I had a conversation with a young talented professional last week. She is an Adventist. Bright. Young. Talented and frustrated. Her frustration stems from the resistance of some in the church to new ideas, but she is not willing to give up on it. She was looking to both vent and find ideas to use her talents for God and not having much success. Regretfully, those conversations happen way too often. There are cutting edge Adventist young professionals that wish to use their gifts for the church they love but are experiencing real roadblocks to using their God-given talents for the advancement of the kingdom. What do we do with the creatives in our church? Before we continue, let’s define our terms. Creatives are defined as:
- Having the ability or power to create.
- Characterized by originality and expressiveness; imaginative.
Here are my thoughts on this issue. I understand that committed adventists may differ on this, and I respect your right to do so. My desire is not to convice you, but to help you hear what they are saying:
- Our attitude towards culture must change.
As I see it, there are some common responses to current culture:
Fight culture. Curse the darkness. Lament the fact that America is not what it used to be. Throw out the baby with the bathwater.
Avoid culture. Leave and go somewhere where you are surrounded with like minded people.
Ignore culture. Stay where you are, but act as if culture has no effect on you and your household.
Accept culture. Give up. Throw your hands up and surrender. Embrace it and adapt its values.
Transform culture. Engage it. Recognize that proximity and relationships can influence positive change.
I like the last option.
- Our attitude towards creatives must change.
The reality is that anything new in some circles in our church is met with outright rejection, not the benefit of the doubt. It seems to me that the following underlying assumptions are present more often than we would like to admit:
What you came into the church with is holy and right.
Everything after that is either unholy or part of the Jesuit conspiracy that has infiltrated us.
I would like to remind you that the devil does not have a monopoly on the arts. Just because it’s new, it doesn’t mean its bad. Just because you “don’t get it”, doesn’t mean its bad. Just because someone else doesn’t like it doesn’t mean its bad. Should we use discernment? Absolutely. Should we constantly evaluate, create, innovate? For sure!
- Out attitude towards church growth must change.
I am an evangelist. I love to share the gospel and our message with people all across the world. I don’t for a moment think we should eliminate evangelism, but I do think we need to enhance it. There are segments of the population that will never be attracted to a traditional prophecy series while others are really moved by it. Since we want to reach everyone, we must design ways to do that. Visual arts have a power and reach that other mediums do not posses. This means:
Animations. (that’s just like movies, I know)
Consider for example SetinSandFilms.com andHeather Moor. (www.setinsandfilms.com) She is a millennial, creative, and passionate Adventist that has a desire to bless her church. There are many like her. When I see the resistance and rejection of new methods I just think about the chance we are missing. We can at the same time engage young members and reach our world. Our distinctive beliefs in the age of postmodernism could resonate with many and could be given consideration instead of being discarded outright. Postmodernism can actually work in our favor.
Here is the big one. (my thanks to Ravi Zachariah for the term)
This is especially significant for millennials. Before they consider some of our distinctive truths, the worldview must change. I don’t know of many better vehicles than the arts to effect that change. Hollywood has done it, many times in opposition to positive values. We have rejected it. Right now, we are facing an uphill battle to contextualize the gospel for a young generation. We could give up, or…we can use this medium to our advantage.
In closing, I have an appeal to creatives. Don’t leave. Stand up. Don’t give up. Keep creating. Be patient with your church as your God is patient with you. Continue to wrap the everlasting gospel in new and attractive packaging.