Q: How can we get involved?
A: There’s many ways for you to get involved. First, you and a team from your congregation can attend one of our Living Local Listening Events each year, and it’s FREE! Saturday, Jan. 27, 9:30am (location TBD) 2018 is our next gathering. You can also contact email@example.com to schedule a visit and we can share more with your leadership or Sunday morning study.
Q: What is a Living Local Listening Event?
A: These gatherings are listening celebrations and times for learning from one another. You can expect folks from a variety of churches will be present. We will use our central dwelling practices of the Living Local work that help us better listen to God and to one another. The 2-3 hour event offer times for connections with others, as well as interactive workshops with real action-steps you can take home with you when you leave. We encourage you to come with your congregational teams. Bring your questions, experiences, and your enthusiasm for learning.
Q: Is there a cost?
A: There is a cost for those who choose to journey intentionally through the Living Local process. This cost includes taylor-written resources to engage in your context, a coach for your LL team, written reports from your listening work, and intermittent on-site accompaniment for the team and congregational leaders working through the process. Costs should not keep you from any interest in participating in this work so please keep in mind that scholarships are available.
Q: What is the intentional Living Local journey?
A: Living Local is a journey of experiential learning through a set of dwelling practices. The journey is rooted in a discovery process guided around the questions, what is God up to in our neighborhoods, and where is God inviting us to join? A team of lay people from your church will explore this question through a learning cycle involving four practices: listening, learning, experimenting, wondering. For a brief description of this work see The LL Journey-Learning Cycle.
Q: How long is the LL process if we consider the intentional journey?
A: We have found that the learning cycle takes about 18 months, give or take, to engage with your congregation. We have also found the length of the journey depends on a host of additional variables including the team’s ability to work together, the seasonal flow of congregational calendar, and the congregation’s responsiveness and readiness to engaging this work. There is no question this is a lengthy journey, but we find those teams who work the process, give time and energy to it, are the ones who benefit the most by seeing deeper transformation.
Q: Our church is already Living Local, how is this different?
A: Living Local is working to move beyond two primary ways we see churches relating to neighbors. The first is relating to neighbors as objects to be dispensing our good works where we have identified needs. While does have it’s place the church may relate to the neighborhood in terms of deficits rather than giftedness, and may function as the benefactor of the neighborhood. The second ways churches often relate to neighbors is as potential constituents for recruiting purposes to assist “bucks and butts”, bucks in the plate, and butts in the pews. See Toxic Charity.
Living Local is trying to introduce a shift in how we imagine where God is showing up in the hospitality of strangers. This is different than the church setting the table as the primary hosts for events on behalf of God. The central practices discovered in the LL learning cycle, slowly and over time, offer possibilities where new kinds of relationships with neighbors and neigborhoods can be formed, and where church folks can be seen both as partners and learners in another’s area of interest.
Q: Where is this actually happening? Do you have any examples of what this looks like?
A: Yes, there are many examples of where this work is happening. While this work is relatively new to our synod, and first among many other synods to be doing this work there are a host of other denominations engaging the work of Living Local. What we have learned from local and global partners is that this work takes time to unfold, form and develop in a congregation’s DNA, and in partnership with their communities.
Here’s one example from a church in Nottingham, UK, “House of Pain in a House of God”; this is the fruit of six faithful years of continusly engaging the process. I have personally met and visited with this congregation, and heard their testimonies. In fact, in our infancy of doing this work we share many similarities with these communities who, at the outset, were just as confused and uncertain about this approach to congregational life. Check out “testimonies” for additional voices and examples of the emerging fruit we’re learning about in early unfolding of this work in our context.
Q: What’s the goal of Living Local?
A: We think about this in a couple ways.
- The goal of Living Local is learn, through a set of practices, how a congregation can be more consciously aware of God showing up among neighbors, actively involved in those places, willing to articulate the movement of God in those places, and renewed by the flourishing of life and new relationships emerging among these neighborly intersections.
- We think about this in terms of our hopes for how congregations might grow.
- Increased awareness and articulation of the Spirit leading out ahead of us in our neighborhoods.
- Learning adaptive and disruptive practices as possibilities for engaging change in today’s uncertain contexts.
- Sparking new imaginations for where God is showing up.
- Creating a spirit of anticipation, expectation and discovery.
- Generating more permissive environments for experimenting and curiosity.
- Inviting greater willingness to take risks, a willingness to fail, and to learning the necessary gift and joy of failure.
- To see success as learning something new about God, ourselves, and our neighbors, not only the effectiveness and efficiency to complete tasks.
Q: Can our congregation just get resources from you to do this work on our own?
A: Yes, you can. A couple resources can be found on the resources link for this blog, and as well on the Acoustic Theology site. Feel free to request resources that might be helpful for your work, and we’ll offer you what we have available. You will also recieve resources when you attend the Living Local Listening Events.