Friday, March 02, 2007

The Umbrella Of Mercy

I remember teaching my Music Appreciation students about the subjectivity of art. I would always start by asking them to describe what they thought art was. Most would give examples from traditional forms of art such as paintings, sculptures, ceramics, etc. But then we would get into the discussion about other items such as chairs, tables, chalkboards, etc. Are these considered art? A great debate would ensue until we would all usually settle on the following:
ANYTHING can be considered art. Art is in the eye of the beholder.

My wife is setting beside me as I type, and I'm sure when she reads this that she'll get a good chuckle over the statement above. I mean, think of it this way. If God created us and anything is considered art then by definition, humans are all considered art (remember the old math adage a=b=c?). If that's the case then I'm sure God is the only one who appreciates this work of art (meaning me). At least I hope He does.

So what's the point of this discussion? Eric recently posted about the subjectivity of art. Eric is the Creative Arts Director at Community Christian Church in Naperville, IL (think Chicago!). Eric had me rolling with this description:
At CCC, we pretty much have a "free reign" policy on such matters. Everyone here pretty much says whatever the heck the feel like regarding someone's art. We often mock the concept of an "umbrella of mercy." We say things like "there are no bad ideas, only bad people." and one time, we shattered an umbrella, hung it in the corner, and treated it like an umbrella of mercy "shame corner" for when a bad idea was uttered. As I recall, by the end of the brainstorming session, creative types were sending themselves into the corner when bringing up an idea that falls flat.
During the creative arts meetings at Meadow Heights Church, we'll often unleash the "umbrella of mercy" before throwing out an idea. Eric's peeps take it to another level! But I love it! Make sure you read the rest of his post however, as he talks about how there are times a leader must make a decision. I love that about our church - we aren't afraid to talk about the concepts or ideas, but in the end, the leader makes the decision, and we all walk away with three things:

(1) Everyone knows the decision has been made
(2) Everyone accepts the decision and backs the leader 100%
(3) After all is said and done, we still love each other

You won't find too many environments where you can have healthy conflict, arrive at a solution that everyone agrees is the best decision at the time, and you walk away loving and respecting everyone in the process. Simply amazing.

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