Iconic North American architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s “church of the future” proved a fitting setting to introduce DisciplesNEXT, a new framework for New Church Ministry (NCM) in a pandemic-informed ministry context.

More than 50 clergy and laity gathered for Leadership Academy at the historic Kansas City, Mo., Community Christian Church to explore DisciplesNEXT’s core competencies: contemplative action, prophetic advocacy, and faith-rooted organizing.

“I’m taking a lot of tools with me, including not only how to be a leader inside my congregation, but in my community,” said Victor Perez, a member of Casa de Refugio Christian Church in Covina, Calif.

The framework embraces the Disciples’ identity as a “movement for wholeness” even as it seeks to counter the church’s historic tendency to colonize as a means of growth.

“We are all new church!” Rev. Dr. Jose Martinez, Minister of New Church Strategies, told participants. “New churches. Existing churches. We are all learning anew what it means to be Disciples in a pandemic-informed context. Everything has changed.”

Highlights included:

  • An introduction to coaching as a key to success for new congregational leaders
  • Guidance on embodying a resilient faith, led by Rev. Brian Frederick-Gray, Director for Justice and Advocacy Ministry of Disciples Home Missions
  • Workshops on building needs and marketing led by Disciples Church Extension Fund (DCEF) staff
  • A tour of Independence Boulevard Christian Church, a local congregation finding new life in mission to its urban neighborhood.

NCM is a priority of DCEF’s New Ways into the World endowment campaign.