Should Gospel Be Preached in Comics and Art? Artists Challenge Traditional Evangelism

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  • Seed L.A. Art Exhibit
    Picture: Seed L.A.
    Seed L.A. Art Exhibit
By Vincent Funaro, Christian Post Reporter
September 18, 2013|3:19 pm

Aspects of the arts such as music, movies and books function as popular mediums for believers to share their faith and edify others. Entire teaching and evangelism ministries have been built off these forms of entertainment. The simple conversational approach and soap box preacher still exist today, but other forms of communication such as social media and entertainment could be alternative ways to convey the message of Christ. Smartphones and tablets are especially important to this movement, as they keep people constantly plugged into these types of media.

Al Nickerson, a former artist for DC and Marvel, created "Act of Faith," which is an online comic that uses unique storytelling and original superheroes to teach the message of Christ.

"I love the art form. I love comics, I love reading them, I love drawing them, teaching about them, and I really like superheroes and the genre," Nickerson told The Christian Post. "So I really wanted use a medium that I like and the genre of superheroes to actually express the gospel message."

Nickerson believes comics are a very powerful literary form that function as a great tool to convey important stories to readers.

At the inception of "Act of Faith," Nickerson set out to reach an unsaved audience of comic fans. He also found that the books resonated with a Christian audience.

"As I've been working on it and producing the book, it seems to have really been geared towards reaching a Christian audience first, because that's where I'm getting a lot of the feedback from," he said. "From other Christians who read comics, which is great because nowadays, we should see more Christian content in [all forms of entertainment]."

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"Act of Faith" follows the adventures of fictional superheroes whose paths frequently cross with angels and demons without them knowing. It basically shows what goes on behind the scenes in the spiritual realm while things are happening in the physical world.

The online comic is effective at reaching people on their laptops, smartphones and tablets, but a group of believers on the West Coast chose to take a more in-your-face approach while presenting the gospel.

Seed L.A., a Glendale, Calif.-based project, veered away from the technological world and created an art exhibit that functions as a place where Christians can contribute and view all types of art that communicates the message of Christ.

"What we're doing is creating an art exhibit that's open to the public with all art forms that you could think of, from photography, to painting, to sculpture, to live music, to film," said Roselyn Burgueno, coordinator of Seed L.A. "We're having people that are Christian film producers create documentaries for evangelism along with spoken word and poetry."

The exhibit presents these works of art simultaneously at its event that takes place once every other month. Burgueno says that attendance for the exhibit has been in between 125 to 300 people. Seed is completely free and put together by a group of volunteers who want to present quality Christian art to their community. Spoken word and poetry function as two of the most popular art forms seen at Seed at this time, according to Burgueno.

The leadership of Seed is composed of people from all different churches. Christian couple Brenda Lee and Glen Moldanato helped to start it around three years ago and Burgueno first came across Seed as an attendee. Eventually she chose to get involved and claims to have seen significant growth throughout her time there.

"It literally has evolved, if you go to the Facebook page and compare the early pictures to what you see now, you see a total difference," she said.

Seed features a slew of young artists who constantly come up with unique ways to share their faith. One of the most interesting acts was a break-dancing poet who actually recited poetry while he was breaking.

The goal of many of these artists is to combat a culture that has made Christianity into a pin cushion for those constantly attacking and mocking it. Uninformed audiences interpret this as a reason to retreat from these forms of entertainment, while people like Nickerson see an opportunity to infiltrate and change some of the anti-Christian content seen in all forms of art. He believes there's an audience out there looking for more Christ-centered material.

"What really comes to mind is Mel Gibson's the 'Passion of the Christ,' where he really couldn't get that film out there, but once he did there's this huge Christian audience hungering for Christian content. And I would like to see that in all types of media," said Nickerson.

Burgueno agrees that a market for more family-friendly wholesome art is out there.

"Even just connecting with the Christian artists out there [is a blessing]," she said. "You go to the art walk and its secular, and it's sexual. It's refreshing to be able to find wholesome art, because it's harder to find. We try to screen every [artist] and make sure they aren't bringing anything [ungodly], just finding quality art that is from a Christian perspective, that in itself is a big deal, and it's hard to find."

Seed exhibits not only create situations for Christians to share their faith, but also opportunities for healing. Burgueno discussed a situation where a painter was able to reconcile with a family member who attended the event to show support through the actual work of art.

"Act of Faith" has garnered mostly positive reactions from believers and non-believers. Nickerson feels that might change as he begins to tackle social issues such as abortion in newer books.

For more information on where to find "Act of Faith" visit http://albert.nickerson.tripod.com/anactoffaith.html.

For more information on Seed L.A. visit https://www.facebook.com/theseed.la.

 

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