In addition to classroom presentations and discussion, our 2015 Pioneer Learning Community retreat participants took to the streets to practice their learning.
How Most Fresh Expressions of Church Begin
Most fresh expressions of church begin by listening to the needs of the community and to God. But in our noisy culture it’s easier said than done, particularly once we’ve lived in a place for a while and have become accustomed to the way things are rather than the way things could be.
The practice of listening helped the pioneers to slow down. It gave permission to get out of the routine and off the beaten path. Through the listening process, the leaders began to notice and began to ask God how a little stretch of neighborhood and shopping district might resemble the shape of the Kingdom.
The listening activity went like this:
- Walk and pray, what do you notice? Where might God be at work?
- Talk with someone, find out something about them.
- If it’s appropriate, pray with them.
- Bring back something from the experience to share with the group and think about how you might do the same where you live.
The pioneers met shopkeepers and people along the street. They noticed pets and kids. They noticed that some of the people had plenty, while others didn’t have enough. And they began to ask why. When the pioneers began sharing their experiences with one another back in the classroom setting they realized that after just a couple of hours of intentional listening and observation, they pieced together a story for the neighborhood and discerned some of the needs.
How might this sort of activity take shape where you live?
Gannon is the Director of Ministry Formation for Fresh Expressions US and leads the Fresh Expressions efforts of the Baptist General Association of Virginia. He earned the Bachelor of Arts Degree from Baylor University and the Master of Divinity degree from Duke University. Prior to entering seminary, Gannon worked as a legislative aide in the U.S. Senate and as a public affairs officer in the anti-human trafficking office at the U.S. State Department. He enjoys forging partnerships between followers of Jesus from different traditions and has served in various roles at several churches, Baptist, Presbyterian, and Anglican. Gannon is married to Carey, who also is a graduate of Duke Divinity School. Together they work to bring fresh expressions of church to the collegiate community at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia.