They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. If that’s true, it’s fitting for me that I am tasked with writing words about the pictures that Chris creates with his art. The job seems insurmountable at times; I get charged with writing down something that, when people read it, they better understand the how and why of the painting, as well as taking a moment to contemplate life through a lens that is shaded by the perspective of both Chris as an artist, and myself as an author. Chris creates pieces of artwork that capture moments from scripture, history, and today’s life that spark a gamut of emotions, thoughts, and memories for his audience, all while sampling from numerous artists that he appreciates (as an avid art history buff) and pays homage to in both style and subject matter. (No pressure, right?)
I came across this painting as I was searching for my next blog post topic. It’s a very small country church, surrounded by a lot of open space and a picturesque evening sky. It spoke to me on several levels, and I knew that I had to write about it.
1st- The perspective of seeing the church from a distance, in the middle of nowhere. It seems fitting that the church can do just that – be standing out in the middle of what could seem like a vast expanse of “wilderness”, both in the world, and in the hearts of the people in it. The familiar silhouette of the pitched roof and steeple serve almost as a beacon, as if coming from a lighthouse, shining out into the country.
2nd – My grandparents went to a small country Baptist church in Godfrey, GA that closely resembled the one in this picture. I have lots of memories of the uncomfortable pews, creaking floors, and low attendance numbers on Sunday mornings.
I begin to think about little churches like this one, and about the Church in general. For years, the Church (big C, the body, not the building) has been an institution of refuge and safety for those who come into it’s fold. It’s stood for love, acceptance, generosity, care, and hospitality. Here in rural Georgia, there are small country churches just like this one dotting the backroads all around.
As time has progressed it seems like the church (little c this time) has begun to shift it’s “look”. More and more, little buildings with pitched roofs and steeples seem to be closing their doors, and the congregations are gravitating more towards buildings in cities and towns that are less about steeples, suits, and shined shoes, and more about being the Church (with a big C). This is not to discredit the work, depth, or worship of the churches in the past at all, but is merely a reflection about the trend of moving from little c to big C churches.
I’m not entirely sure what the impact of this movement really will be, or if it is a “good” or “bad” thing. It’s just an observation… It seems that our churches, along with the world, are becoming more and more centralized, nationalized, and connected to the rest of the world in a very real way. The small country churches like the one in this painting seem to be going the way of the dinosaurs, as we move more into auditorium style venues with padded chairs, lights, and stages.
I know one thing for sure. Regardless of the future of how the church looks, the Church will carry on, and the message will continue to prosper and change lives.
So, what do you think? What will the church look like in 15 years? What will the Church look like in 15 years? What are your preferences? What do you see when you look at this painting? How does it make you feel about the church?
Chris Cook is a premier southern artist and owner of Madison Studios, a web design, maintenance, and e-commerce and marketing company. For his artist biography, contact information, or to view more of his work, click HERE.
For the record, there are only 691 words in this post, not 1,000. 🙂