Ann Marie Carley

Vision Day: It’s NOT Just Another Church Workshop!

If you’re like me, the thought of sitting in training to hear about the latest fad makes your soul die a little. This was exactly, how I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I was a Fresh Expression Pioneer!

At the end of my very first Vision Day the presenters went through the primary roles in the Fresh Expressions movement and asked us to consider which role we connected to the most. The first role they explained was the role of a pioneer.

Pioneers are individuals who are passionate about their faith and can easily hang out with non-Christians. They are willing to take risks and have an entrepreneurial spirit. They have probably been known for mentoring or discipling people without even realizing it.

All of these things described me, but the final thing the presenter said sealed the deal for me. He said, “If the thought of sitting in another church meeting to talk about what to do makes your soul die a little, you might be a pioneer.”

If the thought of sitting in another church meeting to talk about what to do makes your soul die a little, you might be a pioneer. Click To Tweet

The presenter went on to explain that supporters are also needed for Fresh Expressions of Church. Supporters are those individuals who may not easily enter into non-church circles, but want to see Fresh Expressions birthed out of the church. They are people willing to encourage pioneers through prayer, blocking and tackling naysayers and sharing stories of what God is up to in and through Fresh Expressions. They may also be behind-the-scenes folks.

The final role explained by the presenter was the role of a permission giver. Permission givers are those individuals who know the church well and have influence in some way. They may hold specific roles that allow them to give permission to experiment with new and creative ways to connect with the community, knowing the experiment may fail. Most importantly they are able to create a culture of risk taking, freeing pioneers to do what they do best.

Although my title within the church was one that made me an easy target for the role of permission giver, it was pioneer that I connected to the core of who I am.

Why I Attended Vision Day

I am an “Xennial”, someone who identifies as a Gen-Xer as well as a millennial. My own story is one that fuels my passion for people on the margins. Although I grew up in a very religious family, when it came time for me to decide for myself, I chose to leave the church. I didn’t fit into any of the traditional “church people” categories therefore I could not find community or a means to serve and grow within the church. Instead I found community with other groups who provided me opportunities to serve, lead and make a difference in the world.

I chose to come back to the church because someone met me where I was and discipled me on my turf. So, when God called me into full-time ministry, I knew that the way church was being done had to change in order to reach anyone in my generation let alone any of the generations that supersedes mine. Trying to explain that to those within an established church is not easy.  After reading Travis Collin’s From the Steeple to the Street: Innovating Mission and Ministry through Fresh Expressions of Church to the Street, I was able to better express to an established church rich in programs the vision for church God had been brewing in my heart.

I chose to come back to the church because someone met me where I was and discipled me on my turf. Click To Tweet

When a Fresh Expressions Vision Day came to my area, I knew I had to take advantage of the opportunity to have others learn about Fresh Expressions. I knew that without the support from my local congregation and buy in from my lead pastor and leadership team I would never be released to do anything differently than what I was currently doing.

A Glimpse at the Day

The team I gathered to go with me to this Vision Day was my lead pastor, a leadership board member and two additional members of the congregation who always leaned in when I talked about church with those on the margins. As we sat and learned from those already practicing Fresh Expressions, I shook my head in affirmation and agreement through all of it: the statistics illustrating the state of the church universal, the reality of a changing culture and the biblical implications for looking at church differently than we currently are.

If Vison Day was a normal “church workshop” by mid-way through the morning I would have checked out and started doodling on the handouts. This wasn’t that.

As I watched others’ reactions to the information, it truly was casting vision– a vision that was breathing life in each person’s call. At the end of the day, the presenters explained each role and created sacred space for each person to respond to how God may be calling them to engage Fresh Expressions.

The experience was so positive that I attended a second Vision Day with another team of people from my congregation that was within driving distance just a month later. Then, when Vision Days returned the next year, I gathered two additional teams to share with two additional churches in my region.

I’m still that same person whose soul dies at that thought of another training or meeting.This is how valuable Vision Day has been to my church’s Fresh Expression journey!

If you’re contemplating attending, stop wasting time contemplating and begin enjoying the journey!

For more information on FX Vision Days, click here!

 

 

Ann Marie Carley

Ann Marie Carley

As a UMC Deacon Ann Marie’s ministry focus is helping churches walk through sacred change. She is currently living out this call by serving as the Executive Pastor (and overseeing Fresh Expressions) at Trinity Church in Chillicothe, Ohio. She and her husband are passionate about sharing Jesus, cycling, cycling to tacos and exploring new ways to connect with others.

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