Here in Arizona, Kate and I are part of the statewide group in the Episcopal diocese that has worked with the Fresh Expressions way of thinking. Our group –called the Mission-Shaped program group–is available to churches to lead groups and workshops to bring this way of thinking and living into expression here. Let us know if your church would be interested.
“Twenty years ago, we were unintentionally pushing our young people out the back doors of our churches – mostly through indifference to the gifts they tried to offer. The long term impact of that benign neglect is that we traded a generation of young leaders and artists and prophets for various attempts to maintain the status quo. Today, we are working on bringing new young leaders into our churches, but that’s not the same as nurturing the prophetic voice in community – training new leaders to cultivate community with a hoe instead of directing with the verger’s mace. That takes time to develop. It’s an art of ‘being in community’ that very few have ever experienced, nonetheless mastered.”
I pressed my conversation partners further and asked, “So then, how would you recommend that we Americans might respond to this hard-earned wisdom you’ve offered?” Their answers were straightforward: “Start now – don’t wait until you have this all figured out. Experiment joyfully and publicly with new forms of ministry that match the cultures in which you find your ministries. Fail early and fail often until you learn what works. Learn to trust the young prophets in your midst and don’t be afraid when the visions they share are out beyond your comfort zones. Be daring and be bold!”