Session 3 of Day 1 featured Dan Kimball, author of They Like Jesus, But They Don’t Like The Church. Dan talked about a great number of things he found when he got outside of what he terms, “The Christian Subculture Bubble.” That was followed by a panel discussion of what the church really needs to do to reach the emerging generation. It was a fascinating discussion, and something that I think people in the technical arts really have a lot to contribute to.

Because the current generation is so media-savvy, they have come to expect a certain level of production excellence. On the other hand, Dan asked the question, “Are we creating an “American Idol’ worship experience?” As always, too much of a good thing is bad for you. If we go overboard with technology and make it the end in itself, the emerging generation (and probably even those in the pews today) will leave because it’s not authentic, nor does it meet any real needs—other than the desire to be entertained.

Which leads to my favorite part of the day, the evening service. While not technically part of the Arts conference, we were all invited back to the regular Wednesday night service. Regular is probably not a good descriptor; worship was lead by The David Crowder Band, and Donald Miller (author of Blue Like Jazz among others) spoke. It was a great service.

The gist of Don’s message was that we all live in stories. We love stories. In fact, the Bible is made up of stories that are so well written and so engaging they are on a whole other plane than what we write. What struck me is that we as the Church need to get better at telling engaging stories. Too often the message is “Turn or Burn,” which when viewed from the outside (strike that, from any angle, really) is not that attractive or engaging. Jesus gave us the words of life, and He gave them to us in stories. We have at our disposal the ability to use film (OK, video), drama and other immersive experiences to convey those stories to the next generation. How well are we doing?

More to come…