Fresh Expressions UM Theological Conversations
By Michael Beck
Do you long to learn from and converse with leading Wesley scholars about the emerging United Methodist Church of the twenty-first century? Is there a way the people called Methodists can “bring forth treasures both old and new” (Matt 13:52) to help us thrive in a new reality? What practical applications might there be for our daily work in church planting and local congregations?
Fresh Expressions UM is a distinctly Wesleyan Spirit-led movement of new Christian communities that serve the present age. We are seeking to cultivate inclusive, accessible, transformative, and connectional communities of love and grace for people currently neglected by the church.
Post-Christendom has brought new challenges. The church’s wellbeing is inextricably linked to how it seeks the wellbeing of the world around it. Inherited, attractional-only, mono-cultural forms of church are not connecting with most people. We now need a blended ecology of church (i.e., hybrid: attractional and missional, gathered and sent, analog and digital) to thrive on a new missional frontier.
We now need a blended ecology of church to thrive on a new missional frontier.
Jesus said, “Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:17, italics ours). The blended ecology is an and/both way of being church in which both are preserved.
We recently pulled together a diverse focus group to reflect upon Fresh Expressions in North America. Those leaders noted the absence of a distinct Wesleyan theology, global in nature, in the US version of the movement.
In response, our team has organized a theological symposium involving some of the most notable Wesley scholars in the world.
We have organized the symposium as a series of conversations between two theologians on the first Thursday of every month from 5:30-6:30, p.m., CST. These will be followed with one larger gathering where all the speakers come together on September 21, 2023, from 5:00-6:30 p.m.
The structure of the symposium is a series of free live-streamed events using Zoom. Each speaker will consider a core theological distinction that needs to be reappropriated to “serve the present age,” and then respond live to your questions. The recordings from these conversations will be made available with a study guide for your teams to work through together.
Current symposium speakers include:
- Elaine Heath
- Leonard Sweet
- Paul Chilcote
- Lilian Siwila
- Paw Liang
- Sangwoo Kim
- Candace Lewis
- Amelia Koh-Butler
- Graham Cray
- Ken Carter
- Jacqui Rivas
- Steve Harper
- Sue Haupert-Johnson
- Bener Agtarap
- Brian Russell
- Martyn Atkins
- Thomas Oord
- Jong Chun Park
- Mark Williamson
- Michael Beck
- and more!
Please register at the link below. We will use the same registration for each event. If you can’t make it to the conversation live, a recording will be available afterward:
Michael Beck is the Director of Fresh Expressions United Methodist (FXUM) with Path 1 at Discipleship Ministries.