Fresh Expressions House of Study


The Fresh Expressions House of Study, in partnership with Fresh Expressions US, is for visionary leaders who are called to cultivate transformational Christian communities.

A fresh expression is a missional, contextual, formational and ecclesial form of church for our changing culture, established primarily for the benefit of those who are not yet part of any church. Thousands of fresh expressions are emerging across the globe. Inherited congregations involved in their cultivation are experiencing forms of revitalization, in what has been called a “blended ecology of church.”

Whether you are ready to expand your ministry through the Doctor of Ministry, pursue a Master of Divinity or grow your leadership through a certificate program, you will receive instruction from practitioners in the Fresh Expressions movement to equip you for cultivating fresh expressions of Church and engaging in the work of Church Renewal.

Students in the Fresh Expressions House of Study will explore:

• Fresh expressions and pioneer ministry in a post-Christendom culture
• The missional church movement
• Contextual intelligence, missional church planting and trends in local ministry
• Diverse cultural, religious and linguistic contexts of ministry
• Adaptive skills for a new missional frontier
• Practical renewal skills like cultivating teams, maintaining focus and establishing biblical strategies for ministry

Meet the Director

Rev. Dr. Michael Beck
[email protected]

Michael Beck is a pastor, professor, and author. Beck, a rare breed of practitioner and scholar, came to faith as a street-kid, redeemed by Jesus from a life of incarceration and addiction. Michael and wife Jill have led a series of church revitalizations for the past 16 years. They are co-pastors of Compassion and St Marks UMCs, as well as a network of fresh expressions gathering in tattoo parlors, dog parks, burrito joints, EV charging stations, digital spaces, and a substance abuse rehab. Michael serves as the Director of Fresh Expressions Florida, Director of the Fresh Expressions House of Study at United Theological Seminary, and Director of Fresh Expressions for The United Methodist Church. He also teaches as an adjunct professor at several seminaries and is the author of thirteen books. Michael helps church leaders across the globe follow Jesus in new and exciting ways.

DMin Focus Group

Doctor of Ministry Focus Group

Fresh Expressions and the Future Church

Dr. Michael BeckCo-Mentor: Rev. Dr. Michael Beck
Director of Re-Missioning for Fresh Expressions US
Cultivator of Fresh Expressions for the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church

This cohort, the first of its kind in the US, is created for entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs passionate about leading local churches in mission on the edge. United’s Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program is a professional degree for religious leaders ready to expand the area of ministry to which they are called. In the Fresh Expressions and the Future Church focus group, join a cohort of your peers to learn from co-mentors Michael Beck and Rosario Picardo. United’s mentor-based DMin program provides feedback, academic guidance, and ministry support as you develop an original research project for your unique ministry context.

Rosario PicardoCo-Mentor: Rev. Dr. Rosario Picardo

Roz grew up in western New York as a first-generation Sicilian American. In 2003, he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Religion from Houghton College and, in 2007, a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary. He graduated with a Doctor of Ministry from United Theological Seminary in 2014 and an MBA in 2021 from Dakota Wesleyan University.

During his senior year of college, Roz entered the ministry as a military chaplain, serving four years in the Marine Reserves and five years in the Navy Reserves. While attending seminary, he recognized a call to serve the local church and has experience in all facets of church life through roles ranging from church custodian to associate pastor to church planter and executive pastor of church planting at Ginghamsburg Church for five, where they had three campuses and worshipped over 4,000. Also, Roz was one of the founding pastors at Mosaic, a new multicultural church in Dayton, Ohio (www.wearemosaic.org).

In addition to his work in the church, Roz is a national speaker, leads a consulting group for church planters/pastors called Picardo Coaching LLC, and has authored eight books.

More recently, Roz has served as a faculty consultant in United’s Doctor of Ministry program and as an affiliate faculty member.

Luke EdwardsDMin Assistant: Luke Edwards is the Associate Director of Church Development for the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, a trainer for Fresh Expressions North America and Fresh Expressions United Methodist, and a professionally trained ministry coach. He is the author of Becoming Church: A Trail Guide for Starting Fresh Expressions. He co-leads a community of dads and father figures called Who Let the Dads Out? Lake Norman. Luke is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and was the founding pastor of King Street Church, a network of fresh expressions in Boone, North Carolina. He grew up in an area of western Massachusetts that was recently named the most post-Christian metropolitan area in the United States where he joined his first microchurch at age 14. Between his upbringing and his work in local, regional, and national levels of the Fresh Expressions movement Luke has a unique perspective into the future of the church in a post-Christian society.  He lives in Denver, North Carolina, where he enjoys hiking, coaching his daughter’s soccer team, and being a superfan of Charlotte FC, his local professional soccer club.

Master's Tracks

Master’s Tracks

For most people, the church as we know it has become inaccessible. The days of a professional minister caring for a flock of already-Christians is largely over. With the emergence of post-Christendom, the time of the missionary-pastor has arrived. The only way to make church accessible is through the formation of new Christian communities in the spaces and rhythms where people do life. The present-future is a blended ecology of both inherited and emerging forms of church. This was a realization made in the landmark Mission Shaped Church report (2004). All existing churches must now become church-planting incubators, and every Christian can be involved in this work.

The Fresh Expressions tracks focus study in United’s Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Christian Ministries programs to prepare church leaders for the world that currently exists. Graduates will become proficient in pioneer ministry and the cultivation of fresh expressions of church.

