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JANUARY 2021
 
In this email:

In 2021 And Beyond, We're Looking For Signals




January 6, 2021

Dear Friends, 

Happy Epiphany!

This year, TryTank is embarking on a focused year-long project and we want you to join us! We are creating a “Signals Network” to inform our work--and the church--with more foresight.
 
A “Signal of Change” is a core foresight methodology and is one of the foundational tools used to outline plausible alternative future visions.
 
A Signal of Change is defined as a recent small or local innovation—a new ministry, service, behavior, initiative, policy, data point, or technology—with the potential to scale in impact and affect other places, people, or the church as a whole. In other words, “signals” are specific events or innovations happening today that you instinctively feel will take us in a new direction. You could even think of these “signals” as “indicators.”
 
In order to get signals from all over, we need eyes as outposts all over. So, we need you!
 
Starting today, you can text the word “SIGNAL” to (833) 629-0176. Then, you can send us any signals you’ve noticed. You can send us articles, pictures, or sound files, right from your phone. As part of the network, twice a month, you’ll get a text reminder (a nudge!) to forward any signals. And we’ll start to gather these.
 
We are also expanding what we read. Beyond the daily newspapers and several thematic publications (on psychology, behavioral science, and business), we are expanding to read as many church publications from the rest of the Anglican communion. Something happening in Argentina today could be a signal for our tomorrow here!
 
By this time next year, we will publish a Signals Report and also some forecasts. This will hopefully lead to some new conversations and discussions about the kind of future the Spirit may be calling us toward.
 
We will also find ways of letting you (as part of the network) see what we are finding and to join in the conversation about what these signals might mean. I hope you will join us in this work. The easiest way is to text right now and get in the network.

With much gratitude,
Fr. Lorenzo

NEXT WEEK: Leadership Skills for the Next 10 Years

Wednesday, January 13, 2021  
3:00 p.m. ET
Pay what you can (see link for details)
Click here to register

*We had to change the date of this webinar from December to January. 

For almost 20 years, beginning just after 9/11, futurist Bob Johansen has been wrestling with the question of leadership profiles that will be required to thrive in the VUCA World (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous). He wrote a trilogy of books that share the profile he's convinced will work to help us get ready for the next future shock. The profile includes:

• Ten skills (think competencies) introduced in Leaders Make the Future
• Five literacies (think disciplines or practices) introduced in The New Leadership Literacies
• One mindset (think worldview) introduced in Full-Spectrum Thinking

Join us for an impactful webinar with Dr. Johansen as he covers his leadership trilogy, with a special emphasis on the skills required to thrive in the coming decade.

(Remember - if you register for the webinar but can't attend "in person", you will receive a link to the recording you can watch when you can.)

Facebook DNA Experiment Update

As you might recall from the Director’s Letter in December, we are in the midst of the “Facebook DNA Experiment.” The experiment utilizes Facebook and the “DNA” we have found of people open to the Christian message, but who are not currently part of a church congregation. Here’s a quick update of what we tried with the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast. We ran some ads in support of the digital diocesan revival on Friday, December 4. We reached 25,456 people who matched our DNA (in other words, they were statistically similar). We had a click-through rate (CTR) of 4.91% compared to the Facebook benchmark CTR or 0.44%. That’s a 900% increase from what Facebook considers a good campaign! In the end, we got 187 new people to RSVP to the event from this campaign. In terms of investment, we spent $1,100 in ads, so that comes out to $5.88 per person. Not bad, right? We are now working on part 2, which is how to engage them to want to do more with us. Stay tuned for further updates!

WORKSHOP: Mission Possible: Finding Your Congregation's WHY

Join this workshop led by the Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija, TryTank's founding director, to discover your congregation's "why"; its mission in the community.

