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MARCH 2021
In this email:

Thinking about "in-culture" rather than "in-language" and some new experiments

March 3, 2021

Dear Friends, 

Now that there finally seems to be some good news out there regarding the pandemic, many of us have been starting to think about being back in our buildings. For us, that means the continuation of several experiments that have been on hold.

Right at the top of that list is an experiment we call, "La Misa in English". In our research, we realized that 2/3 of the Latino population in the US was also born here in the US. Of those, 95% speak English and around 70% actually prefer to receive their information in English, rather than Spanish. 

Knowing that insight allowed us the opportunity to wonder what an Episcopal liturgy aimed at these English-speaking Latinos would look like. In other words, how can we authentically do an "in-culture" service rather than in-language. 

On the surface, the answer is pretty easy: we are folks who follow the Book of Common Prayer, so just follow that. But what are the cultural elements that should be a  part as well. (I cal it the Latino Flavor!) As an example, the music will be from the Flor y Canto hymnal, rather than the 1982 Hymnal. There will also be a stronger use of Latinos from the Cloud of Witnesses calendar. And certainly, during Advent, the traditional posadas will play a role. 

And now that we can consider emerging out from the pandemic and eventually gathering for worship, it is time to start planning the role out of the experiment. So, if you have ever wanted to do Latino ministry but were limited by language, this is your invitation to join us in this experiment. Simply hit "reply" to this email and we'll add you to the list. As our normal way of doing this, we are looking for diversity in geography and congregation size, so don't think that you wouldn't be right to try this. 

Speaking of experiments, there are three new ones I want to share with you:

8560-Digital Church: Creating a prototype Episcopal digital community that is sacramental and is constantly inviting people to an in-person congregation as well. 

8561-Evaluating Church Impact: Creating easy-to-use tools for congregations and the church to measure the impact they are having. 

8562-Typewriter Poetry Evangelism: Teaching and using Typewriter Poetry as a form of person-to-person evangelism for congregations to use.

Have an awesome March!

With much gratitude,
Fr. Lorenzo

News about HeartEdge USA

We are happy to announce that HeartEdge USA now has its own website. As you will recall, HeartEdge is a group of people who believe in living God's future now. We talk about mission through the Four Cs: Commerce, Compassion, Culture, and Congregation. You can see what they mean by watching the short, 2-minute video on the new website. Also, here are the benefits of membership:

Signals this month.

As part of our foresight work, we are always on the lookout for early signals which could provide a forecast of the future. In particular, we look for things that raise our eyebrows and make us say, "Hmm, that's interesting." We then place them into a framework that says "what" (the signals), then "so, what" (what it could mean).

These are three recent headlines we spotted:

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

People are actively seeking the surety that the well-traveled spiritual path can provide. This is an opportunity for the church to welcome new members. If we take advantage of the opportunity. 


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:  We are. in phase two, trying to measure the effects on pastoral care.   

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.  

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:  We now have seven completed videos. Our latest is about care of creation. You can check them all out HERE

8515-Home Sermons: Weekly 3 minute sermon videos to be used by Eucharistic ministers as they take communion to the homebound. 
LATEST: Waiting for people to come back and home visitations to return, but new videos are being filmed each week. Check the videos out at Good News on the Go. Feel free to use them too!

8517-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 news above. We are working on developing the network here in the US. Want to join us?

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. 

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

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. 

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 have delayed the launch until Easter. 

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. 

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 (But we have begun the process of design so that it's good to go on the first Sunday of Advent this year!)

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:  We are in the process of turning insights into ideas.

8548 – English Language Misa: To create a culturally Hispanic Eucharistic service aimed at second+ generation Latinos/as.
LATEST: See the director's letter.

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. (Our partner is in a job transition too!)

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:  We are now working on engaging with the new people we are finding. Good stuff!

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 12 (this went up!) 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:  The Mission Possible workshop took place. It was very well received. We are now considering further steps.

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: We are building out the network and already have many signals coming in! 

8560-Digital Church: Creating a prototype Episcopal digital community that is sacramental and is constantly inviting people to an in-person congregation as well. 
LATEST: Our Design Action Team is working on dreaming up what a digital church plant could look like. In particular, how to engage and really connect with people who are may not live close enough to ever gather.

8561-Evaluating Church Impact: Creating easy-to-use tools for congregations and the church to measure the impact they are having. 
LATEST: We are in the discovery/research phase of the experiment. 

8562-Typewriter Poetry Evangelism: Teaching and using Typewriter Poetry as a form of person-to-person evangelism for congregations to use.
LATEST: The program is being designed.

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).

Mar 18    Ministry After COVID: What have we learned? What comes next? Webinar
Mar 20    Sustainable Vestries: Best Practices for Cultivating Leadership
Mar 27    Prepare/Enrich: Online Training in Marriage Preparation
Apr 7      Small Group Ministry: Leadership Development for Facilitators
Apr 24    The Church as a Family System 2.0: Race, Politics and Pandemic
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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