The journey of faith is meant to be “interactive.”
That’s what Jesus had in mind, for example, when he instituted the practice of communion. We don’t just hear or read about Christ’s sacrifice, we participate physically in celebrating it. We touch and eat and taste the bread and wine (or grape juice).
One of the benefits that the arts operating in the church offer is the ability to facilitate “interactive” faith experiences. The arts can enable a congregation to grasp a spiritual concept through physical experience.
As part of a series on becoming Christian community, Indy Vineyard Church recently presented a message called “Weaving Community.” During the entire service–from opening announcements to closing ministry time–an artist was weaving live on-stage using material contributed by the congregation.
For about a month before the service the church announcements included an invitation to bring a strand of something about 24 inches long that had personal significance on the designated Sunday. It could be anything; fabric, guitar strings, hoses, jewelry. The day of the service the weaver set a basket labeled “Leave Something” beside her loom where people could leave their strand. Another basket labeled “Take Something” was nearby, full of odd fabric strands for people who forgot to bring theirs or for visitors to take from. The congregation brought their strands to the weaver during the musical worship, some stopping to watch as the weaver took strands from the basket and wove them in to her developing art piece.
During the message the speaker drew the congregant’s attention to the weaver to illustrate some of the elements that create an atmosphere for healthy community.
It takes proximity, being intentionally close to others in community. Congregants had to bring their strand up to the weaver and place it close to her.
Community also takes Intimacy, a willingness to be vulnerable and trust others. When the strands were placed in the weaving they were very close, having to adjust for other strands irregularities.
And healthy community has a sense of permanence (at least for a time), where you can depend on others to be there. The strands in the weaving aren’t going anywhere. Their inclusion and placement in the weaving contribute to its beauty.
And there you have the metaphor of a weaving as healthy Christian community.
Since that service the weaving has been referred to in messages several times, particularly for its odd beauty. All of the crazy strands woven together make a unique and colorful work of art that has significant meaning to the congregation because they interacted with and contributed to. They participated in the creation of a beautiful illustration of community.
The weaving will hang in the church and provide a touch point for people to remember its meaning and look for their strand, their contribution.
Do you have an example of an interactive arts project your church has done? We want to hear about it! Contribute a story at: ArtsIdeas ( at ) TheNewR.org