Plan with others
Try never to plan alone! Why? Many reasons:
- Planning as a team reinforces the team cohesion and ownership of the whole
- Team planning is a key way to learn how to plan - by planning with others. The skills you gain and learn are transferable.
- Good functioning teams have people with lots of different views and personalities in the blend that should be drawn upon as complementary rather than anticipated as contradictory!.
Prayer is more than a quick blessing before a planning meeting!
Prayer is the ongoing pondering and calling upon God for where and how to lead a group is ongoing and continuous. This is combined with the attentive listening to the Holy Spirt, the group and the Bible!
I tend to split long-term planning (yearly, quarterly and general direction) and short-term planning (one event or next few!) into two processes. It is much easier to plan from long-term to short term. However, when starting out just trying stuff is a good way of seeing if you are on the right track or not. Especially with exploring church in a new form of culture, such as Gaming culture.
Planning is a way to put down and agree on how we are trying to spiritually lead and grow a group! So... you need to have a feel for where you are going.
- Firstly there is the need to have a general direction of travel. For me, this is growing and developing followers of Christ. Note, this is different from just coming together to worship God although it includes that.
- So the next question to ask is what is a mature disciple like and how do we get there? Asking where we are going and where are we now is the key to getting the next steps. Once we have an idea of the next steps we can flesh it out into specific ideas.
My current practice for working on areas of discipleship with Minecraft Church can be seen on the template that I use for weekly planning; I leave black spaces next to all the items. Some items don't get filled each week, but tend to over a month.
- /team: where we develop team life and social growth. The online environment provides a degree of connection but moving to a depth of fellowship appropriate for a Christian community requires more effort!
- /pray: we are currently teaching the 5 part Contemplative Toolkit process. The aim of this is to provide skills in prayer that can be used offline. But all parts are good for our gathering, particularly the Mending (confession) and Blessing (mission and prayer)
- /worship: expressing joy and exuberance for God through dance and more.
- /wonder: our core part of growing more Christlike through "wondering" in the stories of Jesus and trying to apply them.
I have a few areas I would like to keep developing such as a 'feel' for the presence of God and the challenge of commitment to faith (for those coming from non-christian backgrounds), the practical application of love, care for the environment etc. This is harder to achieve with a dispersed community and mediated online. However, running Minecraft Church In-Real-Life does not have these disadvantages...
Once a general idea for a session is decided then the specific ideas are fleshed out into the culture of Minecraft and the 'participatory culture' of gaming culture. For example:
- Praying for peace in Ukraine, by ALL (participatory) transforming tanks constructed in (Minecraft culture) weapons of war into tools of peace.
- Putting words of encouragement and appreciation for others (social connection) on signs on walls for each other (Minecraft culture)
- Inventing a game or fun activity creates a playful atmosphere. Sometimes it is possible to link a game to a theme! The /game section has been an important key aspect of Minecraft church because of our origin in the Covid lockdowns and the dearth of interaction for young people and of course Minecraft IS a game! (Intrinsic nature and culture!)