Over the weekend, I was busy playing for the local community college’s production of “All Shook Up”. If you are new to my blog, I am a SERIOUS musical theater junkie – acting, directing, playing, working on stage crew, whatever. I love ALL of it. (If you aren’t new, you already knew this!) A friend stopped me during my pre-show preparation one day because she wanted to ask me a question. This friend works with a campus ministry and we have interacted a handful of times in the past few years. She made one small disclaimer before asking her question:
“You may need to think about this and get back to me, but what needs to change in churches to make our “arts” kids feel more welcome?”
The thing is, I didn’t need to think about it. Not even for a moment.
“A passion and talent for the performing arts is a part of the divine fingerprint. We need to stop treating musicians and actors as though their passion – in some cases a lifelong passion – is something they should and will eventually outgrow.”
I explained further and after chewing on it for a few more days, I’m sharing my thoughts here.
My passion for the theater is not a phase I’m going through. It’s not something I will eventually get over or outgrow. I am the truest form of me that you can possibly know when I am in the throes of the latest production. The only other venue that comes close is singing or playing the piano. And I want those things to be done well. Very well. Excellently even. But many churches do not include any kind of drama in their services on any kind of regular basis. And just as many churches don’t give much thought or preparation to the music that is included in the Sunday morning gathering. When someone like me questions it, I usually get the same answer. “We’re doing it for Jesus. That’s what matters. It doesn’t have to be amazing.”
That attitude breaks my heart. And I have a sneaking suspicion it breaks the heart of God as well. Cain brought less than his best and God wouldn’t accept it. In I Chronicles 9:33 we read “Those who were musicians, heads of Levite families, stayed in the rooms of the temple and were exempt from other duties because they were responsible for the work day and night.” Just let that simmer in your brain for a minute. High quality music in the temple was such a high priority that musicians were appointed from the Levites, the tribe of the priesthood, and their ONLY job was to prepare said music. Compare that with the attitude found in many churches today where we just wing it and expect God to accept whatever happens regardless of whether or not it was our very best.
I am very aware that this sounds like a rant. But maybe . . . just maybe . . . the time that I spend in performing arts events with the youth – in middle school through college – in our community is just so I can show them that there ARE people like me in churches. People who value the performing arts and want to see them done excellently as a part of the weekly gathering of the body. And maybe . . . just maybe . . . I’ll help some in the church understand that a commitment to excellence in the arts is a calling, not just a childish hobby.