Posted by David Lindner on 10 February 2015

It is no coincidence that Paul used the illustration of a human body to describe the spiritual body of Christ. It was not merely an illustration to explain the role that we each play in our church body. It was also illustrating that the gathered body of Christ is a representation of our Creator.

The gathered body. The church community to which you belong is a body. It is being assembled by God to be a cohesive unit designed to bring Him glory. God has already gathered and will continue to gather people in your church for the purpose of bringing more glory to Himself. This is God’s right. He created it all. He has been gracious to let us enjoy His creation, and has provided His own son for our salvation - He gets to make things all about Him- self.

This gathered body that you are a part of is a unique expression of God. This body is not just for God’s glory, it is also being created for God’s purpose. God made His purpose clear when Jesus went back to be with the Father: ‘go into the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’

Your gathered body exists to make disciples. Making disciples begins with someone who doesn’t know God, coming into a faith relationship with their Creator. This is the purpose of your gathered body. Your gathered body exists to bring more people into the Kingdom of God so that they too may bring glory to their Creator with their lives.

So, it is imperative that we have a voice in our community. It is imperative that we know how to communicate with the people God has put around us. We must speak their language. Just like a missionary would study the culture they are being sent into, we must study the culture of our community and learn to speak its language. The cultural language of Portland, Oregon is very different from the cultural language of Paducah, Kentucky.

What is the cultural language of your community? Whatever it is, we have to learn it. That means we have to apply our creativity to the process. We have be creative in how we discover it. We have to be creative in how we engage it. Creativity is the image we were made in. Creativity is the language of culture. Creator God made us in His image, therefore, one of our highest forms of communication is through the means of creativity.

We have a role to play in creating art for our community. We have to create for them because we are them. It is not the job of artists in Nashville, TN to create art for your community. It is their job to create art for their gathered bodies. Does that mean the art doesn’t translate? No. But it doesn’t always translate into your culture, and if you aren’t aware of that you could be in danger of speaking Mandarin to a Hispanic community.

We have to create for them because we are them. We share the same water supply and roadways. But we have something they don’t yet have - a relationship with our Creator. They don’t know that God created them magnificently for His purposes and glory. But we do. We know He created us that way and that He has ultimately created everyone that way.

This is why we have to create for them. We have to, as those who speak the language of the locals, create with all the creativity God has placed in us. It is through this expression that we will be able to have the greatest impact on their lives.

But, there’s a problem. Our massively connected world is pushing us in the opposite direction. It’s not just our mass-produced products that are pushing us in this way, though that makes a difference too. Before music was able to be distributed on a global scale, it was very closely tied to the culture of the community. You can see this when you study music history. The music varies from culture to culture. There are different instruments, different scales, different chord structures and harmony patterns.

This is not the case anymore. It is to an extent, but it’s fading fast. Rock sounds more like country than Rock. Pop, R&B, Jazz, Folk - it’s all devolving into a similar sounding style. This is what happens when you mass produce art. People who used to like real country start being forced to listen to rock country. In essence their language was stolen from them and is being held captive by profiteering conglomerates around the world.

What we need is a creation emancipation. I know it’s a burdensome title. That’s by design. This is a serious issue. The church has lost its voice and we need to find it again.

Don’t hear me wrong and dismiss what I’m saying. I don’t have a moral or theological problem with Chris Tomlin & Paul Baloche. I’ve done a ton of their music over their years. And while I don’t know them personally, I have read Paul’s book, and I know that he would say we are missing something if we only do his music. You have a song to write for your gathered body and the community your body has been placed in. It’s a song they need to hear. It’s a song only you can write. It’s a song that even the best songwriter couldn’t write from the outside. It’s your song to write because you’re on the inside.

We need you and your gathered community to step up and start taking responsibility for setting free the creative voice of your community. And I firmly believe that those of us who do this will find a deeply rooted channel of influence into the life and eternal direction of our community.

However, to do this, we have a lot of work to do. We can’t cling to outmoded forms of communication. It’s hard to speak in Shakespearean English to a generation raised on texting. As poetic as whithersoever thou goest may be, it will not translate to someone who speaks chatspeak. You can try to make it work, but LOLth just isn’t going to get you very far. FWIW MWBRL.

Taken from The Creation Emancipation, available at WorshipMinistryCatalyst.com

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