the jerusalem experiment

I had lunch with my friend Bryan today and we talked a lot about an experiment/adventure he’ll be embarking on this coming year. Bryan is a seminary student at Bethel and is about half-way through an MDiv program, so he’ll be a pastor when he’s done. As part of his studies, he’s decided to take an unpaid leave from his position as director of high school ministry at a church in Minneapolis so that he can live and learn in Jerusalem and the surrounding “holy lands” this winter and spring. He’ll take classes at Jerusalem University College to study the ancient culture, settings and languages of Christianity while also taking “field trips” to several of the key biblical locations outside of Jerusalem (places like Egypt, Galilee and Bethlehem). I’m guessing to some of you it might seem like he’s basically studying abroad for a semester — which I’m sure many of you did in undergrad — but this is where the “experiment” portion of what Bryan is doing in Jerusalem comes into play. While he’s in this holy places, he’ll not only be experiencing the stories of Scripture in new and powerful ways for himself personally, he’ll also be including/inviting all of us (the Church) to join him in his adventures and learning. In fact, the very reason Bryan is doing this is as much for the Church back home as for himself (a bit like a missionary, but opposite).

Not everyone can go to the Middle East for 4 1/2 months, but Bryan has come up with a multi-dimensional project that will allow others to travel there with him (virtually), learning along the way about the God who revealed himself to the world through a Jewish carpenter from Nazareth.

Through daily online journal entries at (including pictures, video and discussion questions), a weekly podcast (weaving the stories and learnings of his travels into sermons) and culminating in a book titled A Land of Dust and Sun, Bryan will highlight several of the biblical sites he visits — writing about the geography, retelling the biblical narrative, sharing ways in why our lives can/have been shaped by those stories and inviting readers to find themselves within those stories and places — allowing us as his “fellow travelers” to discover intersections between our lives and the life of God’s story.

Bryan states as one of his deepest passions, “witnessing the Word of God come alive in the hearts of those who had formerly understood the ancient book as one that rarely (if ever) intersects our 21st century lives.” In light of that passoin, I believe the experiment he is taking on is incredibly relevant, and the resources that he will develop for the church as a result of this experiment will be invaluable. As you might assume, an undertaking like this requires plenty of support; spirirtually, emotionally and financially.

Here’s a few easy ways you can support this project:

  • Visit The Jerusalem Experiment website and watch the video Bryan made to explain more about the trip.
  • Add Bryan to your prayer chain at church or in your small group.
  • Tell some friends about what he’s doing (forward them the link to the website or to this entry to explain more).
  • Join The Jerusalem Experiment facebook group.
  • If you’re at all able, show your support by making a donation (big or small, it all helps) – there’s a link on his website to donate online using a credit card or through paypal. (Note: everyone who makes a donation will receive a free copy of Bryan’s book A Land of Dust and Sun, regardless of how much they give.)

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