Did you ever hear something when you were a kid and just believed it, I know I have. When I was younger I was afraid to eat watermelons because someone told me if I ate the seeds a watermelon would grow inside of me. I didn't want to be pregnant with a watermelon, so the safest bet was to just not eat them. I didn’t know how to question what someone told me. And sadly a lot of us do that with the Bible.

This blog is part of a series called "POIEMA" - telling stories and inspirations behind our video "POIEMA" (below) if you enjoy the video, please share it with someone who you think will be blessed by it. 

For example look at when it says we were made in the image of God in the Bible. When I was younger I was told that meant God made us to look like Him, so that would mean God has a nose and a mouth and 2 arms.  But there’s this question I’ve learned recently to ask myself,

“what would this have meant when it was written?”

Well when the Bible was written most countries had kings, and these kings usually liked to claim they were born special, even going as far as to say they were the descendants of their gods. SInce they could rule and say what was right and wrong they would even claim to be “the image of god” here on earth. Most of us know that they also would build huge statues of themselves. These statues were called Tselem.

Tselem is usually translated to as idol, but it's also the word used when God says he makes us in his image. So God is using a phrase that is usually used for the way kings considered themselves to describe everyone in creation. This gets even crazier when right after this God gives these newly made people something called “radah” usually we translate this word in the Bible to dominion, but radah is the authority to a king has to rule over his kingdom. This idea is revolutionary, the people with power and authority aren’t just those with political office or huge finances it’s every one of us!

So if every person is made to rule, what does that look like? Well the answer may surprise you… are you ready for this?

Gardening, for the first people ever made, ruling the world looked like gardening.

Now I know what you’re thinking “so they ruled the world by making food for eachother?” before you write me off as crazy think about it, gardening let them grow food which let them grow families which became tribes which became communities and finally became cities. See ruling is the day to day activities of work and creativity!

A bunch of us here in Detroit have this dream and it may sound kind of crazy, but we want to plant dozens of huge gardens all over the city, and let anyone take whatever they want, as much as they want! There’s tons of reasons that we all want to do this, but for me one of the biggest ones I’ve seen lately is that we’re called to empower our community to see they have authority. We want them to see God wants them to grow their communities and take ownership of them, and in doing that build his kingdom. Honestly what better way to teach Detroit that they all were made to rule than the way God showed the first people!

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Have you ever just looked around you and said “something needs to change”? I know I have too
many times to count. The last time was this Spring, I knew something had to change, but I
couldn’t figure out what it was. Then as clear as day it hit me “quit your job”.
Now to most people this would seem crazy. I remember arguing with God, about it, how it
seemed like the worst idea imaginable at the time. I was an intern at my church at this time and
already couldn’t work much, I remember wondering how I would pay for my car, wondering if I
could survive just off of what was in my savings.

This blog is part of a series called "POIEMA" - telling stories and inspirations behind our video "POIEMA" (below) if you enjoy the video, please share it with someone who you think will be blessed by it. 

I remember wrestling back and forth with this idea for weeks.

When one day I was sitting at a
local coffee shop, when almost out of the blue the manager asked me if I wanted to work there.
RIght there I knew I was supposed to be there, quitting my job began to make sense.
I’d love to say that because of me listening to God in this situation all my financial problems just
disappeared overnight, but they didn’t. Still through that, I don’t feel stressed about it anymore. I
mean I have to budget and plan just like everyone else, but now the reason I work has changed.
See in Hebrew the word for work is Avad, and I absolutely love this word! See Avad means to
work, but it’s also the word used for serving, but even more impressively it’s the word used for

They weren’t separate words, because our worship and our work aren’t separate.

Every time we work, everytime we create something we show how incredible God is. This is just one of the ways God shows us that he wants every part of our lives to be worship to Him, to be an
expression of His grace.


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God Knows YOU

this post was written by Pastor Chilly Chilton, the founding pastor of Courage Church. Chilly is currently preparing to launch Revolution Youth Ministry in Burlington, Vermont.

This blog is part of a series called "POIEMA" - telling stories and inspirations behind our video "POIEMA" (below) if you enjoy the video, please share it with someone who you think will be blessed by it. 


