Today we are thrilled to introduce you to the Listening in Place Project with Cassie Carroll (Master of Divinity, ‘16), which we will be featuring monthly here on the Intersections blog. After graduating from The Seattle School, Cassie launched Listening in Place, a venture in which she is collecting stories from church planters, practitioners, pastors, social entrepreneurs, and theologians throughout the United States who are practicing new, innovative, and compelling visions of what it means to be the church.

In this first episode, Cassie talks with Ryan Althaus, founding pastor of Sweaty Sheep who also works with the Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz. In this 20-minute conversation, Ryan shares his experience of going to seminary and beginning to wonder if we are missing out on something in our traditional notions of church. “I guess what I came up with,” he says, “is there’s no real reason why we do church the way we do.”

Ryan: “God’s Word is omnipresent. It’s by no means restricted to a creed or a hymn or a verse. Yeah, the Bible is the Word of God. But so is the seagull. […] When I try to box in the organic stuff that’s happening, the indescribable, when I try to label the ineffable, that’s when I lose hope.”

Cassie: “We’ve abandoned mystery, in a lot of ways. […] When we step into that mystery it’s too unknown, too terrifying, it’s letting go of too much control, when in reality following Christ is about letting go of control.”

You can learn more about the vision behind the Listening in Place Project here, read more from Cassie’s time with Ryan over on the Listening in Place blog: Part 1 & Part 2. And for more from Cassie, check out the presentation of her Integrative Project, “The Pastoral Both/And: A Complicated Story.”