September 26, 2011 (originally posted)
O great creator of being
grant us one more hour to perform our art
and perfect our lives. ~ Jim Morrison
Go Express Yourself
Someone has said that in American culture, “self-expression has become the new entertainment.”
This observation may be spot-on largely because it’s become so easy to express yourself with the explosion of digital media tools and social media venues.
Along with the cool tools has come a revitalization of artistic sensibilities in the postmodern church where poetry, storytelling, stage design, sculpture, visual and performing arts are once again being appreciated for their power to move our faith, reveal truth, motivate action and transform character. If modernity gave us our minds, postmodernity is giving us back our souls.
So how does the church, your church, your small group, tap into this spring of creative energy? How are you inviting, encouraging and engaging the artistic gifts in your faith community and community-at-large? The enormous opportunity here is for artist expression to deepen self-awareness, understanding, empathy and connectedness to God and our neighbors.
How to Lead a Gratitude Project
Here’s a simple idea in thinking about the upcoming Thanksgiving season. Lead a transmedia Gratitude Project for your small group or church. If you’re hard-core ambitious, lead a project for your whole community. Though the term “transmedia” is used in different ways, essentially it refers to involving artistic expression across a variety of platforms and media where artists are invited to collaborate with one another around a theme or passage in order to contribute to a larger expression.
A Gratitude Project will simply invite people to reflect on and express their gratitude in a medium of their choice. What follows below are some simple guidelines, a few motivating cues and a schedule for submissions. Create a gallery area that is as simple as a segment of chain link fence on which to clip submissions or as ambitious as a multimedia venue with compelling lighting and professional curation. You can even dedicate a small group day or worship service for people to share the backstory of their “artifact.” For the grandiose, tie the art project to an urban development project, a message series, a spiritual retreat, or all of these ideas in one amazing season of grace-crazed gratitude.
So here’s the resource I created for my group. You can use the directions almost verbatim or simply as a launching off point for your own project. But go express yourself, and come back here later to post a photo of your project. We’d love to learn from your community.
THE GRATITUDE PROJECT
A transmedia project for your community
We can only be said to be alive in those moments when
our hearts are conscious of our treasures. ~ Thornton Wilder
You don’t always get what you ask for,
but you get what you get. ~ Brennan Manning
With a season of thanksgiving soon upon us, our community is invited to create artifacts of gratitude that will express thanksgiving and inspire others. By collaborating together to reflect on and explore the grace of God evident in our lives, we hope to enjoy a deeper awareness of God, a greater joy in whatever our current life provides, a closer connectedness with one another and a wider generosity to others.
So what’s an artifact of grace? An artifact could be:
- a photo or illustration
- a favorite scripture quote or quotation
- a short essay, devotional or story
- a poem or song lyric
- a video short or multimedia presentation
- a handcraft or sculpture
- a written prayer or litany (e.g. listing of blessings)
- a mixed media project
Basically, an artifact is any concrete expression or visual art that can be displayed in our room for the enjoyment of all. We call this a transmedia project because we get to explore a theme using whatever media best expresses our soul through the unique gifts God has given us.
Remember, if you can write a sentence, look up a Bible verse, say a prayer or snap a photo, you can create an artifact.
You can bring your artifacts on SUBMISSIONS DEADLINE and then we will configure everything in a display for DISPLAY DATE.
We’ll give an opportunity that day for people to tell the backstory of their artifact if they would like or you can let your art speak for itself.
CUES AND KICKSTARTERS
- Set aside 5 minutes a day to reflect on the value of all the people, provision, capacities, resources, blessings and opportunities in your present life.
- Consider the people and events in your past that have enriched your life, contributed to who you have become and the quality of life you enjoy.
- Consider the mercy and grace of God on a deeply personal level. What has God done for you? What is the value of knowing and enjoying Him? What do the gifts of faith, hope and love mean to you?
- What are you honestly not grateful for? Think and pray about how God may actually be acting for good in these difficult circumstances.
- Consider the difficult realities of the world for many others who nevertheless find joy and meaning in circumstances more deprived than yours. Reflect not on how much better you have it but how much you can learn from them about finding value in and being grateful for whatever you get.
- Watch “The Gratitude Dance”
- Watch “The Years are Short” by Gretchen Rubin
- Listen to Nicole Nordman’s “Gratitude”
- Think of ways to engage your whole family with contributions by your children and spouse.
If you decide to undertake your own transmedia gratitude project, let us know in the comments. We’d love to know about it and later see the results.