December 30, 2017

Lessons from our Advent Workshops

Back in November, I announced that I would be providing 3 workshops on starting missional communities during the season of Advent. Considering all things, I think these workshops were a success! We had to close registration early for both noon and evening sessions because classes filled up quickly. Participation over the three consecutive sessions was consistent, experiencing very little drop off. Feedback from participants during and afterwards, whether volunteered in offline conversation or through our post-workshop survey, has been positive and encouraging.

All of this has been thrilling but there are a few other things that stood out to me about these workshops.

Online learning is becoming more and more natural.
I wondered about this a few weeks ago in another post. I've participated in, and offered, workshops online in the past and there was always a variety of issues. People didn't understand how to engage. Others had technical issues that distracted the group. Others complained about how it just wasn't the same as doing this in person. We experienced very little of these issues this time. Participating in an online workshop appeared quite natural for those participating. This says something about how "native" we have grown to become with our laptops and using them to engage online.

Online learning attracts others you would not otherwise connect with.
Going into these workshops, I thought I had a good idea of the kind of person who would participate. I was right, but I was also wrong. There were people that participated that I had no idea they would be interested in starting missional communities! There were others that I did not know participated, simply because they participated "off-screen," watching near a friend on their laptop each week. It also seems clear that this opportunity caught many people that were able to participate online when their life demands would have prevented them to if expected to be somewhere in person. And of course, there were those from other parts of the U.S. that were able to participate because it was online.

All of this has kept me thinking about other ways to offer online learning, training and community for those starting new communities. We are already planning on a Lent workshop and I've been thinking to myself, What other ways, besides video, can we consider to deliver this kind of learning? And there is the other question of success not yet mentioned here: Do people actually use this resource to actually start new communities? It's futile if not. Figuring out how to track that is yet another project that we are working on.

If you have thoughts, ideas or resources please share! I would love to hear from you.

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