This post on the emergence of TryTank is
By Ken Howard
In our travels around the U.S., both digitally and physically,
we at FaithX like keep our eyes open for examples of people, programs, communities, or ministries doing creative, innovative, and experimental things in the arena of faith. And when we find one, we like to shine a spotlight on them in a FaithXperimental blog post.
There’s nothing that we at FaithX like better than shining a light on people and programs who are experimenting with new and innovative ways of creating and cultivating communities of faith… unless the people are doing it are one of our clients – then we love it!
On January 1 of this year, two Episcopal seminaries, Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) and General Theological Seminary (GTS), joined forces to launch an innovative joint project focused on the future of the church. They called this exciting new program the TryTank: An Experimental Laboratory for Church Growth and Innovation.
Led by the Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija, TryTank works to understand the forces threatening the church in order to identify creative ways to equip future leaders to reinvigorate the church, seeking to understand where new church models, business models, and technology can meet the needs of today’s church.
It is this focus on experimental learning that makes this program not simply a “Think Tank” but a TRYTank. As Fr. Lebrija describes it, “Any time we have asked ourselves, ‘what if’ as we do and are church, those are opportunities to explore and try. We are going to be doing a lot of that. And we know we’re going to fail. A lot. But that’s how we can discover new adjacent possibilities, by trying.” TryTank not only sponsors experiments but shares their stories across the church, “because something that may not have worked in one place, may just be perfect in another.”
TryTank is an early-adopter of MapDash for Faith Communities by Datastory, using its ability to prepare Neighborhood Missional Intelligence Reports and study the underlying demographic and lifestyle trends to help participants in the program determine if their ideas are a good fit for their communities. Click here to read about some of the experiments they have sponsored.
To further their quest for new and creative ways to “do church,” TryTank is hosting PitchTank – a friendly competition for experiment ideas, with the winner awarded up to $5,000 to launch their experiment with TryTank and see what happens! Finalists will have five minutes to live pitch their experiment to a panel of experts at the Rooted in Jesus Conference in January 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. Selected entrants will need to pitch their proposals on Friday, January 24, 2020 either in person or via videoconference.
Interested? Got an idea? Making one now because this sounds awesome? Click here to submit your idea.
Meanwhile, sign up for the TryTank e-newsletter at www.TryTank.org.
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FaithX is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and Ken’s faith-based consulting practice at FaithX is done under an extension of ministry from the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.