Where to get started?
Below are several stories of success, categorized by the tale of Pubs, individuals’ journeys, and specific problems that were overcome.
Pub Success Stories
Ponderers' Vision - Why do you like the Pondering Pub?
“There’s commonality and genuine community. I’ve been to other places, bars and clubs, and they’re not worth it. This is better.” – Colton
“Humans are social creatures. We are meant for communion with one another. It is good and healthy that I found this group of people. I’m appreciative of it.” – Anthony
“The place has natural interactions, and is a safe place for hard conversations and ideas. You find your people, your friends, and it feels like these relationships will go on forever.” – Seth
“The place has natural interactions, and is a safe place for hard conversations and ideas. You find your people, your friends, and it feels like these relationships will go on forever.” – Josh
“After college, the only place to explore new ideas is social media, and it’s so fake you can’t be yourself. The Pondering allows me to engage in Socratic discussion, wrestle with real topics, with real people, not carefully crafted personas online. I can explore without having to ‘win.'” – Dan
Each tale is inspired by a real Pub’s wrestling with this question. The general explanation will be given first, with real examples to follow.
We highly recommend reading the Pub Success Stories. Those tell the full tale. These are just a collection of isolated events.
What do we do if we don’t have enough presentations?
When starting out, it’s important to give people an idea of what presentations are acceptable. We recommend including one “high” presentation and one “easy” presentation in your first 2 Ponderings. A high presentation might be a reflection you wrote or a song on guitar presented by you. Most people who will like the Pondering will be inspired by the high presentation, or reassured by the easy (that their presentation is worthy of presenting.) By the third or fourth Pondering, people will start bringing presentations of their own, whether it’s something they made, or something they stumbled across they want to share. Different pubs take different amounts of time to “mature” and develop a rhythm for presenting.
However, if your Pub is taking a bit of time to “develop,” use the resources the Pondering Pub provides. We recommend providing a topic of the week to chew on. The Pondering Pub posts one on Twitter every other week. https://twitter.com/ThePonderingPub
Post the Topic of the Week to your groupchat a few days before you meet. Read it the day of, set a timer for 20 minutes, and talk. At the end of 20 minutes, move on.
Additionally, the Pondering Pub provides the Inspiration Outlet, 7 pre-packaged presentations meant to easy be understood, but a journey to unpack. If you use just what the Pondering Pub provides, a Topic of the Week and an Inspiration Outlet work, you’ll have minimum 2 months worth of presentations; which should be enough to lubricate your gears.
When starting out, the Stone and the Giant made sure to do a wide array of presentations. Anthony gave a Powerpoint presentations about Hagiography and Manga, exploring how mysticism does not exclude truth. That same day, Dan played a song off Spotify that he liked, and everyone talked about it.
When the Thundering Seeds began, the founders had about 3 presentations “stored up.” They used the website walkthrough and all 3 in the first two Ponderings. They then started to propose a Topic of the Week every Pondering. Sometimes they use the one on Twitter, other times they make their own. They’ll typically have 1 presentation after that. Between the Topic of the Week and a presentation, 3 hours have passed, and that’s enough time for a Pondering.
What happens if people aren’t showing up?
Make sure you’re being fair with yourself. Is the distinction that people aren’t interested, or is it life keeps getting in the way? When starting out, it’s hard to get something solid started. But once people make it a part of their lives, it’s significantly easier. Consistency is everything. Also, examine the time of year. Spring and Fall are your best seasons to begin new endeavors. People are always traveling in the summer. Fall will give you 8 months of consistency. Spring brings with it excitement in the air. People are willing to engage with new experiences in the Spring.
The Stone and the Giant was postponed by 4 months from its original “start date.” They wanted to begin in April, stuff happened, and they decided to wait out summer until they tried again. Their first meeting was in October. Over the next few months, they developed their “core.” About 20 people get invited weekly, 8 come consistently, and 2-3 individuals come once in a blue moon. They met weekly, but when they all got busier, they moved it to biweekly. They’ve met regularly for the past year, but things still happen. The hosts have a wedding, so the date gets moved. It’s a national holiday, so they cancel. And sometimes, things just don’t work out. Once, every single person except the host couldn’t make it, all for different reasons. Life happens, and that’s ok.
The Oil Lamp went through the same thing. There were 4 families who were interested. Holly spent months gathering her Holy Huddle. The first time a meeting date was set, things fell through last minute. So she tried again. Things happened last minute, she tried a 3rd time, and things went well! The families who attended were walked through the website and story of the Pondering, loved it, and wanted to come back. However, 1 family had a kid (this was expected). Another family had a medical emergency (unexpected.) The 3rd liked it when more people were present, so stopped attending. The 4th kept coming, and they came because they liked the Pondering. And for them, it’s worth continuing.
What happens if there are people of different worldviews (political or religious)?
People are different. And God made us that way for a reason. For situations as individualized as this, play it by ear. In our experience, we haven’t had that bad of a problem. There are Catholic and Protestant, Christian and Atheist, Liberal and Conservative who all consistently meet together. Sometimes you’ll have problems, but it’s important to 1. Manage expectations from the get-go. 2. Make sure the focus of presentations aren’t on theological differences, political in nature, or something you know is meant to cause harm. 3. Make sure your host is able to manage tense situations, and people know who is responsible for diffusing situations.
There was a significant blowout once, but appropriate steps were taken, and hurts were healed. When Pope Francis announced the modus proprio regarding the TLM, it rocked the Catholic world. There were Catholics, ex-Catholics, and non-Catholics in the Dumb Ox. There were some who wanted to talk about the Pope’s decision. Not in a theological way, but in an experiential way. (This is fine. Hot points ought to be avoided, but emotional things, experienced personally, need to have a place to be expressed.) Some non-Catholics took this as an opportunity to bash Catholicism. Everyone had too much to drink, and it ended the worst way possible.
However, it’s not the end. These things happen. The host took initiative, and apologized to everyone for not shutting down things sooner. Then the antagonists apologized for their part. Everyone followed the lead and tried to do general healing. The next 4-6 weeks, no Pondering occurred. Instead, movie nights happened. As a way to heal hurts. People grew past this, and the Pondering resumed. Strangely enough, because people genuinely sought healing, their bonds with each other grew ever stronger.
Blowups can happen. It’s experience that teaches one tact and how to avoid them. What’s important is your host try to mitigate conflicts and take initiative in cleaning up fallout.
What if members of my Pub go through major life changes?
The blueprints of the Pondering serve the people, not the other way around. When someone has a kid, gets a new job, or has family medical problems, their life is going to change. And with it, the things they are a part of. Good community supports and adapts however possible to help that person where it’s needed. Sometimes, people need to bow out. That’s sad, but ok. Sometimes, things get so severe, Pubs close. That’s sad, but ok. The goal of the Pondering is to foster community, not be served by community.
When someone is going through a major life change, see if things can be adapted to support them through things. If someone needs to bow out, support them appropriately. Continue to bring in new members, and support people however possible.
The Booths were having a baby. They were the present hosts of their Pub. In the months leading up to the baby, they moved their Pub up to another members’ house. Damian began hosting the Pondering. Anthony stepped in as Pub Rep. Things did not feel “the same” but it was still great. To this day, one Pondering in particular is heralded as the greatest Pondering that Pub had, despite 2/3 of the Founding members not being there. Of course, there were problems. When the Booths established themselves, they began meeting at the original location again.
What if my Pub can no longer meet in person?