Stories from the Fringes

It’s time to turn some dreams into reality…

I believe deeply in the power of story. It all goes back to one of my favorite conversations where Tim Costello asked Ivan Illich, “What is the most revolutionary way to change society? Violent revolution or is it gradual reform?” Illich gave a careful answer, “Neither. If you want to change a society, then you must tell an alternative story.” I cultivate a community of missional leaders on EmergingLeadersNetwork.org who are on streets and in the culture, trying to tell an alternative story about God’s relationship to creation through the selfless compassion of Jesus Christ.

The good news is, these people are on the fringes of the institutional church because they are in the center of the world. The bad news is, they regularly feel vulnerable and unsupported out on those fringes. Whenever we gather to tell our stories of hope, reconciliation and justice, we find the encouragement and support we need to press on. Unfortunately, there are many other people out there who have not been able to come to these gatherings, and many more who have not even had their missional imaginations affirmed. They perceive a new movement of the kingdom around them, but might be afraid to act on it, because to do so would meaning doing things they have not seen done before.

Their experience remind me of Peter. One day he has dream. A sheet is lowered from heaven containing many ‘unclean’ animals. God tells him to kill and eat. Peter reminds God that these animals are unclean, and that they should not be eaten. After enough prodding, Peter realizes He should trust God rather than dictating how things have ‘always been done around here’, and immediately, God brought along people to affirm this message that He was moving in new ways. Peter still had to spend some quality time in Jerusalem justifying his actions, but he was faithful, and began sharing the good news of salvation with the ‘wrong’ kind of people, in the ‘wrong’ kind of ways. By being faithful to his calling, and sharing the story of what God is already up to in the world, the church adapted and was broken open for all nations.

My dream is to gather and share the stories of how God is at work in the world and on the fringes of the church to inspire hope and encourage change. Specifically, I will visit the fringes and interview the communities who have responded to God’s call to do a new thing, and share their stories in various media formats through emergingleadersnetwork.org

Resources will include:

  • Full-length audio and video interviews
  • Remixed 3-5 minute summaries of interviews
  • Mini-documentaries of life in the community (experience their life together, rather than talking about it)
  • Photo Journals
  • Text articles w/ Photos (about the communities, and solicited from members of the communities)

In addition to documenting the stories of these communities, I will build the network in these ways:

  • Encourage community members to build profiles and participate on the ELN website
  • Assist in the formation of regional networks
  • Solicit articles
  • Invite local synodical staff, mission directors, seminarians and other practitioners to get involved on the site
  • Facilitate conversations on the site by connecting members who may not have met, and invite them to collaborate
  • Get out of the way

These resources and conversations will be developed and posted ‘along the way’, rather than being published all at once. They will be high quality, with great attention and intention given to usability and accessibility, but they will have a grassroots feel, rather than a polished professional feel. This is intentional. Ideally, members of ELN will feel encouraged and capable of posting their own content and share their own stories right along side the ones gathered in this project.

Needs:
This project has no inherent revenue source and will require a full-time commitment. Therefore, I am exploring funding options for equipment, software, travel, and personal compensation.