Thanks to Nicholas Tangen for sharing this Great Idea in the SparkHouse blog.

As congregations “imagine strategies for returning to worship and in-person community life”, Nicholas Tangen wonders about the meaning of gathering in the neighborhoods and communities where we are rooted. Specifically, he wonders what stories have been missed, how people of different identities and circumstances have been differently effected by Covid-19, and where in our neighborhoods is there evidence of grief, hope, or resilience.

Curiosity about these questions, Tangen proposes, will lead our congregations to richer, seller expressions of “church”, and will heighten congregational focus on our surrounding communities.

To access these stories, Tangen recommends a “prayer walk” and lays out simple parameters for what that means as well as basic questions to consider as a walk unfolds.

Openness through the Jesus Prayer is suggested. Find explanations of the Jesus Prayer here and here, for those new to it.

Tangen also suggests simple awareness: determine a route to walk on a regular basis and pay attention to themes (see the full article for suggested themes).

Simply paying attention to our neighborhoods and communities is a wonderful way to become more aware of the griefs and needs of our neighbors. When this awareness is then turned into compassion, we find ourselves living the grace of the gospel. When we live the grace of the gospel, we are being church in our most authentic ways.

Find additional resources for praying in and with your community in our Contemplative Practices: Contemplative Activism lib guide. Find additional resources for reconsidering or restructuring your Vision, Mission, and/or Identity – based on what you observe and how grace is called out of you in response – in our Congregational Life: Vision, Mission, and Identity lib guides.

Read Nicholas Tangen’s entire Great Idea, Take a Walk; Say a Prayer, here.