In the Protestant Church of Christ tradition, there is little to no use of visual art for spiritual formation. This doctorate of ministry project presents a qualitative study of the spiritually formative impact on Protestants, specifically in the Churches of Christ, when engaging with visual art in worship, either personal or corporate contexts. Over the course of one weekend in June, 2022 roughly thirty five people gathered from all over the United States at Otter Creek Church of Christ West End for a conference called Visio Divina. This conference provided a multitude of opportunities for engagement with visual art and art making in worship and personal devotion. After the conference, participants with Protestant backgrounds specifically Church of Christ were invited to an interview to reflect on their experiences. It seems from my research there is an opportunity for visual art to spiritually form God's people, whether inside a church building or by engaging with art in the community. It also seems from my research, using visual art is a way to live into the missio dei (Mission of God) and that we are formed by Creator God in God's image to be creative so that we might glorify God. In chapter one I will more thoroughly introduce the problem, the purpose, define key terms and summarize the potential contributions of the study. In chapter two I will provide a brief history of art and religion in order to gain an orientation for the current context of the Churches of Christ and the use (or lack thereof) of visual art in spiritual formation. In chapter three I will present theological v considerations regarding the permissibility or prohibition of the use of imagery in worship or spiritual formation found in scripture. Next, I will describe my research method in chapter four, which centered on the weekend retreat I hosted in the summer 2022. Chapter five explores my research and the various themes which surfaced. Finally, chapter six looks at practical implications for the church and provides a suggested course of action for church leaders and laity alike.
Bruff, Emily H., "Spiritual Formation Through Visual Art in the Churches of Christ" (2023). DMin Project Theses. 6.