“Culture is what we make of the world. Culture is, first of all, the name for our relentless, restless human effort to take the world as it’s given to us and make something else; to make sense of the wonder and terror of the world is the original human occupation… This is the human story and the Christian belief is this was always meant to be our story. It’s what we were meant to do – make something of the world in the Creator’s name.” –Andy Crouch
The experiment which is Convergence began with a core set of questions and objectives. Over the years we have tested many ideas in our “laboratory” environment and have sought to share all we learn as broadly as possible through speaking engagements, consulting, our VergeNow.org website, books, podcasts and videos. Who we are continues to evolve as we follow God’s lead in this exploratory journey.
This core remains at the heart of Convergence today.
OUR CORE QUESTIONS:
- How can we help re-make a broken culture?
- How do we awaken a passion for spiritually vibrant culture creation in artists and makers and equip them to embrace a calling to contemplative leadership?
- How do we help faith communities reclaim a vibrant spiritual imagination and a passion for the cultural mandate to actively “make our world?”
- Step 1: Create a local faith community committed to “living into” the core questions and modeling a healthy relationship between a church and the arts community.
- Step 2: Cultivate thoughtful, disciplined and spiritually-engaged artists, creators and makers to be who they were created to be; do what they were created to do and make what they were created to make. As many as possible! Wherever possible!
Step 3: Help churches reclaim the “Cultural Mandate” and develop a vibrant spiritual imagination and a passion for “making our world” through media creation, published resources, workshops and retreats.
*These questions and strategy were the original ground on which Convergence was built in 2007. In 2017, as part of our 10 year anniversary, Jay Smith, Dan ABH and Lisa Smith revisited these and refined the language based on our experiences serving at Convergence. At that time, we also re-wrote our values statement and the description of our church as a “Collective.” The first part of our mission statement: “To live out the way of Jesus as an imaginative people engaged in whole life worship, authentic community” was the original mission statement. In 2018 we added: “and culture creation. Our collective is committed to ongoing shared spiritual disciplines, artistic practice and whole-life worship.”
In 2006 Lisa Cole Smith an actor, director and seminary student was invited by the trustees of the Fair-Park Baptist Church re-start project to submit a proposal for an experimental new church. Through her own experiences, reading and consulting opportunities she perceived a disconnect between churches and the arts and believed in the possibility for great synergy if the two were to connect on common ground.
Churches have been faced with the challenge of ministering to a diverse community of believers and seekers at a time when the form of how we “do” church is in question. Many churches see the value and need for incorporating the arts in worship and ministry yet lack the resources and training to do so. Ministers and worship leaders are hungry for ideas that are effective in stimulating the congregation and easily integrated into their own church culture.
At the same time, artists engage the transcendent and prophetic on a daily basis. They often have an innately prophetic and visionary sensibility, yet are seldom recognized and sought out as essential contributors within civic and faith communities. Many Christians in the arts find it difficult to integrate their artistic work and their Christian identity. Few communities support and encourage the arts as part of spiritual life, theology and reflection. Outside the church, artists have few opportunities within which to develop personal discipline, spiritual mentorship and be connected to a wider community.
These observations mirrored Lisa’s own experience as an artist and Christian and her longing to integrate the two. The proposal she submitted to the trustees reflected a desire to explore what would happen if these two worlds were to converge. What would happen at the intersection of art, faith and the human experience?
Over the last fourteen years we have created space to observe this intersection, to dream of what is possible and research how we might best serve in this movement. Lisa writes: “I felt called to create space where people like me could experience encouragement, development and validation in convergence of our artistic and spiritual lives. It was to create a community where people are challenged to fully be who they were created to be while helping artists and faith communities re-engage in conversation.”
Convergence believes that by encouraging creative voices we will find creative solutions to the challenges that face local churches and our world. By opening our doors to local artists and arts organizations and creating a forum for public dialogue on faith and cultural issues we believe we will be better equipped to meet current and future challenges. We want to encourage more churches to do this so we no longer feel the need to “catch up” or battle culture and so that artists have a truly valued place in society; neither celebrity nor misfit, but humble contributors with a credible voice. We hope this creative convergence will promote a society whose culture reflects the deep spiritual and existential concerns of all people and promotes the human experience as one dedicated to higher purposes.