It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic,
Of all things physical and metaphysical,
Of all things human and all things super-human,
Of all true manifestations of the head,
Of the heart, of the soul,
That the life is recognizable in its expression,
That form ever follows function. This is the law.
- Louis Sullivan
American architect Louis Sullivan coined the phrase “form follows function” in 1896. Sullivan followed this rule of design when it came to the architecture of multi-story buildings and factories; however, decades later, another architect named Frank Lloyd Wright would revise Sullivan’s law. Wright said, “Form follows function – that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.”
Our beliefs, core values, and mission statements all signify great purpose and dreams in our organizations, but the forms of these dreams often do not meld inside our current presentations. It is easy to forsake honesty for programming and forget the sacred mission that our communities are purposed for in the Kingdom of God. When our presentations are intentioned as marketing ploys rather than authentic expression, the sacred is forsaken. When form is chosen over function, beauty in the expression is lost. When we choose programs and methodologies over the stories God is writing through our communities, the future becomes dull.
Have we become distracted by the forces that deem success? As Scot McKnight asks, “Are we following the Spirit, or just following trends?”
How does our present form articulate the function of our organization’s existence? Even more importantly—how does this form express the sacred? How often do we forsake function for finite things that are “cool” or “relevant?” We often forget that our practiced forms and adopted methods communicate a worldview - a worldview cheaply driven upon celebrity and consumerism.
In Art and the Bible, Francis Shaeffer writes, “As Christians, we must see that just because an artist – even a great artist – portrays a worldview in writing or on canvas, it does not mean that we should automatically accept the worldview. Art may heighten the impact of the worldview, in fact we can count on this, but it does not make something true. The truth of a worldview presented by an artist must be judged on separate grounds than artistic greatness.” Art must be judged by what is good, true, beautiful and even more so – holy.
This issue goes beyond our weekly banners, sermon graphics, and event promotions. Art and design reflect the active story God created and is creating in and through the Body of Christ.
Is the story you’re telling an old story trapped in time, or a story guarded in new trends and fashions? Does the worldview you’re consciously or subconsciously creating display the sacred mission – the calling – that God purposed you to act upon in your community?
Our souls hold indelible function and form.
God is at the center.
We cannot invent colors – but only the colors we utilize from the Creator.
Everything comes back to the sacred.
Everything is between form and function.
God is at the center.
As Jon Foreman said:
There is a deeper portion of our being that we rarely allow others to see. Call it a soul maybe; this is the place that holds the most value. All else can drift but this. When this dies our body has no meaning. We handle this portion of our being with extreme care. Life tears at us and scars us as children, so we adopt facades and masks to hide this part of us, to keep this sacred part of ourselves from the pain. And yet, we long to communicate this deeper place…To connect with each other on this spiritual level, for we know that this is the only part of us that will last.
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