Godspell Reflections- Part 2
I just packed up all the Godspell scripts and scores to ship back to Theatre Maximus. On April 3, I shared some of my reflections about the cast, crew, and others whose creativity and energy propelled this project forward. Today, I want to put on my discipleship pastor hat and look at some of the reasons this fell under the discipleship category.
First disclaimer. I love small groups. They will always be my first love and primary focus. However, it takes several months for any sense of community to develop within a small group (unless it's out in the community serving or doing a lot of between-meeting stuff together). There are two unique experiences I've had that catalyze community like nothing else I've ever seen-- going on a mission trip and being in a cast. For some reason, those two experiences throw you into an intense level of community. I think it's due to the fact that both missions and working creatively together force you past the superficial places in relationships, stretch you beyond your comfort level and into areas of raw emotions, and require a level of transparency and authenticity that goes beyond the day-to-day. Also, for a missions trip or a show to be successful, you are forced to rely on one another. There's a level of interdependence that is often not known in other relational spaces.
Godspell created a community of actors, designers, musicians, dancers, ushers, etc. that grew to love one another, encourage one another, challenge one another, pray for one another...all those "one anothering" commands we see in Scripture.
How was it a vehicle for discipleship? At NCC, we believe that any interest, passion, or gift can be used by God as a discipleship opportunity. God can take our skills and spheres of influence and turn them into disciple-making places. We call it the Free Market System. I've seen this work over and over again-- from Fantasy Baseball to sign language to health and nutrition-- people coming together in community around a shared interest but then growing one step closer in their relationship with Christ through the process. So, in theory, I knew this Godspell thing could be a disciple-making effort, as well. The discipleship potential of Godspell went beyond what I thought was possible.
In NCC world, we define a fully devoted follower of Christ using the words Seeker, Learner, Influencer, and Investor. Here's how this happened with Godspell:
Seeker- our cast and crew prayed for one another. They sought God as they developed their characters. They worshiped. They took communion together. They tapped into that "spiritual" side of their faith journeys and grew closer to God at the heart level.
Learner- the cast memorized massive amounts of Scripture for the show. The dialogue is lifted straight from the book of Matthew, so they learned verses, the structure and themes of the book, and the tone and message. They had to dig into the Scriptures to understand the meaning of the words in order to deliver them properly. They had to discover the history and culture of the book-- exegetical work. Then they had to ask "What does this mean to us today?"-- hermeneutical work.
Influencer- as I've already mentioned, these guys developed a sense of community in 3 months that is rare in small groups. But they also became influencers evangelistically, and they invited families, neighbors, co-workers, and friends to see Godspell. Some of them came to hear the Gospel for the first time. Some of them heard the Gospel for the first time in a language they could understand. I'm not advocating using the arts as an evangelistic tool. That's how you get bad art and shallow theology. Rather, I am suggesting that the arts can be probe for exploring the questions of life, a vehicle for communicating truth, and a catalyst for personal and community transformation.
Investor- this one's easy. These guys all invested their finances, time, energy, and talent to this endeavor.
Godspell is over, but we aren't done. Our director, Kacey McGowan, is re-launching Stage Left, a discipleship and training ground for artists.
My encouragement to pastors is this-- give your artists a platform. Yes, I know-- it's a big risk and they are sometimes difficult people. But they can speak prophetically into your church and community. Not to mention into your own life. Love them, encourage them, equip them, and unleash them.