Recently, I looked around at all the faces in church and realised that with the exception of my wife, I did not know a single person there two years ago. It’s really amazing how God builds His church, bringing together people who would otherwise not have known each other. Every church community will look and feel different based on who is part of it.
One of the great blessings God gives each local gathering is the gifts and skills that each member brings to the whole. One of the jobs of a pastor is to encourage their church to recognise and use those gifts appropriately to the glory of God.
Here is Yannick’s story:
Yannick has been a member of one1seven church for the last 3 years and was part of the core team that has started our church down in Green Square. Professionally, Yannick works as an actor, director and voice coach. Yet his Christian faith has led him to begin a ministry to actors and other ‘creative types’ called Acting in Faith which in turn has lead to an adaptation of CS Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters at the Seymour Centre this month.
I’ve been acting professionally for 12 years in both UK and Australia in a variety of different mediums – TV, radio, film and theatre.
I like being able to tell a story, to ‘inhabit’ a role so to speak and to portray personalities that are foreign to me. Some of my parts are outside the realm of my own experience, especially historically based ones. Very often, acting requires the study other of people, cultures, history and philosophy. I find that very satisfying and enjoyable.
In the last two years, there have been many and varied acting roles. For example, in Brad Checked In (Old Fitz Theatre) I played a divorcee trying to work out what relationships were all about, quite often getting it all wrong. One really satisfying role was to play a soldier in the WW1 drama Journey’s End (Seymour Centre) It was shown over the ANZAC weekend this year – it was really confronting to get to know the brutality and personal hardship of war, as well as the mateship and nobility of serving and dying beside other people. Then in God of Carnage (Old Tap Theatre) I played a hard nosed, right wing, materialist lawyer!
I was made redundant from a job in broadcasting a couple of years ago and knew I didn’t want to continue in that industry. So I took the risk of going all-in to full time acting. This was a prayerful decision that felt like an enormous risk at the time. But each role (and the sometimes significant gaps in between roles) has helped me to keep trusting God, knowing that every opportunity was a blessing and gift from him. It’s a real pleasure and honour to enjoy what I’m doing. But this year in particular, my acting jobs have caused me to think more about the cross section of work and faith in Jesus. Often in acting jobs, I would form very deep relationships with fellow actors and along the way, met a lot of Christians. As a Christian actor, there are some roles that in good conscience we can’t play. The difficulty is that so often these roles seem to come when you need a job, or when not taking that role will have implications for future opportunities.
So I realized that there was a need for a group where actors and other ‘creatives’ could get together, read the bible, pray together and encourage one another.
I’m part of a church plant whose mission statement is to love and enrich our community. And so this year I began a once a month bible study group called Acting in Faith. We use the Reframe Resource from Regent’s College to encourage each other that every aspect of our life comes under Jesus’ Lordship. It started with the few contacts I had met and each month new people get into contact about what we are doing.
I had met another actor Hayley in God of Carnage. She is a lecturer at Excelsior College and she asked me if she had ever read The Screwtape Letters because she had been toying with the idea of adapting it to live theatre. At the same time, a few members of one1seven church had encouraged me to think about an adaptation of this play. It gave me the impetus to look into it more thoroughly. Hayley and I decided to put it on.
Again, this was one of those things that felt like an incredible risk, but we are so thankful to God that has sold out and we are already thinking about how to bring it back for a larger audience next year.
I’m praying that God will bring the right people to see it, that it would encourage Christians to think about their own walk with God and persevere. And that it will give clarity on those deep theological issues that confront us with friends and family.
I’m also hopeful to God that our little play will encourage other actors to consider how they might use their gifts in a way that points people to Jesus.