Gannon Sims

Mission Possible: A Fresh Initiative That’s Giving Birth to Fresh Expressions of Church

The language and practice of Fresh Expressions fits the context and practice of every church. It’s not a silver bullet and there are no easy answers, but with careful attention—we can discern how to join where God is already at work in our communities.

For many congregations, Fresh Expressions is a journey in three phases: 1) Fresh Energy, 2) Fresh Initiative and 3) Fresh Expressions.

Fresh Energy: Often a church will hear a story about an exciting project or new form of church and will begin a conversation about it. The stories might come through a sermon series, a potential story might be discerned during a prayer meeting or a vision casting session.

Fresh Initiative: Fresh energy often leads people in the church to begin a new project or ministry. It could be a supply drive for teachers at a local school, a food pantry, or a partnership with churches and other community stakeholders.

Fresh Expressions: If we extend our imaginations, fresh initiatives lead to movement. As projects create relationships and build community, spiritual questions arise that allow opportunity for those engaged to explore Christian discipleship. When disciples are formed in this context— a new form of church is on the horizon. All it takes is a little imagination and a lot of deep listening. 

If we extend our imaginations, fresh initiatives lead to movement. As projects create relationships and build community, spiritual questions arise that allow opportunity for those engaged to explore Christian discipleship. Click To Tweet

One church’s journey:

First Baptist Church of Ashland, Virginia is a historic congregation with a pastor who’s not afraid to dream. His sense of imagination and innovation is a hallmark of a church on the journey towards Fresh Expressions of church.

Over the years, Josh has helped the 160 year old congregation cultivate relationships in their local community that have yielded fresh energy.

One such relationship with Randolph-Macon College helps sponsor Mission Possible, a day of experiential seminars engaging high school and college students that their church wouldn’t otherwise reach. Unlike a typical conference where participants are given lots of information, Mission Possible helps participants imagine a world that resembles the shape of God’s Kingdom though a series of interactive experiences. Worship engages the senses. There are woodworkers, potters, painters and spoken word artists. There are conversations about food insecurity, racial reconciliation and social entrepreneurship.

Mission Possible helps stimulate fresh energy and fresh initiative within the lives of the participants and within the life of the local church. “Through this project, young people are discovering hope for the church, flourishing in their local community and some practical ways to put their faith into action.” Hayden said. “It’s led our congregation to more intentional conversations with our sister African American Church. We’re doing Vacation Bible School together. We’re applying for a worship grant together.”

“There aren’t a lot of spaces for people to figure out and wrestle with what it looks like to be on mission with God and Mission Possible makes the story of God jump off the page.” Hayden said.

Fresh Expressions is pleased to partner with Mission Possible to help participants and churches explore the ways that artists, activists, and people of faith are restoring the world to the place God had always intended it to be. The one-day event is March 2 at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia.

To register go to

The website is

Gannon Sims

Gannon Sims

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.


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