140 schools workers gathered in a sunny Oasis Academy in Enfield last Friday for the second annual commissioning event. Following on from a successful event in 2010, bookings were up and expectations were high. Kicked off by a really great meal the night before, several guests and team met, relaxed and laughed the night away to mark the start of Imagine 2011. Entering the Agora (Greek for 'meeting place') in the centre of the Oasis Academy, guests were given a name badge in the shape of a tetris piece* and a chance to grab the first caffeine injection of the day. One of the big aims of the day was to give guests as much choice as possible and the ability to customise their day to suit their needs.
Therefore there were a selection of 5 main sessions in the morning, of which guests only had time to attend twoâ€¦these included the creative and talented Elin Jaynes from the Lacey Theatre Company engaging us in storytelling; Tony Vino, a professional comedian helping us to laugh and make each other laugh; some top tips on developing resources from Rachel Warwick; sessions on what we are trying to communicate from Chris Curtis and even a session solely dedicated to picking Lat Blaylock's brains!
Lunch was a feast of scrumptious Subway sandwiches couched in a 'Long Lunch' section, which had a mixed response judging by the feedback. The intention was to create a space in which we could make it possible for people to take from the time what they needed. So on offer were the four C's:
CONNECT (network, form connections that could continue long after Imagine and support them throughout the year)
CONVERSE (some conversation topics and conversation 'hosts' had been appointed before the day to host some relevant discussions. Topics included:
- Why bother with 16-19s?
- If we're not thinking about student's self-esteem we're wasting our time
- Bringing hope through action not assemblies
- Christian Unions, what's the point?
These were designed to be informal conversations rather than seminars, but still to be significant times to explore various topics. Guests were able to suggest their own discussion topic and everyone had the chance to sign up to attend these discussions, which were held staggered throughout 'long lunch'. Communication could have been better about where each of these conversations were happening, which meant some people missed out, so apologies for that. However we've had some really great feedback too about people appreciating the freedom and flexibility of this time.
COLLECT (info + resources from the Agora, along with a nice dollop of wisdom from Lat Blaylock who led a session focused on spiritual engagement with the primary age group)
CONSUME (food, plenty of Subway goodness, cookies, sweets, fruit)â€¦oh and we also had our Imagine Tetris championship* where people could compete against the Number 2 (official) tetris player in the UK!
Which led nicely into the afternoon where we returned to the Assembly Hall for our afternoon commissioning session. We were joined by MaLoKai (from the message) where Alex led us acoustically in worship and Jill Rowe (Oasis) delivered a challenging message for us to be active in changing student's stories this year. We had time and space to dream about what we could imagine this yearâ€¦how big dare we imagine? Our stories and what happens in our work is limited by one thing - our imagination.
The afternoon continued by everyone in the room praying for one another and 'commissioning' them into the year ahead. There was an incredible atmosphere and sense of God with us throughout the afternoon. All in all, a blessed day, and one in which I for one enjoyed immensely. Let's see where this goes, it certainly feels like it's a keeper for now. What did other people think?
*Tetris blocks were used on the publicity and as a theme on the day itself. Not sure why exactly...I was inspired by seeing some Tetris post it notes and it went from there really! You can read into this lots of great messages about us all fitting together to form a complete 'body'...or erm, lots of different shapes and personalities being needed to make schools work what it is...whatever works best for you, hold onto that!