In the last edition of this newsletter, I announced eight new experiments. It was pretty cool stuff.
Among the experiments, there was one called "Drunk Bible." The concept was to take the premise of the top-rated Comedy Central program, "Drunk History," and make it about Bible stories.
Many of you wrote in to say how cool and innovative that was. Some even offered to be personally involved. It felt pretty good and affirmed what I thought was a pretty neat idea about how to teach a new audience about the Bible.
I also heard back from some who felt that the church has no place ever making fun of alcohol and what it can do to a person and their life. Some of these stories were very personal, raw, and showed pain.
And so I huddled with others. And I responded to address the concerns as best I could. And I prayed. And I prayed some more. And then it hit me, no matter how good an experiment may seem and what sort of impact it may have, it's not worth it if we hurt people along the way. As doctors say: first, do no harm.
Honestly, I felt a little sad that we wouldn't be doing the show. I enjoy the Comedy Central program. But then the Spirit kicked in as I reimagined what the show COULD be.
What if we did "Street Bible" instead? We get a host to interview folks on the street about Bible stories (old Jay Leno style). "Tell me the story of Job from the Bible." It'll be wild answers for sure! We cobble a few of them into a narrative, and that narrative is the re-enactment. We also interview a young priest-type or academic person who does know the story. They interrupt here and there in the video to correct the story. The reenactors then also fix what they just did. As I imagine it, I think it can still be pretty funny.
And so that's what the experiment became. Still funny. Still teaching. No hurting.
Remember, TryTank itself is an experiment, and that means that we won't always get it right the first time. But we can adapt. And that hopefully is also a good model for the church.
Happy 4th of July week! I pray that this summertime may be a restorative and peaceful time for all of you. I myself am back from a few days of a "staycation" which I used to catch up on fun reading and relaxing (meaning lots of naps!).
Right before my vacation, I was in Virginia at VTS where I had a great time mingling with, listening to, and hopefully, be a resource to the MDiv students on campus.
While I was there I had numerous meetings and we are happy to announce a few more experiments:
18-Virtual Supply Priest: Creating a network of great Episcopal preachers who can provide recorded video sermons for congregations who do not have a Sunday clergy person and will instead offer Morning Prayer.
19-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.
20-Modern Christian Radio: A streaming radio station that plays contemporary music but has Christian messages in between the music.
21-Drunk Bible: Produce videos in the line of Comedy Central's "Drunk History" that make learning Bible truths fun and provide a first step on the path to discipleship.
22-Cleaning Monks: Create a low-barrier, low-investment, and replicable model of a social enterprise that can provide jobs (as a ministry) and where profits can support the mission of the sponsoring congregation.
23-Millennial Travel Experience: Work with an experienced tour operator to create a trip that can fill the "spiritual experience" desires of millennials.
24-Easy Invite Show: 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.
25-EpiscoPALS: To connect US high school students with Palestinian high school students with the goal of creating deep accompanying relationships among the faithful. (If the name sounds familiar, it's because we are repurposing the name we had for experiment #14 which for now we are calling "Senior Community.")
What do you think of the new experiments? Do any stand out to you and maybe you want to get involved? Email me, I'd love to chat.
Also, Now that we have more experiments (25!!), I have also reformatted this newsletter to make it easier to follow the experiments based on where they are in the development cycle.
As always, stay tuned!
The Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija is the founding director of the TryTank Experimental Lab.