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10 things you need to know from the experimental lab

1. TryTank appoints experiment managers

In an exciting development, TryTank has announced that it will appoint a few experiment managers going forward. The managers will serve for six months to a year each and will be assigned to manage most aspects of individual experiments. "This is a way to have people who are very excited about a particular experiment to work with TryTank on making it a reality," said the Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija, founding director of TryTank. The consultant positions will begin soon with the appointment of managers for the "Digital Church" and "Reimagined Youth Ministry" experiments. 

2. Prayer Puppets launched on Easter 

Prayer Puppets, the experiment that aims to find out what happens if you mix Sesame Street with Christian formation, launched on Easter Day. The first three episodes of the series (on the topics of Faith, Hope, Love) are available on the Prayer Puppets website for only $1. The evaluation of the current experiment is limited to answering the question: will people be willing to pay for Christian formation, which they are used to getting for free? A marketing campaign is now kicking off to advertise the puppets to a broader audience.

3. How to Try book set to release

The release date of How to Try by TryTank's director is July 16. The book demystifies the process of using design thinking for trying things in the church. Design thinking is the same process used by TryTank in coming up with experiments. The three parts of the process are insight, ideate, and try. "I hope that this short book will be useful to individuals and teams as they dream up new ways of being church," says the Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija, the author. The book will be available for pre-sale through the publisher, Church Publishing, Amazon, and wherever books are sold on May 1, 2021.  

4. TryTank surveys church's Covid response to Covid

Wondering how much the Covid-19 pandemic will change the church? You are not alone. York St. John University in the UK is running a survey to get some answers. "Our intuition was that there would be a great deal to learn from systematically gathered evidence rather than assembled anecdotes. The Coronavirus, Church & You survey emerged from this conviction," stated Andrew Village and Leslie Francis, who authored the UK survey. TryTank has partnered with them to offer the US version of the study to gather and compare data. 

5. New experiment assesses impact of the church

We all know that simply measuring how many people are in our church on Sundays (known as ASA or average Sunday attendance) is an incomplete measure of the health of a church. It certainly is no measure of the impact a church is having in a community. There has to be a better way to evaluate this impact. To answer that question, TryTank has launched the "Evaluating Church Impact" experiment. It aims to create several models that can be used in different settings to see/show the church's work in the neighborhood. We'll be looking for a manager for this experiment. Let us know if this is kind of work may be up your alley.

6. "How to be a top-notch hybrid church" masterclass

We at TryTank firmly believe that the digital church is here to stay. But what's the best way to do digital church when there's also a congregation present? To answer this question, TryTank has announces a master class called "How to be a top-notch Hybrid Church." The class, which will take place on two consecutive Wednesdays, will cover four fundamental pillars of a top-notch hybrid church:

  • How to produce for the medium.
  • How to create a true digital community.
  • How to fundraise online effectively.
  • What's the missional theology of the effort. 

Registration opens April 15th.

7. El Librito de la Misa Episcopal ready by Advent

It is one of those things we don't think much about: church bulletins. Unless you're a one-person church, and you have to put them together every week. It turns out that for ministers offering Spanish-language services doing the bulletin each week is a time-consuming administrative task that is repetitive and takes about four hours. But "what if" (that's our favorite question at TryTank!) we were able to create a yearly missal that took care of a bulletin and gave back those hours to the minister? The new resource, El Librito de la Misa Episcopal (The Little Book of the Episcopal Mass), will be out in time for Advent 1, the new church year. 

8. HeartEdge offers classes, coaching, and mentoring

HeartEdge, the movement based on the "FourCs" developed by Sam Wells (commerce, compassion, culture, and congregation), and which TryTank took a leadership role in the US, has expanded dramatically in 2021. With now close to 50 US congregations, the US leadership has announced that it will offer classes on the FourCs, develop coaching relationships, and even match newer communities with mentors. These offerings are in addition to the fantastic programming produced by the HeartEdge UK group. Anyone interested in joining can visit the HeartEdge USA website to find out more and join.

9. Signals for the church in 2030 

In foresight work, we are always looking for signals of where the future points. Signals are small local innovations that can disrupt the status quo or scale up in size or geography. The key when finding a signal is to ask, "so what?" In other words, what does this mean? 

Here are a few headlines, all from the same day: 

"Book of Common Prayer finds new online audience seeking comfort during Covid crisis." (The Telegraph, UK 2/26/21)  
"Young people turn to Bible to help get through lockdown" (Church Times, UK 2/26/21)
"On late-night TV and bestseller lists, new books on prayer resonating with readers" (Religion News Service, 2/26/21)

Could it be that after this challenging year, religion can speak to the moment? Is this an opportunity for the church?

10. New experiment: Typewriter Poetry Evangelism 

Have you ever had a poem written just for you? Perhaps about love or a loved one or even a pet? That's the work that Typewriter Poets offer. They set up a little table and deeply listen to a person for five minutes before taking five minutes to write a poem about them and just for them. To the one receiving, this is an incredible gift and one that they usually cherish. In a new experiment called Typewriter Poetry Evangelism, a published poet will train congregation members to be typewriter poets to write about people and God. It's a gift a congregation can offer the community and maybe even get some of the receivers interested to come visit.

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You can find updates on all of our experiments at any time on our website
Apr 12 &18    Vacation Bible School Workshop
Apr 22    Just Faith Formation: Liberative Practices for Faith Communities with Justice at the Center
Apr 24    The Church as a Family System 2.0: Race, Politics and Pandemic
Jul 13     8th Annual eFormation Online Conference: Dwelling Places for God
Jul 28     Small Group Ministry: Leadership Development for Facilitators
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