That’s, Gig Harbor, WA, a cool little fishing village kind of town that’s just over a bridge from Tacoma. I got invited up by senior pastor Michael White and his co-conspirator Blake Merwin, one of the most amazing young outreach pastors I’ve ever met. Blake’s bi-vocational, serving part-time with Harbor Covenant Church while he runs a sweet little business called Gig Harbor Fly Shop (an upstairs and online fly fishing business). Blake and a couple other folks from his church had come to the Off The Map event last year and heard me present the one hour DE Workshop. They told me that part way through the hour they looked at each other and said, “We gotta get this guy to our church.” A year later I’m hanging out with them, test driving the new three-hour DE Mini-Seminar on Sunday evening with about 100 people from their church of 500. I also was invited to speak at both of their morning services, which was a blast, and finished up the day by quaffing a few fine local brews with some of the pastors and young leaders from the church at a local pub. Long day, but what a great experience it was.
I was hosted by Tom and Verna Herron at their beautiful home overlooking the harbor. Didn’t get to spend much time there during daylight hours, but we got to spend a lot of late night hours in some fairly profound conversation. Tom is a local pediatrician, and he and his wife are avid sports people (the kind who actually DO sports stuff…not like me, who usually just watches it on tv). They are also avid readers and deep thinkers, so I found myself totally captivated by them. Could have spent the whole weekend just hanging out with THEM. Thanks, you two, for being such wonderful, gracious and stimulating hosts. And for the yummy Swedish pancakes!
Back to Blake. This guy takes his calling pretty seriously. I think he represents the new model for ministry, sort of organically blending his passions for fishing, business and making disciples of Jesus. He is a magnet for 20 and 30-somethings who are disconnected from church (or who never were connected), mostly because he spends a LOT of time in their world during the week. It was really inspiring to spend time with this guy (can you tell?).
The three hour version of the full DE Seminar (which is 9-4 on a Saturday, usually) condenses the first three hours of the Seminar into one. This doesn’t leave much group interaction, practice time, or much video/fun stuff, but it does present the basic material. I’ll tweak it a little, but I think it went fairly well. The second hour is pretty much the 30 minute “Lost Interview” and a debriefing session afterward. The folks Blake got for the interview were simply priceless. One 39 year-old, Jewish atheist, orthopedic surgeon, and two 20-somethings, an unmarried couple, tattooed and pierced and with great stories. The female was a practicing Buddhist with no prior religious training or experience, which I should have discerned from the large Buddha head tattooed on her chest (sort of peeking over her neckline). Her partner was a former church kid who was incredibly bright, kind and generous, but who also had rejected any form of organized religion. They were honest, kind, and incredibly helpful in their responses. And they all are friends of Blake.
The Jewish atheist had the lines of the night, though. Couldn’t have scripted it any better. When I told the panel that, behind their backs, we called people like them “lost”, he asked what we meant by that. I eventually told him that we thought people who didn’t believe in Christ were essentially going to hell. He then turned to the crowd with wide eyes and asked, “Do you all really think I’m going to hell?” You could have heard a pin drop. I let it hang in the air a moment and then told him that I had made the crowd take a pledge of kindness, and asked them to just listen during this segment. But it was a fair question, and it made the whole room pretty uncomfortable. Loved it.
But his last comment was even better. I asked the panel to give us some advice about how we might better go about this business of sharing our faith with others. He said, “Well, I’m not good a quoting scriptures, but I think you should just love your neighbors. That should be good enough.” I just looked at the crowd, smiled and said, “That’s pretty good. Somebody should write that down.”
The panel got a standing ovation, and after they left the room we spent a fairly vigorous time debriefing the experience. That could have gone on for much longer, I think, but we stopped after about 30 minutes. I asked it they needed a break, and they said they were fine. This almost never happens (declining a break).
The last hour of the seminar was spent talking about the paradigm shift we need to embrace to see not only evangelism, but the whole of the agenda of the Kingdom of God, differently. We ended with a time of prayer, which was pretty sweet. People stuck around quite a while afterward, but eventually we had to leave so the facilities guy could go home. Plus, there were a few cold ones with our names on them waiting for us.
All in all, the new Mini-Seminar was a pretty decent success. There are a few logistical issues to work out, and it’s a lot less interactive than I prefer, but the ideas get communicated and people seem to get it. Plus, it only takes one evening, which is an easier chunk to chew for most people than the 9-4 experience.
So, if you are considering how to get the DE Seminar out to your church, think about trying the Mini version. It’s pretty cheap (see the “seminars” link at the top of the page for details) and you can even sell tickets to make the investment back if you like. Harbor Covenant took the chance and I’m sure they’d be more than willing to tell you how they think it went if you contact them. Thanks for taking that chance, Michael and Blake. I pray God has his way with you and the good folks at Harbor Covenant Church. You guys rocketh.
December 2nd, 2009 · 3 Comments
Categories: DE Thoughts