Global Arts and Christian Witness

Exegeting Culture, Translating the Message, and Communicating Christ

series: Mission in Global Community

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In this latest volume in the award-winning Mission in Global Community series, veteran missionary-scholar Roberta King draws on a lifetime of study and firsthand mission experience to show how witness through contextualized global arts can dynamically reveal Christ to all peoples. King offers the global church biblical foundations, historical pathways, theoretical frameworks, and effective practices for communicating Christ through the arts in diverse contexts.

Supplemented with stories from the field, illustrations, and discussion questions, this textbook offers innovative and dynamic approaches essential for doing mission in transformative ways through the arts in diverse contexts around the world. It also features a full-color insert of artwork discussed in the book. Global Arts and Christian Witness is a must read for all those involved with or interested in mission, especially professors and students for use in mission, intercultural studies, and evangelism courses as well as missionaries and church leaders. It will also be of interest to musicians and artists who want to know how they can engage in mission.

About the Series
The Mission in Global Community series reframes missiological themes and studies for students under the common rubric of mission as partnership with Christians throughout the global community. Series authors draw upon their own global experiences and those of their global colleagues to illumine present realities and chart a course into the future. Series editors are Scott W. Sunquist, president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and former dean of the School of Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Amos Yong, director of the Center for Missiological Research and professor of theology and mission at Fuller Theological Seminary.


Foreword by Mark Labberton
Prelude: My Art, God's Mission?
Part 1: Foundations in Global Arts and Christ-Centered Witness
1. Negotiating Faith and Culture
2. Communicating Christ through Global Arts
Part 2: Encountering Christ through Global Arts
3. Exegeting Cultures through Global Arts
4. Translating the Message via Global Arts
5. Theologizing with Global Arts
Part 3: Engaging Peoples for Christ via Global Arts
6. Contextualizing the Gospel in Daily Life via Global Arts
7. Telling God's Story among Oral and Postliterate Peoples
8. Global Arts in Peacebuilding and Interfaith Dialogue
9. Appropriating Global Arts in Multicultural Settings
Postlude: Revealing God's Glory and Salvation via Global Arts


"Drawing on decades of rich field experience, focused research, and teaching, Global Arts and Christian Witness pulls together the treasures of Roberta King's life and work into one outstanding volume. While the book speaks powerfully to missionaries and artists of all kinds, I recommend it for mission pastors, students, and professors as well, as it offers a clear and compelling introduction to the importance of engaging global arts in ministry. Packed with stories on subjects ranging from Bono to the Senufo, this volume will motivate and inspire its readers to think in new ways about the value of global arts in the church. I especially appreciate her ten recommendations for needed shifts in our thinking. If these shifts could be implemented today, the use of arts in witness and worship worldwide would change dramatically for the better."

Robin Harris, director, Center for Excellence in World Arts, Dallas International University

"It has been said that music is a universal language, but its meaning is not. Roberta King has given us an in-depth analysis adding to the ethnomusicological lexicon in great detail. In a world where everyone has some type of favorite music, King's astute inquiry gives us a better glimpse into the complexity of music from around the world. Very much worth the read!"

Daniel White Hodge, associate professor of intercultural communication, North Park University; author of Homeland Insecurity: A Hip Hop Missiology for the Post-Civil Rights Era

"This inspirational book provides art makers and art appreciators with multiple ideas on how to individually and collectively spread God's fame globally. King masterfully articulates, demonstrates, and illustrates how global creative arts lead beyond fictional faith to vibrant faith through witness and worship."

Tom Steffen, professor emeritus of intercultural studies, Cook School of Intercultural Studies, Biola University

"What hath Christian witness to do with the arts? Well, virtually everything, according to Roberta King. The author's assertion is sorely needed and long overdue, particularly in a day when 70 percent of the world's people can't, don't, or won't read. King's lifelong ministry and academic engagement as an active 'musicianary' make her seasoned reflections here a must read!"

James R. Krabill, core adjunct professor, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary; general editor, Mission and Worship for the Global Church: An Ethnodoxology Handbook

"The gospel message of Jesus Christ is life to all nations, bringing people to worship and to bear witness. With great care, King urges all believers to creatively employ, to their fullest extent, all music, storytelling, playback dramas, visual arts, and other artistic formats, in order to make Christ known. Globally contextualized, biblically grounded, and believer (and church) relevant, this book will convict the hearts of many missionaries, church music students, professional artists, and pastors."

Joseph Lee, associate professor of church music and worship, Singapore Bible College

"Roberta King brings us a very important reveal about why artistic specialists and expression stand central to effective gospel proclamation. Creative, with plenty of stories, culturally sensitive, and filled with insight and life, this book provides much help for how indigenous Christian community formation really happens. Artists, musicians, missionaries, worship leaders, and anyone else who is concerned about the church making sense in her context will find this book to be a must-have. King gives her life for these insights, and now we get her wisdom distilled in ways that will increase our ministry effectiveness. Along the way, too, she affirms all the artistic kingdom servants so often overlooked for the strategic role they play in God's kingdom purposes."

Byron Spradlin, president, Artists in Christian Testimony International

"Inviting the reader on a global spiritual and artistic safari, Roberta King has richly and skillfully advanced our understanding about the role, importance, and impact of the arts in its ability to incarnate the good news in cross-cultural contexts. Informed by twenty-two years of missionary ministry in East and West Africa and over two decades of academic leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary, King has adroitly crafted and curated a resource that provides a theological and missional framework for expressive cultural interaction through the arts that becomes a platform that leads to authentic spiritual dialogue and gospel witness."

Stan Moore, president of the executive board, Global Consultation on Music and Missions; senior fellow and professor of church music and worship, B. H. Carroll Theological Institute

The Author

  1. Roberta R. King
    © Molly O'Keeffe Photography

    Roberta R. King

    Roberta R. King (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is professor of communication and ethnomusicology in the School of Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. She previously served as a missionary and professor in...

    Continue reading about Roberta R. King


Outreach 2020 Recommended Resource of the Year (Cross-Cultural and Missional)

"In this surprising, sweeping, and deeply researched message on the importance of engaging creative arts in ministry, King brings together a rich portrait of how to encounter Christ and engage people for Christ through global arts."

Robert Gallagher,