So I attended another conference last week, this one in Nashville. While I admit that I hadn't given the conference a second thought until I heard it was in Nashville (where two of my best friends live), it ended up being a great conference for little blurbs of inspiration and insight into the soul of God.
One such insight came in the form of an activity we were asked to participate in by Dave Odom. We were to write down a question - a question our church should ask or is asking, a question we have of the church - and write it on the top of a piece of paper. Then we pass the paper to the person on our right. They too have written a question and have passed it to the person on their right, and so on. We were told to write a one or two sentence reply to that question. Then we were to fold down the top of the paper so it covered the initial question and only the response remained visible. Then we passed the paper again. Now at person #3, they write a response (or question) to what is exposed on the paper (the initial question being covered up). They write their response, fold the paper down further over the response they read and pass the paper on. You get the point.
The exercise is one for the imagination and was based off of this short video. Skip to minute 1:45 to see how a small lick on the piano can, with a little imagination, change to a beautiful variation.
"The arts are showing us again and again the possibilities for transformation... how things can be, even in this world."
I loved the activity and will definitely be using it with my college students, young adults and senior adults when I get the chance. And if you're curious about how my paper turned out, here it is...
1. (I chose a question our church is or should be asking): How can we maintain our history of "musical integrity" while exploring other creative acts of imagination beyond Classical/Hymnic music in worship?
2. Julie responded to that with... "Try global music - it's harder to critique music of another culture, even though we all know all music is created within a culture; but for some reason there seems to be a greater allowance for "creative acts" within music named from Mexico or Spain or Kenya or Australia, etc."
3. DJ read (only) what Julie wrote and he replied, "Global music also expands theology and ecclesiology , transcending and challenging pre-conceived notions about Congregational Life, God, Holy Spirit and Mission."
4. Lara read DJ's response and wrote her own reaction to his blurb: "What would it be like to just throw it all out - our learned notions of theology and ecclesiology - and start over from scratch from our current context in life today?"
5. A man whose name I don't know read hers and responded with... "Can we/should we throw out people's experiences of God/church from the past just to make it into our image? 'If Jesus were like me...' But it is good to seek to join the good of the past to the new of today."
6. Some lady who did not understand the exercise very well and had to have it explained to her 500 times hopefully only read what guy #5 wrote and responded with: "We can never assume the past is bad and the current/future is good or vice versa. There is richness in our pasts and in the present and future. Take that richness and use it for good."
7. And the CBF church planter guy finished my paper up with a response to Confused #7... "Savor the words from our past. Their richness sustains us for the days ahead."
It's interesting to take the six responses and read them in light of the initial question. But it's also neat to read them just against the context they had, the sentence before and imagine where the conversation was going or might have come from...