Sunday, November 24, 2013

Let the games begin (okay, too late)

Back in April I was part of a discussion where some folks were complaining about the dashboard that the Indiana Annual Conference is "requiring" us to participate in.  The dashboard asks us to put in how many people showed up for worship, how much offering was collected and how many in our congregation were in ministry this week, and how many small groups are going on, and how many glory sightings have there been.  I put requiring in quotes because there seems to be no penalty for not putting your numbers up.  Most of the largest congregations don't put their numbers up.  I don't mind putting the numbers up.  It requires all of 1 minute from me - to do so.  Besides that - it is not particularly useful or helpful - but if the Bishop wants it - why not?  So - I dutifully send in my information.  

I should say that I have complained about it - but my brother, Alan, who is a principal of a public high school (Lindblom Math and Science Academy) on the South Side of Chicago (and doing an awesome job at it I should add) - was listening to my complaints about it and he explained that they had been having to report like that for over 10 years and so I should stop my complaining! (he did add that he didn't pay much attention to it either - because the information was neither useful nor helpful to them either)

Back to the discussion I was a part of - so someone in the group said "what would you count?"  I decided to take that challenge on.  I came up with a list of 12 things (I thought this was biblically justified) and shared them.  After that I got thinking about a book I read a couple of years ago I really liked: Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal.  Jane talks about the power of games.  I suggested that perhaps our pastoral team (myself, Rachel Metheny and Duane Carlisle) might "play" one another by giving a point value to each of these actions and see how many points we each had after playing this game for a month.  What I really wanted to know was what effect, if any, it would have on us.

At the end of the month I would say that the effect on me was that I was thinking of these things more often as a result of having spelled it out.  We have talked about returning to the game - after Rachel returned from clergy renewal leave, but it hasn't happened yet.  I did include this list in our intern's job description (from Christian Theological Seminary) - part of her job description is to score 5 points a week.  Most of the items in the game count for 1 point each.  Pulling a meal together does get your five points.

Lately we have had a discussion with the church leadership about their joining the game as well.  We shall see.

Here are the things we count at Broadway:

1) Counting the numbers of people to whose homes we went and we laid hands on and blessed them and offered a prayer of celebration and praise for their ministry: in their life, their home, their workplace;
2) Counting the number of people we introduced to each other that week because "we see in each of you that you seem to have the same call and claim of God upon your life and it seemed like it would be great for you to know that about each other";
3) Counting the number of people who we prayed with that week in hospital rooms, on street corners, in alleys, in living rooms, in offices, and in car repair shops;
4) Counting the number of people each week to whom we wrote letters celebrating their discipleship in the life of the world;
5) Counting the number of people each week we anointed with oil for the challenge that is set before them;
6) Counting the number of people that we journeyed with to visit with someone else: at home, at the hospital, in the workplace;
7) Counting the number of people who you visited to remind them of their baptism that week (perhaps an anniversary of their baptism, or the baptism anniversary of someone in their household);
8) Counting the number of times you ate with someone that week and reminded them at the meal of the communion that Jesus shared with his friends on Maundy Thursday and reminding all of Christ's presence at the table;
9) Counting the number of times you went and announced forgiveness to someone who was laboring under guilt and shame;
10) Counting the number of times during a month you threw a party to celebrate the presence and power of the love of God in the people and parish around you;
11) Counting the number of times in a week you took your Bible and read a story to someone whose life you see in that particular story;

12) Counting the number of times you posted on facebook that month celebrating the discipleship of the people in your parish in concrete and joyful ways.

I don't know if this was a good idea or not.  But I'm grateful for the things it's made me think about - and for the conversations that have come out of it.