In addition to United’s core courses in Bible, History and Theology, Practical Theology, and Contextual Ministry, the MDiv and MACM tracks in Fresh Expressions may include the following specialized courses:

Fresh Expressions of Church and Pioneer Ministry

The purpose of the course is to provide learning experiences in which students encounter, critique, and hone each other’s thinking about missional, contextual, formational, and ecclesial forms of church (fresh expressions). Examines the history and theology of the Fresh Expressions movement. Students are challenged by the reading and writing assignments to reflect on what the Church of England describes as pioneers… “people called by God who are the first to see and creatively respond to the Holy Spirit’s initiatives with those outside the church; gathering others around them as they seek to establish a new contextual Christian community.” An exploration of entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial giftings, effectual and causal logic, as well as praxis for incarnational church planting will be explored.

Deep Roots, Wild Branches: The Blended Ecology of Church

This course is an exploration in missional ecclesiology. Most pioneers will serve in established denominational or inherited systems. This requires the development of a special intrapreneurial gifting. “Mixed economy/blended ecology” pioneers work from the base of inherited systems to cultivate missional ministries: caring for the center, while experimenting on the edge. The concept of re-missioning, as well as methodologies and praxis for this activity will be explored.

Cultivating Contextual Intelligence

The purpose of this course is to learn about and explore the cultivation of Contextual Intelligence (CI), which refers to the ability to accurately diagnose a context and make correct decisions regarding what to do. The Tribe of Issachar possessed this distinct kind of intelligence. In a time of great transition and change, they were able to accurately diagnose the context (“read the signs”), and effectively apply their knowledge (“know what to do”). Unlocking CI has been shown to be a critical competency for leaders across multiple fields, a framework will be suggested for application in the local church.

Fresh Expressions of Discipleship, Evangelism, and Preaching

The purpose of this course is to explore the phenomenon of discipleship multiplication, evangelism, and preaching in the mission-shaped church. Pioneer ministry requires team-based, strengths-oriented, apprentice systems of discipleship. The biblical, historical and theological roots for the transmission of the Gospel will be explored and modern methods and challenges will be explored. Evangelism as a form of habitus, a concept dating back to Aristotle but greatly expanded in the work of French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, will be explored. Students will also be challenged to consider how mega-shifts impact the practice of communicating the Gospel. A fresh set of skills will be explored for facilitating sermonic conversations, including semiotics, recoding, translation, and contextual theology.

Cultivating Fresh Expressions of the Church

This course explores the “how” of cultivating fresh expressions of church. The metaphor of “essentials for the journey,” will provide a framework, comprised of four components: 1. Compass (the four essentials: missional, formational, contextual, and ecclesial); 2. Map (the fresh expressions process of listening, loving and serving, building community, exploring discipleship, church taking shape, do it again) 3. Food for the journey (the scriptures and how to engage them with not-yet-Christians), 4. Destination (the four sets of interlocking relationships that define a mature fresh expression—the four marks of the church—one, holy, catholic, apostolic).

Non-Degree Track

Non-Degree Tracks

Certificate in Fresh Expressions and Pioneer Ministry


The Adventurers Leadership Academy (ALA) is an immersive, year-long, cohort-based training process that certifies lay and clergy leaders to cultivate fresh expressions of church. Through a mixture of both class-based and peer-to-peer learning, along with guided in-context experimentation, participants will become proficient in missional ministry. Upon completion, United Theological Seminary will confer a Certificate in Fresh Expressions and Adventurer Ministry and 8.0 CEUs.


Spiritual Director: Sue Nilson Kibbey

Overall structure: Self-paced process with in-person gatherings, coaching, a course of study, and immersive learning between each gathering.

Virtual Orientation: Held for new students before each immersive gathering.

Upcoming Sessions:

  • May 8-10, 2024 – Spring Forest with Elaine Heath
  • August 8-10, 2024 – Missouri
  • November 14-16, 2024 – Florida
  • February 27-March 1, 2025 – North Georgia (FX National Gathering)
  • May 7-9, 2025 – Asheville, NC

ALA Application

ALA References


You’re invited to the FX Studio!

What is it?

A “studio” is a generic term for the workroom of an artist and team of apprentices. It can be a space for collaborative architecture, painting, pottery, origami, woodworking, scrapbooking, music making, photography, film production, sermon preparation, and the list goes on.

FX Studios are incubators of collaborative missional mess making and a community of support for your team as you cultivate fresh expressions.

What’s the Purpose?

  1. The aim is to create and multiply new Christian communities (‘fresh expressions of church’) in a focused and structured way to make new disciples.
  2. In the Studio your team will receive an integrated structure of support, tailored to your individual needs.
  3. You will connect, collaborate, and cultivate, with other teams who are focused on reaching new people.

What are the Benefits?

Each Studio is comprised primarily of these five elements.

  1. A shared focus
    Your team will focus on traveling through the ‘loving-first cycle’ at your own pace and in your own way (see diagram below).

  1. Self-paced discovery
    Your team will be guided through using the free app, FX: Godsend. Godsend contains frameworks, methodologies and stories that will help your team navigate each stage of the cycle.
  2. Community of practice (the Gatherings)
    Teams gather in the Studios twice-yearly in a community of practice for planning, team and personal formation, and mutual support.
  3. Support via social media
    Between Studio gatherings, teams will be provided a Facebook group to encourage and support each other.
  4. Skype/Zoom-based coaching
    If your team gets stuck or needs help, not only will you be able to seek advice from other teams, but free coaching will be provided normally on Skype or Zoom with experienced pioneers.


Fresh Expressions US and United Theological Seminary continue to iterate timely resources for the complexity of ministry in this season. Check back often for new offerings available digitally or in your area.


If you have any questions email [email protected].

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