Saturday, Feb 20, 2021  
9:00 a.m. to Noon  EST
$50 to $250 per congregation team
Click here to register

At the core of what we do as a church is why we do it. Yes, it should all be centered on God, but how each congregation lives into that centeredness has to do with our stories. Stories as a people of God and stories as a congregation serving our community. This workshop is a step-by-step guide to help your congregation find that mission clarity. It will involve examples, exercises, and action steps to help you reach the point where you gain clarity and make your mission possible! A month after the workshop, we will have a check-in point where you can check in with the presenter about your work and how to move it forward. The follow-up “office hours” is on Saturday, March 13th from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. EST and is included in the registration fee. No questions left unanswered! Registration is by the congregation and is limited to 15 churches. A minimum of 2 and a maximum of 8 church leaders from each congregation are welcome to participate. The registration fee is per congregation. Please note that similar programs are offered in the secular world at the cost of $250 per participant!

EXPERIMENT UPDATES

This section contains updates on active experiments only. If you want to read about past experiments, please visit our website


8503-Connected Congregation: Using texting for easy points of contact between the congregation and its members leading to more engagement with the church and higher attendance. 
LATEST:  This experiment has ended and we are now starting the evaluation process.    

8504-Digital Collection Plate: Grow the collection plate amounts at congregations by making it as easy and fast as possible for people to give in forms other than cash. 
Result:  It did not work as we had wanted it to but enough to move to phase 2: See Experiment 8536.  

8509-Listening Project: Conversations with 100 leaders who have grown and maintained their congregational growth. Leading to the "Habits of Highly Effective Church Growers." Some will be basic, but we also hope to find surprises.  
LATEST: COVID HOLD 

8513-Theological Explainer Videos: Create a library of whiteboard videos that explain theological concepts in 2 minutes. The videos will be on YouTube, the 2nd largest search engine in the world. 
LATEST:  Our first 6 videos are done. We are in production for 3 more! Want to see the first videos? HERE  they are.

8515-Home Sermons: Weekly 3 minute sermon videos to be used by Eucharistic ministers as they take communion to the homebound. 
LATEST: While trying out new ways of distributing the videos during this pandemic, we created an online community for them. Some 1,750 people now like and follow the Facebook page where we post the weekly videos. Check the videos out at Good News on the Go.

8517-HeartEdge USA: Helping to expand the HeartEdge network in the US. Building association, learning, development, and resource of congregations on the edge. 
LATEST: The US group is now meeting monthly and working on how to expand the work here. A new course on "Being With" will be released this year. You can see more about it on the HeartEdge Facebook page. If you join HeartEdge, there's a special practitioners page with chats and resources. 

8518-EpiscoPALS: Create an SMS-based community that connects seniors to each other, to younger members of the congregations, and to the community.  
LATEST: The experiment is taking place in Spring, Texas.

8520-Touring Gospel Choir: Organize a touring gospel choir who can go to various Episcopal communities to perform. In each community, the choir will lead a master class for local Episcopal choirs on how to best use the gospel music in our tradition. 
LATEST: COVID HOLD 

8524-Millennial Travel Experience: Work with an experienced tour operator to create a trip that can fill the "spiritual experience" desires of millennials. 
LATEST: COVID HOLD 

8525-Evangelism Theater: Organize a small tour for a theatrical show that can be performed in a church and thus make it easy for people to invite their friends to church and have a conversation about spirituality. 
LATEST: COVID HOLD 

8527-Transformation Weekend: Similar to a self-improvement weekend but fully Christian and the goal is to transform the participants into committed followers of Jesus. 
LATEST: COVID HOLD ... BUT ...Like some of the others, we can plan it now for when we can gather again after the pandemic.

8528-Prayer Puppets: If Mr. Rogers were starting his show in 2019, what might it look like? How would it incorporate technology? And what if it was also a tool for Christian formation. We aim to find out. 
LATEST:  We will officially launch the puppets at the FORMA conference later this month.   

8533-YA Didactic Books: Develop a series of on-demand and digital books aimed at a young adult audience that teach the life of discipleship. 
LATEST: We will soon test to see if there's a market.  

8536-Digital Collection Plate Phase 2: Taking what we learned from the first phase and developing a kiosk solution for congregations to accept digital payments. 
LATEST: COVID HOLD 

8538-Latino Ministry Launch: Taking the success of the Latino Ministry in a Box experiment (8506) and helping to launch it as an ongoing ministry. 
LATEST: We are currently putting all the parts in place so that we can begin once people can gather in person again. 

