“Hey, I’ve got an idea….”

“You know, what we need is….”

“Why aren’t we doing…?”

Have you started a sentence like that recently? If so, then you might be ready to help run a ministry experiment here at FPCB!

One of the themes I’ve been stressing since last January is that we are going to be an “experimental church” in this new era of our 143-year history. From a scientific perspective, an experiment is something we do either to make a discovery or test an idea (or both!). That’s exactly how we mean it here at the church, too: as an experimental church, we are taking good ideas and trying them out, seeing what happens, learning from them, and then applying what we learn to the next experiment.  Our first experiments were a contemporary worship service at 9 AM and Sunday School during the traditional worship service. Both have been very successful and building up ever since. Others include the Lenten Suppers last spring, the Community Garden project, and most recently a 6-week experiment with Sunday School during the contemporary worship service. The only real limits on our experiments are getting the good ideas to try and enlisting the people willing to lead them.

So: do you have a good idea? If so, here’s how to get started. First, connect with the committee of Session that coordinates ministry in the area that connects with your idea: for community outreach, that would be Mission; something to do with families would be Discipleship; anything about music is Worship; and so on. If you’re not sure which committee to contact, then reach out to me and I’ll point you in the right direction! You can find contact emails listed for each committee on our website, on a handout in the Narthex and in the information racks near the South Entrance door, and each committee has a mailbox in the reception area of the main office. The committee will help you refine the idea that will ultimately need recommending to the Session to make it happen.

That process means you have to create an experiment! How do you create an experiment? Well, think about what is the smallest version of your idea that can actually give it a full test. It’s easier to run an experiment, for example, if you don’t have to commit to doing something for six months when you can learn what you really need to know about it in six weeks! The same goes for a budget and for the number of people involved: what’s the smallest version of the full idea you can create to test it? And most importantly: what would you consider a successful test? Once you and the committee have an experiment, the committee will recommend it to the Session and, assuming they say yes, your experiment is off and running! Once it’s concluded, we’ll review what happened and decide whether to repeat, revise, or regroup.

On the other hand, what if you don’t have an idea yourself but want to be involved in helping with an experiment in a particular area?  Well, let the committee know that, too! We want great ideas, AND we need some help with some great ideas we already have. So let us know, and we’ll tell you where you can jump in.

I’m so excited about this season of experimentation and learning that we’re in right now as we explore how we as a congregation can most faithfully and effectively answer Christ’s call. I hope you are, too. I can’t wait to see what comes next!