Home Equipping Leaders Adults Fresh Expressions and Discipleship: Report from the FXUM National Gathering

Fresh Expressions and Discipleship: Report from the FXUM National Gathering

By Motoe Yamada Foor

FXUM 24 Candace
Rev. Dr. Candance Lewis delivered a significant message and call for action.

Fresh Expressions (FX) has been one of my passions for the past ten years. The "Futuring Forward" FX United Methodist Gathering in Charlotte, North Carolina, was such an inspiring event. The keynote speakers were amazing, and I also appreciated the panel discussion about the keynote by FX practitioners. (Click here to view all the keynote speakers.)

“Fresh Expressions UM is a distinctly Wesleyan Spirit-led movement of new Christian communities that serve the present age,” explained Michael Beck, Director of Fresh Expressions United Methodist (FXUM) with Path 1 at Discipleship Ministries. “We have a singular focus . . . to cultivate communities of love and grace for people neglected by the church. We are seeking to be the church with new people, in new places, and in new ways.”

The Holy Spirit was surely with us! Rev. Dr. Candance Lewis delivered a significant message and call for action. I was a part of a panel discussion after Rev. Dr. Stephanie Moore Hand’s presentation. I appreciated her sharing the following scripture and encouraging us to keep running with Jesus:

Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back (Philippians 3:12-14 MSG)

During an immersion visit to Hope Church's dinner church (led by Rev. Charles Dirico) for unhoused individuals in Charlotte, North Carolina, a profound moment underscored the essence of Fresh Expressions. Ruth, once unhoused and now a member of this community, shared a heartfelt, seven-page handwritten prayer at the dinner. Her journey from attending the Fresh Expression to contributing so meaningfully illustrates the transformative impact these initiatives can have on individuals and communities, embodying the core reason for pursuing Fresh Expressions. Later, she shared her beautiful prayer during an FX plenary session.

As I visit many churches and see their struggles, I have been asking the Holy Spirit what we can do. I think FX will help many churches in various settings. It does not cost much, and people can use the connections they already have within the church.

FXUM 24 Ruth
Left to right: Rev. Charles Dirico, Ruth, Rev. Jeff Campbell

One key insight is that initiating Fresh Expressions doesn't require extensive preparation. While thorough planning— hiring coaches and conducting surveys—was the approach in my previous church, I see the value in starting simpler, more immediate Fresh Expressions. Observing where people naturally gather and launching multiple small-scale initiatives offers a practical way forward, understanding that some of these Fresh Expressions might not succeed.

The presence of seven bishops at the gathering, in person and virtually, showed episcopal support for FX. My workshop, "Sow, Grow, Systematize: Building a Discipleship System in Fresh Expressions," emphasized the necessity of a deliberate discipleship path, reminding us always to consider the next steps for community members, whether in FX or other settings.

This gathering underscored the shift toward more accessible, immediate forms of spiritual engagement, emphasizing the importance of flexibility and community connection in ministry. The gathering challenged me in good ways to be flexible and patient with fluid schedules. FX often does not go as we plan, so we have to be flexible.

Please save the date for next year's gathering, February 27 to March 1, 2025, at Peachtree Road UMC in Atlanta, Georgia. God is with us. We can do hard things!

We are not turning back. We keep running with Jesus. Jesus went to meet people. We follow Jesus to meet people!

For further insights and inspiration, be sure to watch the conference recordings. Special thanks to Michael Beck and Jessica Taylor for their dedication and hard work in organizing this event.


  1. Vision for Fresh Expressions: How does the vision of Fresh Expressions align with our church's current ministry approach, and where can we see opportunities for integration?
  2. Community Engagement: In what ways can we better engage with our local community through Fresh Expressions to meet people where they are, particularly those not currently served by traditional church settings?
  3. Discipleship Pathways: How can we develop or enhance intentional discipleship pathways within our Fresh Expressions initiatives to foster both personal and corporate spiritual growth?
  4. Leadership and Training: What training or resources do our leaders need to effectively guide Fresh Expressions initiatives, and how can we support their growth in this area?
  5. Evaluating Impact: How will we measure the impact of Fresh Expressions on our church and community, and what does success look like in the context of discipleship?


(This content was created by our staff with assistance from AI tools.)

Bible verses marked MSG are from The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson.

Rev. Motoe Yamada Foor, Director of Adult Discipleship, served in local churches for twenty years. She has a wealth of experience at a variety of organizational levels of The United Methodist Church as well as in ecumenical organizations such as the World Council of Churches (WCC). She also enjoys serving as a coach to help people and churches grow.

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