M Lab

Quincy Brown


 3D Journey

Do you remember Science Lab experiments from high school? I do, and I hated it. I wasn't a very hands-on student nor was I a fan of the teacher. Well, more specifically, I wasn’t a fan of my chemistry teacher who made a Gentlemen’s Agreement with me at the end of the course. He quipped: "If I give you a C in the chemistry lab, would you promise me that will NOT take another science class for the remainder of your high school experience?"

Knowing that I only needed two science classes to graduate, and I had already passed Biology, I agreed to the wager and took his version of a "Gentleman's C.” At the time, neither he nor I could imagine that I would go on to major in Electronic Engineering Technology in college where the majority of classes included labs.

It was while I was in college that I learned that a laboratory is NOT a contest where the objective is to get the "right answer." Instead, its purpose is to learn how to gain knowledge by looking at reality, and not an attempt to make reality conform to preconceptions. The lab teaches a student how to be observant, to see what happens, and to deal with the information.

My experience of laboratory sciences in college was a different experience from what I encountered in high school. The vast majority of my college professors were interested in my learning and surprisingly, even when I got lab results that were contrary with a theory that the professor taught in class, I got a high grade when I honestly reported my results and demonstrated that I understood what I did and how I came to the conclusions.

What a difference a few years had made! I had learned the practical ability to do experiments and analyze data is usually acquired through practice and experience.

There's benefit in taking experimental science classes with laboratory requirement as it gives a student a place to put the theory from the classroom into practical action.  Practice is essential to being able to make the connection between theory and experience.

Just a few days ago, several lay people from United Methodist Churches across North Georgia had a chance to share in a life-changing laboratory event. Eleven months earlier, I had the church's version of laboratory experience. It was an incubator of innovative thinking called M-LAB (Movement – Learning Action Board). M-LAB is a church lab in the Methodist Church where laity and clergy come together, incubate ideas, learn from one another, and develop innovative means for community engagement.

What I experienced was more than an event; it was an environment that birthed a mindset filled with opportunities to incubate and prototype new ideas that will shape the future of our church. A collaborative effort of the Bishops of North Georgia, Florida, and Nashville, the three-day M-LAB experience focuses on design thinking and creative innovation techniques.

At the end of the experience, participants were selected to make a pitch or an "elevator speech" of their prototype in the front of the Bishops to receive feedback in a Shark-Tank-like fashion. After we had a chance to prototype our innovation in our churches and ministry settings for several months, we were asked to report how the M-LAB experience helped to ignite change in ministry. 

Will you join with me in creating laboratory learning where what is taught from Bible Study and the pulpit are put into action in your churches?

On the Journey,


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