“It has helped me through a difficult period when my father got sick and died.” “I have been able to use my artwork to talk about my faith with people who aren’t Christians.” “It stopped me feeling overwhelmed while working as a doctor during Covid.” These are just a few of the reasons why people are coming to Friday Night Art Club.

The Maker’s Place

My husband and I are artists who enjoy expressing God’s love through various art forms and are associates of the like-minded group Arts Release. It all started with our church’s arts-based missional community, called The Maker’s Place.

The vision was for an informal group, focussed on art and the Christian faith, a place to explore different art forms, discover about God and make friends.” Our first big project? Wishing to do something public in the town of Eye to celebrate Christmas, we created artworks for shop windows as a Jesse Tree art trail.

Twenty-one shop windows displayed an artwork hung from a branch accompanied by the artist’s statement about what the story meant to them. The aim was that people following the art trail map would learn something about the Bible and its relevance to ordinary people.

Then, the pandemic hit. The Maker’s Place could no longer meet, so we, along with our furloughed daughters, joined an art group on Zoom. It was an online version of a creative studio, which had been set up by a WEC Arts Release colleague at Harehill’s Lane Baptist Church in Leeds.

When this became increasingly popular over lockdown, we decided to start Friday Night Art Club on similar lines. We invited arty Christian friends at first, then through word of mouth and WEC contacts it grew to a community of members spread round the world.

Unleashing creativity, inspired by God’s word

Over 2021, 55 people from the UK and other countries joined the online sessions which follow a pattern of:

  • short prayer and Bible reflection;
  • breakout rooms to chat and share how our week has been, to get to know each other;
  • time of individual artistic response to the scripture, relying on the Holy Spirit for inspiration. Any creative medium is welcome; and
  • regrouping to share what we have made.

People comment in an encouraging, inclusive non-judgemental way, in a safe space where someone starting their creative journey feels as comfortable as an experienced professional artist. The pattern is easily replicable and similar sister online Creative Studios have been spawned in the UK and around the world.

The groups collaborated on a joint outreach project, The Gift, a global Jesse Tree online exhibition for advent 2020 and will for a Global Creative Day planned for Easter 2022 when participants from the different groups come together over a period of 12 hours for creativity, worship, Bible study and demos.

God-willing, the Global Creative Day will be the culmination of several months with some studios focussing on the theme of restoration. It is intended that some of the artistic output will be used in offline public events in several local churches to convey aspects of God’s restorative work.

It stopped me feeling overwhelmed while working as a doctor during Covid.

So why do people come along? Here’s just a few reasons people have shared:

  • I enjoy listening to the Bible reflections different people lead.”
  • It lifted my spirits while I have been off work due to long Covid.”
  • It has helped me through a difficult period when my father got sick and died.”
  • It helped me after the death of my spouse when I was grieving. Now I have started dating and I have brought my new friends to meet everyone at Friday Night Art Club.”
  • Working as a GP during Covid was challenging, but I felt the isolation even more as a single person living on my own. Friday Night Art Club was a haven of community and complete escape from the trials of the pandemic. It allowed me to focus on God, but also use creativity as a way to be resilient in my job.”
  • It has given me confidence in sharing my testimony and leading Bible study. I have been able to use my artwork to talk about my faith with people who aren’t Christians.”

We are grateful that the Lord has used us in this unexpected venture. Without Covid, Friday Night Art Club would never have come about. We are not sure what the future holds or whether it will continue post-pandemic, however we can see that it has been part of a renewed connection with the arts among Christians which has been happening around the world.

It’s been part of a renewed connection with the arts among Christians which has been happening around the world.

Stories of Hope 2: Explore the series

This article is part of a six-part series of stories of hope. Click through to more stories in the series below, where Christians share how God has called them to show His love:

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