Updated: Jul 26
A new immersive experience from Fresh Expressions Florida
I grew up a pastor’s kid in the big shiny buckle of the Bible Belt: Texas. I experienced all the good and all the bad of church life, being there three or four times a week. I even went on to study ministry and theology while serving in churches in college. By the end of my degree, I was disillusioned with the church. The disconnect between what my church said they believed and how they actually lived led me to opt-out. I said the church isn’t for me.
I moved to a new city without really carrying the Christian label with me. I was hurting and didn’t want to be associated with a religion that had hurt me and so many others. But then I found a group called Brew Theology. They met in breweries to engage in meaningful dialogue about religion and philosophy. Everyone was heard, respected, and cared for. The community became my spiritual home where I could talk about my doubts and struggles and learn from others and their stories. And when I moved to Florida, I knew I wanted to create a community just like it for my new city. So I did.
My story probably sounds familiar. The "nones and dones" are a growing demographic, but maybe, just maybe, when they find a community that fits them, that understands their language, that helps them grow, and that invites them to belong upon arrival, their spirits can be renewed and ignited with Love for God and neighbor. And then they might go on to do the same for others.
Let me introduce you to FXX: Fresh Expressions Experience. This is an interactive, immersive experience for Christian congregations in Florida to witness firsthand what these new ways of being the church can look like. We want to create a spark of creativity and innovation that will inspire Christians to form Fresh Expressions in their contexts.
Fresh Expressions Florida is an initiative of the Florida United Methodist Church. We have a team of trained experts in adventuring ministry who can equip teams with tools and resources to turn their passions for the unchurched into thriving communities. FXX will bring the founders and leaders of active Fresh Expressions along with individuals who have been impacted by being a part of a fresh expression to not teach but show teams the impact these ministries can make. We know the power of storytelling; this immersion is the next level.
The Great Commission that Jesus gives us does not say, “Build a nice building and draw everyone to you.” He says, "GO,"—“Go therefore and make disciples."
We know the state of the church in America. We know the demographics. But I’m not worried about the future of the church because I know that the people—who are the church—aren’t going anywhere. I also know that it’s been proven in Florida that when a “dying” church shifts its perspective and opens itself up to new definitions of church by empowering adventurers—especially laity—to follow their passions for the unreached and to explore fresh expressions, that church experiences a renewal like they’ve never seen.
Our future will be different than our current reality, but God’s people will always be there—loving, serving, renewing, and igniting. Let’s open ourselves up to explore what it could look like to reach new people in new places in new ways. Let’s rekindle the flame in the hearts of our people that draws them toward those often-forgotten people outside of our church buildings to create places for them to thrive, grow, and experience the love of God. Let’s make FXX happen in your community!
Follow along with Fresh Expressions Florida as we launch training events throughout the Florida Conference.
Our first FXX will be hosted in the North West district on January 20 in Tallahassee, FL.