You see, we have not brought a "template" to this enterprise, just the willingness to stick our butts our there in the wind and eyes to see if it is effective or not. jump and learn! we have learned a lot. here are a few lessons:
1.) Christians are creatures of habit. So much of what comprises a Christian's life is stuff that has been there for a long time and which gives security as well as some kind of meansurement as to whether they are "doing good" at this Christian thing. Go to church on sundays. Be in a small group. Do quiet times. etc...
2.) Many of those habits are completely ineffective in shaping followers of Jesus anymore and need to be shaken up to allow for fresh wine and a new perspective.
3.) Many of those habits are completely inaccessible for people outside the church. Almost odd.
4.) Spiritual conversations are really very easy to engage if you will approach it to listen more than talk. People are hungry to discuss these issues and are just looking for someone safe enough. By "safe" it usually means someone who won't take their honesty and use it as a platform for winning an argument nor someone who will try to tell them how those thoughts and feelings are incorrect. We all really only learn as we discover, not when we are told. That is all they want. The freedom and respect and trust to be allowed to discover.
5.) People love to talk about God over a game of poker or a cigar.
6.) Never trust decisions that come from a spiritual conversation that happens when they are drunk but pay attentiuon to the hungers and hurt that comes out. It may be the most honest moments of their lives. (not a suggestion to implement alcohol in missional strategy!)
7.) Film is the language of this generation. Learn it and you will see conversations about life, fear, hope etc... that you never knew were going on.
8.) Christians need to relax and explore what grace means to spiritual journeys. Religion has oozed into our M.O.'s and we need to root it out. Example: i hope this little community is full of people living lives that, well, that are full of all that stuff the church pretends none of them do! why? because if i wasn't following Jesus and experiencing His hope i'd be doing it too! if they can feel comfortable amongst us then real humans will be able to do genuine spiritual searching rather than the "hoop jumping" that is normally required as the price of admission to most churches.
I have been reading the Gospel of Matthew some and noticed anew what Jesus' reputation was - a party animal! They called him a "glutton" because he was present at so many parties with people partying their asses off. so much so that it defined him to those on the outside. that is the kind of church that understands grace and that is positioned for credibility and impact. i want that kind of church. a church that is IN THE WORLD. we often spend all our time focusing on the second part of that verse don't we? it seems that the really good stuff of God only happens when you are out there - that is when you see The Spirit doing His thing in people's live and when this gig gets exciting.