This morning I am up early and ready to process and journal about what happened in my life yesterday. It was BIG!
Saturday morning (October 10th) Our C3 Church in Asheville had an event called Worship Express. Our worship leader Steve Deal and his family hosted the event at their home. Jeff Crabtree who is the Minister of Creative Arts at C3 Oxford Falls in Sydney was the guest speaker for the day. He brought up really interesting points about how important creativity, music in particular, is in the church. He talked about how the arts bring people together and how one tool of control that some governments have had over people is to take their music away. He made the point that music and art have been taken out of churches even in America to a large degree. He urged us musicians and artists to use the gifts that God has placed in us, because when we are doing our art and sharing it with the church and world, we are fighting the battle for the hearts of people. Jeff said that we will win the war NOT by fighting the cultural wars, because we are losing that battle. He said that in our country, we win when an American heart is transformed. And he said we will win by each of us doing what God has called us to create. This is such a powerful message! I’ve never heard anyone speak about music and art and the church like that.
For the past several years I have believed that God has been calling artists to do a new thing in the church. I truly believe that artists alive today in the church are hearing God tell us to rise up, unify together, perfect our crafts and build a strong, powerful bridge across the gap between church and social culture. To hear someone in church voice what I have already felt was HUGE for me. I know that we are here “for such a time as this.” This is BIG, PEOPLE!
So, at the end of the day sessions, Jeff said he wanted to pray for those of us who are in big life transitions right now. So, I stepped forward to acknowledge that I am in that category. I had previously introduced myself to Jeff at the end of the first session, and asked him what he thought about visual art being used in worship today. He said he’d talk to me more at our lunch break, and he did say a bit. So I had the opportunity to tell him that I was an artist at that time.
When Jeff got to me at prayer time he held my hands up and said that I just “need to get to it!” He said, “PAINT!” He said that I need to stop asking so many questions and not worry about what people think, and that I need to paint freely in the Name of Jesus. He said that I would feel many emotions as I painted, and it was okay because God had wired me that way. He stopped for a second and looked right at me and said, “You know what? No one has ever commissioned you to do your art, have they? You poor thing! That’s what it is. Well I will!” At this point I was sobbing. I mean, that’s what Jeff does in our church movement — he teaches and commissions people to practice their art in the C3 churches… so this was a huge honor for me. I didn’t even have to go to the C3 School of Arts in Australia to get his blessing! WHOA. So, he asked everyone to pray together over me, and he basically gave me permission to paint and prayed for my gift of art.
This was powerful because it WAS a huge issue for me… I HAD been waiting for someone to give me permission to paint. I had been hesitating because I felt the church wasn’t quite sure what to do with me. That’s my perception anyway. I did constantly worry about what people thought of me. I knew I had a gift that God wanted to use in the church, and I knew it included Asheville, but I guess I just needed someone in leadership to confirm it for me. This is a huge relief for me!
In the evening, Jeff Crabtree, Steve Deal, and some of the C3 musicians from Asheville and Atlanta played in Pritchard Park, which is a well-known outdoor location in Asheville for local musicians to play. More than just a fun event, Jeff pretty much proved everything that he had said in the day sessions by playing music where the community could come and hang out and learn about C3 and see us desiring to interact with culture. It was amazing!! Our church gave out free CDs of the worship music, and we all mingled and danced and had a great time. At the end of the night, I heard comments from people in the community such as, “Thank you for being a church that really does care.” “What time did you say your service meets?” “Wow! Your band has a great sound! Do you have any more CDs???” “This was fun!”
I see how this form of outreach is a FAR CRY from what I saw from Christians protesting at the U2 concert last week. One guy there quietly held up a small sign that said, “NO BONO. SATAN INCARNATE!” Yeah, how many hearts were transformed by THAT sign. Not to mention he alienated those of us Christians who LIKE U2. Hahahaha!
Music and art really ARE a huge part of what defines cultures, and I have to agree with Jeff Crabtree that by doing our art, and showing interest in the arts of different cultures and seeking to share our arts with the world, we WILL be able to reach out and see people’s hearts be transformed. We MUST be approachable. We MUST be interested in people. We MUST break down walls in order to build a bridge. I believe that CREATIVITY is the bridge. I will fight until my death to make sure creativity is put back in schools, and churches, and communities.
How will I do that? I will PAINT!