I often chat will people who say they know God and yet, after further discussion, it becomes obvious that they don’t know God, they only know about God. There’s a difference. People tend to trust in someone else’s relationship with God and remain content in just knowing enough to feel religious and, occasionally, righteous. This isn’t God’s idea. He wants you to know Him personally for yourself. He knows you completely and still loves you. Amazing!

One of the most powerful statements in Scripture about following God comes as King David addresses his son, Solomon:

“And Solomon, my son, get to know the God of your ancestors. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and with a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and understands and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.” (1 Chronicles 28:9, TLB).


King David was telling Solomon that he should do more than know the history of what God did for the nation of Israel and how He set David over his kingdom. The Bible is far more than a history book – it’s a living book! It invites us to know God. So David’s desire for his son was that he would also get to know the God of Israel himself and develop a personal relationship with the One who meant so much to David throughout his life. If God referred to David as a man after His own heart, then it is safe to assume that David got to know God in an intimate way. Now David yearns for his son to have the same knowledge and closeness to his Creator. And God wants this for you!


I want to challenge you to apply this Scripture passage to your own hearts. It is important that we know more than the facts of history relating to God and what He has done throughout the ages. We must know Him intimately through a relationship that reaches beyond facts to a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ. God’s love for you, yes you, compelled Him to give us the opportunity for grace when our sins merited us condemnation. Jesus tells us this clearly, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.” (John 3:16-17, NLT)


Notice the second thing that King David pointed out to his son, Solomon. He wanted to stress two requirements for knowing God. He stresses that we serve God with a whole heart (healthy & complete) and a willing mind (alert & quick to obey). There is something about opening our lives---our emotions and mind---in search for God that involves an exercise of our will. When we have a clean heart and apply our will to serve God, the Bible says we will be rewarded with God’s blessing.


The last part of David’s challenge can be a bit troubling, but I am sure all of us are aware of the truth of David’s statement to his son: “the LORD sees every heart and understands and knows every plan and thought.” My friends, it is impossible to hide from God. And, why would we want to? He searches the very depths of our lives. He knows our thoughts and intentions. HE KNOWS YOU. We can pretend and raise facades that may make us look good before our family and friends, but let us remember that God sees every heart and understands and knows every thought. Knowing Him personally brings us the greatest reward of all: Life... eternal LIFE!

Do you know Him?

Just being REAL, Chilly 

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This blog is part of a series called "POIEMA" - telling stories and inspirations behind our video "POIEMA" (below) if you enjoy the video, please share it with someone who you think will be blessed by it. 

I have always loved the concept of “poiema” -

a friend of ours owned a tattoo shop in Southern California, and that was what he called it. “Poiema” - this was actually the first exposure I had to this powerful Greek word. Some of my best friends worked there, and it taught me so much about the gospel.


When Dawn and I got married, one of our first stops was to poiema, to get matching tattoos together. 

For a short period in our lives, we lived near the shop, and it amazed me that every morning, before they started tattooing, they would have a bible study. They would open it up to anyone, and the times that we joined them were amazing. It was honest, it was real, there was depth… and then after they prayed out, they got out the tattoo guns and started tattooing. 

This type of thing seems to be more common now, but 15 years ago, the idea of a tattoo shop that started every day with a Bible study was not exactly normal. And that is what we loved so much about it. 

Because an industry that, for whatever misguided reason, the world viewed as something that is “anti-Christian” was actually creating the safest spaces I had seen a long time, for someone to not only BE a Christian, but also BE who they are at the same time. 

and that is the gospel. That Jesus loves you just as you are… that He meets you, just as you are. That He laid down His life for the you that you are right now, and that He will take everything broken and from bring forth something beautiful… something that He can use to reach others. 

And he breathes life into things that others may not see any life in. 

And no matter what anyone has said about you… or spoken over you… Jesus loves you and he wants to use you for his glory. 

This next example is totally different… because I don’t believe that it is sinful to own a tattoo shop or get a tattoo (I have them)… 

but just yesterday, I toured a church that meets in what used to be a XXX theatre. They bought the theatre, and turned it into a church. And suddenly a building with years of dark history that fueled addiction and perversion was in a moment redeemed for the Glory of God and turned into a house of worship and restoration and reconciliation. Because that is what Jesus does…

He makes all things new.

