I’m really excited about the potential of this new project we are working to launch this spring. I feel like God just plopped this down in my spirit one night while praying about how to effectively communicate what I am doing and whom I seek to partner with in the city. I realized that I was not gifted in public speaking, nor in art or graphic design, so, I thought, why not enlist those who are? Here is the draft of the announcement as it stands:
Did you ever think about how God looks at St. Petersburg? What plans does He have for it? What picture does he see of its future? Let’s use our godly imagination and try to “think God’s thoughts after Him”!
Announcing a new, and totally different art competition. We are looking for artists of all kinds from all over the city, from any local church, to ask God for a picture of St. Petersburg when it has been changed by “the whole Church taking the whole Gospel to the whole city.” Any artist who can produce a visual description of this vision, working in any medium, can enter.
Top entries will be invited to an open gathering to show and explain their work in September at the Master Class over Tea. Then a team will consider and pray over the entries and announce the results in October. The winner will receive 50,000 rubles, and his/her art will be used in future materials related to citywide vision. In fact, the art will not be owned by any one ministry, but any church or ministry can use it to promote citywide vision.
- Rules and Principles
According to the competition announcement, this goal of this project is to encourage artists to seek God and His vision for the city, for a city that looks radically different because the whole church has taken the whole Gospel to the whole city. What do we mean by this phrase?
The whole Church. If someone asked you how many churches are in St. Petersburg, what would your answer be? Even though there are hundreds of local expressions, there is actually only one Church. The Church is comprised of all who call on the name of Jesus, whether Orthodox, Catholic, or Protestant, who are saved by faith in His death and resurrection for our sins. So the Church is a broad concept, but also narrow, since it does not include non-Christians and even pseudo-Christians who do not trust in Jesus alone for salvation. Beyond just denominational questions, the whole Church includes its spiritual functions (citywide prayer and worship, and developing a theology of the city Church), soul functions (strategy, planning, and organizational questions), and practical (all forms of ministry and evangelism in the community, and leadership development).
The whole Gospel. Is the Gospel just about fire insurance from Hell? If so, then why do we pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven? If so, then why did Jesus talk primarily about building His Father’s Kingdom? Why Should not the whole Gospel impact not only our spiritual condition, but also our souls, and bodies (including practical life)? Should it not impact the social, economic, and productive capacities of society?
The whole city. What would it look like if people recognized the lordship of Christ not only in their personal lives, but also in every sphere of life? Why did Jesus teach us to pray, “on earth as it is in heaven”? What part of the city should NOT be touched by the Gospel? What if Christians took leadership in their sphere of influence, such as the “7 Mountains of Society” – business, government, arts/media, science/technology, education, family, and religion? What if the Wisdom of Christ were ringing loudly in the gates (where decisions are made), the high places (where worldview and modern idolatry are cultivated), and in the paths (where people gather together to renew their relationships) as Pr. 8:1-2 teaches?
Some points specific to St. Petersburg and/or Russia. Every society has strengths and weaknesses, which is to say aspects that reflect God’s character, and aspects that oppose His ways. Many consider that a key issue in Russia is called an “orphan spirit” which is directly related to the fact that Russia is near the bottom in statistics related to:
- orphans and orphanages
- sex trafficking
- alcohol and drug use
If this thesis is true, that Russia suffers from an orphan spirit, then its opposite is the need to receive God as Father as a key to how the Gospel needs to speak to the nation.
St. Petersburg has long been considered the cultural capital of Russia, and so this is one reason we are excited about this competition as a means of encouraging artists to consider God’s history in this city and how that relates to its future.