Experimenting Our Way With Jesus

I’m almost embarrassed to share this with you but quite a few years ago I created a bit of an experiment. I’m a bit embarrassed because the content of this experiment is slightly childish…but to my credit it was done back when Facebook was still young, new, and fresh to me. Groups and pages and “liking” things were all new ideas and concepts that I was still exploring.

So I created Pit Stains.

It was an experiment to see if something as idiotic as this could randomly, on its own, get a following. I’m not sure if having 135 followers after a few years is considered a valuable experiment or not. That’s the thing about experiments: success isn’t measured simply by achieving a goal as much as it is by what you’ve learned. The reason I’m not sure it was a successful experiment is because I’m not sure I’ve learned anything whatsoever. At the very least I still get a bit of a kick out of the drawing I made…and isn’t that enough?

At Grassroots we talk a lot about experimenting. Honestly we are not at a place where we have initiated many experiments, but at the very least it is a part of our verbiage, a part of our identity, and is projected as a part of our defining behaviors.

Experimentation is important because very little will keep a group from calcification. Over time every group will work itself toward being defined by a more rigid set of ideals, structures, or systems. While none of those are bad things, I do think that (at least for what we’re attempting to do) acquiescing to rigidity or creating a stiff and inflexible identity is unhealthy and counterproductive. When following the Spirit of God (always moving and very fluid) and working amongst and in partnership with humanity (always moving and very fluid as a whole) it is impossible to stay healthy and stagnant at the same time.

Experimentation, I believe, is one of the keys to keeping a sense of fluidity and creativity amongst us at Grassroots. It invites us to explore the words of Jesus in meaningful ways. It invites us to move past the fear of failure because in experimentation failure teaches you just as much as success (probably more actually). It invites us into a way of life defined by journey over and above destination–something that I think is hugely valuable for an as you are going missional mentality.

It must look different in every context depending on what you’re seeking to learn, who you’re partnering with, what questions you have, what stories you’re interacting with (I’m thinking here of the Jesus narrative primarily), etc. So I can’t speak much into what this all may or could look like. What I can say is that the Grassroots Conspiracy and all of its co-conspirators seek to be defined by an experimental mentality where we are continually caught up in the vastness and mystery of following Jesus in and amongst the beautiful and messy creation of God. I think I can safely say that questions and ideas will range from

  • How often should we meet together…and where should we do it and why and for what purpose?
  • If scripture tells us to care for orphans and widows what implications does this have for my widowed cranky neighbor down the street and how might the GC community shape an experiment to better live out this text within my own reality?
  • How might we follow Jesus’ words to love your neighbor as yourself if many of us struggle to love self?
  • What if, in an attempt to ‘turn the other cheek’, we gave up partaking in any violence whatsoever for six weeks? How would that shape our media choices? The Bible stories we read? The way we speak about political opponents? The way we love our spouse? The type of chocolate we purchase?
I can imagine question after question from huge to seemingly mundane where an experimental mentality could wholly change our outlook on life, on theology, on love, or on marriage. or. Or. OR it could be as simple as inviting us to not take ourselves so seriously, to let us off the hook a bit for doing everything exactly right every single time all of the time.
Maybe we should just experiment a bit and see what we learn. Who knows, maybe we don’t all have it figured out already?

 

If you want to read a great book about experimenting within the ways of Jesus, you must read Mark Scandrette’s book Practicing the Ways of Jesus. It is absolutely dynamite. No joke.

One thought on “Experimenting Our Way With Jesus

  1. These are great questions to think about for experimentation. Especially the one about the cranky widow down the street. I remember her. She is cranky indeed.

    Something clicked with me while reading this. How amazing it is that God gave us the capacity for creativity?! These questions are so creative. They make me want to read some Jesus stories right now.

    The Scandrette book has a site (http://jesusdojo.com/). It has a spot that talks about a few experiments. But, I don't see a place to brainstorm questions. Such a place would be cool.

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