I need your input!

I really want Harvest to be a place where anyone can ask anything. A safe environment where all people, from the most experienced Christians to the newest of newbies, can wrestle with any question that's on their mind. An open community that encourages people to think, by fostering an "every question on the table" mindset that relishes evaluating all of life's questions in light of scripture.

So I'm considering two things for this coming summer, and I need your input! Especially if you're a regular part of the Harvest church family, though I'd benefit from the input of any churchgoing Christian anywhere, so please don't sit this out just because you don't attend my church. Here's what's simmering between my ears:

1. "Everything On The Table" - This would be a no-holds barred, ask any question you want type of discussion forum, where the curriculum is determined by the participants. Questions could be about Bible & theology, or why churches don't typically talk about such-and-such a Bible passage, or Christian living... you name it. All the questions people have wondered about but weren't ever completely sure it was OK to ask. I'm thinking of asking people to submit questions ahead of time which would allow for better quality guided discussion on how to think Biblically about the question at hand. Then we'd publish the list of upcoming questions (without identifying the original asker) so people know what we're going to be discussing that day in advance.

With the summer single-service format we'd probably do this during the 9:00 Community Cafe/breakfast hour before the main church service at 10:00, so childcare would be available for any who need it.

Now for your advice: If we did this, would you be interested in participating? ("no" or "on one condition..." are acceptable answers!)
AND secondly, what's the best way to obtain the questions? In other words, what would incite you to write down a question you'd like to see addressed
at church?

2. "Message Forum" - this is something we've talked about numerous times but never done: a discussion forum right after the main service on Sunday to talk about the sermon. Maybe a question occurred to you while I was speaking, or something I said needs clarifying (or correcting!), or you'd like to discuss how to make the truth we just taught a reality in our lives. This would be a place to get into the morning's text more actively - and interactively.

With our summer single-service format we would have to do this AFTER church. So Community Cafe would be at 9:00, the church service at 10:00, and then the Message Forum at around 11:30. You'd have to bring your kids with you, but they'd be welcome. We'd cap it at an hour and break earlier if needed.

Your input: Would you be interested enough in doing this that you'd consider staying for 30-60 minutes after church is over? Or would the Oregon sunshine be calling your name?

I'm very serious about asking for reader input here - especially from the 1/2 or 2/3 of you who attend Harvest. If I get a strong sense either way on either one of these things it may affect how, and whether, we do it.

So comment away - anonymously if you feel more comfortable that way. Or you can e-mail me. But either way, chime in! That's one confused looking dude in that picture, and he needs some help.



Anonymous said...

Hey Matt!

I love both ideas. I'd be willing to stay and be devil's advocate. My only problem is with being gone occasionally and then when I am there, so are the better parts of my family. Some days they might have plans and want to git. That means, I'm probably good for 1/2 the time or maybe 3 out of 5.

I've raised points and argued enough to get some christians pretty pissed at me. Not that I just want to argue (though that has happened. Duh), but I have to be proven wrong before I will concede.

Your official DA

Mitch said...

Well, if you want to play Devil's Advocate, I'll help out. Maybe Dana and I could schedule our vacations so at least one of us is always present. I think between the two of us we could manage to offend nearly everyone in the church, including each other. Fun times!

Seriously, we've been talking a bunch about worldviews, and I'd like to see some more specifics about communicating with people who don't subscribe to the Christian worldview.

How do I talk to an atheist without him thinking I'm an idiot? (I usually start with "Dawkins is an ass!" but I'm pretty sure I could improve on that.)

How do I talk to an "anything goes" postmodernist about Absolute Truth without coming off as a fascist?

How do I find common ground with a Muslim or Hindu or Jew to be able to talk intelligently about spiritual matters, without insulting them?

OK, that's enough. I can come up with some way more controversial topics if you'd like, easy. "Should Christians advocate legalizing hemp?" See? Easy.


Matt Guerino said...


Great questions! Much better than Dana's. ;) I would agree that you've identified some fantastic ways NOT to start a conversation! Christians mad enough to cuss usually aren't very winsome (I know I know, you just meant "donkey").

Understanding where people are coming from so we can find some common ground and dialogue more effectively with them is something we could all use some practice with. One wonders how much better a place the world would be, and how much further the kingdom of Jesus would advance, were we better at communicating his truth.

Thanks both for your input - at least someone takes pity on that poor lost dude in the picture.

Jonna said...

Since my husband neglected to answer part of your question, I will answer for him. It is a wife's prerogative, right? :) We would both be interested in the discussions during community cafe hour, but after church would not work well with two small but very active children.


Matt Guerino said...

Thanks Jonna! I'm glad to see where the sense in the Williams household resides. :)

Amy Guerino said...

I've always been a huge fan of childcare taken care of for things like this that engage my mind. As a woman and mother my radar can't be turned off from the children unless they are covered by someone else. I want to fully "be all there" and not worry if my kids are fidgety or distracting.

John said...

Hey you all -

If there had been more responders I would have said Hey all you all –

Re “Massage forum” – I am not sure that would work. Usually Matt’s messages are extremely relevant but aimed just at me. You all would be very bored – or you would gang up on me. Neither bode well.

Seriously, any opportunity we have to further “unpackage” truth, to try it on, to see how we fit it is a good thing. I would like that, when here.

Re “Everything on the table” – if you do that, then I will want to know when we will have a message on the Song of Solomon. Yes folks, that is not like the book of Hezekiah or Hesitations – even though you have never heard a message on it, Song of Solomon is really a book of the Bible.

By the way Dana, if you want to be anonymous, don’t sign your name. B)

Anonymous said...

Doh! I'll start signing my name differently. Thank you Mitch for going tag team with me. And now in this corner... As far as the "when to do it" question, I think pre is good, but I'll have to admit, I like the milling about time. I'm a people person. I also like what Mitch had to say about how to approach different people and I feel this would be a good forum for working out those topics.

Cabana Man

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