Let's Talk Alternatives: Embracing Counter-Cultural Hobbies and Entertainment
When I first surrendered my life to Christ, I went through this season of figuring out what I like to do. As someone who was coming out of a lifestyle of parties, pre-gaming, and kickbacks, I didn’t know what fun looked like outside of that. I really liked to enjoy myself, but I wanted to honor Him while doing it. So, I asked God for alternatives. Fun things I could do on a Friday and Saturday night. In that time He began to show me a series of Christian concerts, poetry nights, movies and music I actually liked. And years later I'm fortunate to be able to still find different avenues of entertainment and enjoyment.
This new found enjoyment is not what we traditionally think we can experience when we come to Christ. Sometimes we think our hobbies will become stale because they aren’t what everyone else is doing. For some people that could be their life, but it doesn’t have to be. If you like comedy, poetry slams, and movies it doesn’t have to stop, it just shouldn’t include compromise. God gives us these outlets, not to be perverted by worldly influence, but to bring Him glory.
There are young believers who would flood these types of options had they knew it was one. The world is so active with destructive ways to fill idle time. However, for those who are looking for something counter-cultural and God honoring, there are options out there. Options you can enjoy and that are full of purpose, one of which I want to introduce to you today. Joining us today are Cornell and JoShauna, 2/5 of the Dear Poetry team, located in Columbus, Oh.
1) What is the mission behind Dear Poetry?
Cornell: To understand Dear Poetry is to understand a well written intimate love letter. Letters are the most intimate way of letting someone know that you really care about them. Letters take time, patience, innovation, and dedication. Dear Poetry is dedicated in helping creatives realize that they don’t need permission to walk in their purpose! We are very intimate in our approach to helping others come alive and thrive toward success. Written letters are normally made from the posture of the heart. In other words, we help creatives present “Art that comes from the heart”. Creatives present love letters to the audience through acumen/talent/presentation/performance. We believe every life is a story that many will read! Our mission is to bring unity and restoration to communities all over the world through the power of love, creativity, and innovation.
2) How did you come up with the concept of Joy Night?
Cornell: Joy night concept was created by my dad back in his youth. He attracted large amounts of youth! It was shut down due to a major crowd of much older people not being receptive to it. Major organizations did not want their young folks being apart of it and so they worked together to shut him down. My dad shared this story with me when I was in my teens. After, I gave my life to Jesus at 18. The Lord spoke to me and said, I'm going to use you to restore this ministry (Joy Night). Joy Night was re birthed through Dear Poetry at age 27 in 2015!
3) What is your experience with Christian alternatives and how would you like to see it evolve in the next couple of years? (This could be plays, movies, etc)
JoShauna: My experience with Christian alternatives in the past has been utterly disappointing to be completely honest. They usually have fallen into one of three categories: corny, cheap, or contaminated. I've noticed a trend where Christian alternatives (events, movies, plays, etc) have been super cheesy, low quality/low budget, or just plain CARNAL with a small sprinkle of "Christianity". My prayer and hope is that there will be an emergence, a revolution of alternatives that are done in excellence, genuinely enjoyable, and authentically Christian, void of compromise, not conforming to the world, and truly exalting/glorifying Jesus. I really don't get why some Christians think otherwise, but following Christ is actually fun! We don't have to imitate the world when we have the mind and spirit of the One Who created all! We have access to our Father's creativity!
4) Joy night is purposed to encourage, motivate and inspire others through the arts. Could you share one of your fondest testimonies from one of the events?
JoShauna: One of my fondest testimonies from Joy Night was literally witnessing the process of a young lady coming alive! I knew she was a writer (although she was shy and tried to hide it) and I would always tell her that she has no choice but to one day share some poetry at a Joy Night. Well that day finally came! A couple others on the DP Team also saw the gold I saw in her so frequently encouraged her, and then we just decided to put her on the list one day lol. She had asked me to help her with her poem, so I eagerly said yes! When I tell you that the final product of her poem left me speechless!? Compared to what she started with, it seemed like a whole new poem! I was so so proud of her! After she shared it at Joy Night she told me, surprisingly, that she wasn't nervous like she thought she'd be, grew in confidence, and is eager to write even more! This is what we do. This is what we're about. Seeing the gold in people, developing them, and watching them truly come alive as they steward their God given gifts. This is what brings me (and the team) so much joy!
5) Any advice to artists who are looking to share their gift, but don’t have an outlet to do so?
Cornell: Come to Joy night!! J/k. My advice to them is to become the outlet. If you cannot find an outlet, create a safe place that allows your gifts to live and flow freely.
6) What’s your vision for the future of Dear Poetry and its impact in the community?
JoShauna: I see Dear Poetry being a catalyst for a revolution and revival in the arts. I see our reach and impact being expanded nationwide, lives being touched, people being set free and walking in their purpose and identity, hearts fully coming alive, artists being developed, individuals being wrecked by Love and truth, and a world being transformed by the releasing of what an army of creatives uniquely carry. This mission is so much bigger than us. We're just honored to partner with God and be used as vessels in His endeavor.
For more information please visit their website at www.DearPoetry.org