April 09, 2013

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C. S. Lewis on Art With a "Message" For all who love the Narnia books, we cannot help but see Lewis's rich theology coming to life in the characters and conversations of these books. One might be tempted to think that Lewis scripted the "message" he wanted to communicate in each book-- or even in the series as a whole-- before he was writing. But this was not the case: "Some people seem to think that I began by asking myself how I could say something about Christianity to children; then fixed on the fairy tale as an instrument; then collected the information about child-psychology and decided what age group I’d write for; then drew up a list of basic Christian truths and hammered out ‘allegories’ to embody them. This is all pure moonshine. I couldn't write in that way at all." As a songwriter deeply interested in seeing our art reflect a rich view of God-- after all: worship shapes believing-- I have fallen into the trap many times of beginning first with a concept and trying to shoe-horn it into a melody. Sometimes it works; but most of the time, it's clunky. Lewis, surprisingly, says it's best not to begin by asking what "moral children need" (or in our case, what the Church needs?)...It would be better, he says, to ask what moral (or message) we need. But, there is something even better: "But it is better not to ask the question at all. Let the pictures tell you their own moral. For the moral inherent in them will rise from whatever spiritual roots you have succeeded in striking during the whole course of your life." What Lewis is proposing is more actually more serious-- and more difficult-- than simply trying to write songs or stories or create art that conveys a certain message. He is...
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Who Is "Church"? Pt. 1 What is "Church"? Who is Church for? The lost? The disciple? What are Sundays for? Many pastors jump right to the Great Commission and define "Church" through the lens of a "heaven and hell" crisis. The church invariable gets defined by what it does or what it ought to be doing. But with God, identity precedes activity. Adam and Eve were made in God's image before they were given a vocation. So, we need to ask what Church is...or more precisely, who Church is. Before we can begin to properly wrestle with this question, we need to zoom out all the way out and ask who Jesus is. How we think about Jesus and the salvation He brings affects the way you think of Church and our mission. To say it in theological language: Our Christology shapes our Soteriology; Our Soteriology shapes our Ecclesiology; Our Ecclesiology shapes our Missiology. Or in a series of questions: Who is JESUS? (Christology) What is SALVATION? (Soteriology) Who is CHURCH? (Ecclesiology) What is MISSION? (Missiology) -------------------- THIS IS HOW WE TEND TO THINK THROUGH THE LIST: Jesus = my personal Lord and Savior Salvation = forgiveness of sins and a ticket to heaven Church = a collection of saved individuals who pass time in the meantime Mission = optional extra credit OR: Jesus = my personal Lord and Savior Salvation = an escape from Hell Church = a lifeboat (functionally: God’s sales and marketing team) Mission = a mandate to rescue lost souls What results is an often frenetic pace of ministry, where the whole focus is on getting people to come to church or get saved. Songs and sermons are aimed at going "wide" on Sundays, while other "environments" are created for going "deep." But imagine if you ran your home this way:...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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