This is one of my favorite pieces being played in a way that merges the horizons between the old and the new. I love it when old and new worlds come together. It’s a reminder that our present is indelibly wrapped together with our past. It also prompts us to recall that artistry last.
The lasting, enchanting effects of artistry should never be marginalized or dismissed. Sadly, George Barna reports that creatives are leaving evangelical churches at an alarming rate – something we talked about last week. I’m not terribly surprised by this. My church experience has shown me that artists – who typically want to explore and experiment – aren’t the most welcome folks in church life. They dress differently, think differently, act differently…they’re just different. This breaks the cardinal rule of most churches: Don’t be different! I’ve been in churches where people’s evident sin was confronted when the offenders where different, but when the same sins were committed by folks who did fit the ethos of the congregation, nothing much was mentioned. The message was clear: You can do whatever you like as long as you look and sound like us.
What this means is that too many churches lack the artists, musicians, story-tellers and poets they need to engage a world increasingly communicated to through these very mediums. The church has said, if you don’t learn through reading and listening to someone talk, you’re just not going to develop here. Your church needs to seek out, develop and free creatives. Why?
Because creatives are…
- …Native Speakers. The Apostles Paul warns the church about speaking in tongues; “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue (1 Cor. 14:18ff).” Today’s culture speaks in video, music, painting, poetry, etc….And the younger they are, the more they do so. From Generation X folks on down, creative content originates from home on iPhones and iPads. Entire music albums are produced using GarageBand and a few simple microphones. Creatives instinctively communicate. If you’re not embracing artists in your church, it’s you – not them – that’s speaking in tongues. You need an interpreter.
- …Creating Needed Experiences. The story of David reminds us that David was both a musician and a worship leader. His musicianship brought solace to Saul and the church has leaned into David’s Psalms as a source for comfort and worship as well. I often wonder what would have happened to the church if some of the “no new songs” people I’ve worshipped with had lived alongside David. Somehow we forget that every older experience was once a new experience.
- …Your Future Leaders. Just as David rose to the throne, many creatives ultimately find themselves in church leadership. Why? Think about what pastors do. Chiefly, they write. They write classes, sermons, articles, talks, funeral services, um…blog posts. Pastors spend a lot of time writing – or at least they should. That’s a creative pursuit, for those who want to craft good messages. The same is true of worship leaders. What will happen to the church if all of the creatives are finally run off?
When we first open the pages of scripture we discover that God is creative. Our world is created with vibrancy and diversity that it doesn’t need for survival. I believe God loves creativity. And we are bestowed with creativity as well. So, go ahead. Set your creatives free. Allow them to work and craft and explore.
Allow them to be as different as they need to be in order to reach a generation of really different people.
How do you think your church can engage artist and creatives?