Editor’s Note: The artist Bryn Gillette was commissioned by the Lausanne Movement to paint a series of four paintings corresponding to the Movement’s four-part vision statement, ‘The gospel for every person, an evangelical church for every people, Christ-like leaders for every church, and kingdom impact in every sphere of society’. The paintings were unveiled over the past four years at Lausanne gatherings related to each particular vision theme, with the final painting revealed at the most recent Global Workplace Forum. While at GWF with participants from every corner of the globe, Bryn had the surreal feeling that he had stepped into his artwork and was meeting the people he had been praying for and painting, the global bride of Christ. He continues, ‘My prayer would be that these paintings would be like four open windows into a glimpse of the heartbeat of Lausanne, the heartbeat of Christ.’ Watch the full interview video below, followed by Bryn’s statements on each of the four paintings.
I have had the incredible privilege of being an artist in residence for the Lausanne Movement these past several years, working as an artistic ambassador of the kingdom of God and a visual scribe to this beloved movement. I want to humbly acknowledge that despite whatever skill I have stewarded from God’s gifts to me, the best parts of this work have come through me as a collaborative part of the much larger Body, and not from me. I offer the caution that I will simply provide some ingredients of the thoughts and prayers that went into the making of these works, as a starting place for our dialogue and discovery, since the best and deepest components of what these paintings truly mean may not even be known yet, and certainly may not come from me.
I was so honored and equally challenged by this opportunity to paint such a monumental subject. What image could possibly capture the magnitude of God’s heart for the limitless diversity of humanity and culture? The process of painting was the act of internalizing the Lausanne Movement’s four-part vision statement, or as I call it, the Movement’s four pillars. As I have been stretched internally to try to embrace them, I pray these resulting painted prayers would inspire their viewers with an increased passion to mobilize the whole church to bring the whole gospel to the whole world.
To highlight some ingredients that were placed in the painting: a central fisherman is casting his net over the entire world (each continent outlined in gold), seen from an unexpected sideways vantage, while a central cross comprised by the equator and international dateline anchor the work. The net sparkles with the burst of blue and white light scattered across the globe as seen from satellite photography of current population densities and prophetically declares our prayer that God’s love would enfold every people group on earth and flood the remaining darkness with the light of the gospel.
The New Testament envisions the fully realized global church as a spotless bride prepared for her returning bridegroom, Christ. Standing on the New Jerusalem, this bride is subtly depicted with her planetary-scale feet standing on the Holy Land, holding the flame of the gospel in her hand, while this fiery orange light is born by diverse believers into every corner of the world. As God’s Word does not return void, the bride’s gown subsumes untold sparkling blue and white figures of every tribe, tongue, and nation streaming in to consummate her fully realized expression. May our passion to see the ‘whole church’ fully healed, unified, purified, and restored to her identity as the spotless bride of Christ compel us to carry the whole gospel to the whole world with humility-tempered zeal.
The third pillar of the Lausanne Movement is embodied in the Good Shepherd sitting among his sheep. Vignettes surround the central figure suggesting the varied roles these shepherds play throughout the globe, from an iconic image of founder Billy Graham preaching, to young biblical David with his sheep, to a female chaplain in the army and an Asian pastor serving communion. While wolves hover in the background and allusions to darkness and danger surround the flock, the Good Shepherd sits at the center of his charges with calm strength as a spiritual refuge and friend. May our church leaders throughout the world derive their compassion, wisdom, leadership, and the sacrificial love to lay down their lives for their sheep and wash the feet of their disciples from the true source of these qualities, Jesus Christ.
I wanted to embed the very DNA of what it means to shepherd, impart, and empower into the painting itself, so I invited one of my students, Andrew Knotts, to join me in the early stages of this painting. He and I worked together to pray over the design and sketch the imagery, build the canvas, and paint the abstract foundational layers side by side. Andrew painted several of the wolves that can be seen in the image, and I am so grateful for Andrew’s generous collaboration.
As the fourth and final painting in the Lausanne Movement Pillar series, this piece seeks to sum up the other three works as well as paint a global vision of God’s kingdom permeating the seven cultural spheres. Remixed again here are the fisherman from pillar 1, ‘The gospel for every person’, the Bride from pillar 2, ‘an evangelical church for every community’, and the Good Shepherd from pillar 3, ‘Christ-like leaders for every church’. Christ is now crowned as the glorious and triumphant king, but as his upside-down kingdom subtly infuses each sphere, it is not done as the leaders of this world who lord it over their subjects, but in selfless servanthood. Each of the seven spheres is set on a different continent of the world and is shown crumbling in the futility of man’s institutions, while Christ-like servants carry the DNA of the kingdom in the form of equilateral (trinity) triangles joining into a new infrastructure of honeycomb hexagons. This stems from the atomic structure of nitrogen, the atomic element with 7 electrons, 7 protons, and 7 neutrons (777) figured here as the very fabric of God’s kingdom from a universal scale to the very smallest subatomic particle of God’s creation. The seven spheres are set in the same format as nitrogen, which has two levels of electrons. In the inner ring closer to the nucleus are two electrons, depicted as the spheres of Family (Michaelangelo’s painting, ‘The Creation of Adam’, with the African pyramids) and Religion (the remixed Bride set in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil). On the outer ring sit the other 5:
May the center of it all, the Lord Jesus Christ, so restore the families on earth and his global bride the church that the whole church, all 100% of its members, bear his whole gospel into every sphere of society throughout the whole world.
Bryn Gillette is a painter and art teacher. He lives in North Carolina (US) with his wife and four children. For more information on the artist and the Lausanne paintings, visit bryngillette.com.