Have you ever been stumbling down a path and come to a vista? What had been tree after tree after tree broke open into a larger view and perspective? Do you remember how you breathed deep and took in the view and felt alive? That’s the same kind of thing that happens in a Fresh Expressions Learning Community.
What is a Learning Community?
A Shared Journey
It is a community in which pioneers are understood. It is an opportunity to connect with others who are looking to engage in risky ministry on the mission edges. Well-meaning brothers and sisters in the faith have often questioned their priorities and their zeal, and have left many pioneers feeling misunderstood and unappreciated. In a learning community, ministry leaders find kindred spirits, encouragement, and companions for the journey.Find kindred spirits, encouragement, and companions for the journey. Click To Tweet
A Space for Training and Discernment
It is a community in which pioneers are equipped for the mission. Adventurers don’t go backpacking in the wilderness without equipment and knowledge about what they’re getting into, and the same goes for pioneering ministry. While there are no turn-by-turn maps for success, there are practices and intentional leadership skills that foster contextually appropriate, healthy, and Spirit-filled expressions of Church. Fresh Expressions learning communities offer content, discussion, and reflection that connect these concepts to the local mission context.
It is a community that gives space for discernment. The day-to-day nature of any ministry can be relentless. Fresh Expressions learning communities give leaders space to discern God’s leading, and identify intentional action steps towards the development of a fresh expression of church.Adventurers don’t go backpacking without equipment and knowledge. Same for pioneer ministry. Click To Tweet
People to Walk Alongside You
It is a community that offers coaching along the journey. Just as trails have signposts pointing the hiker forward, monthly coaching helps pioneers get their bearings and figure out what they need to do to lead the mission forward. Sometimes, this “just in time” learning is exactly what a leader needs to find courage to make decisions or take big steps into unfamiliar terrain.
Who Should Be Part of a Fresh Expressions Learning Community?
- Lay or clergy leaders who have set out on the journey to start a Fresh Expression of church
- Lay or clergy leaders who are considering this kind of ministry
- Existing church leaders who want to foster a church culture that identifies and releases pioneers for mission
- Teams who are involved in forming Fresh Expressions of Church
What Does the Learning Community Involve?
A Fresh Expressions Learning Community begins with an on-site two day retreat. The retreat is led by practitioners of missional ministry who balance theory with practical examples. This retreat helps participants get clear on vision and strategy, listen to the mission context, build teams, foster community, and disciple people outside of a traditional church context. Participants are invited into discussions and activities that apply the materials to their individual contexts. Each participant receives a Guidebook of training material for ongoing reference. For the following 6-9 months, monthly group coaching keeps pioneers focused on priorities and action steps needed to move the mission forward.
A Fresh Expressions Learning Community concludes with a final on-site retreat. This retreat focuses on discipleship, contextually appropriate worship, evangelism strategies, handling setbacks and challenges, and core values. Upon completion of the learning community, many pioneers continue to connect and support one another through online networks, ongoing conversation, and local hubs.
What Are the Details and How Do I Register?
Three Fresh Expressions Learning Communities will be starting in 2019- here are two you can register for NOW:
Fresh Expressions Learning Community: Mississippi– Anderson United Methodist Church | 6205 Hanging Moss Road | Jackson, MS 39206 Friday, April 5, 2019 – Saturday, October 19, 2019
Fresh Expressions Learning Community: North Georgia– Tucker UMC | 5095 LaVista Rd. | Tucker, GA 30084 Friday, October 25, 2019 – Saturday, April 25, 2020
For those who are on a tight budget, this is a good specific ask for a donor or supporting organization. You may be surprised at who would support you in pursuing this training if you will reach out and invite them to do so.
Registrations are open now, and we would love to journey with you in this adventure of Fresh Expressions!