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The things you need to know from the experimental lab

1. Ready, Player One? Experiment looking at church in the Metaverse

What could an Episcopal Church look like in the Metaverse? TryTank is launching a new experiment that engages this exact question.  Led by experiment manager, Rev. Sean Steele from St. Isidore Episcopal Church, this experiment is open to anyone interested in this new medium as an environment to share the Good News of the Gospel.  TryTank is looking for interested participants who would like to dream this community into being.  If you are one of those people, please contact Sean HERE.  All that is required is a reliable internet connection and an open mind. 

2. Can churches become co-working spaces? Experiment aims to find out.

About 65% of companies — startups and huge employers alike — want to have a hybrid office after the pandemic, per recent survey data from the commercial real estate firm CBRE provided to Axios. "But hybrid work is not a binary choice between home or the office," says CBRE's Julie Whelan. "As the majority of large companies are hybrid-focused, these third places are going to be a huge part of work." Could a church become a third place for people? Can it be done with a very small investment? And could it also generate a little extra income? TryTank is looking for a partner congregation to try this out with us. If you are interested, simply send us a note HERE and let us know.

3. “1730 Project” aims to help smaller congregations thrive

According to data from the church center in New York, out of the almost 6,000 Episcopal congregations, some 1,730 have 29 or fewer people on a given Sunday. Many don’t have clergy except every so often, sometimes even every few months. “Many smaller congregations are thriving, and you can feel the spirit,” says TryTank’s’ Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija, “but others can use a boost to give them some momentum.” To help them gain the momentum and thrive in their communities, TryTank is launching a set of experiments:

  • Virtual Preaching Series: since we now know that people are okay getting their sermons from video, an Advent preaching series from the monks of the Society of St. John the Evangelist will be provided on video.
  • Momentum Cohorts: Utilizing some of the amazing results of the Thriving in Ministry initiative from VTS, several cohorts of smaller congregations will be created to provide clarity, momentum, and connection in a peer learning environment.
  • Stewardship Planning: A simple on-demand course that the leadership of a smaller congregation can take together. The result of the workshop is a stewardship plan ready to put into action.
If you are a smaller congregation, please register for to learn more about these experiments and maybe partner to participate by clicking HERE.

4.  Mid-week service experiment is still looking for partner congregations

Last month, TryTank put out a call looking for congregations willing to try a mid-week Eucharistic service. Since one third of Americans work on weekends and many are busy with activities for kids, or maybe a standing golf game, might there be an opportunity to reach them through a mid-week service? Our “full mid-week service” experiment will explore whether some people’s involvement is limited by schedule rather than intentions. Many churches offer a mid-week service, but few offer a full service with everything Sunday offers: music, multiple lessons, sermon, acolytes, childcare, and even a collection!  TryTank will coordinate a group of churches to work through organizational issues. Plus, TryTank will help pay for music, childcare, or other costs. If you are interested in trying this for a season, send us a note HERE and let’s chat.

5.  Evangelism Theater experiment to continue after Covid pause

The Evangelism Theater experiment aims to create an opportunity to invite your friends to church. The partner/host congregation presents a theatrical performance of a light, humorous show about making pies and making community. With the show date set, a leadership group in the congregation encourages others in the congregation to invite friends who may not have a church connection. During the show’s intermission, guests are briefly introduced to the church. Then at the end of the performance, everyone shares some pie. The show was originally intended for May 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic. St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Bayview, OH is the first congregation as the experiment kicks off again.

6.  You can still watch the Faith in the Future conversation on-demand

Last month, TryTank hosted a conversation with Bob Johansen, senior fellow at the Institute for the Future. It was a lively conversation that will have you taking real notes about what’s coming down the road. It’s also practical. The conversation is now on our Teachable platform channel for anyone to see on-demand. It’s well worth your time. You can find it HERE.

7.  What is the theology for a virtual church?

It was in its most bewildered hour that Israel in exile found who God truly was. The pandemic has been our chance to discover what God being with us really means. None of us would for a moment have wished this crisis on anybody, let alone the whole world. But our faith teaches us that we only get to see resurrection through crucifixion; that we see God most clearly in our darkest hour. So, what have we discovered? What have we learned? What has our experience of virtual church revealed theologically and pastorally about communion in all its many and varied forms. How we do communion well online and how do we understand what we are doing online theologically? HeartEdge and CEEP, both partners of TryTank, will be holding this transatlantic conversation on Tuesday, November 16 at 3 PM EST, via Zoom. Register HERE.

8.  TryTank seeking help in compiling a BIPOC Book of Prayers

The BIPOC Community (that is Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) have long been a part of the Episcopal Church. Yet, when it comes to the development of worship materials—especially our own Book of Common Prayer—those voices have been marginalized, and nowhere have they been brought together to form an Episcopal worship lifting up our many voices. This TryTank experiment attempts to do just that: We’re looking for BIPOC folks who would like to help write a BIPOC prayer book to be published next year! Interested persons should send us a note HERE and will be connected to the experiment manager.

9.  Direct Philanthropy experiment to help asylum seekers

Direct giving is an efficient, proven, and empowering way to help. Now this method of philanthropy will be used to help asylum seekers at the border. The way the experiment will work is that Episcopalians in the US will be able to send a direct digital cash gift to an asylum seeker at a partner family shelter in Mexicali, Mexico. The recipient will be able to use the money like a credit card (with no fees to them) to take care of their needs. If both the donor and recipient are willing, they will be connected so that they can be in communication with one another. Only 10 donors will be participating in this small-scale trial. If you are interested, send us a note HERE and let us know.

10. Spanish-language missalettes are still available for the upcoming church year

Our Spanish Missalette experiment aims to save the time a Latino leader spends preparing a bulletin each week. The missal contains the Eucharistic rites from El Libro de Oración Común and all the Sunday readings between Advent I and the end of the season of Easter. If participating congregations are willing to participate in a survey before and after using the books, there is no cost for the missals.  Interested congregations can fill out an interest form HERE.

Remember, you can find updates on all of our experiments at any time on our website
Upcoming ONLINE Offerings through
Lifelong Learning at VTS

Click here for more information and to register 
for the Lifelong Learning and Seminary events below: 

Nov 3    May She Flourish: (Im)Perfection, Self-Doubt and Over-functioning 

Nov 13    Godly Play Commuter Core Training Module 2: The Spirituality of the Child and Parables (In-person) Register here 

Nov 18     Cultivating Mentoring Relationships for Formation 

Nov 30    Lent 2022 Planning Workshop 

Dec 1      May She Flourish: Keys to Authenticity and Integrity as  Women in Ministry 

Jan 14       Faith in the Future Talks (Part 2 released)  

Jan 22     Godly Play Commuter Core Training Module 3: Supporting the Circle of Children and Liturgical Action Lessons (In-person) Register here 

Feb 2        May She Flourish:  #ThisIsWhatAPastorLooksLike: Being a Pastor with a Female Body 

Mar 2        May She Flourish: Strategies for Fighting Everyday Sexism 

Apr 6        May She Flourish: Developing Your Well-Being Toolkit 

May 13       Faith in the Future Talks (Part 3 released - Parts 1-2 will be available for registrants as well) 

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