In a small neighborhood in East London called Wanstead, there is a Starbucks. This Starbucks is just like all others. Same smell, same taste, the same menu that never seems to change no matter where you are in the world. A couple of us on our team used to make this Starbucks an office before we were able to get our own place.
After months of getting to know the staff, and letting them know we were up to in North East London, we began to develop a friendship with the manager. We learned that he was interested in opening up his Starbucks for events that would benefit both the community and his coffee shop. He made a generous offer for us to use the facility after hours, and our Awaken group jumped on the opportunity to see what could happen.
This birthed something called the Awaken Gathering. We had a vision for a gathering that would allow us to meet in a third space away from our local church, bless everyone with a free cup of coffee, and host discussion about spiritual things. And we had the perfect resource to pilot with this group.
Before our first Gathering, Rob Peabody had been working with a very talented designer and videographer, Andrew Shepherd, to create a series of videos that told stories abut life and faith. Over a couple of years, Rob had been meeting interesting people that had one thing in common: their lives were not perfect, but they met a perfect God. Or to put it another way: God had intersected their lives amidst a time of struggle, uncertainty, or pain.
These videos could probably stand alone as far as story and quality, but our team thought there was more to this project. Another Awaken teammate, Dave, and I were tasked with writing discussion questions for each video that could spur on conversation based on the theme of each video. We created a short list of questions that would lead people through the video and deeper into the themes, all with the hope that men and women could think through how the stories and themes related to their own life. We ask: How does this story intersect with your life today?
Along with a personal story about themes like disappointment, control, and trust, each video contains a story about God. The Bible is full of stories of real people with real problems. And while each story may be different, we read countless stories of how God comes to meet the characters where they are. This is the God of the Bible: a God who meets humans in their messes and offers love, hope, and redemption. The best news is that God offers the same thing to us here and now.
Because we believe in this God, we knew that it was worth sharing these videos and prompting spiritual discussions at our Awaken Gatherings. We met once a month on a Thursday evening, encouraged our group to invite friends, watched each video, and discussed each theme in small groups. The result was introspective thinking and conversation about Intersect’s main theme of exploring where our stories and God’s story converge.
We created these videos a resource with hopes that you can do something similar in your own community. So gather a few friends, watch the videos, speak openly and honest about your life, and see where God has been waiting to meet you. Or to put it simpler: get it and use it.
Joel Peabody (@joelpeabody) is a staff team member at Awaken Movement UK. He currently lives in Wanstead, London, UK with his wife, Allison. His hobbies include music, golf, and writing.