One of my favorite classes in High School was Freshman Biology. My favorite memories of the class are when we left the desks lined up in front of the chalkboard and moved to the counter height lab tables. We gathered around those tables, usually in groups of two to four students and we would begin learning about the biology of a cell, organ, or species for ourselves.
During one round of dissecting, my teacher was attempting to point out all of the organs of a fish. One particular organ she was showing off was the swim bladder. She wanted to make sure everyone in the class could identify it. I think we were having a test on it the next day or something like that. So, Mrs. Gray came over to my station and lifted up the fish that I had been working on. She and I were about the same height and as I stared at her holding my fish, which happened to be staring at me, she pointed to the swim bladder and poked it. As she poked it, the bladder’s contents (likely formaldehyde) squirted out into my face!
The class erupted into laughter. Mrs. Gray was so apologetic. I laughed too. I will always remember that lab day!
We see New Vida Church as being a laboratory for the Kingdom of God. As we teach about the principles and promises of the Kingdom, we also want to create ways for each person to explore and discovery in a practical and hands on way how the kingdom works.
Sometimes being a laboratory means leading people in tried and true experiments designed to help each of us grow. This might be a short-term mission trip like the ones Debbi Smelser takes to Casa Bernabé in Guatemala. Right now we have 10-12 people finalizing their personal arrangements to be able to go in July.
Sometimes being a laboratory means allowing people to explore on their own. This may look like opening up our facility for members to use to host community groups they are a part of that are not directly a part of our congregation. Jordan Greer does this with an area string symphony he is a part of. Vicky Carter has done this with an exercise group that now meets at the church four to five days a week.
Sometimes being a laboratory means trying something for the first time. This could look like launching a new ministry or trying something different in our worship gatherings. This month, we altered our order of our English worship gathering to create a time for testimonies following the sermon. The response has been remarkable. The 15 people who have shared a testimony this month has allowed us to hear how God is at work among us and allowed us closer glimpses of the transformation process that we talk about in our journey of faith.
The crazy thing about lab work – it is memorable. Whether the experiment is good or bad, we learn and remember.
So, may we have a few moments of success and successful failures in our learnings of what it means to be a laboratory for the Kingdom of God.