space, and both can be artistic and beautiful. So what is the difference?
The answer is this: sculpture creates an inner space that cannot be put to any particular use, while architecture creates a useable inner space.
You can mention that we often think of God as sculpting our lives and talk about the Potter’s Hand, but that when God creates a new heart within us for his Holy Spirit to dwell in, He is actually acting as a Master Architect.
Helpful Verses: Ezekiel 36:26; Psalm 51:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17
Bridge #6: Music
Most people love music, and when we start to analyze music we start to recognize familiar forms, or patterns, that happen again and again. The all-time favorite musical form is an A-B-A pattern, where after a brief interlude of new material, we return to the same musical theme that the piece started with. As listeners, we learn to anticipate and relish this musical “return” to familiar territory, and we feel satisfied when the composition ends the very way it began.
You can point out that this musical phenomenon truly reflects the story of God redeeming His people. We are originally created to be His children, but have gone our own way into dangerous and unknown territory. Each time God redeems one of our hearts, He restores us to what we were originally created to be, and a Heavenly celebration begins.
Helpful Verses: Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:20-22; Titus 2:14
Bridge #7: Photography
Photography is a unique art. Instead of creating something entirely from his own imagination, the artist’s job is to capture something in its natural beauty. The best photographers are those who know how to truly capture and reproduce a specific moment in time.
You can mention that the job of a Christian is to act as a living picture of Christ, for others to see, and that those who are “doing the Christian life right” are those that are doing the best job of reflecting Christ to others.
Helpful Verses: 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 5:1-2
Bridging the Conversation
And this is just the beginning! The more you look for ways to bridge your daily conversation with friends to the Gospel message, the easier these will be to find.
May the Lord bless your efforts to engage your neighbors in natural conversation and make connections to the Greatest Story of all time.