Several top spiritual leaders recently shared fresh perspective on how to bring folks to Jesus, and the Diocese of Central Florida was on the front lines.
Fresh Expressions, an innovative worldwide movement in which members create new forms of church alongside existing congregations in order to make contact with an ever-changing world, held its latest “Vision Day” on May 11 at the University Carillon United Methodist Church in Oviedo. Fresh Expressions involves members meeting people in coffee shops, bars, restaurants, parks, and other public venues as a way to bring the Lord to others.
Sponsored by the Diocese of Central Florida, “Vision Day” drew 75 people, including Dr. Chris Backert, national director of Fresh Expressions U.S., and Rev. Michael Beck, senior pastor of Wildwood and Oxford United Methodist Churches and the North Central District Cultivator of Fresh Expressions for the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church.
“We had a mix of people in attendance,” said the Rev. John Motis, a deacon at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd of Lake Wales and the diocesan chairman for Fresh Expressions. “Attendees included clergy and lay people from our diocese, members of the Florida Methodist Conference, and a group of people with a heart for reaching the unchurched from other denominations and with whom I have the privilege of working.”
The large group that gathered benefited thoroughly from presentations from Backert and Beck, as well as from others.
“Part of the program included interviews with three Fresh Expressions church leaders and myself,” Motis said. “We had an opportunity to share our real-life experiences. My interview included the challenges and complexities of a Fresh Expressions church and the canons of the Episcopal Church – the absolute necessity of a partnership with a priest.”
The main purpose for the latest event was to generate interest and answer questions about the type of mission work that Fresh Expressions does, Motis said.
The organization’s real goal is to bring Christ to individuals beyond a church’s walls, especially to those who are undecided about spirituality, have fallen away from the church or are looking to rekindle a relationship with Christ.
“There is a very large group of people in our society that is simply not going to come to our traditional churches,” Motis said. “As Christians, it is our responsibility to reach those people. It is not to be left to the priest or rector. Most are more than plenty busy taking care of the flock within the walls of their local church.
“Our mindset that the only way to do church is behind our walls (and our vision) must be transformed if we are to reach the unchurched and the lost,” Motis said.
Email Motis at email@example.com for information on future Fresh Expressions events or how to become a part of the movement.