I read Donald Miller’s blog today. It was about the church and creating spaces to learn without lectures. (check it out here)
The question was posed: What could churches do to create experiential learning paths that make church feel less like a school or a seminar and more like the world in which people live? In other words, how could we better throw people into a life of faith, rather than help people simply think about faith?
I thought it was a good question and so I took some time to respond. Below is what I wrote.
1. Promote a short term mission trip for a few months or weeks and get every one hyped up. Explain that it is a mystery trip, it won’t cost any money and it will change your life. Recruit people to sign up and then have the big reveal. The reveal is the short term mission trip is actually their home address. Have people then put into practice all the things they’ve been soaking in and then share meals, do debriefs and gatherings just as they would if they were to have traveled somewhere. Get people to tell their stories and see what they are learning by living mission, rather than go on mission.
2. Host a banquet in a local park and invite everyone who happens to be there to join you. Sit and eat with each person there, share stories and connect. Give directive questions, but mainly watch how people connect and share. Then give room for people to learn from one another’s experiences.
3. Learn by sensing. Have the members of the church go on a sensory walk of their community. Give them questions like: What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell, taste and touch? Give everyone about an hour to soak in all they can from their city. Then gather everyone and ask what they learned about their city. What are the needs of the city from what your observed through your senses? Then discuss stories like the one told in Luke 7:11-17 where Jesus sees, has compassion and acts. Ask questions that discuss our response to that pattern? What do we see as needs? What is our response? What do we do with it? Then give time for imagination and action.
4. Become a culture of story tellers. Have a place in the church where stories of people are celebrated and give space for that to happen during gatherings. People telling stories can inspire others to live better stories.
5. Throw block parties. Close the church for a Sunday with the directive that people who live close together or small groups are to host a block party for their neighborhood. In that time direct people to find out: The names of their neighbors. The interests of neighbors. The dreams, hopes and desires of those who live around you. Tell everyone to use their offering for that week to host the party. (maybe you could have a party with a purpose, not just to get to know your neighbors but maybe you tell a story you’re living or a friend is living and invite others to join you. Create a new story for your neighborhood)
6. If the church is needing to be encouraged and reminded that God is up to something good in the world. Gather people together for a meal, invite your discouraged friends and a bunch of others and invite everyone to share the way that they see God at work in their life or in the life of their city. (I’m doing this, this summer with a young woman who I get to love on. She works in an office on the east coast and doesn’t get to hear much of what God is doing in the world. So, we’re traveling from Seattle to San Diego and are hosting dinners in 6 different cities to hear stories of what God is doing there. We are calling it the Stone Soup Tour. We’ll actually be hosting a dinner in Portland June 13, 14 or 15. If you or anyone you know would want to join us for dinner, we’d love to have you. We are going to gather the stories we hear along the way and blog about them to encourage others)
7. Go as a church to city counsel meetings and say that we are just here to pray for your meeting and see if there are any needs that the city might have that we could help with or how we can learn from you.
8. Instead of hosting a church ministry fair, host a city fair. Invite organizations, schools, non-profits and the like to your church to share about their needs and invite your church members to jump in to help.
9. Have a take a friend to work day. Invite members of the church who have discovered creative ways of loving co-workers, serving and being on mission at work to sign up to host others in their similar line of work for a day. The objective would be for one person to shadow the other. As the one being shadowed goes through out the day, he/she creates dialogue that leads to action for the one shadowing. Giving pictures of what it looks like to live in the way of Jesus in the work place.
10. Disney has imagineers who are constantly creating. They create for theme parks, movies, action figures and more. Have imagineer spaces at church where people can dream, create and inspire. Give room for every idea and resource where available. Become a place where the prophetic imagination can run wild.
What do you think? How would you answer the question?