March 2014 | Engaging Disbelief


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Hello friends and family,

We wanted to address something directly with this newsletter because our last one garnered some responses that questioned whether we were doing a ministry that focused too much on art and not enough on God. The conclusion was that because we are not being clear about Jesus and Christianity while we move and interact in Arts circles, we are not really ministering. Below is part of an letter I (Kirk) wrote in response to this thinking:

I can assure you that we have not renounced Jesus, or walked a path away from him in any way. We still minister in his name and wish to see more and more artists and people connected to the arts come to know him. What you may be having trouble with is the methods we sometimes use. Please remember that Sarah and I are often moving in circles where there are people who have no interest in Jesus or are even hostile towards anything Christian. There are several ways to engage that community.

One way is to just walk away from that group and consign them to the enemy. After all, the Art World has been dominated by dark thinking for a long long time. The predominant way that the Church (I am talking the universal Church here) would minister to this group would be from the outside—by calling them to repentance, pointing out their wrongs and clearly stating the complete and powerful Gospel.

The second way to engage this group would be to actually live among them and be, as University of Virginia Sociologist James D Hunter has calls, “faithfully present”. This requires more silence, more learning, and more earning of trust than engaging from the outside. People in the Art World have no reason to trust anyone from the Church because the Church has been so long outside of the “art world”.

A significant passage I have wrestled with in regards to this issue has been Matthew 13 where Jesus tells the story of the parable of the sower. After he tells the parable, his disciples ask him why he’s telling stories—maybe he wasn’t being clear enough, or maybe he wasn’t taking advantage of his position and influence? In any case he was not doing ministry the way the disciples thought he should be. And what was his response? “This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” In our day and age the Church in the United Sates seems to have had a hard time with this line of thought—the idea that Jesus doesn’t want someone to see, hear or understand.

Ministering the way we do sometimes will be hard to see, hear, and understand. But we try our darnedest to be as clear as possible with our intention to declare the gospel when we write to our supporters—bearing in mind that some of the very artists we minister to are also reading our letters.

Another place for you all to hear what our mind-set is while ministering is to listen online. Go to: http://gospelneighboring.com/kirkirwin/—to hear an interview I did about working with artists. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at kirk.irwin@cru.org. Thank you all for your continued prayers and support of our desire to follow the Rabbi from Nazareth.


Please pray:

  • that we would find a house—still pursuing the same house for 9 months and counting.
  • for the details of a local summer ministry project we are working on.
  • for wisdom as we look to develop other events and programs for the coming year that engage people artfully and thoughtfully.

update(s):

  • currently working through the Mission, and Values of Friday Arts Project(we’ve hammered down the Vision!) thanks for the prayers.

Blessings-

 Sarah and Kirk


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