New People New Places: A Wesleyan Lens of Fresh Expressions Continues Forward
By Bryan Tener
Early this year, “New People New Places” launched as a way to equip and train disciples, so that local churches would develop and form Fresh Expressions as a way to reach new people and engage their communities. New People New Places is a resource that will help pastors and laity to find creative ways to go out from their places of worship to connect with people outside the church to help them birth new faith communities.
There is no expectation that these groups will come to worship on a Sunday morning or even enter into the main church space, but these groups are connected to the church and are an extension of the life of the church. These communities are usually led by laypeople.
The first season began with an invitational gathering as a way to give a broad overview of the program and the resources and to set the stage for what the process looks like. Then it launched with a large Zoom gathering in which participants had the opportunity to see what the journey entails, outlining the cycle from Godsend, an app created through the FX UK. The cycle follows the pattern of movement from listen, love, community, share Jesus, church, repeat. This journey isn’t linear; a team may decide to take a step back or a step forward or spend more time on the step it is on.
This year’s program includes nineteen teams from across the U.S. who gather in three different cohorts and meet three times over Zoom before the next large gathering, which takes place the first Wednesday in May.
The essential DNA of these cohorts includes: (1) team focus; (2) commitment to four values of being missional, contextual, formational, and ecclesial; (3) five constituent elements - a shared focus (based on the loving-first cycle), use of Godsend (supplemented by other material), planning and discovery in communities of practice, mutual support via social media, and coaching as required; (4) Co-creation by FX resourcing, the United Methodist denomination, and participating teams; and (5) shared learning with participating teams.
We are still early in this movement. It is the intent that this movement will grow and help equip and empower laypeople so that they will partner and create new Christian faith communities in a focused and prayerful way as a part of an intentional discipleship system, making disciples and multiplying faith communities.
Stay tuned for more as we move through the year. If you have any questions or want more information as you discern how you might participate in future offerings, contact Bryan Tener at [email protected].