Fresh Expressions of Worship may be familiar to you. It’s a form of church for our changing culture, primarily for those who are not yet part of any church. Usually tied to an existing church, they are held in places relevant to the lives of the people who are a part of them. Places like coffee shops, community centers, breweries, and, yes, even tattoo parlors.
But how do you prepare leaders for this innovative type of ministry? The Foundation for Evangelism saw potential in the Fresh Expressions House of Study at United Theological Seminary as it was developing in 2020. With various levels of training, the Foundation provided a multi-year grant for the certificate level track that encourages laity and pastors to learn and serve alongside one another.
Pam Levesque was there at the beginning to help develop the certificate track called “Adventurer’s Leadership Academy” (ALA). She was a lay member of the team that explored Fresh Expressions (FX) throughout the Florida United Methodist Conference to learn successes and failures. The 2022-23 Cohort is the fourth iteration of the ALA that she has worked with, and she says there is a wealth of knowledge and opportunity for participants to learn from each other. She loves working alongside the participants who are “fun, wild, crazy people throwing spaghetti against the wall to see if it sticks.” She also sees incredible strength of the laity:
“It’s important for pastors to know… they need strong laity support. Adventurers Leadership Academy helps to put the focus on Jesus and discipling, but discipling in a different way. In Fresh Expressions, we think ‘where would Jesus be discipling?’”Pam Levesque
Jessica Taylor was one of the laity participants in the ALA in 2021-22, “My husband and I both attended ALA and it was so profoundly impactful for us.” Jessica and her husband are FX church planters in the Florida Conference. She has since joined the Fresh Expressions Florida staff, and is serving on the ALA team.