As I look at the current culture and the impact that institutional Christianity has or does not have on it, I'm struck with some "odd notions".
The first is that our world is experiencing accelerating change, which in itself is a neutral thing. However, it causes a faster antiquation of new media ideas and deployments.
What this means to the Church is that, though it will never lose its core value, its perceived immediate relevance can be damaged by an outdated delivery of a message that is not core and foundational. Further, a lack of understanding of the latest use and methods of new media can well make the Church's message appear to be "last century" (which at least on its face it in fact is).
It has long been a joke in the media world that "Contemporary Christian" music uses styles that are 10 years behind the secular culture. Though this is really no longer true, as the secular culture has been in a process of deterioration for the last 10 years (sadly), its perception has remained entrenched. Contemporary Catholic music, a later media arrival, is even further behind.
Our current delivery method is in actuality speaking to the older generations, the ones still in the pews; but we've yet to learn how to speak to the younger generations in a manner that they would be interested in listening to. In a world that is increasingly noisy, wordbytes are what we have to start with. And most of our wordbytes have been negative: anti-this, anti-that... a message that falls on deaf ears, literally, in this generation that is looking for positive hope wherever they can find it.
C. S. Lewis once said that we need less Christian art and more Christian artists who are creatively expressing their art. The gist is that the Christian virtues are better spread by acting upon them in what you do rather than talking specifically about them. St. Paul says in his letter to the Phillippians: "Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think about these things."
Lastly, St. Irenaeus said in the 2rd Century: Man fully alive is the glory of God.
So, if Paul and Irenaeus and C. S. Lewis are correct, then the proper function of Christians in the arts is to be fully alive and to pursue whatever is lovely and of good report to the fullest extent of their artfulness. Only then can we expect this generation to LISTEN. This is the current challenge, and we are up to it!
copyright 2009, Robert G. Metivier