Westmont Magazine The Creative Christian
Sitting through movie previews or channel surfing during prime time can be discouraging activities for Christians. Explicit promiscuity, mindless violence and gossipy innuendo are much too common. What should Christians do?
Joel ’92 and Michelle Klukow ’92 Pelsue have an answer. “We pray that Christians will infiltrate every level of the entertainment industry, stop protesting and start engaging.”
The couple has founded Arts and Entertainment Ministries to help artists integrate their work and their faith. “AEM is a global ministry that serves artists and creative professionals through small groups, prayer support, mentoring and education,” they say. “It provides a forum for emerging Christian artists to share their work as they explore their faith.” The goal is to equip Christians to glorify God in all levels of the arts and entertainment industries.
Michelle understands the need for such a ministry. A professional actor since the age of 15, she has appeared on the stage and in film and television. She honed her craft at Westmont as a theater arts major.
Joel majored in philosophy to figure out the deeper questions of life. “Instead, I learned better questions to ask,” he says. He also played in the jazz band.
While Michelle pursued acting in Florida, Joel earned a master’s of divinity degree at Reformed Theological Seminary, ministering to people at Disney World. Michelle’s career then took them to New York, where Joel pastored North Shore Community Church in Oyster Bay for four years. The opportunity to pursue an arts-related ministry drew them to Los Angeles, and Joel served as executive pastor at Pacific Crossroads Church for two years. Now he works in the ministry full time.
“Except for fine art, the church has failed to address the integration of faith and art,” Michelle says.“ What about the mainstream culture? Isn’t the entertainment industry a legitimate location for a Christian?”
Joel agrees it is. “All of life is to be redeemed. The artist is just as valuable as the preacher. Artists in the entertainment industry shouldn’t feel guilty. Our goal is to help the church regain a biblical understanding of art and creativity.”
“When the church stepped away from youth ministry, groups like Campus Crusade and Youth for Christ stepped in to fill the gap,” Michelle says. “So many Christian artists have left the church. We hope to be a bridge, draw them back and help pastors embrace them as part of family of God.”
“The church needs to stop being apathetic about artists,” Joel says. “We need to see Hollywood as a mission field and start loving the people there. God has a heart for artists, and He is doing some amazing things in this industry.”
AEM helps artists think biblically about their place in the entertainment industry. Developing a solid, biblical world view is essential. The ministry provides teaching, mentoring and support for artists who struggle with relating their faith to their work. They also have a Web site, www.A-E-M.org.
As parents of two small children, Joel and Michelle understand the importance of family. They extend that concept to fellow artists who join them in seeking to serve God in all they do.