I recently started an arts ministry at my church. Our slogan: Creative Community for the Glory of God.
Here's how it came about:
I was talking with my pastor, and I mentioned off-hand that I wished there was some sort of community in the church for artists.* To my surprise, he jumped up and took off, leading me on a tour of the church, rhapsodizing about all the hallways that were perfect for displaying art. He suggested that I might be just the person to start an arts ministry there at the church.
That unexpected idea sat on the back burner of my brain for a few months, and I thought, why not? I spent a few weeks jotting down ideas - turns out I had a lot of them. I wrote up a proposal** and sent it off to the pastor.
Before I knew it, I had an arts ministry, and no idea how to get it up and running.
Our first meeting was a complete bust. No one showed up, and no one was there to unlock the meeting room for me, either. A perfect failure to communicate had occurred.
I’d been praying about this ministry, and I’d gotten nothing but green lights from God and my pastor, but there were, and continue to be, a myriad of tiny little, nobody’s-fault roadblocks.^ That night, as I got into my car to drive home, I was filled with joy in a way I’ve never experienced before and can’t describe – it was definitely from God. I drove home singing, utterly comforted in the face of what should have been a discouraging failure.
Fast-forward a few months. We’ve had our first real meeting, and people actually came. Yesterday I was talking with someone about an upcoming event, and they asked me about the purpose of the activity. As I stuttered out a response, I realized I hadn’t thought about my elevator pitch, and in the face of being unable to express the justification, I began to doubt the validity of the activity, myself. Today, I realized two things about that.
First, I remembered that when I first came up with the idea, I could communicate the reasons behind it very clearly. I'd lost sight of that, but for some reason, as I listened to this Sara Groves song, I remembered.
Subsequently, I was struck by an analogy. I had reasons for proposing this event, and they were good, well-thought-out reasons. But I had spent so much time in the trenches of preparation, I’d lost track of that bigger picture.
This happens in life, too. We Christians have reasons for what we believe, and they are good, sound reasons. But we get so caught up in daily life, or the minutiae of doctrine, that when someone asks us a reason for the hope that is in us, we find ourselves unprepared to give them an answer (1 Peter 3:15). We need to remember the big picture of what we really believe.
But how do we keep what really matters at the forefront of our minds in the midst of all the chaos of living?
As a nearly life-long Christian, I can tell you this: You have to spend time with God.
If I want to be close to God, I have to read my Bible, and I have to pray, regularly and sincerely.*^ This is simply a fact, and one I've learned over and over again. As part of my efforts to take my calling to be a Disciple seriously, I recently started memorizing scripture again. I haven't done it in ages, and I found it difficult, just like memorizing a poem for class last year was difficult. Then I remembered that I, like so many others, am great at memorizing words if they're set to music (i.e. songs). So I started making up tunes for the verses I picked. So far, I've learned five verses this way, and I've had fun doing it!
You see, art is great at helping us remember things; it helps us focus our attention on something in a memorable way. And that is what we want to do at Lake Bible Arts. We want to use our gifts to point people to Jesus. We want our creations to remind our brothers and sisters of their great Creator, and we want the beauty of our work to serve as a counterpoint to the darkness of the world. Above all else, we want to present the works of our hands as a pleasing sacrifice to our Lord.
That is the purpose of our arts ministry, and that must be the purpose of every activity we undertake. That is Creative Community for the Glory of God.
*This was actually a really deep-seated longing of my heart.
**I don’t know if I did that because of the organizational genes I got from my dad, or because of the comfort with formality I learned in the Air Force.
^Well, sometimes it's my fault...
*^ People balk at the idea of a daily Bible time, calling it legalism. It’s nothing of the sort. Legalism is believing that in order to go to heaven, you have to do X. Committing to daily time spent in the Word isn’t legalism; it’s logic. How can I expect to know God and live in a way that honors him if I don't know what he’s said to us?