I am convinced that one of the biggest reasons people aren’t interested in church is that they don’t see how church engages them in the deepest levels of their identity. The way to re-engage people is to engage their imagination again. Some people lose their imagination due to rigid traditionalism sucking it out of them. Other times it happens when churches go into maintain mode…just get through it, make sure the sermon is preached and the songs are sung and the Supper is taken and everything is good. Little time gets spent on engaging the imagination.
Before you think I am just talking about fostering an attitude or culture of consumerism I want to point out that in scripture we see over and over again God capture the imagination of His people…giving them a glimpse of how things could and should be and inspiring them to live up to a new vision of reality. In scripture God does it through theophany (an encounter with the living God), through the miracles, through dreams and through imaginative teaching. In the Gospels we hear over and over that Jesus preached about the kingdom of God. Jesus was expanding people’s view on what God was up to in the world and it gave them great hope. The parables are a great example of Jesus capturing the imagination of the people and inspiring them to see life and live life in new ways. God did this with the Old Testament prophets and some of the odd tasks and symbols God had them use to get their message across. We see this in John the Baptist and the preparation he did for Christ. The list goes on and on…Once you have captured someone’s imagination they start seeing everything in new and powerful ways. That is transformative and powerful!
This is true of preaching, church events/activities, teaching, and just about everything else we do together. So start asking yourself how a given event, class you are teaching or sermon you are preaching might better engage the imagination and go from there.