Greetings on behalf of Metro’s Executive Staff and Elders.

One of the disciplines most often overlooked in the church is the nurture of creative-minded folks who are richly centered on Jesus. It’s widely understood: Christians don’t fare well in the creative space; from the Broadway theater to the movie theater, from the Grammys to Hollywood, from city architecture to the museum of fine arts, the presence of gospel-minded Christians is lacking.

I recall a story about Black civil rights-era singer and legend Sam Cooke, who was deeply impacted by Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind—which became a sort of anthem for the age, remarking that he felt a sense of shame that a “young white kid” could write a song that helped to fan the flame of the movement in a way that he hadn’t until that point. What he was saying was this: no one could write better songs about suffering and oppression than those who’ve suffered and been oppressed.

Well, no one should be able to artistically present the idea of creation, sin, fall, salvation, redemption, perseverance, restoration, and glory better than one who understands the entire narrative arc of the human story (which is really the story of God). Philosophers can merely observe and critique, but as if looking through a colored veil. Secular artists can share insight, but only through limited eyes. Who possesses greater depth and insight on our world than God himself—the Maker of the universe—who created and breathed life into man in his own image, grieves at the brokenness of the world, and sends his own Son to redeem his people and restore the earth? A Christian’s observations, insights, and creative expression can reach far deeper—through the veil, with far greater vision.

Refine is an attempt to draw creative minds into collaborative purpose through art. It is not intended to be a completed effort; more so, it’s a beginning, a mere first-cut, at constructing a back-alley for Christian thinkers, writers, and artists who peer through that veil with clearer eyes—and desire to let us know what they see. It’s a small contribution (Metro’s first), but it’s a symbolic and hopeful one. Much of what you see or read explores the theme of creation, since the team desired to start “in the beginning (Genesis 1),” while beginning to relay the fuller story: “In the beginning, God.” This will be a life-long endeavor.

I hope you enjoy it. I am so grateful for this team—led by Ally Green, but with outstanding partnership among creative folks such as Jack Slinkman, Kat Park, Sarah Kim, our pastors, and others who helped behind-the-scenes to edit, review, and discuss each work; everyone worked so hard through many drafts to encourage Christ’s church with these artful expressions of grace.

Some of the content may provoke or disturb. Some of the content may trigger an allergic reaction in the heart. Some of the content may elevate insights to a part of your brain that begins knocking on the wall of your soul. Art is supposed to do all of that. Nevertheless, all of it is intended to inspire us to create more with renewed minds. Creativity is a core value at Metro; my hope is that, with each and every subsequent issue of Refine, our creative journey into God’s amazing grace will be shaped beyond the earthen ore of gifts and theology into beautiful, multi-dimensional structures laden with spiritual gold.

Providential blessings in Jesus,

Signature of Donny Cho

Donny Cho

Lead Pastor and Executive Director