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A New Experiment to Help Us Learn From Each Other, Even Across the Pond
Plus Experiment Updates and Curated Articles

The logo fro HeartEdge, a network of innovative churches that we hope to expand here in America. 

May 21, 2019 


Since I started doing this work, I have gotten numerous invitations to speak. In the coming months, I'll have the privilege of talking about our work to several gatherings of the Episcopal Church all over the place. I see it as an opportunity to grow our network and to get more people to share ideas. The wisdom of the church helping us out!

When I give one of my presentations, I try to provide a broad view of what we are doing, why we do it, and even how we are doing it.  One of the things I love is to see in the facial expressions how an audience receives it.  

Generally, the place breaks down into three reaction modes: 

-They ignore our work: "Good for you...things are just fine at my church."
-They fear our work: "Oh my are a crazy on earth was this work allowed?"
-They get our work: "How can we sign up?"

I'm going to guess that most of you reading this newsletter are in that last category.  And I imagine that there have been times when you think of a new idea or innovation, and you feel you are all alone in this work. We're going to try to change that.

During my recent visit to England, I was trying to do was learn from how they innovate. I also wanted to see how they supported each other in this work. In all that I saw, I found a new network of like-minded innovative congregations who learn, support, and encourage each other in this work of trying new things. It's called HeartEdge. It's the brainchild and managed by the innovative folks at St. Martin in the Fields, London. And now we are expanding their work here. (You can read more about it HERE.)

Soon, we'll announce how you can join through our effort. (But feel free to join on your own too!) The goal will be that as you do innovation and generally try new ways to find the Spirit, you won't have to do it alone. 

As always, stay tuned! Now on to the newsletter.

With gratitude, 
Fr. Lorenzo

PS- If you want to follow my short daily updates, follow me on Facebook HERE.

Seeking partner congregations for...

#5- TryTank Ideas Festival
#9- Listening Project
#14- EpiscoPALS
Seeking ideas for experiments in the areas of...

- ministering to seniors who are lonely
- the environment
- social justice

Hit reply and let's work on your idea and bring it to reality!
Our current experiments

1-Alexa Skill: Creating a prayer leader out of Alexa to help people pray at home. 
LATEST:  Next step: evaluation of those who are participating by praying with Alexa. (Someone asked me in an email if someone should look at the theology of praying with a machine. We'll let much smarter theologians look at that.)

2-Apple News Prayer Feed: Make it easier for people to engage with scripture during the week, during their daily life by creating a source that can supply content into their Apple Newsfeed.
LATEST:  Exciting announcement soon on our content partnership. Stay tuned! 

3-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.
LASTEST:  I was delayed because of my travel (I always think I can do more work while traveling that I actually can). So, the partnership agreements will go out very soon and we hope to have 5 congregations trying this starting in the summer for a launch at the start of the program year in the fall.

4-Digital Collection Plate
Grow the loose plate collection at congregations (not pledges) by making it as easy and fast as possible for people to give in other forms than cash.
LATEST:  Evaluating, refining, and will continue to test. 

5-TryTank IdeasFestival: A festival of ideas for church growth and innovation. Seeking to create a '"primordial soup" where the right elements (folks) can bump (meet) and create new ideas beyond the “adjacent possible.” (Now part of "Rooted in Jesus 2020" -- a sizeable Episcopal event next January. We will be showcasing eight current innovators in the church in TED Conference-style presentations.) 
LATEST:  As we have been mentioning, we are especially interested in hearing from women and people of color. Thank you to those who reached out with recommendations; we got some good ones. Can you recommend such an innovator?  

6-Latinx Ministry in a Box: Using multi-site technology to create a Spanish-speaking congregation taking small steps.
LATEST:  Looking at what's next. Several meetings set up about this. But by all measures, it seems like this really worked. Woot.

7-Latinx Music Library: Make it easier for the church to provide Spanish-language worship services by creating a music video library of the most used Spanish hymns.
LATEST: We are working on the details for the recording session for later this summer.  

8-Latinx Phonetic App: This experiment is ON HOLD. 

9-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:  We are having several meetings about this experiment soon. Mainly to make sure that we are getting the most of it that we can. We are learning and are looking for ways to share learnings before we get to 100.

