Lessons, Nintendo, and the Church Not Getting it

Annie Wolaver Dupre
February 25, 2023
“Annie, people don’t give money so other people’s kids can have lessons.”
He was frank but kind and — what’s worse — I knew he was right.

I was telling him the story of our struggles, that since the beginning of the Annie Moses Foundation, we tried to get church goers to underwrite the $30,000+ of scholarships given at the summer festival, but to no avail. Those scholarship numbers more than doubled with start of the Conservatory of Annie Moses, but almost no one would donate to help keep these programs running despite the deficit created by scholarships. He continued,
"You’d just be paying for some kid to have a lesson. That's the parent's job or the school's job."
I thought back to my own raising. The truth is that is families can only invest so much. I came from a big musical family and we invested every possible dime in developing skill. We invested every dime and we earned massive scholarships everywhere we went. Those scholarships were made possible by donors and won by our skill.
On many occasions I met those patrons. The schools were always putting together patron events, and as a top shelf student I would often be asked to perform, attend a luncheon, or write a thank you note.
I was truly grateful. Without them our family of 6 children would have no chance to pay outright for all we were doing. The unfortunate reality is that those settings and patrons were not Kingdom minded. They were the elite of the elite, and not Christian.
And yet, they understood something that the Church did not. They understood that when they paid for someone to attend the Juilliard School, or the Aspen Summer Music Festival, or to go on a tour, they were not paying for a lesson, they were creating culture. When we say, “Christians are losing the culture war” it is a battle we lost long ago. It was decided when churches determined it was better to have basketball courts than orchestras, or youth group hang out rooms with Nintendo hooks up rather than lessons.
Now, we invest in the Chosen or buy a movie ticket to see a faith-based film and think “We’ve arrived!” And while that’s great, it doesn’t reach the root of the problem, because you must plant a seed if you want to reap a harvest. When we look at our world and see the black plague that is culture, (social media, tv, streaming networks, Spotify, apple and beyond) it is the harvest of seeds planted long ago that we ignored. We never planted so there is no harvest. We bemoan the situation, wag our finger and wonder what to do.
And so we’ve come full circle. “People don’t give money so other people’s kids can have lessons.”
I'm thankful someone paid for me to have lessons because lessons create skill. Skill is the tool of a master. Masters create culture.
My conclusion: if you desire to see a time when the greatest film makers, composers, musical artists, play writes, and broadway musicals are crafted and performed by Christians, then you better pay for some kid to have a lesson.
Everytime I give a lesson I remember that I am creating culture for the Kingdom.
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