(Original Post October 2011)
So here's one of the oldest struggles within our modern day church. How far is to far? When have we crossed over the boundaries of the "world" and brought it into our churches? In plain english, why do we have to look like the world in order to win them over to Jesus? Questions like this can be debated and thrown around for hours, if not weeks. Here's my take on this issue in a few simple points.
Perspective #1 THE SEEKER
"I'm a person in this world of hurt, seeking an answer. Obviously because I've tried many things in life and I'm willing to venture into different cultures, traditions, etc. I've been exposed to some radical stuff. Some of it might have caught my attention. Karma, energy, that's great, whatever...but can anyone define it more clearly for me? Somethings might feel good and that's is great, but what is my Purpose? What's our purpose? Wow!!! Check this person out. They look just like me. They even have a similar past as mine. I wonder what's working for them. They look like me, like the things I do, yet they have a certain lifestyle that's different. Hmmm."
This person has now identified him or herself not with the religion or the message, but with the culture. (Reflected through other individuals). Now relevancy changes depending on the culture (city, country, zip code, etc.) that is established. For example; I know many really "hip" churches, but because the majority of the people attending are of one ethnic background, an indirect message is sent to a seeker, that unless they fit in, they don't belong. So what play's the biggest role in attracting people from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities? CULTURE. Make an observation; what "underlying messages" are your sending to those that walk through your doors.
Perspective #2 GIFTED PEW BOY
"I've grown up in church my entire life. I remember sleeping under the pews during the long Friday night prayer services. Well, I got some crazy good ideas with some multi-media stuff. I'm finishing my studies in Media Design, I got some boys in the church that have their own recording studio. They've attempted to record several worship albums but the people at church don't even buy their CD's. I came across one of the biggest opportunities in life. One of my boys from back home heard what I was studying and wants me to make a demo reel for him. I guess he's some type of artist now. By the way my best friend Ronny, who was the worship leader for our Youth, just quit the youth group because he feels he needs to stretch out his gifts a bit. He's auditioning for American Idol and some other "make-u-famous-over-night" shows. So I make my reel and it's MTV hot. I really would love to make videos for my church like this but I know it probably wouldn't be accepted."
Many gifted and famous people have come out of local churches throughout the world. They were a bit to artsy and radical for the majority of their churches, so they took their gifts to the multitudes around the world instead. How many children and youth have lost their dreams at church? Out of personal experience, if there is a place where your gifts can be sharpened, it's called the local church. When in a healthy and encouraging CULTURE, you feel the support from others to take a leap of faith and go after your dreams. I can go on but I won't. Point made.
Regardless of how relevant you want your approach to be, make sure it ties in with a clearly communicated message. Don't just do things just to do them. Half of the time churched folk don't even have a clue if your playing a cover song, if you re-made a current pop video, or that the message your speaking on is based on a popular movie. Unchurched folk will. And they'll like, it as long as you can still answer their question at the end. What's my purpose? And why? Using scriptures within these creative opportunities will never go wrong. Most of the times it creates dialogue and people begin to ask questions like: "why did that scripture go with that song? What did that graphic mean? What is the cross?" If you can simultaneously focus and add value to gifts in the house, you will be building a team of dreamers from within, that learn to understand that the gifts we posses are not for us to keep hidden, but for the world to hear and see the grace of God via our gifts. We then sharpen their gifts in house, build strong Christ-centered foundations and then release. The gift within us represents the Christ in us. Why hide it from the world? How much more of an impact can somebody make when they know they have the full support of their community (church) before heading out into the wilderness of society? It's a bigger deal than many care to think.
1. An Accepting Culture
2. Building and Training Creatives that will impact the World.
So, if you have an idea, a song, a video, etc. Do not be afraid to step out and try it. There just might be a person in the crowd that can relate with you and is looking for an answer. There also might be a little rug rat under the pews observing your every move, waiting to one day grow up and be just like you, not knowing that they will one day they will have greater influence than you. Which means, their light for Jesus can go much further...again, only if your willing to try what others try to hide and deny!