Michael Henderson, today’s guest contributor, is a visual artist and pastor in Sydney. He has a very cool project to introduce to us.
I often say that I want to help my children have space to explore God for themselves, and not just take on my views. In practice this is a challenge. Perhaps this is the biggest challenge of parenting: to enable our children to become themselves, and not just little versions of ourselves.
I think part of the answer is to be vulnerable about what I believe, and to describe to them in age appropriate terms the real journey that I have been on as I have engaged with God and he has revealed himself to me. Part of it is to not connect my love for them with them following my beliefs. And part of it is how I facilitate their exploration of God for themselves.
My new art project ‘Untitled’ goes to the heart of how I facilitate my kids’ exploration of God. It is a series of 16 paintings on aspects of the human experience of life, the beauty, mystery and struggles of this experience, using familiar events from the Bible, to enable people of any age to engage with the things of God for themselves. The paintings reveal aspects of the human experience. And they use events from the Bible to do this.
Painting may seem irrelevant in an social media era, where images come and go fast, but I believe it can create pauses in life, and offer distillations of subjects. Prose seems more direct, where paintings are more open to interpretation. A series of paintings hung in a space and invested with connected meaning has great power to get people of any age to stop, contemplate, and wrestle with the big questions of life.
And here is where my paintings take another step in facilitating this exploration of God. I often find that when I have a conversation about God, using words alone, it feels like squeezing into a cluttered room. The conversation is full of other people’s old junk and arguments, and God never feels a part of it. This series aims to give people space, both physical and mental space, like a sparsely furnished room, where they can sit and have a conversation with God and feel like they have freedom to expand into the room as they explore God.
Once these paintings are produced I plan to give them away to a non-profit organisation, one who shares my vision to provide that space to explore the things of God.
Madness? Perhaps, but this is how seriously I take this issue of giving people space to explore the things of God for themselves.
I am crowd-funding on Kickstarter to raise funds to paint them, to give them away and gather supporters for the project. On Kickstarter you can’t make donations, nor can I sell finished products. You can only purchase ‘rewards’, and they are objects that are exactly that – limited edition and exclusive objects that reward your contribution and enable you to say, “Without my part this would not have happened, I shared in the risk, I helped create it.”
If you too value this space for people of any age to explore God for themselves, and would love this opportunity for your children, I encourage you to support my campaign and share it with others.