On Sunday at cafe church we were looking at the conversion of Paul. The more informal, social, participatory nature of this monthly evening service gave me the perfect opportunity to try something that allowed people to engage with the story according to their own learning style.
We created space for:
- Thinkers and theologians – those inspired to discuss
- Artists – those inspired to create
- Pray-ers – those inspired to reflect
- Activists – those inspired to action
Because the story of the conversion of Saul is so familiar, I re-wrote it into a radio play. The great beauty of a radio play is that you can read from a script, you need minimal (or in this case, no) rehearsal and yet it allows for a heightened sense of the dramatic when done well. Acts 9 is easy to adapt as quite a lot of it is dialogue anyway, or can be easily adapted to be so, and as a result my script came almost word for word from a hybrid of the New Living Translation and The Message. We had four charaters: Saul, Ananias (who also functioned as our reporter in Damascus), Barnabas (our reporter in Jerusalem) and The Lord.
The four groups that ensued spent an engaging 30 minutes exploring the passage from their own learning perspective. We had a bit of spoken feedback from the theologians and the activists (the activists predictably organised themselves with four speakers, each reporting on a different emphasis!). Then we encouraged people to circulate (with cake & hot chocolate) and take in the contributions of the artistic and prayer groups.
The artistic group produced a great piece, illustrating Saul’s journey, but there was some tension because some people took it more seriously than others. The prayer group produced some inspiring one line prayers and poems.
All in all an evening that everyone appeared to enjoy and seemed able to engage with. There was quite a spread of ages, from the core of 20-somethings to some grand-parent types, and a good few visitors who weren’t expecting cafe church but enjoyed it anyway.