Friday, May 30, 2008

T Minus 3: July 30, 1996


This is the first letter that I wrote to Hope Chapel's congregation about a possible arts ministry. It's funny. I was 24 when I wrote it, which in some societies is old, in others still young. I'm struck by a tone of earnestness. I was. Very. I had no idea what I was doing or what I supposed to be doing.
And I hate to say it but I'm consistently embarrassed by a streak of melodrama I detect in things I wrote during my 20s. I was a very passionate guy. Too much unharnassed passion flying all over the place; metaphors blundering through sentences. I remember feeling desperate for mentors. I needed help. But where was I supposed to look? Who else had built an arts ministry from mostly zero? Mind you, this is still the era of early Internethood usage. So it's not like I hung out in googleland, surfing for the kindred. I got pamphlets in the mail, that's what I got. And "phone trees."
I guess I did the best I could with what I had, which was to cobble together a plan from disparate sources: theology, biblical studies, writings by artists such as L'Engle and Wolterstorff, organizational management (woefully underprepared there), spiritual theology, and a smattering of philosophy: in short, all the courses I took my first year at Regent College.
Oh well. I had to begin somewhere, and let my younger self be young.

At least I had one thing right: to begin with prayer.
This is what resulted.
July 30, 1996

Dear so-and-so,

What we are attempting to do here at Hope Chapel, i.e. develop a viable, long-term arts program, is, I believe, one of those things that Jesus said would not come about except by prayer and fasting. The challenges we face are formidable and our Enemy would rather see us founder upon the rocks of selfishness and frustration than achieve any progress towards the integration of the arts into our community life. But on our knees in humility before God, the Spirit of God is freed to effect the work he has already begun in our midst.
With this in mind, we want to dedicate the month of August to a purposeful period of prayer and fasting for the arts at Hope. These are four NEEDS that confront us in the immediate future:

1) Need for a Vision: to guide and inspire. Where there is no vision, the people perish. But with a vision, the people prosper. We have direction, we have clarity, and we have purpose.

2) Need for Community: in harmony and unity. Creativity is fully realized only in community--with the Trinity, with others, and with nature. Indeed, we were created to be in community. God calls us into community to serve and to love it and to bless it with the works of art we make with our hands, minds, voices and bodies. We cannot do it alone. We need each other.

3) Need for a Model: as infrastructure and integrating mechanism. The model must fit Hope Chapel, its larger vision and purpose. Like Goldilocks, it can’t be too big nor too small but just right. It needs to be an infrastructure that could best facilitate the integration of the arts into Hope Chapel. Without a model, we remain haphazard and rudderless. With it, we gain focus and stability.

4) Need for a Team of Shepherds: to shepherd the arts and artists of Hope Chapel. We need a group of men and women who are wise, discerning and good at listening--to both God and fellow artist. A team that would serve a mediating function between the leadership at Hope and the community of artists within Hope. Shepherds that would tend the arts and care for the needs of the artists. Shepherds with a heart to serve.

To this end, please set apart a significant portion of your month to intercede and fast on behalf of the arts and artists at Hope: for wisdom, clarity and insight, and for an obedient spirit to join the larger movement of God in our city, nation and world.

Thanks!

David Taylor

1 comment:

ceciliabrie said...

$1K says that letter was printed on Ivory paper. Nay. $1M. I have no doubt!