When Art and Ministry Become One
I received an unexpected gift this weekend. Not the kind you can put in a box… more valuable than that… at least to me.
Sometimes, being an itinerant performer/ministry, you can wonder if what you do makes a difference. I show up, do my performance and leave… rarely do I get to see any tangible fruit of my labor, beyond the applause, handshakes, and thank-yous at the door. I hope, trust, and pray that God is in this with me… but sometimes, I just need a little confirmation, a little taste of the fruits of my labor.
I got a taste this weekend. The church that hosted the performance was not huge—maybe 150 people. I performed in the morning worship service, presenting my adaptation of the book In His Steps… a piece I have been performing for over 27 years… and to be honest, I sometimes wonder if it is still relevant… as an artist I am prone to doubt.
The congregation was with me, I could sense it. I finished the performance and exited the stage… and then… then the gift.
The pastor stood and began to pray. It was obvious from the prayer, that he was deeply impacted and challenged by the presentation. At the conclusion of the prayer, he asked the congregation to remain silent and to listen to what God is saying to them at this moment. After the silence he asked if anyone had anything they wanted to share. I stood in the back of the room and took it all in.
“Our sign out front says ‘Carrying Christ to our Community’ but we aren’t doing a very good job of it.”
“I keep telling myself that I am too old to do things anymore, but I need to remember that it is not my strength but God working through me… I just need to be available to be used.”
“The Bible says faith without works is dead… some of us need to hear that.”
“There are ways we can serve each other right here in this body. There are people in this congregation that need help and I need to be doing more to help them.”
Similar comments continued for several minutes. The pastor went on to affirm that it was no coincidence that I was there this particular weekend. God had orchestrated it. It was a timely message in the life of this church.
What a gift to be able to see and hear firsthand the impact of the morning. Truly an unexpected gift and a confirmation that was a blessing to me.
I left with a heart full of gratitude. Thankful to be reminded again why I do what I do. Thankful to be an artist and to see how art and ministry can work hand in hand together to build the Kingdom of God.
Do you have stories of how God has used art to touch you or the lives of others?Posted by Chuck Neighbors | 5 comments
So do you still wonder if “In His Steps” is relevant?
Sheri, I am convinced it is still relevant… but there has been a fair amount of “deconstructing” the book in recent writings. Sometimes those criticisms give me pause. The criticism seems to be a bit nit-picky about either the phrasing of the “what would Jesus do?” question (“we are not Jesus so can’t do what He would do”) or a perceived over emphasis on “doing” rather than letting God do—too much emphasis on works and not enough on grace. But strangely when I go to the original text of the book I don’t see that. But the story does tend to make some people feel guilty… and popular Christianity is very anti-guilt. I get that… the desire to fight the stereotype that “Christians are all about guilt.” But I think there is a place for balance. Without guilt we can’t recognize our sin… so there is a bit of tension. As popular as the book has been for over 100 years… there is some backlash against it in recent years.
Gifts really do come sometimes in an unexpected package.. I guess this is telling us that we should be open at times to receive blessings..
“In His Steps” will always be relevant Chuck. It is timeless. Your message of His message will always be needed. Until His return.
Chuck – I remember when you presented “In His Steps” at our church over 20 years ago – and then again in the last few years – it made an impression on me both times – in different ways. This story (from your presentation – which makes the story come ALIVE! and then from the book, which I read after seeing you present it) has always stayed with me – challenging me personally to question if I am doing the things that Jesus would do. I thought about “What Would Jesus Do – WWJD” just the other day while taking a walk – often some of my best “quiet” times with the Lord. I personally think this story is as relevant today as when it was written.