bulletin 2/2013

Good ideas need to be shared – a platform for Christian project ideas

By Barbara Grass, Church and Tourism Commission, Regional Protestant Church of Graubünden.

People are often open to entertaining profound issues when they are away on holiday, and are more interested in visiting churches and in church offerings there. Many congregations provide interesting projects that connect both church and tourism, catering to this area of interest. Unfortunately, not all of the ideas can be put into practice, and unfortunately they are often quickly forgotten again.

To meet this need, the Commission for Church and Tourism of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches came up with the concept of a platform for an exchange of ideas, a “platform for ideas for church projects in touristic areas” which became a reality on the Federation homepage. Over 25 ideas have since been published there.

A platform for Christian projects

The Commission for Church and Tourism follows developments in the area of tourism and leisure and looks into their significance for Switzerland’s Reformed churches. Made up of representatives of tourism organizations and of the Reformed churches throughout Switzerland, the Commission introduces Christian and ethical values into the working processes of the leisure sector. Both the platform of ideas and the “reliably open church doors” project were initiated by the Commission.

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As the head of the project Barbara Grass explained: “The idea is to speak to two different target groups.” For one, pastors could find resources who wanted to reach vacationers with touristic programs in their congregations. The most important information is offered for previously implemented ideas, including target groups, uses, approaches, risks and opportunities. Contact information is provided in connection with each idea, so that further details can be requested. Ideas can also be adopted and developed further. Those who have already successfully completed projects can, moreover, publish them on the site. Ultimately, the sharing of the Christian message is one of the church’s main tasks.

The www.geistreich.eu platform of the Evangelical Church in Germany follows these same principles, connecting congregations across all of Europe with a platform collecting thousands of practical examples from different countries and contexts – as diverse as the Protestant churches themselves. The Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches entered into a double partnership with geistreich.eu. While providing for the platform’s translation into French, the Swiss Protestants have also transferred the ideas from its own website to the geistreich. eu platform, in a clear win-win situation.

The geistreich.eu platform addresses a much larger number of users, which is of use both to those who are looking for ideas as well as those publishing them. President of the Commission for Church and Tourism Thomas Schweizer reports that he has had inquiries, nearly weekly, about training to become a pilgrimage leader, since his idea was posted to geistreich.eu. And there is a much larger choice of ideas for those seeking inspiration in a collection that is not indeed limited to the idea of “church and tourism” but which speaks to all aspects of church life.