Do you tend to think of the spiritual life more like a museum or an artist’s studio? Why?
Mark Scandrette, Practicing the Way of Jesus, page 53
Recently, I accompanied a group of adults that were given a private tour of a well-respected art gallery. The tour guide started our session with a few simple instructions and then led us speedily through the gallery stopping occasionally to highlight some of the works we were seeing. Together we saw a well-curated collection of beautiful pieces that were well preserved and presented.
The thing was, when one of our group members accidently stood too close to the wall, not one but two gallery people asked the person to step away from the wall. It wasn’t said rudely but it was said loudly enough that as a member of the group it felt awkward… and a little shaming. A while later, two people from the group quietly shared a few thoughts about one of the pieces of art. The tour guide asked, in a somewhat dishonouring tone, “Are you interested in hearing what I am saying or not?”
I couldn’t help but wonder how often people experience church like an art museum. The content is a masterpiece, the great story of God’s love, and yet, does it feel like we put it behind glass? Do we require people to behave a certain way or be quiet before we can share this story with them? Do our churches feel neat and tidy and out of reach of the average person?
By contrast, the artists’ studios and outdoor landscapes that many of the works would have been created in were likely messy and disorderly. Artists’ studios are full of starts and stops, inspiration and perspiration, joys and frustrations. They can be chaotic and places of transformation.
A few years ago, my imagination was sparked when I read the question, “Do you tend to think of the spiritual life more like a museum or an artist’s studio?” I invite you to consider, is your church more like an art museum or an artist’s studio?