The economy of grace overflows with the unuseful.
– Andy Crouch
Richard Dahlstrom, pastor of Bethany Community church, has spent much of his time in ministry as an advocate for a Christian understanding of creation care. In a recent conversation, he communicated his wife’s perspective on environmentalism as a “theology of encounter.” Here’s how it works: when we experience the wonder of God’s creation, our primary response is often delight, and delight then leads to stewardship. Too often, the experience of delight is passed over for utilitarianism. The command to “fill the earth and subdue it” is theologically misunderstood as usefulness at best, or dominion at worst. God’s Creation should shape us, and we should care for and cultivate this Creation.
Artists have a unique opportunity to speak into our church communities as “noticers” – those who teach us how to delight in creation; and how to view our encounters with God’s world as spiritually formative. Andy Crouch explores the ideas of delight and cultivation in his understanding of Culture Care.
“The trees of the garden are not just good for something. They are good simply in the beholding. They are beautiful.” Artists notice. And then they care for culture. They can teach us how to walk in this theology of encounter.
The entirety of Andy Crouch’s chapter, “The Gospel” is linked here. Take some time to read the chapter, and return here for reflection questions.
- Are you a “noticer?” What does this look like in your day-to-day life?
- How does your delight in God’s world translate to your own artmaking or pastoral ministry?
- How might a “theology of encounter” translate into a liturgical or congregational context? What could this look like in your church?
- Artists and Liaisons: spend some time brainstorming about ways that your artist can lead well in Wonder by delighting in and cultivating God’s creation in your church life.