ARTS & True Story About How a Church Survives Over 1 Year Without a Sermon – by Using the Arts!

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D., 6/13/15.

“A Church Survives Over 1 Year Without a Sermon.”

That’s a headline that a lot of church attendees might appreciate.  But we know that Romans 10:14 says, “And how can they believe in the one of who they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (NIV).

*OC Cover 64KBut, there are many ways to share the truth without the modernist “lecture” or “sermon” as the main message carrier.  Jesus used stories, personal action, social engagement, etc.  In fact, while researching my book (Inside the Organic Church: Learning from 12 Emerging Congregations, Abingdon Press, 2006) I found a church named One Place in Phoenix that had utilized innovation to sustain and grow a congregation for the 1+ year they did not have a preacher … or a sermon.

If you would like to learn more you can download the chapter here (not for public distribution).  And if you liked the insights, consider supporting my publisher (and me) by purchasing the book.

Here is how the chapter begins …

One Place
Phoenix, Arizona
(Excerpted from Inside the Organic Church, copyright Bob Whitesel, used by permission)

The outcome of a year without sermons.

A contemporary church, like a contemporary translation should impress the uninitiated observer as an original production in the contemporary culture, not as a badly fitted import from somewhere else. – Charles Kraft, anthropologist and author

First Encounters:

The preacher was nervous, for One Place Church had not had regular sermons for over a year, and this was his audition. Dressed in floppy hat, t-shirt and faded jeans, he delivered a remarkably poignant and engaging sermon, sprinkled with video clips from current movies.

As I sat in the middle of over 70 attendees, I wondered how this church had survived for
over a year without a teaching pastor, or regular sermons. “Without a teaching pastor, we had to teach the Word though mediums other than the spoken word,” stated Mark. “Interactive stations became our primary means for truth delivery.” Looking at the vibrant and enthusiastic throng, it appeared to work.

Download the chapter here:  BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – ORGANIC CHURCH One Place Chpt. 8

ARTS & Are Christians Addicted to Mediocrity in the Arts? #FrankySchaeffer

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D., 6/12/15.

Sometimes my students will note that they use the creative arts, such as drama, in their churches.  And this is good.  I certainly think drama can be a creative avenue for ministry.  In fact, most of my readers probably do not know that I have written over three dozen plays, and helped raise money for a Christian retreat center in Indiana through sold-out plays for over a decade.  I stopped directing my plays in the last few years due to the leading of our Lord and the popularity of my books which have given me a forum to talk about church management issues on a national level.

However, I am honored that one of my daughters, Kelly is a graduate of a Christian graduate school where she earned a Master of Fine Arts in theatre (she already has a BA in drama).  However, Kelly said something that struck me.  She said that her theatre friends did not respect church theatre because it was of poor quality. This got me thinking, and I think she may be right.

The reason I bring this up is because we often let people act in drama ministries because they are willing … and not necessarily talented.  The same way that we screen and mentor singers and musicians to ensure we have gifted people; I would like to suggest we mentor and disciple people with theatrical talent to ensure that our ministry honors our talented Creator.  As Franky Schaeffer said, back in 1981 we may be “addicted to mediocrity in the arts” (Franky Schaeffer, Addicted to mediocrity: 20th century Christians and the arts, 1981).

So try applying the same rigorous selection process to the drama areas as you do music, and I am confident our musical prowess can rival our musical competence.

And to stay attune to quality in various arts, why not try the following exercise?  In many of the arts such as music, leaders often visit opera, classical recitals, jazz improvisations, rock concerts, etc. in order to be exposed to quality music.  These actions kept them from being too accustomed to the mediocrity that often over time crops up in churches.  Now, I am not suggesting you (or they) uncritically attend all musical concerts, but that you pick musical expressions such as Christian concerts of various styles, classical expressions by Christian composers such as Bach, Mendelssohn, etc., etc..

So to get you thinking about this, let me tender a question.  When was the last you visited live theatre?  And, what was the quality?  Was it performed by amateurs or by professionals?  And, what ideas did it give you regarding improving the quality of the dramatic arts in our churches?

Here to get you thinking 🙂

PS See these posts for samples my students have submitted of Christians exemplifying excellence in the arts:

> ARTS & An Example of Creativity – The Salvation Army ‘Steel Drum’ Band

ART & An Example of How to Do Outreach & Discipleship With Emerging Artists

by Pastor Paul Tillman, Lead Pastor, Oakdale Wesleyan Church, 12/1/14

In partnership with Indiana Wesleyan University, Oakdale Wesleyan Church has sponsored an art contest. Student artists prepared works depicting Philip the Evangelist and the Ethiopian Official from Acts 8:26-40. Artwork entries hang at the Beard Arts Center at IWU from December 1, 2014 to January 9, 2015, and, in addition to the artist receiving a cash or scholarship prize from the memorial gifts of Don and Trudy Emory, the winning piece will be brought to to hang permanently at Oakdale Wesleyan Church as a reminder and symbol of our mission, given to us by Jesus, to make disciples from all peoples by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The contest guidelines were: “Students should create 2D work on canvas or board that is no smaller than 24″ x 36″ and no larger than 36″ x 46″. Work can be orientated in either portrait or landscape. The style of the work may be: classical/traditional, realistic, or impressionistic, based upon any part of all of the story of Philip and the Ethiopian from Acts 8:26-40. The winning entry will be a symbol for the call to multi-ethnic ministry, making disciples and missions.” We are now pleased to show the entries and announce the winner.

The Installation Ceremony of the winning pieces will be on Saturday, February 7, 2015 at Oakdale Wesleyan Church. The following day, Sunday, February 8, 2015 at 10 am, we will hold a Celebration Service. Greater details on the installation and celebration will be forthcoming. Both events are open to the public.

First Place – ICHTHUS by Nate Hillyer

ICHTHUS by Nate Hillyer

ICHTHUS by Nate Hillyer

In addition to his wonderful style, the artist brought in great symbolism to the piece: light and darkness, the presence of Christ and the Holy Spirit, reconciliation, and the making of disciples, all from the perspective of God Above. This piece captured all the contest elements, and will hang in the lobby of Oakdale Wesleyan Church. Nate Hillyer received $300 for his winning entry.

Honorable Mention – Immersion by Gayle Cobb

Immersion by Gayle Cobb

Immersion by Gayle Cobb

With its bold colors and zoomed in perspective, this piece forces the viewer to engage and figure it out. The artist chose only show the hands of Philip (a choice that really works for the piece), making is so those hands could be anyone’s hands, or even the hands of God. This piece will have a place of honor, and will be featured during baptisms. Gayle Cobb received $100 for her entry…

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