Here’s a recap of Doubt Night this past Wednesday night.
A few of the 7 Mile Road folks got to Starbucks about 15 minutes early. The baristas were super helpful and let us grab three tables and a bunch of chairs. So we set up putting our Doubt Night flyer on the table, and propping up Keller’s book for passersby.
And then we waited. And waited. And waited some more.
7:00 passed. Then 7:05…7:10…7:15…7:20. All the while our small team is trying to keep up good spirits. We had random conversations but were probably all wondering the same thing; is anyone going to show!
At about 7:25, I said that maybe we would talk for a little bit and disperse. So we started talking about whether or not this was a good idea. Would a discussion group even work in Northeast Philly? Would this have been a better fit down in the University City area with UPenn, Drexel, and other schools everywhere? How do you run a book club anyway?
And as we were getting ready to wrap up the conversation and call the night a wrap…in comes 2 young women. They had heard about the night from a friend who was late but on his way. And so in moment we went from getting ready to go home, to getting ready to do Doubt Night. A little more time passed and 2 more guys walked in. And so 8 of us sat around in a circle and at about 7:40, we started the night.
I began by introducing myself and the hope for the night. I talked about how we wanted to provide a safe forum where people could express faith, doubt, belief, skepticism – all without being attacked. We were going to have a dialogue and not a debate. We then went around the room introducing ourselves, sharing why we had come to doubt night, and summarizing our current beliefs about God, faith, spirituality, etc. Everyone who came were theists; but definitely at different points along their spiritual journey. People were open, honest, humble, and listened carefully to one another.
Afterward, we each wrote down our top 3-4 questions, obstacles, doubts about faith in God. Questions like, how can there be only one true religion, how can God create billions of people and send so many of them to hell, is the Bible absolute, etc. These topics springboarded us into some good conversation.
Before we ended the night, I introduced Keller’s book and invited everyone to come back for continued dialogue. We’re going to let 7 chapters from the book frame 7 different nights of conversation. Everyone signed up and seemed interested to come back. It looks like we’ll try this every other Wednesday night. We’ll have to see if Starbucks keeps letting us come back.
In the story of the seven mile road, Jesus walked with two men who had genuine doubt and real skepticism. And what does Jesus do? He doesn’t reject them for their doubt. He doesn’t dismiss their questions. Instead He engages them. And it doesn’t happen in a moment. But over the course of seven miles, over the course of continued conversation, over the course of walking together, these men come to see life completely different.
That’s what we’re shooting for. We have sooooo much to learn. But I am grateful that 7 Mile Road was in the city talking about God among people who had genuine doubts, with random customers and baristas listening in. I am grateful for Liberti Church from whom we stole the idea. I am grateful for the tone of the night; that it was a dialogue and not a debate. I am grateful for the 7 Mile crew that practiced the hospitality and humility that we have been talking about for so many weeks on Sunday nights. I am grateful for the people that came and their willingness to engage in conversation. And as a believer, I am grateful to God for it all.