I’m going to do something that is very rare, if not unprecedented, when it comes to typing up my minutes of an event. First I am going to post my unedited minutes, and then I am going to comment on some of the aspects of the workshop that I found to be particularly interesting to set up some context:
“Notes: Men’s Workshop
Feast of Tabernacles – Suriname – 2018
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Start: 4:30PM Argentina Standard Time
Mr. Braumueller and Mr. Veller walk around with a couple of the local gentlemen they are looking to develop further as leaders. A couple more of us (Ivan Veller and I) were around, but were not directly involved in the workshop.
Question of personal evangelism and how to be careful with it.
The formal economy vs. the informal economy. Good during the 70’s and 80’s when bauxite ore was smelted. Less good afterward. Relationship of economy to religion. History of religious education in Suriname with a lot of German names. Watered-down nature of contemporary religion. Stan gives the story of his own background, and having a basic fear of God that he fought against from his upbringing.
Tepid reaction to evangelism efforts here. Interest in prophecy. What draws people to the church? Braden gives the story of his own background and conversion during the time of the late 1960’s and the turmoil during that time, including the Vietnam war. Question of people being lacksidaiscal at the end of the millennium. Difficulties of contemporary evangelism, including more distractions and options and the limited attention spans of people. Question of who God is working with as well as our attitude. The contentment of people and their belief that they are alright with God. Discussions of our present and future responsibilities. Question of public question and answer sessions and sermon formats. Discussion of Pentecostalism and speaking in tongues and tarrying and gift of healing. Question of unpopularity of the real truth. Stories about people not being teachable. Membership in Suriname–about a dozen adults, plus children. More stories about our witness and how we and others came to the truth. Importance of Bible study and obedience to God’s ways. Stories about the shock of the absence of the passing of the plate.
The conversation as a whole tended to circle around a few topics somewhat repetitiously.”
When the workshop was announced at the same time as a craft event for women, my mother was interested in listening to the men’s workshop and not particularly interested in crafts. I dawdled a bit in changing out of my church clothes and by the time that I arrived at the hall where church is held, where we eat our meals, and where the internet is the most reliable. As it happens, I arrived before the rest of the group had arrived and when they did I took my seat near them but did not enter much into their conversation, instead thinking and typing up notes as is often my fashion. While the conversation was gone on, and afterward, a few thoughts came to me. For one, why is it that a men’s workshop seems interesting to some women just on the basis of it being a men’s workshop? Is it assumed that matters of power and of great interest to the collective body of the Church would be involved? I was also intrigued to see that in the absence of an agenda that the conversation meandered and was not particularly productive, except perhaps in making people feel better in sharing their ideas. And sometimes perhaps that is enough.