“I’m not giving up because I know what God can do.”
That’s what drives Dr. Charles Revis of Mission Northwest, an association of churches in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Nevada and California.
It’s also the reason why Mission Northwest is now a Fresh Expressions US partner.
Mission Northwest has deep roots in the American Baptist tradition. They’ve seen the landscape change in the area where they serve. For their tradition to continue to thrive, they want to focus not only on equipping paid pastors, but on finding more and better ways to engage “volunteer” leaders. The Fresh Expressions approach, which helps church members to reimagine themselves as pioneering leaders, is a perfect fit.
When considering the task ahead at Mission Northwest, Revis says that “we know how unchurched the Northwest is and how the culture has shifted to post-christendom and postmodernism, etc.”
“Churches, by nature, are conserving institutions. We haven’t kept up with the shifts in the culture. Church in its present form will struggle to reach people far from God. The answer is to follow the Spirit to create new forms of Church within the subcultures of our geography.”We haven’t kept up with the shifts in the culture. Church in its present form will struggle to reach people from God. The answer is to follow the Spirit to create new forms of Church within the subcultures of our geography. Click To Tweet
When Dr. Revis heard about Fresh Expressions from the American Baptist General Secretary, he was inspired to bring five members of his team to the 2018 National Gathering. They also hosted a local gathering of leaders with Fresh Expressions trainer and fellow Baptist pastor Travis Collins.
All of this led Mission Northwest to decide to become an official partner in the movement. Helping established churches start fresh expressions will provide a different approach to outreach than the other efforts they are making. “My hope is that we’ll have some churches learn how to establish fresh expressions of church that are tethered to a ‘mothership church.’” Revis is referring to what the Fresh Expressions movement refers to as the “Mixed-Economy” or “Blended Ecology of Church”, where new, experimental forms of church remain connected to and alongside of an existing congregation. “The relationship will bring life to both the new community and the established church.”
Initially, Mission Northwest plans to start ten to twenty new faith communities in the next few years. In time, Revis hopes to see the churches in their area embrace change, act more entrepreneurial, and become less concerned about tradition.
They already have begun experimenting with several new kinds of faith communities.
In Bremerton, Washington, a student taking seminary courses online built a relationship with the staff at his favorite coffee shop. He eventually pitched the idea of hosting a church gathering there. They’ve been meeting for a few months and have had as many as 20 people attend.
In a more rural area of the Bitterroot Valley in Montana, the local Mission Northwest congregation identified a thriving “rodeo” subculture. This led the congregation to host a Thursday Night “Cowboy Worship” gathering.
By attending the National Gathering as well as their discussions with Travis Collins and other leaders, Mission Northwest saw that Fresh Expressions US offered tangible evidence of a new and different approach to starting Christian communities. Now, Mission Northwest hopes that their own experiments will provide further evidence of how the Holy Spirit is at work in this movement.Meet Mission Northwest (@ABCNW) the newest Fresh Expressions US partner! Click To Tweet