When I first started full-time campus ministry, I thought that I would get to campus and my days would be filled with answering questions that students have about life. If only that was the case. Instead, my hours are filled with trying to find ways to get students to even desire to ask questions. Unlike my own natural inclination to question everything and work myself into philosophical crisis, I have realized that most people zoom through life without ever challenging the status quo.
I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to make my Bible studies, discussion groups, and sermons a balance between "attractive" and challenging. If I let students know that we will be discussing ideas and asking questions, no one comes. If I make everything out to be a party, I mourn that no one was challenged.
However, there is anomaly in our culture in that we worship entertainment. Christians, including myself, often talk about the destructive "entertainment culture" we live in, but I have begun to see this less as an obstacle to the gospel and more of a chink in the armor of post-modernism. Entertainment is admittedly often formulaic and cheap, but it is also comprised of very good art.
This is something I celebrate, and the more I do ministry, the more I value art. Unlike discussion groups and sermons, art lets people interact with ideas and reality in a different way. It challenges the status quo, it doesn't let you get comfortable. In a sense, it tricks people into thinking deeply and asking questions without letting them know. And they love it! You don't have to pull arms and legs to get people to talk about and engage art… okay sometimes you do, but it is a whole lot easier than trying to start a conversation about existentialism and modern cultural assumptions. Through art, people can experience the hopelessness of postmodernism, the angst of romanticism and the hope of Christianity. It's one thing to talk about ideas, but experiencing them through art gives people the chance to know it in a deeper level.
This is not the same thing as being "seeker sensitive". Most churches use entertainment to try and create a comfortable enviroment for people to live in. This is the exact opposite of what art is supposed to do. Good art either challenges or redirects you to and idea or reality. Within a Christian world-view, it should not encourage you to remain selfish and comfortable. With good art, we are challenged in our faith and inspired to hope in Christ, not become apathetic and reactionary. This is why my value for art and creativity only increases with ministry experience and why I think the church so desperately needs it.
07/17/2013 10:53 AM