Monday, May 23, 2005

Designer Faith

I know how the title sounds, but don’t be misled. Here’s the thought. This month’s issue of Fast Company is all about the power of design. Design being an emphasis not just on function, but on form – on the experience of using a product/service. It’s an issue all about intentionality and coming up with creative, elegant, and new solutions to killer problems. I found lots of great articles in the issue; it is very stimulating.

But then I have to keep asking – how does this apply to church (particularly as regards the ongoing house church conversation). Do we have designer church where we try to tailor everything to the needs of “consumers” of spiritual goods – and we’re measured in our effectiveness by their willingness to return. Do we need to market ourselves effectively and provide engaging experiences that will tickle their fancy?

I think not.

The church isn’t an organization to be marketed – it is the congregation of the people of God – people who have responded to the inner call of the Holy Spirit to come and worship Jesus Christ as King. You don’t market that – you don’t manufacture that – you simply live it.

That said, I think it equally wrong that we ignore design and intentionality. God gave us a multiplicity of gifts, talents and skills. God called us together as a people, and God intends to use us for the advancement of his kingdom. Therefore we have to listen to one another, encourage one another’s gifts, and help one another be used by God. Some will have an eye for great design, and God will be most glorified in their using those gifts to create an environment where He is truly praised. We need to expand our thinking on how God is glorified in our activity. When we realize that any activity that is not sinful can be used as an instrument of praise, then we’re close.

Brother Lawrence understood this – he was a monk who wrote The Practice of the Presence of God. He worked in the kitchens, and used his cooking, cleaning (and messing up) as an opportunity to be in continual prayer. What would it be like if we developed a designer faith that expressed itself in continual prayer over whatever we’re doing at the moment:

Mowing the yard: Lord, let the beauty of this place bless others and bring you glory
Cooking dinner Lord, thank you for this food, help us to be content with your provision, and let it nourish us to Your service
Tucking in the children Lord, I give you praise for these children who bless me. Help me to be the parent you want me to be, and let them grow up to be your disciples

This kind of “designer faith” will also help us cut out some of those things that do little to advance God’s glory – I’m sure you can come up with your own litany of things.

Just thinking.