Update on Jim Strader's Emerging Church Evangelism Dinner Experiment
Apparently Rev. Jim Strader's experiment in emerging church evangelism (which I posted about here) was a great success. Here is his report:
Read it all.
The conversation was even better. People were definitely copesetic with talking about God, the Church and what does and doesn't work for them. God is present in creation much more so than in dreary worship services. And yet, worship music can be great, if the language isn't so dreary, or dreadfully masculine. My friend Ralyn talked about how much she thoroughly enjoys visiting the African Methodist congregation downtown because their worship services are so jubilant and joyful. People dance and sing. She thinks that's cool -- and they invite her into the community, even if she is the only White person in the congregation. Jeffrey questioned why so many Christian communities were so uninviting. He's had a particularly difficult time finding a welcoming Church as someone who is away from home, studying at college, and trying to find a multi-generational community.
I offered a quick passage from Matthew 5:11-15 and told my friends that I perceived them as salty people who don't hide their lights under bushels. They have worked with refugees, cared for African children in Tanzania, written articles about gay rights in society, and given more than 10% of their profits from their entrepreneurial activities to meaningful charities. They asked me why I'm a priest. I told them I thought that the Church could be a thriving, relevant instrument of Christ's Grace and Peace. I'm sure I wasn't that articulate though. It was an awesome night really. We agreed to gather again on June 7th. I don't have to provide the biblical setting this time. How cool is that! We're going to continue asking questions and chatting with one another. The norms are that we will eat a meal, say a prayer, and listen to one another.
I didn't really learn anything new and yet I learned a good many new things in "real" ways. Christian hospitality and friendship resonate with spiritual people. Don't bullshit people. Create space to converse pleasurably and honorably with integrity and people will offer their stories. Be vulnerable enough to ask someone, when you don't know the answer about why the Church sucks. More importantly ... be willing to ask someone in an open way what you hope to learn from them. And then... listen, listen with your heart as well as with your ears.
Read it all.