Been thinking about (and doing) design for many years.
On one hand I never much did it until I got out of high school. On the other hand I did it a lot even before then.
I would write songs, sit in class doodling stage sets for bands I was in (or imagined) and such.
Creativity and the pleasure I got from block party/street concerts, an “in-the-round” show my band did in Milwaukee, a little theatrical stuff during our sets, all of that was of course, creating or cooperating with others in design theory and practice.
I make stuff, design and build cigarbox/found object slide guitars and basses.
I’ve created earring and jewelry holders, book and “stuff” shelves, footstools and various other things for my wife and family.
Over time I’ve come to the conclusion every human being designs.
We imagine constructs of many kinds- how our choice of mate will look, act and be with/for us, maybe our future kids, a job, hobbies, some sort of accomplishment.
It begins in our mind- a muse seems to come, perhaps return until we choose to act on it. We find a certain joy and comfort, a sense of purpose, sometimes even a life-calling that affects and even decides our friendships, the house, apartment, forest or other place we live in or move to in order to fulfill our sense of place in the world.
As there are positives there are equally negatives with each design idea and follow-through. Certainly, there are plenty of variables in each decision for design entails choices, sometimes where we exercise either control across a spectrum. How much control? Perhaps lots, some, little or none.
I fully love my life in that I’m blessed (by God and people) who both call and allow me to design in areas that bring me great joy and a sense of a life well lived.
I also realize many people rarely if ever share such an experience. This is sad and in my view, usually avoidable.
Straight up, I believe many who claim to be Christians (genuine or not) often look to create or discover what I’d call a “designer church” experience for themselves. I mean this in the negative much like a verse in the Book of Amos speaks of a particular approach to song.
In several places the prophet is talking about a fallen, backsliding, unjust and self-interested/focused Israel who rob the poor, treat widows and orphans like rubbish and generally worship God in song but not sincerely… cuz it’s all about THEM, not Him. He says “I hate (yow!) the NOISE of your songs…” because of injustice they dump on people within their power to treat justly and with genuine care.
He further mentions those who “invent” instruments of music “like David”… but the context is clear -they are inventing both music gear and songs (as King James says it…) “for themselves”.
On one hand designing material stuff and art (songs, whatever) for myself/yourself ain’t in itself bogus. Got that! Understood!
Not everything that brings us pleasure reeks of self-centered “deity-posing”. I’m not saying we’re all playing God when we design.
What I AM saying a “designer church” may well be a train-wreck and largely a “personal kingdom-building” exercise. Worse, I am convinced plenty people in this world at core actively design their own god. Which means it’s an imaginary God -because if the God or god you design (whatever it/he/she may be) isn’t the true One… ahhhh… you got a false one. You landed in the land of idolatry. Let me simply say that may be actually be the biggest nation on earth. And it will end.
IF anything, anyone, anyOne is eternal, it won’t. That is, it has no ending.
What we ourselves design has an end. Put another way, that end is all too often ourselves.
Lots of my pre-Christ-following designs were cool. After a long time and deep thought, searching the Scriptures I still have no regrets over them.
But had I continued designing my own God, had I been bent on designing my own church congregation experience or rejecting it fairly based on my own design preferences as opposed to the core issues, the Person and baseline stuff that truly MATTERS TO HIM, well I fully expect my life would be far less satisfying.
See, satisfying the true God in accord with His true wishes as He lays them out quite plainly in His Word (The Bible) cannot be done when self-design and self-satisfaction is my real and actual quest.
Been there, done that! On occasion I still fall into such a mode.
I’ll finish this blog by stating it plainly: the real God Who IS God is the God I needed, need and follow. Demanding I get the last word in design -especially demanding a “designer church” or worse, a “designer God” of my own making is not only a miserable waste of time, effort and life -all I find in His Book and all I’ve seen in human experience brings me to the conviction that it is catastrophic.
May God give you grace to trust Jesus and His design -even when it’s other than your own. Like it or not He’s FAR better at it than we are!
As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn