Thursday, March 4, 2010

Living the Questions…

This letter is a shameless promotion of the current Adult Sunday School Class. But, hopefully, it’s worth reading whether you attend or not. Though you really might like it…

For those who haven’t attended Sunday School in awhile, let me give a sense of what’s been happening. Last year, the Board approved an educational experiment. We purchased a yearlong membership with a church lending library- Iowa Religious Media Services. IRMS has vast amounts of DVDs, Videos, Books and other resources, which they lend to paying member churches. Membership dues are on a sliding scale. So, being an intimate church, we come in at the low end- $106 p/year. I presented this to the Board last year, and they decided to designate part of our education budget for IRMS membership. Thus, we now have access to the ever-expanding IRMS catalogue.

I called this an experiment because, cool as it sounds, I didn’t know if it’d work at PCCC. I worried they were too far away, or that stuff we really wanted would always be unavailable. So we figured we’d try it out, and see how it goes. About six or so months into the experiment, my and others’ assessment is an unqualified YEAH! The IRMS staff is responsive and kind, and turn-around time on material is very quick. But most important, the resources we’ve found for Sunday School are great. The Youth have enjoyed the two DVD series we’ve tried (and I’ve been excited to discover how insightful, deep, funny and faithful PCCC youth are; it’s all our privilege to be in church with them!). And the adult Sunday School is three weeks into its third DVD series, called “Living the Questions.” Every Sunday is about a 50/50 mix of discussion and DVD watching. Though the sessions build on one another, each is self-contained enough that you can miss Sundays and not get lost. Or join the class after the third/fourth week, and feel completely in sync…I’m just sayin’.

So why write about this now? Well, when I first encountered IRMS, at a Regional event, they were promoting “Living the Questions.” I’d already seen these DVD sessions at my old church in Lexington, and loved them. I’d also heard that many other DoC and mainline churches had incredible experiences with LtQ . So I thought this could be interesting for PCCC. The problem was the DVDs cost $300; not a big deal for some church budgets, but WAY too much for us to spend on one curriculum. But IRMS was a way to get access to LtQ AND much more at a third the cost. Naturally, I was eager, and now it’s happening!

But what makes this series so interesting to me? Think about the title- Living the Questions- and then ponder our modern context. Some churches advertise themselves as answer factories, right? Come to worship, join our church, and we’ll teach you God’s most intimate secrets. Sound like a beautiful idea? Sure. Does it sound realistic? I don’t think so. And I’ve learned that doesn’t describe P triple C (PCCC...) either. Indeed, we’re proud that we don’t offer easy answers to life’s most profound questions. Not because we lack faith, but because we don’t think that’s how life works. For religious folk in this modern, pluralist environment, reducing God and God’s plan to a simple four-point formula is naïve, at best, or in some cases, dishonest and manipulative. And I think at PCCC, we value honesty and authentic faith, even if it’s more difficult than other options.

In other words, the modern religious life isn’t about discovering the “right” answers. It’s about asking better and better questions- about Jesus, God, family, morality, etc.- and living more faithfully as a result. Or at least, that’s what this DVD series proposes, and as you might’ve guessed, I think that’s basically right. That doesn’t mean you’ll agree with everything the DVD presenters say. But it’ll provoke, challenge, and encourage you to deeper Christian living. And that’s not a bad way to prepare for worship, amen? FYI, the class tells me they’re really enjoying this series, and that there’s still lots of room…

Grace and Peace,


P.S. - Class is 9-9:45 AM

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