Book Review: Con Campbell’s Outreach and the Artist

Con Campbell writes a book that was long overdue. I think the artistic community gets a lot of judgement, but never quite the understanding from Christians that it needs in how valuable and important art is to an artist, and how they might have a different personality causing them to respond different to theology. Campbell writes a well laid out book that doesn’t waste time dragging out points or rambling to be very direct about how Christians can interact with other Christian artists and non-Christians ones and have more productive and understanding conversations about faith.

Summary: Con Campbell is a Christian who plays jazz music professionally. When he began following Christ in his twenties he discovered though that his art was not understood by the church especially as he tried to make his faith the center of his music. He encourages churches to give ways to artist to have an outreach way with their art through the church, and even gives tips on how to be more understanding of the ways their lifestyle might guide their life. For example, artist are more likely to be up later at gigs or with other artists for their job causing them to miss certain hours they could fellowship with other Christians, so he encourages churches to have hours they also have times they can fellowship and it be able to work with their income. He motivates the idea that music, painting, acting, and other art forms aren’t just hobbies, but really a pursuit of their career to professionally be what they feel called to be.

Characters: There aren’t any fictional characters obviously with this being a non-fiction, but there is an array of people that Campbell has brought into the conversation to also give their own perception of being Christian and artist with a set of questions he has given each to answer and include in the book. I found some of the answers to be a little uptight, which is why I think other people might stay from artists. If you go on about your degree in Master’s and your thesis then the general audience doesn’t want to be associate with someone they feel intellectually intimidated by. I thought the responses did offer an all around good view of the lifestyle of an artist and how churches can outreach to them better.

Writing: The writing is very simple, and I think it works for the context of this book. Most non-fiction Christian books seem to ramble with pointless information and advice, but I actually found each chapter of this book to be to the point of what he was wanting to get at. Since he got quick to the point it allows the reader to get what he is saying and then react to it if they can. You don’t forget the point by the end of the chapter with pointless garble.

Plot: Well the plot isn’t in existence as the point is to inform people about artist who are Christians, or how to reach those who aren’t. This also isn’t a step by step guide on how to convert non-Christians, which I think will make it appreciated by those who aren’t Christians. I like how open Campbell is about his faith as well, and since he seems to be some branch of Calvinist it also helps me relate to how he approaches his faith. I loved the point he made about how he doesn’t try to trick someone into coming to a jazz concert he is having for a church without mentioning the faith aspect. He always makes sure to be open with people he will be discussing his faith. He also addresses the point that he won’t take on a concert that can’t showcase his work without value. A lot of artists who are Christians sometimes feel they should compromise quality to reach people, and probably if someone is wanting to listen to genuine jazz they are going to value the quality of the music, and the fact you’re a real talented Christian musician first. Also, I like how he understands that events and talking to people isn’t about converting them on the spot, but more so a process of introducing them to Christ, and letting time work it’s way to them to develop their faith on their own.

Outreach and the Artist is a quick read, but a much needed and well laid out book. I enjoyed all the points made, and by the end I even felt valued as a Christian myself, and my own interests in the arts. I often feel discouraged that it isn’t a real pursuit or not beneficial but this book revived that hope. I also liked the reminder that what we do as far as music, jobs, school, or sports isn’t who we are. The core of my identity is that I follow Christ.

Rating 8 of 10.

This book was provided by Booksneeze in exchange for a review. 

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