Since September of 2015 we have been testing the first draft of the program with six partners in different settings. This weekend will be the fourth of those six tests. With each test, we have been learning about different aspects of JTT in more depth and revising the program according to what we learn. In some cases, we have learned that the first draft of the program serves participants well and genuinely helps people create space for conversations together about faith in their lives. In others we have learned how we can adjust the way JTT is designed to serve participants better. Overall, we have been fortunate so far in having a positive impact with participants with the program in its first draft. In other posts I have been sharing a few pieces that we have learned. I have tried to share some bigger items that we have seen in multiple tests so far. For a slightly more fun way to read the highlights so far, here’s a series of quotes from my brain as I’ve observed the three tests that we have completed: “Well what do you know, this thing actually works!” “We designed something with college students and young adults specifically in mind, and it seems to connect with them.” “So you’re saying we don’t all have to agree on everything about faith to have a good conversation about faith in our lives?.. Brilliant!” “We can’t ask people to leave any part of themselves out of the conversation. I’m glad my program doesn’t do that.” “Journey to the Table isn’t designed to be overtly evangelical.” “What happens when someone who is questioning faith shows up? Pull up a chair next to me, I have some questions I’d like to ask too.” “Participants seem most engaged when it doesn’t feel like a lecture.” “How do we get the people giving talks to be more personable?” “Of course this doesn’t have to be a weekend retreat – everyone already knows how to meet once a week.” “We’re not trying to tell people all of the right answers. How do we do a great job of inviting people to talk about interesting questions of faith and life? That’s a more interesting conversation – at least to me.”
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Emmaus ministries, Test Locations
12106696_594228480258_3039336815933339690_n This is a prayer I’ve said many times. I’ve said it a few times by myself, countless times with a small group of others, and many more in a room filled with people. I’ve said this prayer enough now that I generally say it the same way each time, as if the commas and pauses are all programmed into my understanding of the prayer. “Come, Holy Spirit,… fill the hearts of your faithful… and kindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your spirit… and we shall be created…” I’ve learned the way I say this prayer from others who have said long before me, and many more times than I have. We all say it the same way. That is, until I said this prayer with a new group of people. I’ve been asked about the relationship of Journey to the Table with the family of ministries that it comes from: Walk to Emmaus and Chrysalis. For me, this prayer is a perfect illustration. It is something familiar to me, and yet also something that is now new. Equally cherished, every bit as meaningful, with pauses and commas in new places, and sounding different. I’m excited to see this prayer develop new meaning to new people. Just as a group introduced me to this prayer, so too I now get to introduce others to this prayer who will say it in their own way. I can’t help but be excited about what it will look like when the Holy Spirit shows up for them. What will they be created to do?
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Process, Research, Test Locations
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#3: Conversations can look more like art.

There’s plenty of research data out there that says people with smart phones are distracted. And there’s plenty of people in ministry who ask what to do about that. Don’t do anything. In the three tests so far, I’ve heard people specifically ask us to put away our phones only 4 times in a cumulative 7 days of experience. I’ve seen people on their phones during a conversation only twice. The Emmaus ministries that Journey to the Table comes from have a long tradition of asking people to intentionally disconnect from the outside world and be focused on the experience in front of them. So far, the people that have participated in Journey to the Table have been so engaged with one another that we haven’t needed to ask. I’ve seen conversations that include phones at times, but also include sketch pads, sound effects, notes, colorful drawings, and knitting. In all of those cases, the people in the conversation have said that what they remember most are the other people at the table. As I read all of that research data, I think this is what a relationship-focused generation looks like: conversations as art.
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Test Locations
mmc-logo       Over fall break, some Martin Methodist College students took part in Journey to the Table, a new program in the Emmaus tradition for 18 to 24 year-olds that The Upper Room is testing in partnership with Martin Methodist College and the Turner Center for Church Leadership. It is an opportunity to meet Jesus Christ in a new way as God’s grace and love is revealed to you through other believers. “I experienced a refocusing of God being the center of my life. It’s like someone has dumped gasoline on my fire again. I feel that I have not only matured within myself, but also in my walk with Christ” — Thomas Sarver, a freshman from Hermitage, TN. You can read the full article here.
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