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New Webinar - Streams in the Desert: Pathways to Launch New Fresh Expressions in Your Community

Updated: Mar 27

Conference-wide webinar for launch of new Fresh Expressions training streams in Florida

“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth; do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert.” — Isaiah 43:19

Fresh Expressions Florida is a distinctly Wesleyan, Spirit-led movement of new Christian communities that serve the present age. Fresh Expressions are inclusive, accessible, transformative, and connectional communities of love and grace for people currently neglected by the church. These communities come in many forms and gather face-to-face, virtual, or hybrid.

In Florida, we are regrouping after a double whammy of COVID-19 and disaffiliations. Some have called pockets of the conference “disaffiliation deserts.” It would be easy to get disillusioned and discouraged by these challenging times, yet we are a people of abounding hope who possess an inner resilience that is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

We believe in a God who makes all things new and who makes streams flow in the desert. We have the opportunity to participate in God’s new creation work through cultivating new and diverse, lay-led faith communities in every nook and cranny of life.

The Fresh Expressions Florida team continued to provide training, coach practitioners, lead workshops, and even organize a new rural church conference amid these adversities. Additionally, 127 laity attended a fresh expressions training at the 2023 Annual Conference. We have seen dozens of new faith communities spring up from this work and the inherited congregations that are involved in their cultivation are experiencing new forms of flourishing.

As the dust settles, I have never been more grateful to be a United Methodist. We are emerging as a smaller, more committed, more theologically aligned annual conference.

In 2024, a team of clergy and laypeople from Fresh Expressions Florida is launching a new variety of replicable training streams for congregations to follow God’s call to create new faith communities for those outside the walls of the church.

Research from the United Kingdom identifies that pioneers (we use the term adventurers here) exist on a spectrum illustrated by the diagram above. On one end of the spectrum are fresh start pioneers, who innovate new things completely on the edge and on their own. On the other side of the spectrum are traditional planters who replicate a well-known method with clearly defined benchmarks.

Most of our congregations are more suited for the replication end of the spectrum in which they can take the insights and methods from the experience of others to create a Fresh Expression that fits their context and needs. As we learned through the dinner church initiative, we do have many leaders and congregations who can adapt tried-and-true methods to our unique ministry setting. This is a tremendous asset.

The new training streams will provide a kind of menu teams, congregations, and districts can choose from that provides tools and clearly defined steps and benchmarks for launching a new fresh expression. Most congregations can start a dinner church or a messy church, but we have also discovered some new models emerging that are unique to the Florida United Methodist Church.

In 2024, we will launch multiple streams of training designed to help leaders and congregations cultivate fresh expressions of church. Each stream has a team of trainers ready to provide in-person or online training and coaching through the theological and practical aspects of the particular type of fresh expression. Our focus is empowering laity, diversifying teams, and networking leaders of these new faith communities across Florida.

We are inviting you to join us for a conference-wide opening webinar with Bishop Tom Berlin and our leadership team on January 17, 2024, 6:00-7:30 pm. Here are the unique streams will introduce:

1. Recovery Expressions

Cultivate communities of healing for people in recovery who might be interested in Jesus as their higher power.

2. Open Table

Join a distinctly Wesleyan movement of meal-based churches across the Florida Conference.

3. Queer Expressions

Be a part of the intentional cultivation of inclusive new faith communities for LGBTQ+ persons and their allies.

4. Church@Play

Create creative and fun ways for families and people of all ages and abilities to explore faith together.

5. Justice-Oriented Expressions

Learn how to build community focused on interracial healing, connection, and supporting black and brown leaders.

6. Expresiones de Amor

Form multicultural, bilingual fresh expressions with Latino, Hispanic, and Latinx communities. This is a cross-conference collaboration with the Western North Carolina Conference.

A recording of the Streams in the Desert webinar is now available for viewing here:


Would you like to host a Streams in the Desert training at your church?

Click the button below to connect with our team.


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