I’m tootling home after a residential weekend with our Light Project students who are studying on our FdA in Theology and Evangelism. It’s a small bunch of us (6 first years and 5 second year students) so don’t imagine large lecture halls and hundreds of wanabe evangelists!
The module which I was lecturing is on the arts and media in evangelism. On Friday in the introduction some of the students were dreading the week-end (perhaps the reputation of my teaching style had preceded me) ‘I can’t be creative.’ ‘I don’t have any creative gifts’ were two of the comments. To be fair they were also concerned about how they could complete the module, with the assessment based on how the students manage to do something that is creative and connects the christian message with a chosen audience.
On Sunday morning part of the lectures was to practice something creative in a church service and to see what happens. I had arranged with a Church that uses the arts regularly (Hoole Baptist Church) in worship and day to day life with a project called ‘use me please.’ We also set up in a coffee shop and looked at ‘The Jesus Deck’ and ‘Prophetic painting.’
What really got me about this weekend was the marked difference from the tears on Friday night and the confidence on Sunday morning in the practice. One student who had never drawn or painted before produced something that was striking, but it also made sense to the church which we were visiting and practicing in! It carried a message that couldn’t have simply been communicated through words alone.
I was so proud of my students. One of then wrote a poem for the church. It was good, full of affirmation and words of faith. Such creativity. Afterwards we spoke about next steps of taking what we learnt and applying it in places that church isn’t.
The mantra I have extolled over the past 18 years has been ‘good news needs to be understood as good news otherwise it’s no news which is bad news.’ This creative connecting was seen simply and clearly on Saturday at night church. The concept is so straight forward: open up a church building and invite people in too serve them and love them by listening, praying and being there. There was free hot drinks on tap, some beautiful worship music played (in a performance rather than participatory way) and the place just looks so beautiful and creative. It’s a good space.
It was a privilege for me to see so many people serve those who wouldn’t usually consider ‘going’ to church, but would be up for hanging out at night church. If only every weekend was as creative as this one! You can read more about night church here.