This past September and October, Tim Ernst led a Meetup group in Vancouver, B.C. called Live Like U Mean It, a series devoted to helping individuals live their lives the way they’re meant to.
Meetup, the website Tim used to host this series, works to bring similarly-minded people together in cities across the world. Individuals create groups based around an issue, interest, hobby or any other reason for getting together. People then join these groups to be told of when the ‘meet-ups’ are happening so they can plug into whatever community they’re interested in. As a business and professionals coach, Tim was looking to reach out to those who were interested in and searching for ‘personal development’ opportunities.
Over the course of six weeks, a group of nine individuals met with Tim to explore the theme of personal development using the book ‘Three Big Questions That Everyone Asks Sooner or Later.’With the book as its backbone, the series was divided into three sections: helping the participants identify their life purpose, helping them to develop their life mission statement and helping them to develop a vision for the rest of their lives.
Tim says he settled on this topic because he wanted to “work away at the climate of the city and bring salt and light into the marketplace, specifically to reach unchurched people who have religious questions wrapped up in meaning and purpose and begin a conversation with those people.” With these three questions, about determining purpose, mission and vision, he says “all of them are ultimately spiritual questions, so I was able to regularly seed the conversation with my experience. There’s a certain antipathy toward the Christian faith [and] I wanted to go in there and build some bridges with people.”
To accomplish this, Tim says he needed to be transparent right from the get-go. “A couple people checked me out and wanted to know early on, ‘I see you work with the Navigators. That’s a Christian organization, so are you going to be preaching at us?’ And I said ‘no, no, you didn’t sign up for a preach, but I won’t hide the fact that I’m a Christian and I’m also a pastor downtown.’ I put my cards on the table early and they were all fine with that.”
The group attracted individuals from a broad spectrum of ages and stages of life. One of the participants, a Vancouver-based feminist life coach, said in a review for the group that she “enjoyed the learning structure as well as the freedom in the format. I also value the presence/modeling of Tim Ernst and what I received regarding a personal understanding of humility, transparency, authenticity, ease and courage.” Another said “this was a very worthwhile experience where group members were valued for who they are and supported to contemplate and articulate personal statements around life purpose and mission.”
With a successful first foray into Meetup, Tim says he’s enthusiastic about using it again, and has already started thinking of new topics to cover. “I could do one [meet-up] on grief,” he says, “because every single person I meet downtown is carrying around a lot of sorrow, and providing a place for people to meet and talk about their losses in a non-religious way is something I’m keen about. Even in our group, there were a couple people who were close to tears when we were talking about meaningful things.”
This site provides the opportunity to become involved in almost any community within a city. It increases the capacity of an individual to have a positive influence in the lives of many people they may not meet otherwise. Digital gathering places are becoming increasingly more populated, creating what Tim calls “the new city.”