What is OpenOut?
Open Out is a podcast series, website and interactive social media to help individuals and faith communities discover the possibilities and challenges of intentionally opening outwards, welcoming a much broader group of people – including those with very different cultural backgrounds.
The podcasts can be adapted to group use – like a mini-curriculum, or they can simply be enjoyed by individual folk with an interest in learning more about our increasingly diverse new companions.
Open Out is a safe space to compassionately and respectfully follow your own curiosity about the changing cultural landscape of Canada. The number of newcomers and ‘visible minority’ equal or surpass the number of white Canadian-born people in many cities – a result of changing birth rate and immigration patterns. What does this mean for our churches? For our systems? For our own hearts and minds?
When we undergo major changes in our lives, we tend to go through stages: curious, considering, committed, commencing and then into continuing. The Open Out podcasts follow this same pattern.
Open Out podcasts are published in series following this pattern. So you can start at the beginning with the Curious series, or follow any theme that interests you. You can link to listen to the podcasts below (or you can subscribe to the whole series on iTunes. Spotify, etc.)
This is the introductory podcast that starts you on your journey and provides a general introduction to the Open Out program. It outlines how the series will unfold, the research behind the project, and some of my own history in intercultural ministry.
Curiosity is where most of us begin. We might be seeing changes in our neighbourhoods, as they become increasingly diverse. We might wonder what our new neighbours are like, might wonder how we could get to know them.
We’re not considering making any significant changes, but we are open to exploring ideas – why might we want to think about changing? What might it be like if we did. This series focuses on what being intercultural open looks like, and, particularly, why we might want to think about doing this.
This initial series of 3 podcasts [in Season 1] explores what intercultural could look like, how our country is changing – and why faith communities might want to considering intentionally opening outwards
Here our curiosity has now led us to a place of really considering the idea of changing – trying to get help with an addiction, or, in our case, seriously consider the possibility of intentionally opening our communities to welcome folk who have a different background than us – a significant change indeed. This series will go a bit deeper, providing more specific information about how we might go about doing this. There are 4 episodes in the Considering series.
Okay, let’s go for it. This is the time of preparing – we might initially have been simply curious, but after some soul-searching and serious consideration, we’ve decided to really give a try. This is a time of preparation – so this series is a bit longer (6 episodes in Year 1) – and will deeply explore important ways we can help our brains adjust (looking specifically at Unconscious Bias), and how cultural differences affect us (exploring differences like individualism-collectivism, communication patterns, etc.), intercultural worship and more.
We’re going for it… so what do we do. This series is all about providing hands- on practical tools for communities (and individuals) who are engaged in the process of intentionally opening themselves to welcome those who are somehow different, often this means those with different cultural backgrounds – and because of that have different values, thinking, decision-making patterns etc. This is also a series of 6 episodes in Year 1.
At some point, after all the chaos, confusion, beauty and excitement of commencing, there comes a time for stabilizing, for maintaining the new life of the community. That’s what this series is all about (Fall, 2020).
I am deeply grateful to the people of Knox Winnipeg for their courage and faith over the many years of exploration and adventure. Also to The United Church Foundation for sponsoring this research through the McGeachy Scholarship. Theme music is by Bruce Harding. Learn more here.
Initially these were to be more technical podcasts designed for group leaders, clergy, or others who wish to use the material in educational contexts [study groups, retreats, etc]. However with the onset of Covid 19 faith communities stopped in-person gatherings, and so these podcasts were put on hold. Even now the pathway forward to in-person gatherings is not clear. Once we get a clearer picture, these podcasts will resume – perhaps adapted for online learning.