Monday, August 16, 2010

creativity in church part 1

One of my first conversations at Moody centered on creativity in church. It was a topic that was somewhat debated throughout the year in different circles, and I’ve spent some time this Summer praying/processing through it for myself. The next few posts are my attempt to formulate some of those thoughts.

In the conversation previously mentioned, I made a comment about “designing a new discipleship system for students”. I thought (and still think) that small groups/Sunday school wasn’t getting the job done, especially with teenage guys. The girl I was talking to said, “That doesn’t matter. It’s all about speaking truth.”

And here we have the debate of the decade. Does creativity have a place in the Gospel presentation, or is the Holy Spirit entirely responsible for engaging people through simply "speaking truth"? Do humans play a part in engaging an audience, or is that fully on the shoulders of the Holy Spirit?

I personally believe it’s both, but that’s a cop-out answer, so I’ll share my thoughts in detail.

In Acts chapter 8, we read the story of Phillip and the Ethiopian.

28...and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet.
29The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it."


The Ethiopian was reading the Bible, clearly being presented with truth, yet the Holy Spirit intervened in the process by sending Phillip over to the guy. The Holy Spirit could have simply acted by working through the Ethiopian’s reading of Scripture, but instead He chose to work through Phillip.

30Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked.
31"How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.


There's no question the Ethiopian had encountered truth, (he was reading the Book that contains truth) but that wasn't enough; he needed someone to explain it to him. The Holy Spirit was in the middle of the entire process, but He worked through the explanation.

The Holy Spirit is fully responsible for reconciling people to God, because unless the Spirit draws them they can’t even be open to hearing from God. The Spirit is also responsible for convicting a person’s heart, but God, for whatever odd reason, has decided to use us in that process (2 Corinthians 5). If God wants to use us in His plan to seek and save the lost, then shouldn’t we accept that responsibility with a dedication to do it with the best of our ability? With all creativity God Himself has given us?
We’ll talk more about that in the next post. But to conclude part 1:
the explanation of truth matters.

Stay tuned this week for some more of my thoughts. How have you seen this principle at work in your ministry?

3 comments:

  1. Nate, Your post stirred so much of what I have been processing in my life, Not even sure what words are appropriate in my response... Thank You for Sharing and bringing this thing into dialogue!!!

    I will do my best:

    First- I think you are right! I believe it is both. Here are might be the perspective as I could represent it (just where I am at now... my perspective does change). If you consider the body as a carefully woven tapestry... Like we are all parts of the fabric... Put together we complete the bride of Christ. So inherently... Walking into Relationship w/Father will expose us as Him to others... We are a work of His Glory, just like the Amazing things we see in creation, even more so... right? I find great rest that I don't need to strive in this... I just have fun in being who the Lord created me to be!!!

    Secondly... there are moves of the Spirit, or even times when the Spiritual Realms engage with the natural... Jesus came directly to Paul on his way to Damascus... right? Angels appeared to Mary... etc... the supernatural occurrences are part of what makes walking with the Lord so Great!!! In my years I am really treasuring those special moments Abba gives to me, a word, a feeling, an emotion. looking forward to even more!!! Even this will tie into point #1 because from what I have seen/heard from others... He speaks to us in ways that are specific to who we are before Him. I have never heard Abba out loud, but I know believers that have... and they can be envious of me for the emotional sides that I feel.

    The part that really caught me about your post is sort of a side note. My wife and I are artists... I feel like as followers of Jesus... We carry the MOST CREATIVE POWER in the Universe... Shouldn't our art itself reflect this??? I see a day where the body writes music that defies the world... You know, modern day scientists still don't understand how the Jews made Moses' tabernacle... Consider Noah's Ark???? Like it appears to be impossible what has been built by those that know Abba!!! God's Wisdom is deeper than the wisdom of man. We are foolish to Him.

    Not sure if I twisted your angle too much??? I hope not. I really want to honor your post, and your thought provoking words. Thank You, Nate!!!

    --matthew

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  2. Thanks for reading! Great thoughts!

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  3. some cool thoughts nate! i'd agree with you in that the creativity has a part and not just about communicating truth. if you cannot get someone 'engaged' then there isn't, if any, communication you'll achieve.

    Jesus is probably one of the best examples to draw from. he did employ creativity in communicating truth. the gospels are strewn with numerous parables. he used the art of creative story telling to communicate truth. creativity is great as long as it is not the end but remains the means. we have too many examples in the Bible of how creativity was used.

    Great post!

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