One of my first conversations at Moody centered on creativity in church. It was a topic that was somewhat debated throughout the year in different circles, and I’ve spent some time this Summer praying/processing through it for myself. The next few posts are my attempt to formulate some of those thoughts.
In the conversation previously mentioned, I made a comment about “designing a new discipleship system for students”. I thought (and still think) that small groups/Sunday school wasn’t getting the job done, especially with teenage guys. The girl I was talking to said, “That doesn’t matter. It’s all about speaking truth.”
And here we have the debate of the decade. Does creativity have a place in the Gospel presentation, or is the Holy Spirit entirely responsible for engaging people through simply “speaking truth”? Do humans play a part in engaging an audience, or is that fully on the shoulders of the Holy Spirit?
I personally believe it’s both, but that’s a cop-out answer, so I’ll share my thoughts in detail.
In Acts chapter 8, we read the story of Phillip and the Ethiopian.
28…and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet.
29The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
The Ethiopian was reading the Bible, clearly being presented with truth, yet the Holy Spirit intervened in the process by sending Phillip over to the guy. The Holy Spirit could have simply acted by working through the Ethiopian’s reading of Scripture, but instead He chose to work through Phillip.
30Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
31″How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
There’s no question the Ethiopian had encountered truth, (he was reading the Book that contains truth) but that wasn’t enough; he needed someone to explain it to him. The Holy Spirit was in the middle of the entire process, but He worked through the explanation.
The Holy Spirit is fully responsible for reconciling people to God, because unless the Spirit draws them they can’t even be open to hearing from God. The Spirit is also responsible for convicting a person’s heart, but God, for whatever odd reason, has decided to use us in that process (2 Corinthians 5). If God wants to use us in His plan to seek and save the lost, then shouldn’t we accept that responsibility with a dedication to do it with the best of our ability? With all creativity God Himself has given us?
We’ll talk more about that in the next post. But to conclude part 1:
the explanation of truth matters.
Stay tuned this week for some more of my thoughts. How have you seen this principle at work in your ministry?