A creative church is a courageous church. The beauty of art is that it can make difficult things both accessible and undeniable. When you touch, smell, taste, see the pain or joy of another, their life becomes tied to yours. New things break your heart. You can become brave in ways you never thought you could. A creative church seeks to bring that reality into worship, to help people encounter the truth of another, and so to encounter God’s love, God’s call, God’s healing.
A couple years ago, there was a rash of fires at African American churches around the country. Some seemed accidental or natural, many were arson. We had the unfortunate privilege of having one of the churches be in this city. So we asked how God would have us respond. There were lots of opportunities to give money and resources to help them rebuild and to support the outreach programs that had lost their home. Anyone could do those things. But how could we uniquely respond, as people of God, as brothers and sisters in Christ?
We could pray.
We brought their pain and heartbreak into our worship service with the literal ashes of their church. We created space in worship to name all the churches that had been burned. We claimed them as our family and tried as best we could to give voice to the worldly power of racism and fear of the other, while claiming the eternal power of God. We sent our congregation home with some ashes from that church, the names of all the burned churches, equipped with scripture to help them pray.
It was painful. It was strange. It was holy.