He can redeem the broken things.

(like XXX theatres)

And He will work through the unorthodox things.

(like Christian-owned tattoo shops that look more like Jesus than even some churches sometimes do!)

So no matter where you found yourself yesterday, and no matter what people may say about you today… just remember:

You are God’s workmanship.

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Have you ever seen a portal?

The post was written by Drew Borowsky. Drew was responsible for leading the "poiema" project. 

This blog is part of a series called "POIEMA" - telling stories and inspirations behind our video "POIEMA" (below) if you enjoy the video, please share it with someone who you think will be blessed by it. 

If you were to ask me what this curious golden metal container in the middle of downtown was several months ago, that question is what I would have responded with.

I was curious myself when it popped up, and once I found out what it was for, I knew it had to be a part of this project.

You see these containers painted gold and dropped in the middle of seemingly random areas, are dark when you walk in, but then, all of a sudden, right in front of you, appears a person from a distant land, in as much awe and wonder and confusion as yourself. 

Using hidden audio visual technology they are able to connect you with others in similar portals, new friends in some of the most misunderstood places in the world. This is all in an effort to de-stigmatize cultures, cities, and nations through creating unlikely community. From Afghanistan to Cuba, from Myanmar to Korea, and Rwanda to The United Kingdom, it’s no wonder Detroit is on that list.

See we have a tendency to see a movie or hear news that paints an area or group in a bad or dangerous light. This only naturally makes us not want to go there, whether it is out of concern for our safety or just thinking it would make us uncomfortable. 

We take bad testimony pretty seriously. Sometimes more seriously than good. But something even more powerful happens when a relationship is sparked. 

Preconceived notions start to dissipate and new ideas about people or places begin to form. Someone who is prejudice towards a people group can’t be for long if they make an unlikely connection in an elevator, embrace one of them as a friend, or hear their plight. Friendship changes minds and hearts. I watched from my place of business across the street for months as groups of people from the city and the suburbs would walk into this golden box and learn from someone across the world their history, a traditional dance, play music together with them, or just listen to their personal stories. When they left they were so often astonished.

In 2 Corinthians 5, the Apostle Paul says we have been given the “ministry of reconciliation” and “From now on, regard no one according to the flesh.”

This is actually the only time ministry is really referenced in scripture. 

The church as a whole is a beautiful, multi-faceted, multi-cultural tapestry of diverse ideas and people that are united by a come thread; the spirit of our Lord Jesus christ that unites us, His image. When someone wanders into our church culture, what should they walk away with? When it is truly seen, what should people say it looks like? 

What draws them in?

Can they relate?

Jesus can relate to them but if we don’t look like Him in our ways, how will they know Him and how good He is?

The reconciliation Paul was talking about means friendship and we see how powerful that can be. 

This is our job.

Our one job is friendship with the world Jesus so loved.

That is what changes peoples hearts and minds.

We begin to relate with others and it is so powerful that even those who hate have to reconsider themselves in the throws of real relationship.

So if you see a portal in the middle of your city, Don’t be afraid.

They bridge places and reveal things we couldn’t have seen otherwise. That is their nature.

They connect us. 

That connection causes us to grow and look more and more like the image of Christ that we are.

In the Poeima video, Pastor Jacob talks about how poems, songs, and art are expressions that become tools to connect us when we’ve been through pain and heartbreak, Laughter, joy and tears. 

This sort of art, much like the golden box in capitol park, show us that we have more in common than we think. 

What does it look like when we act with an understanding of this commonality?

It becomes a picture of grace.


We see this acted out in scripture in Acts 2:42-47, an image painted for us of what the early church looked like. 

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

Experience Hope,


Drew Blogs at DidDraw.com

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This post was written by Pastor Chris Hooten. 

This blog is part of a series called "POIEMA" - telling stories and inspirations behind our video "POIEMA" (below) if you enjoy the video, please share it with someone who you think will be blessed by it. 

It is common for people to describe Detroit as a blank canvas.  Half of it’s buildings are vacant, abandoned, and deteriorating.  It is attractive to frame the abundant possibilities as a canvas waiting to be filled.  Certainly it is this positive vision Pastor Jacob has in mind when he talks about ministry at Courage Church.  We as a church don’t have many established programs demanding loyalty or sacred cows that cannot be touched.  We are invited as members to create something beautiful.  If we have ideas for ministry there is a place for us to paint with all our creativity.

