Editor’s note: Today I interview author and song writer Dave Yauk with the Make Jesus Culture conference, an online, live-streaming event airing Feb. 5-18th. Hugh Whelchel will be speaking on Feb. 5th from 9:30 – 11:00 am MST/11:30 – 1 pm EST on “Truth in Commerce.” The focus of the conference is to inspire the church to reclaim its role in fostering creativity in the body of Christ and in all of culture.
KB: What is the Make Jesus Culture conference?
Dave: Great thinkers like Francis Schaeffer and Abraham Kuyper truly grasped that Christ “fills all things.” They surveyed the landscape of the culture we live in and saw education, the media/arts, family, church, technology, government, and business as being intricately linked with gospel realities.
Unfortunately, one of the current struggles of the local church has been to neglect its role in helping to form all of culture. In many ways, we seem to have outsourced most everything except sermons and sacraments. Education has been sent to seminaries, business formation to Business Week and Harvard Business Review, counseling is now done in firms rather than in community, creativity and the arts are now reserved for galleries and production houses, authorship to publishing conglomerates, and on and on and on.
There is nothing that can holistically form the character and craft the Christlikeness of an individual or a community like a family, a meal, and a local church. The aforementioned factors are all essential to building businesses, training minds, and refining talents that bring about gospel realities in culture. It’s imperative that “Who we are” and “what we make” are pastorally-shaped and parented, pastorally learned, and contextually applied.
Our vision with this conference is to see invention, creativity, and all of culture formation begin to move back into the local church. We want to connect content to context once again so that believers everywhere gain an ever-increasing kingdom perspective and a priestly and pastoral heart toward all their work and play.
KB: What motivated you to do something like this?
Dave: Let me share a brief story that may help to answer this question. When I was in Uganda16 years ago, touring with a band and sharing the gospel, we often would travel deep into the jungles. I remember walking into one of the deep back-woods churches, and hearing them singing nothing but Hillsong songs. Something in this scenario lacked the true cultivation of both the heart and culture of Africa. When I asked them to sing songs that reflected the heritage and lineage of Jesus in their culture—songs that were familiar to the African voice and heritage—the spirit of that local church changed significantly. I began to hear God’s kingdom creativity in and through Africa.
There’s a need to walk alongside churches and help equip them to produce their own culturally-enriching products, rather than only be passive consumers of creativity. Our conference will seek to mobilize projects in visual art, writing, music, film, performance, invention, technology, business, education, and more.
KB: Conferences sometimes struggle in that they put so much time into the event itself, they aren’t able to invest in good follow-up. Will your conference address this issue?
Dave: Yes, along with the conference, we are releasing teams to help form “Circles” of innovation in local communities, and we’ve built a web-based application believers will be able to log in to and use to network and market their local work. It releases at the conference. We’ve also connected with top-tier industry professionals and services in software development that can help local innovators take their ideas and give them all the resources they need to launch.
KB: What is your big-picture goal in all of this?
Dave: Suffice it to say, the answer to this may not seem to relate to creativity at all.
Did you know that the name for the Christian church service up until the early 4th century was the “Lord’s Supper”? The Supper was not a moment in the service, but the entire event—a full meal. At the meal, there was teaching, eating, and creating—in a circle. It was a place where true gospel proclamation, a visual display of the kingdom, and the priesthood of the believer collided. At the Lord’s meal.
The Lord’s Meal was a paradigm, not a model, that the Lord implemented in order to see that his family would survive and thrive in any time, in any place, and in any circumstance. Our current models for “church” are at best timely, but I’m not so sure they’re timeless. With our big corporate church structures, it grows increasingly easier for the world to tear us apart; assuming that the violent persecution we often talk about becomes reality (as it already is reality in most parts of the world). The family, the home, and the meal seem the best ways to cultivate a spiritually supportive community, as well as multiply creativity and theological growth when things get darkest.
Our goal is to see churches thrive in the darkest of times. We want to see Circles form in communities, and that people would return to the simplicity of eating and remembering the Lord together. We pray, that from this, creativity, invention, entrepreneurship, and tangible gospel solutions will explode. Many of our conference speakers will further address what this looks like at the conference.
KB: How can people participate in the conference?
Dave: Well first, go to www.makejesusculture.com, and register. It’s $60 for a one-week access pass or $99 if you want to have access to the archive and resources forever. We’d also encourage you afterward to start a Circle, register your project in our marketplace software for resourcing, join one of our global projects at The Worship Ministry Catalyst, or benefit from the countless creative endeavors created just for the local church at www.gardencityproject.com.