10-Spin Church: Taking the basics of a regular "Soul Cycle" group fitness class and making it full-out about Jesus and then sharing a liturgical meal after.
LATEST: Our adjustments from last week worked. We got outside people to respond. But there's a question about using the word "church" at all. We will continue to test and adjust. That's what experiments are all about. 

11-Facebook Master Class: A social media expert will lead a one-day master class on how to use Facebook to grow the church. The course comes with three months of subject matter coaching and accountability for the participants.
LATEST:  Thanks to those who quickly took the spots that opened up. We are at capacity again for next week's class!

12-Interactive Sunday: This experiment is ON HOLD. 

13-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: Now that the first one is into full production. We are working on the script of the second. Will begin work on the third. We're rolling!
14-EpiscoPALS: Create an incredibly simple website that can connect seniors to a live streaming platform for senior chat, games, and community.
LATEST:   Need your help: we are working on developing daily video content that encourages participation. Think of it as a radio talk show that allows you to interact with the host and with each other in multiple ways. And all at the push of a button on a website. We anticipate the experiment to be for 16 weeks this Fall. Do you know someone who could be a host? (We are looking for an energetic person who has personality, can drive a conversation, and can self-produce content. If this is you, hit reply and let's talk!)

15-Home Sermons: Weekly 3 minute sermon videos to be used by Eucharistic ministers as they take communion to the homebound.
LATEST:  A couple of meetings coming up (one with a Bishop!) about creating regular content. Stay tuned!  

16-Baptism Revival: Create a parish neighborhood baptism revival reaching those who have no church relationship.
LATEST:  Thanks to those who wrote back to say you're interested in being revival sites. You'll be hearing more from me soon!.

17-HeartEdge USA: Helping to expand the HeartEdge network in the US. Building association, learning, development, and resource of congregations on the edge.
LATEST: See the main article above.
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!
Articles worth reading
Part of this work means a whole bunch of reading. Here's a way to share some that with you.

Let go of your grudges, says this article from the New York Times. Duh. What I like about it is that it gives some practical tips on HOW. Read it HERE.

This second article from the "Smarter Living" section of the Times talks about the incredible value we get from investing in our relationships. Read it HERE.

What does it mean to be middle class? Depends on who you ask. “We make $325,000 a year and feel like we live paycheck to paycheck.” Three couples tell how much they earn, spend, and save. Read it HERE.

How Smartphones Sabotage Your Brain’s Ability to Focus Our phones give us instant gratification. But there’s a cost: loss of attention and productivity. The WSJ goes on a quest to understand the science of distractions and what you can do stay be more focused and productive. Read it HERE.

Take back control of your iPhone with these 14 fixes iOS has a plethora of hidden features–from special settings to shortcuts–that can make your iPhone faster and easier to use. Here are the best. Read it HERE.

Take 5 minutes and check out Great Sacred Music, a podcast of words and music from St Martin-in-the-Fields (London) led by Rev Dr. Sam Wells with St Martin’s Voices. Listen to it HERE.

An anchoress was a medieval religious hermit who chose to spend her life alone in a dark cell the size of a cupboard, praying and doing penance. But why? “Why would you want to rend your own skin with a lead whip? Why would you want to spend decades inside your own grave? The choice looks more reasoned when you consider that becoming an anchoress was a way of avoiding the dangers of childbirth and the misery of a forced marriage. It was also a position of authority and social standing.” Read it HERE.

How to Set Up Your Desk Ergonomically Our desks weren't made for us. They were made for everyone. So Jon Cinkay from the Hospital for Special Surgery is here to show you how to make your desk adapt to you and not the other way around. Read it HERE.

If you have ever been in LA traffic, you'll understand this headline: Burger King May Deliver Whoppers to Cars in LA Traffic Jams. Read it HERE.

And finally, whoa! See this optical illusion HERE. And this you gotta see: Sheep Pig. HERE.
About us
TryTank: An Experimental Laboratory for Church Growth and Innovation 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. Working in partnership across the Episcopal Church, the TryTank works to understand the forces threatening the church in order to identify creative ways to equip future leaders to reinvigorate the church.
Copyright © 2019 TryTank Experimental Lab, All rights reserved.

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