Occasionally I run into some really compelling looking resources to engage groups and, really, entire churches if there’s enough interest in that. The past few weeks have brought 2 of them to my attention that I want to share with whomever reads stuff here, as I think that their approach, attitude and aesthetic are all very much from the space of their creators – young adults with some fascinating thoughts on life, faith and such. It’s an interesting time for writers and publishers of resources, and I’m seeing some great innovation in myriad spaces. So without further ado…
1) GOOD NEWS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD: This is a piece written by 2 of my good friends, Adam McLane and Jon Huckins. The fact that I also share office space with them has no bearing on this, as they have no idea that I’m giving them props while we sit in the same space. This is a 6-week small group curriculum that challenges us to think about how we actually are good news in whatever setting we are in – homes, schools, neighborhoods, campuses, etc. The curriculum includes study guides, discussion ideas, as well as hands-on experiments that groups can try each week as a means of putting the ideals into practice.
For Jon, much of this comes from his experience leading an intentional community here in San Diego, called Nieu Communities, that also trains members of the community on how to plant more of these groups. Jon and his group have done some amazing things in San Diego’s Golden Hill neighborhood, transforming a vacant handball court into a weekly neighborhood soccer/BBQ and family festival where neighbors gather and experience life together. They’ve also embraced immigrant communities and served as advocates and friends for those trying to navigate a new life in the US, as well as working with the farmers’ market and connecting poor neighbors to fresh fruits & vegetables to improve their health.
On top of that, Jon is leading a group in the Global Immersion Project, which this August will see a group of 10-12 people spend 12 days in Israel & Palestine, spending time with families and community leaders in the West Bank and in Israel, and being immersed in the stories of these communities. Jon is all about sharing life with people.
Adam recently wrote this about an experience he had while working as a youth pastor in the Detroit area that completely re-aligned his views on what it means to be good news to someone:
“You have a horrible job. You go to work early and come home late. You rush around everywhere. And when you are home there are always people coming over at all hours. You have a beautiful yard, too bad you never get to enjoy it. I don’t know what kind of church you work at but I’d never want to be a part of something like that. My life is way better than that.”
Talk about letting the air out of the balloon. I’d spent a couple years waving and trying to make small talk with my next door neighbor and this is the first serious conversation we ever had.
Of course he was right. If all he knew about my family was what he observed through his kitchen window his synopsis was dead on. Everything he said was true. I was working like crazy at the church, but in three years, had done little more than shake my neighbors’ hands and exchange names.
Simply put, my life wasn’t Good News to him. In fact, as he so clearly articulated, the way I lived was pushing him further away from God. I’ve read tons of books on evangelism and apologetics and let me state the obvious:Nothing I could say was going to draw this neighbor closer to God because I was living in a way he didn’t want to have anything to do with.
His prophetic words were a tough pill to swallow. But it was the truth. If I wanted to make an impact on my neighborhood I was going to need to change how I lived before my neighbors.
So please visit the website for The Youth Cartel, a company that Adam is a partner in, and check out Good News In The Neighborhood. It’s a downloadable product that includes print as well as short videos for each chapter. You can download the videos if you’d like (about 2.5 GB) or just stream them when you meet with a group. Enjoy the invitation to be good news!
2) ANIMATE: This is an upcoming 7-week study from the fine folks at Sparkhouse, the ecumenical wing of Augsburg Publishing. Animate features seven conversations on foundational topics of the Christian faith, with each one led by a different leader. The topics and leaders/authors involved are:
- God | Faith Is a Quest - Brian McLaren
- Religion | Spirituality Is Not Enough - Lillian Daniel
- Jesus | The Revolution of Love - Mark Scandrette
- Salvation | Abundant Life Now - Shane Hipps
- Cross | Where God Is - Nadia Bolz-Weber
- Bible | A Book Like No Other - Lauren Winner
- Church | An Imperfect Family - Bruce Reyes-Chow
You may recognize some names. Brian McLaren is the sort of godfather of the Emergent Christianity conversation. Lillian Daniel is the pastor of First Congregational UCC in Glen Ellyn, IL. Nadia Bolz-Weber is the pastor of House For All Sinners & Saints, an ELCA church plant in Denver, and she also has a great blog at SarcasticLutheran.com. Mark Scandrette is a friend of mine in San Francisco who leads a faith community and is an author/speaker and can be found at JesusDojo.com. I have heard most of the others speak, and by the looks of the teaser video clip this is going to be a wonderful resource for groups.
So there you have it. 2 cool new resources that are sure to spur conversations, discussions and meaningful experiences. Let me know what you think!