A New Dawn in Church Engagement
For over a decade, Fresh Expressions North America (FX NA) has been a beacon of innovation, aiding churches in navigating the complex realities of the 21st century. The mission: to empower local congregations to foster innovative forms of church for those who don’t attend traditional church services.
Now, Fresh Expressions is reimagining its structure to amplify its impact and better serve communities across North America. “After more than a decade of working among nearly 100 regional and national denominational bodies and scores of local churches,” explains Dr. Chris Backert, “we believe it is time for the ministry of Fresh Expressions to move into a new season.”
“After more than a decade of working among nearly 100 regional and national denominational bodies and scores of local churches, we believe it is time for the ministry of Fresh Expressions to move into a new season.”Chris Backert
“While we will continue to catalyze and connect with families of churches across the spectrum of North America, we believe the next season is focused more locally on congregations and leaders. These changes to the nature of our work are part of ensuring that we adapt with the ongoing life of the movement in North America.”
Leadership Evolution for Expanded Reach
Since its inception, Dr. Backert has provided organizational vision, practical logistics, and nitty-gritty guidance. He will continue to serve the ministry, but now in the role of Senior Director for Fresh Expressions North America, while a cadre of seasoned and new leaders are poised to drive the movement forward. Shannon Kiser will step into a broader role as the Director of U.S. Ministries & Training along with a team of Heather Jallad, Mitch Marcello, J.R. Briggs and an ever growing group of trainers and coaches. Heather’s pioneering and training background, alongside Mitch’s creativity and innovation expertise, and the equipping and coaching experience of J.R. will enhance the support available from Fresh Expressions.
According to Backert, “From the beginning, one of the gifts of the Fresh Expressions movement has been a focus on the practical, doable mission for everyday disciples of Jesus Christ. It has never been a movement focused or built on one person or personality. Our new leadership team structure reflects this truth.”
“Fresh Expressions’ in-person training, coaching, and resources inspire regular church leaders to find new ways to love their neighbors and help explore faith in a Christian community,” adds Kiser. ”I am excited to help our team continue to adapt and grow our materials for the needs of today.”
”I am excited to help our team continue to adapt and grow our materials for the needs of today.”Shannon Kiser
Dinner Church Initiatives: A Pivot Towards Community Engagement
A significant shift includes the expansion of Dinner Church-related initiatives. Verlon and Melodee Fosner’s efforts have inspired as many as 300 new expressions of church. Dr. Fosner will be providing guidance to a growing Dinner Church team, which will continue offering on-site training for congregations and graduate studies for pioneering leaders. With the help of Dr. Jon Davis and new team member Heather Evans, we have already begun to expand the resources and opportunities, including:
- The Dinner Church Podcast, featuring practitioners, theologians, and useful guidance for starting and multiplying Dinner Churches
- The Dinner Church Summit, the inaugural gathering of Dinner Church practitioners from across North America
- The Dinner Church Collective, a dedicated community providing resources and connection for pioneering leaders
“Dinner Church books and training resources have resulted in hundreds of new Jesus Table communities around North America,” says Fosner. “Now, with a dedicated team, we hope to develop a continent-wide community supporting Dinner Church leaders while continuing to offer our local training and online graduate-level courses to more churches.”
“With a dedicated team, we hope to develop a continent-wide community supporting Dinner Church leaders while continuing to offer our local training and online graduate-level courses to more churches.”Verlon Fosner
Planning for the Future: The Vital Importance of the Gospel Among the Latino Community
With the rapid growth of the Latino population in the United States and Canada, additional focus will be given to Expressiones Divinas. In North America, this population has grown to 62.5 million or 19% of the total population, up from just 7% in 1980 (via pewresearch.org). In Canada, the Spanish-speaking community, representing nearly 1% of the population with 342,040 individuals, according to the 2020 Census (source: USCanadaInfo, https://www.uscanadainfo.com), is also shaping the cultural landscape.
In partnership with the Ascent Movement, longtime trainer and serial church planter Dr. Eliseo Mejia will begin a new role as the Director of Latin America Ministries and Expresiones Divinas. His role will include adapting Fresh Expressions books and trainings for Spanish speakers, as well as exploring uniquely Latino approaches to starting and multiplying Christian communities for those whose heart-language is Spanish and have no church home.
Strategic Initiatives: Increasing Access to Materials
Chris Morton continues to steer Strategic Initiatives & Communications to create resources and opportunities to equip church leaders. This looks like orchestrating a suite of digital assets, including podcasts and webinars, and exploring AI-driven tools to repurpose training for diverse audiences. Recent efforts from the team include:
Small Beginnings: A Focused Approach for 2024 and Beyond
After hosting multiple large national gatherings, the Fresh Expressions team felt drawn to shift their focus to “small beginnings.” The coming year will feature a variety of small gatherings, immersive learning experiences, and regional micro-conferences, including:
- Immersions: On-site training experiences in places like Disney World and the Appalachian Trail.
- Summits: Focused training gatherings on topics like Dinner Church, Gathered and Distributed Church, Boomer ministry, and Rural Renewal.
- Regional Micro-Conferences: Immersive learning in settings where inherited churches and fresh expressions of church co-exist, creating a diversified and vital ministry ecosystem
Join the Journey
The strategic shift in leadership comes at a pivotal time for the Church in North America. The new structure will better position Fresh Expressions to create resources, learning communities, and training experiences that significantly benefit the Church in North America and globally.
“Another significant gift of our worldwide movement, more so in North America than any other country, is that the Fresh Expressions team comprises leaders from different church traditions,” explains Dr. Backert. “Our breadth of experience and impact is beyond one particular church stream. This diversity has been a core value we believe cannot be replicated elsewhere.”
Charles Revis is Executive Minister of Mission Northwest, an association of churches primarily dedicated to resourcing and developing churches that connect people with Jesus Christ.
“Fresh Expressions has been a valuable partner. There are not many ministries in the US that understand the landscape in our more Post-Christian regions like the Northwest. I am excited about this next chapter and believe the increased focus and shared leadership structure will benefit us all, and most importantly, the kingdom.”
There are not many ministries in the US that understand the landscape in our more Post-Christian regions like the Northwest. I am excited about this next chapter and believe the increased focus and shared leadership structure will benefit us all, and most importantly, the kingdom.”Charles Revis