8542-Spanish Missalette: To create a seasonal Spanish language missalette for use in congregations that have Spanish language services.   
LATEST: COVID HOLD 

8544–YouTube Channel: To create a YouTube channel aimed at young adults that covers spirituality from the perspective of one young adult. 
LATEST:  Ellie has launched the channel. Check it out

8547– Reimagined Youth Ministry: Using our Design Action Team on the ground. 
LATEST:  Working with a congregation in Illinois to innovate their youth ministry. We are in the process of gathering information from congregational leaders and secondary resources. Next, we'll begin the process of turning those insights into ideas.

8548 – English Language Misa: To create a culturally Hispanic Eucharistic service aimed at second+ generation Latinos/as.
LATEST: COVID HOLD 

8549-Eight Minutes Podcast: a podcast aimed at helping parents talk to their children about faith. 
LATEST: The podcast is in early development testing but as with most things in the field these days, it's taking a bit longer. 

8550-COVID-19 Response: quick initiatives to respond to the pandemic. 
LATEST:  In response to the pandemic, we have done a Digital Church Guide, Dial-A-Priest (see 8551), Crowdfunding in a Box (see 8553), and several webinars. Is there something else we could be doing? Let us know!

8552 -"OPENS" on Facebook:  Creating a community on Facebook of people who are open to the message of the church but are unchurched. The FB DNA of the group can then be "mirrored" to connect with people in local contexts.  
LATEST:  Check out the update above.

8553-Crowdfunding in a Box: a complete easy-to-implement system for churches to follow to create a crowdfunding campaign. 
LATEST:  We started with 34 congregations and nine have completed or are in the process of completing their videos. Soon, we'll start to evaluate the results!

8554-Planting by Radio: To plant a Spanish-speaking congregation utilizing local radio airtime to build community as the first step. 
LATEST:  The show came out sounding so good that the experiment will now expand into a weekly syndicated radio show for Spanish-speaking stations in the U.S. Stay tuned for more on this soon!

8556 - Mission Clarity: To develop a simple method for congregations to find their true mission.  
LATEST:  We will launch this as a workshop in the Spring. 

8557- Digital Confirmation: To develop a digital gamified version of the confirmation journey culminating with their confirmation.  
LATEST: We are developing content based on the best resources. 

8558- National Prayer Line: Creating a national prayer hotline staffed by Episcopal clergy volunteers that can be activated quickly in response to national events. 
LATEST: The National Prayer Line has now been activated twice for special events. It works. We are looking for a permanent home for the line. 

8559- Church 2030: Where is the church headed so that we can best prepare? We are training two people in futures thinking and foresight practice (focusing on practical tools, processes, and methodologies). Their work will inform the work of TryTank and the church.   
LATEST: See the Director's Letter above. The Signals Network is a core part of this work. 

Do you have an idea for an experiment for church growth and innovation? Do you think it will help people encounter Christ? Hit reply and let's talk!
Upcoming ONLINE Offerings through Lifelong Learning at VTS
Click here for more information and to register for the Lifelong Learning and Seminary events below: 

Weekly   Christian Formation and Discipleship Open Office Hours (Thursdays).

Jan 13     TryTank presents: Leadership Skills for the Next Ten Years – webinar 
Jan 16    Listening for God: A Workshop on Discerning Vocation in Everyday Living 
Jan 21    Cultivating Culture Change: Tips & Resources for Antiracist Formation - webinar
Late-Jan  Companion Café: Sustenance for the Journey - guided conversations
Jan 25    Facilitating Conversations on Race and Faith: The Sacred Ground Curriculum 
Feb 2      Seeing and Believing: The Visual Arts in Christian Life and Ministry - class
Feb 3      eFormation Cohort: taking your online ministry to the next level 
Feb 20    Mission Possible: Finding Your Congregation’s WHY Workshop
Feb 25    Writing as a Spiritual Practice - class
About us
The TryTank Experimental Laboratory is a place to explore church growth and innovation. It is a joint project between Virginia Theological Seminary and the General Theological Seminary. The TryTank offers a much-needed inventive approach to the challenges facing the Episcopal Church. 
Copyright © 2021 TryTank Experimental Lab, All rights reserved.


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