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These Churches are Thriving: Fresh Expressions Practitioners at Awakenings

All across the country, churches are closing.

But some churches are thriving, and we want to give you a chance to learn from them directly.
We’ve gathered four of the best examples we’ve seen for the Awakenings Gathering this March.

Ancient Models in Modern Cities

Community Dinners

Verlon and Melody Fosner, Seattle Washington

When it became clear that their traditional Pentecostal church in urban Seattle was dying of attrition, Verlon and Melodee led their church in the process of rediscovering their neighborhoods. They learned that there were many people, often poor or lonely, would never come to a Sunday worship service—but they would come to dinner! Today, their church has been reborn as a network of 12 (and counting) community dinners in neighborhoods throughout their city.

Revitalization through Remissioning

The Blended Ecology at Wildwood UMC

Michael Beck

When Michael Beck arrived at Wildwood, there were only a handful of octogenarian “senior saints” keeping the lights running. Inspired by John Wesley’s call to “make the world his parish,” Beck cast a vision that they would not just gather among themselves, but they would find ways to be the church within the community. Today, 300 people can be found on Sunday mornings meeting in three vastly different and diverse gatherings. Besides Sundays, there are 15 fresh expressions of church, such as smaller, contextual gatherings in dog parks, tattoo parlors, and running trails. Beck will be releasing Deep Roots, Wild Branches, his new book on this “blended ecology” of traditional church and fresh expressions, at Awakenings.

Relocating “Compassion Ministries”

Grace Church, Cape Coral, Florida

Jorge Acevedo

Grace Church was a large, thriving church with a compelling weekend gathering and a passion for providing their neighbors in need. But when the recession hit, they found themselves no longer able to operate these ministries. As the economy recovered, many people were using their newly revived incomes for hobbies and vacations that took them away on the weekends. Grace Church sold some of their property and relocated their compassion ministries to neighborhood locations:

By moving our ministries into the community, we have built long term, genuine relationships with or neighbors. From the elementary school staff to the families who bring their children there, Grace Church has built a relationship of incarnational integrity with them because we “moved into the neighborhood.”

In this way they are focusing on the areas around them with the most need and releasing capable leaders to find places outside their church where the Holy Spirit is already at work.

Campus and Community

The Center for Faith and Leadership, Fredericksburg, VA

Cary Sims

When Carey Sims arrived at the Baptist Student Union at the University of Mary Washington, she inherited a handful of students who gathered primarily for a free meal. Realizing there was a deep need for tangible hope on campus and in the surrounding city, they adopted the motto “Start Dreaming Again.” In 2012 the Baptist Student Union at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia was rechristened as The Center for Faith and Leadership. Today, students and community members gather for energetic prayer meetings on campus. They also spread beyond campus by mentoring at-risk youth and partner with local business leaders to form new ventures in the city.

Register for Awakenings Today!

March 28-30 in Alexandria, VA

The Awakenings Gathering brings together a tribe of diverse voices willing to wrestle with difficult questions for the sake of God’s Mission. 

Prices go up soon, so register now!

Fresh Expressions

Fresh Expressions


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