Community Among Friends and Strangers

Last night, I had the privilege to spend two powerful hours listening to a group of tremendous singer/songwriters share Truth through song. Square Peg Alliance is a group of friends who have come together to support each other through their music. They write together, travel together, play shows together, do life together. They are, in essence, the epitome of a community. The entire SPA consists of 13 artists; I was able to see 8 of them (Ben Shive, Andrew Peterson, Randall Goodgame, Jeremy Casella, Jill Phillips, Andy Gullahorn, Eric Peters, Andrew Osenga) In the words of my dear friend Harry, who also attended the concert, “That was the best 2 hours I had spent in awhile.” 

What was so powerful about this concert is that it was a glimpse into my own heart. For years now, I have wanted to initiate this type of community among artists. In fact, that was part of the reason I began this blog. Not necessarily to use it as a tool for community (though I believe the blogosphere is a unique community in and of itself), but rather to discuss and walk through the ramifications of being an artist with a huge heart for the  church within the artist community. When I say church, I’m sure many of you instantly picture the institution or the building, and rightfully so. This is the image that we, on the whole, have allowed ourselves to grow complacent with. Growing up in the church, I cannot tell you the number of times I heard the words, “The church is not the building, it’s the people.” Unfortunately, when those words are so rarely lived out, they begin to lose their significance. 

* * I should note here that during the latter years of my growing up,  I was more than blessed to be a part of church whose highest priority is missions. Second Baptist Church, Springfield has affirmed in me a deep calling to serve the Lord in capacities beyond the plaster and pews. And I am eternally grateful for the people within that church who have selflessly dedicated their lives to furthering the  Kingdom, and pushing others to do the same. 

When I speak of the church within a community of people-in this context, artists-I am referring to those who are living out the gospel through the gifts they have been given. I am a songwriter, a musician, a lead-worshipper, an artist. I firmly believe that God has gifted me with these things to fill a place in the Kingdom no one else can. And I believe that my place is significant.  In her book, “The Kiss of Heaven,” Darlene Zschech speaks about dreams and the Dream-Giver. She says (and I’m paraphrasing), that God places dreams within our hearts and He longs for us to follow them. Sadly, many of us walk away from our dreams because we’re too scared, too unprepared, not ready, _____ fill in the blank…And when we fail to pursue our dreams, we fail to pursue our God, our Dream-Giver. 

So what of my dreams? What of this deep yearning within me? What of my place in the Kingdom?

Today, I pray I will be one who is restless for the lost and reckless for the Lord. I pray that God will stir  creativity and vision within me. I pray I will not cower at the opportunity to initiate true community among both friends and strangers, but rather, that I would boldly take on the summons to stand as one who presents Truth with passion and creativity. And I encourage you to do the same. 

As a side note: Please take some time to check into the artists mentioned above. I promise they are all well worth it.

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~ by Brittany Howard on July 1, 2009.

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