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WHAT, HOW & WHO

The Breakdown.

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THE WHAT:

THE CHURCH LAB IS A CHRISTIAN TEAM

-CENTERED AROUND OUR BELOVED INTERFAITH COMMUNITY-

THAT ACTS AS A MODERN LABORATORY FOR FAITH AND SPIRITUAL GROWTH.

 

THE 4 HOWS:

We grow via dialogue, discipleship, service & worship:

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DIALOGUE FOR ALL!

Among our experiments, we have found that our members grow most meaningfully by being a part of our ongoing interreligious dialogue small group.

As such, our central community is our interfaith community.

We represent many faith traditions! We prioritize inviting both people on the right and the left, of deep institutional conviction or none at all, to grow by doing the meaningful spiritual work of becoming friends.

In all of our activities, we support the depths and specific convictions of all traditions.

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DISCIPLESHIP FOR CHRISTIANS, DEVELOPMENT FOR ALL!

This spiritual work, which is also often play, lends itself directly to discipleship and development work. Dialogue invites us to learn to listen deeply and to articulate our convictions to those entirely unfamiliar with them. This often leads to a deepening of one’s prayer life, a sharpening of a sense of one’s convictions, a loosening of the reigns on personal control and a posture of gratitude for seeing what happens when we trust God to lead a conversation when no individual defines the agenda. Sustained, ongoing dialogue with a small group results in nearly inevitable growth, if space is given for reflective development.

Pastor Carrie is here to support both Christians and lab partners of any tradition as they grow more deeply in their respective faiths as a result of participating in our dialogue community. A formal structure of Christian discipleship is offered, and by request, Carrie also frequently meets with and cares for dialogue partners of several traditions.

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SERVICE

A near universal conviction of humans with hearts everywhere is that serving others is a gift to ourselves as well as others, is a way to learn about life via experience, and is a way to grow closer to others. If you are a person of faith, it is a way to grow closer to God.

We strive to creatively meet spiritual needs, even when it comes to service. Some ways we do that include:

  • Volunteering with Austin’s Community First! Village for neighbors who’ve experienced homelessness

  • Hurricane Harvey recovery work: gutting homes, providing supplies, providing pastoral care, coordinating the adoption of 70 classrooms, offering free family photo sessions for those that lost all of their photos!

  • We meet annually at the end of the year to talk about causes that have changed our lives, to raise awareness and to vote to pool our resources to donate to one local and one global cause. It is essentially an interfaith friendly Advent Conspiracy.

  • We have a relationship with individuals and an organization in the impoverished country of Burkina Faso. We hope to continue to build relationships between us in the USA and those in Burkina Faso, so that we might be able to move forward on fundraising to build a school in a village there one day soon.

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WORSHIP

Oftentimes, TCL lab partners have primary worshipping communities whose weekly worship services they attend. We encourage folks who are comfortable with religious institutions to commit to a community and attend regular worship gatherings. If TCL is your primary home, we encourage you to get in on our worship offerings when we do offer them!

As possible, TCL offers experiential, creative worship opportunities that are either specifically Christian or interfaith friendly. This may be a Maundy Thursday service with interfaith readers, interfaith foot washing interwoven with Christian reflection and Christian communion for participation or observation. It might be a lesson on labyrinth walking that concludes with folks of various faiths employing the specificities of their tradition to their labyrinth walk, all while walking alongside interfaith friends that may hold contrasting beliefs.


THE WHO: 

The Church Lab is comprised of all sorts of lab partners. How do I fit into all this?

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FOR EVERYBODY:

Almost everything we do is open to people of any or no religious tradition!

We need one another's diverse perspectives so we can grow alongside one another, and so we can build much needed bridges! We strive to be clear about activities where the option will be to participate in a faith based ritual or to observe and reflect on the experience.

The only exception is Christian discipleship group, which asks folks to be vulnerable about their lives and consider where their circumstances intersect with Christian specific commitments. Due to the vulnerable nature of group, we do not offer observation beyond committed participants. TCL's Christian discipleship group (often affectionately and nonsensically referred to as "Chortle") is a way to embrace depth and specificity in our tradition. We encourage our lab partners with outside worshipping communities to do the same!

FOR NEIGHBORS WITH ZERO COMMITMENT TO A BELIEF SYSTEM:

If you're not involved in anything we do at all, whether or not you ascribe to any faith tradition, Pastor Carrie is available to connect with and provide support to you. No strings attached. Email her at carrie@thechurchlab.org. Carrie actually loves offering pastoral care to people with no (interest in a) worshipping community. This is part of The Church Lab's dedication to practicing love with no strings attached. She can also act as a reference to affordable therapy services for those with more ongoing support needs. 

In many circumstances, dialogue can also be a great place for people with no specific belief system to nurture a spiritual life in a safe space for exploration, questions and a number of respectfully given perspectives.

SO FOR CHRISTIANS, WE DO WHAT?

For our Christian participants, supporters and lab partners, it is our joy that we are equipped to invite you to explore deeply-rooted faith in Christ, as well as how to best put this faith into action, with participatory offerings in all 4 pursuits: dialogue, discipleship, service and worship. Sometimes we are a supplement to others’ worshipping communities, and sometimes we are the primary home for spiritual community and growth. That is totally up to the Christian lab partner, and we support what is right for any given person!

FINANCIAL PARTNERS:

If you are looking for a way to support a giant experiment like ours, we are always on the lookout for donating partnerships! We operate entirely off of individual donations. We want folks to be able to belong to our community without financial demands. Those that can give do so, and we account for those not in a place to give by way of external donor partnerships. If you're interested in being a lab partner by way of ongoing financial generosity, please email carrie@thechurchlab.org. To give a one time gift, you can easily give online on our homepage.


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WE ARE A LAB PARTNER TO OTHER ORGANIZATIONS.

  • As we glean lessons from our experiments, TCL makes for being a good lab partner to established church communities with whom we might be able to share the lessons we have been learning in our lab.
  • In the areas of facilitation and dialogue, we have been able to widen our aid to businesses and workplaces seeking a healthier way of relating to one another.

Check out our leadership development page for more info.

We’re always on the lookout for good lab partners!