There is another side of the blank canvas metaphor that is darker and more problematic.  Detroit is already full of color and beauty.  To say that Detroit is a blank canvas is to whitewash the character of the residents of the city. It sets up the New Detroit, the young, hip, and white as the saviors of the city.  That narrative can be even more tempting when we are talking about Christians earnestly hoping to bring the light of the gospel to Detroit.

So how do we embrace our opportunity to minister in the Detroit context without being paternalistic, colonial, gentrifying, or minimizing the experiences of our black and brown neighbors?  The key comes in the concept of poiēma.  What may appear to be a blank canvas is in fact God’s handiwork and God’s artistic expression.  

As I look around Detroit, I see the imago dei, the image of God in the faces around me. God is already at work in the city before we get there. Scripture is full of references of how God is with the poor and suffering.  In their book Geography of Grace, Rocke and Van Dyke posit that like water, grace flows downhill and pools in the low and depressed places.  If we want to encounter God that is where we should look, and around Detroit there are many such places.  Far from being blank spaces, these are places richly painted with the grace of God, inviting us to join in God’s poiēma.

We are invited to be collaborators with God in God’s own artistic endeavors. In the neighborhoods, among abandoned buildings and vibrant places where families have struggled and held it down for years, we find the presence of God working grace in beautiful brush strokes. Joining with God and our neighbors to make something beautiful starts at a different perspective than imposing our vision on a blank canvas alone. Collaborative, spontaneous, and beautiful, the interactions work grace in us as much as those around us.

Artist Lilla Watson encapsulates this well when she says, “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

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Success in Creativity

This post was written by Emily Morss, our worship pastor. 

This blog is part of a series called "POIEMA" - telling stories and inspirations behind our video "POIEMA" (below) if you enjoy the video, please share it with someone who you think will be blessed by it. 

For the longest time I measured my own success in creativity by the success of others; often minimizing my own. I wanted to be leading worship from an instrument, I wanted to be writing original songs, I wanted a music side project (and maybe some extra time to do it in haha) I was so focused on my inability to do all of the above I lost sight of my actual abilities. It wasn't until I was at a conference with hundreds of other musicians and I kept hearing the same thing over and over from different speakers - "stay in your own lane." 

It all made sense after that. If you look up success it says "achievement of a goal"...so WHY would my success look like anyone else's? 

My goals aren't the same as anyone else's. 

So if my goals don't look like yours..then my success isn't going to look like yours - and your success isn't going to look like mine. 

Comparison not only kills our joy, it also kills our own unique individual creativity.

At the end of the day I am successful if I'm faithful with what God has put in front of me. 

And so are you.

old wine

This blog is part of a series called "POIEMA" - telling stories and inspirations behind our video "POIEMA" (below) if you enjoy the video, please share it with someone who you think will be blessed by it. 

a lot of us still dream about the way things used to be, because it was good… and God was in it… 

but sometimes we miss what God is doing NOW,


Jesus says (Matthew 9:17): 

you can’t put old wine into new wineskins. 

He says that when you do that, the skins burst, and the wine spills… 

and just this morning, as I thought about this verse… I realized something so simple about it... its not profound at all, but it shook me a little, because I have a lot of great stories... I have had a LOT of fun over the years...  and a lot of times I look back wondering how do I create something “like that” again? 

but Jesus says that if you put new wine into old wine skins, the skins burst, AND the wine spills. 

which would mean that BOTH ARE WASTED.


You see, if you live in the past, you are destroying it… you are actually damaging those memories and you are destroying its power… because it wasn’t meant to be relived over and over, the Bible says that “God is doing a new thing” (Isaiah 43:19) - and if you spend your whole life trying to relive what was, missing out on what is… I would argue that it in many instances it would have been better had you NEVER HAD THAT ORIGINAL EXPERIENCE in the first place… it is debilitating to always look backwards. It robs you of your future when you long for the past

and when you do that, you aren’t honoring the past, you are letting it distort your hope for a future. 


So here is to a future that is shining its own light, no matter how bright the light of our past used to be. 

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