Monday, July 12, 2010

My Time in the Exhibit Hall and Connecting

As I was in Minneapolis, I kept thinking I should be blogging ... but the time would get away from me, and I kept meeting and seeing new people to connect with.  I am not a polity-wonk or GA junkie, but I love spending time in the Exhibit Hall.  I spent almost a full two days just hanging out there, running into people I knew from other presbyteries, GA staff, etc.  And I would sit and have long conversations with a number of folk ...

This year I spent a lot of time at the PCUSA Church Growth booth, connecting with Philip Lotspeitch and Ray Jones.  We shared what was new in our presbytery and what was happening around the country ... nothing much new to share with you, though I am conversing with Philip about doing a national NCD conference here in Houston sometime next year.

Mission Insite had a booth in the Exhibit Hall and I spent one afternoon catching up with Peter and Chuck about the newest innovations being offered our congregations through this demographic tool.  In case you aren't aware, our presbytery was one of the first to sign on with a contract to Mission Insite ... if you want demographic information on your community this is the place to go.  All the information you need to sign on is on our website. The great news is that soon every congregation will be able to plot their congregation members on the interactive map and have a visual representation of where their members live.  If you'd like to get your congregation plotted, just drop me an email and I'll get you started. 

Mary Marcotte and I spent one afternoon being introduced to a new assessment program for congregations facing an indefinite future.  It's called New Beginnings.  At first blush, it seems very comprehensive, solid, and intentional.  We both volunteered to be trained as consultants/assessors for other presbyteries as we discern its usefulness with our own presbytery and the congregations here as then imagine different possible scenarios for their future.

Having heard Phyllis Tickle speak to the middle governing body representatives, I was intrigued by the challenges virtual worlds were facing the church.  In passing she mentioned a facebook friend of mine, Neal Locke, and his venture at starting a PCUSA congregation online in Second Life.  First Presbyterian Church of Second Life has been meeting regularly for a little more than eight months now.  I spent a couple of hours one afternoon picking Neal's brain about the challenges and realities of new church development in a virtual world.  The avatars who worship on Sunday evenings all represent a Real Life human being, many of whom are meeting Jesus and developing life-changing relationships online through this ministry.  Call or email me if you want to chat more about this ... it's absolutely fascinating!

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