The Extra Mile Update // It’s Not About the Building


I remember reading something in college that changed my perspective forever. As any young Bible college student would do (I was at Moody Bible Institute in downtown Chicago), I spent my days and nights immersed in all sorts of reading—both the safe and the controversial—and I would regularly stay up with the guys ’til the wee hours of the morning debating theology (you know, just normal cool kid stuff). One of my debating buddies introduced me to a thinker named Francis Schaeffer, and it took me a few months to devour his catalogue and resurface. Schaeffer was famous for presupposing God into any and all conversations:

“‎People have presuppositions... By ‘presuppositions’ we mean the basic way that an individual looks at life- his worldview. The grid through which he sees the world. Presuppositions rest upon that which a person considers to be the truth of what exists. A person’s presuppositions provide the basis for their values—and therefore the basis for their decisions.”

But what I loved most is that he talked critically about what it meant to be a Christian in culture and the arts. He had a lot to say about what a Christian’s art should look like.

For example, chew on these:

“The Christian is the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars.”

“A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God, not just as tracts, mind you, but as things of beauty to the praise of God. An art work can be a doxology in itself.”

“Christian art is the expression of the whole life of the whole person as a Christian. What a Christian portrays in his art is the totality of life. Art is not to be solely a vehicle for some sort of self-conscious evangelism.”

As a young man, Francis Schaeffer helped shape my thoughts on culture and the arts. He helped build a bridge between the things I believed and the music, film, and art that I enjoyed. Most of all, he helped launch me into a career of singing and writing songs that are both good artistically (I hope) and theologically (I hope).

So, this new building in Lake Mary—how is it related at all? Good question…

I went to an amazing concert a couple of years ago at Madison Square Garden in NYC. The band playing had a huge—I mean HUGE—piece of fabric hung up in front of them for the entire first song. As the music built suspense, the lights behind them cast their shadows onto the fabric, making their smoky silhouettes seem 30 feet tall. It was beautiful and engaging—a chill-bump-inducing piece of art. The piece climaxed right as the second song began. The curtain dropped, revealing the band with a full string and horn section behind them. On the giant screens covering the back wall, icicles and an array of color pulsed to the rhythm of the song.

I was in awe. The truth is, I couldn’t help but worship.

Here’s the thing, though: I wasn’t worshiping the band, though they are one of my favorites. I wasn’t worshiping the production, though it was probably the best I had ever seen. In that arena, standing among 30,000 people in one of the greatest cities on the earth, I was worshiping God. Maybe others in that arena had yet to encounter the Mystery, but I knew the secret—that beauty is only beautiful because it was created by God. We can only make beautiful things because God made us in His image. In the Garden of Eden, God invited Adam to name all of the animals, and He has been inviting us to do beautiful and creative things ever since.

So, the new building… Well, it’s not about the building. It’s about doing the best we can with what we have so that others can experience God. In a broken world, where people’s experiences lead them to believe that beauty isn’t possible, we are saying it is. We are saying it through niceSERVE and the Christmas Eve offering. We are saying it through reGROUP and Summit University. We are saying it through Zach’s and Jim’s teaching and the more than 200 worship volunteers who play and sing each year. We are saying it through this new building in Lake Mary.


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Joshua Pearson