The world is shocked and grieving over the loss of Notre Dame.
I’ve had the privilege of visiting that historic and artistic edifice along with a number of others around Europe. Every time I enter one of those buildings I think “Wow. These Christians took their art and architecture seriously.”
100 years from now, no one will visit a Crossroads building and gawk at the splendor. But this doesn’t mean we don’t want to inspire in other ways through art and experience.
The Bible tells us that we are to be in the world but not of the world. When I’m driving to work or sitting on a beach I’m in the world. If I’m giving finger gestures to someone who cut me off while driving, or longingly staring at bodies while on that beach, I’m of the world.
Art inspires, and God is the highest thing to be inspired toward. I don’t expect a local church to ever have the capital to put on a Cirque du Soleil production, but I do expect us followers of Jesus to be creating inspiring art which moves people closer to God. What could be more inspiring in the course of human history than the events surrounding Easter?
Easter is a big deal. Jesus literally, physically, and historically came back from the dead. The power of His life is why time is dated after him. The power of His life is why I and millions upon millions of others have a life that is changed. Crossroads is coming down the final stretch of our Easter preparations, and I’ve been hearing phrases like “suck drape” and “click tracks.” These are things that have been bought, rented, and created for the sole purpose of inspiring.
I don’t like that the most moving concerts and productions that people talk about have zero redemptive value. That’s why we have been spending a lot of money in preparation for Easter experiences at 12 sites, and an online presentation that will be streamed by people everywhere. It isn’t so we can appear cool or hip. It is to facilitate worship, which is an expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.
If you have ever raised your hands in the air at a concert, or screamed like a banshee and chest bumped the crazed fan next to you at football game—if you have ever let go of your inhibitions and jumped up and down in awe and wonder at a Beyoncé and Jay-Z concert (at $253 million, one of the highest grossing concert tours of 2018)—then you have worshiped. But it wasn’t likely worship of the one true God, but rather of the feel in the moment.
It’s that level of worship we want to take out of the secular arena and point at Jesus. If phenomenal music and dynamic lights paired with epic stage and emotionally moving video can help us as human beings transcend to an emotional and spiritual plane that causes joy, reverence, glorification, and the kind of abandon that causes us to eagerly spend $165 on concert tickets, then we want to use those same things to aim the glory at Jesus. He is worthy.
If Bono, Lady Gaga, and Kanye can electrify a nation with the spectacle of their concert tours, how much more should the message of the gospel capture our imaginations and set us on fire? What if instead of blowing up the airwaves dissecting the groundbreaking art and social commentary of Childish Gambino, the message of Jesus was so provocative and so exciting that what you experienced at church last weekend dominated the water cooler talk on Monday?
Is it possible to return to the days when the Church, in an effort to honor God, led culture as the most cutting edge innovators of both technology and beauty? Michelangelo was the Jay-Z of his day. It is likely he spent more time, more money, and more resources creating the Sistine Chapel than any artist before him, and all this expense and fanfare was to make God famous. I like the idea of God being famous and want to exert a lot of creative energy and financial resources towards this mission.
I know that won’t happen if all we offer our communities are the current versions of the low-tech “multimedia” worship nights that masqueraded as “teen outreach” in the church I grew up in. I did not feel the awesome power of God magnified by the triple stacked slide deck that could dissolve between a dove and a sunset. While often created with pure hearts and limited resources, those sub-par experiences told me that the church had opted out of the conversation entirely. I want to be in church environments where I engage with God with all my faculties—my mind, my body, my emotions, and my spirit.
Personally I want God to have every part of my passion. I don’t want to stand before Him one day and realize that I did way more actual worshiping at Hamilton or Pink than I did at church. I don’t want to only remember the creativity of blue men banging drums with paint splashing everywhere. I want to remember the transcendent and visceral awareness that sweeps over an entire room that has been pointed to the God-Man, Jesus, with the power to elevate lives.
Just as with Notre Dame, our facilities will someday come tumbling to the ground. But the true treasure are the lives inside who are in need of restoration. We are prepared for you and your friends to see and feel the impossible this Easter at Crossroads. We will see you then.