Houses of Study at United equip students for service in the communities, movements and denominations where they serve. Houses support students in several ways: through academic tracks in United’s Master of Divinity program, through mutual support in formation groups, and through mentorship from facilitators and spiritual directors in United’s Contextual Ministries program. Houses may also include related non-degree certificates and groups in United’s Doctor of Ministry program. Within a House of Studies, you will find support from a House of Studies director and fellowship among your peers.
Fresh Expressions House of Studies
The Fresh Expressions House of Studies, 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 Studies 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
Fresh Expressions House of Studies Director
Rev. Dr. Michael Beck is Director of Re-Missioning for Fresh Expressions US and Cultivator of Fresh Expressions for the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church. Michael and his wife, Jill, are co-pastors of Wildwood United Methodist Church, where they direct addiction recovery programs, a jail ministry, a food pantry, an interracial unity movement, and a network of thirteen fresh expressions that gather in places like tattoo parlors, dog parks, and burrito joints. Michael earned a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary and a Doctorate in Semiotics and Future Studies at Portland Seminary with his mentor Dr. Leonard Sweet. He is co-author of A Field Guide to Methodist Fresh Expressions (with Jorge Acevedo, Abingdon, 2020) and the author of Deep Roots, Wild Branches: Revitalizing the Church in the Blended Ecology (Seedbed, 2019).
Doctor of Ministry Focus Group
— Fresh Expressions and Church Renewal —
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 Church Renewal focus group, join a cohort of your peers to learn from mentor Michael Beck and graduate assistant Jorge Acevedo. 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.
Mentor: Rev. Dr. Michael Beck, Director of Re-Missioning for Fresh Expressions US and Cultivator of Fresh Expressions for the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church (see bio above)
Graduate Assistant: Rev. Jorge Acevedo is Lead Pastor at Grace Church, a multi-site United Methodist congregation in Southwest Florida. Grace Church has grown its attendance from 400 to over 2,600 in the past eighteen years and is recognized as having one of the largest and most effective recovery ministries in America, with over 700 people involved. Jorge received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Asbury College and earned a Master of Divinity at Asbury Theological Seminary. He was ordained a Deacon in the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church in May 1986, and an Elder in May 1990. Jorge is co-author of A Field Guide to Methodist Fresh Expressions (with Michael Beck, Abingdon, 2020) and the author of Vital: Churches Changing Communities and the World (Abingdon Press, 2013).
— in Fresh Expressions —
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, Master of Ministry 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. The MDiv track will begin in Fall 2021, while the MMin and MACM tracks are planned to begin in Fall 2022.
In addition to United’s core courses in Bible, History and Theology, Practical Theology, and Contextual Ministry, the MDiv, MACM and MMin 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 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).
* The establishment and maintenance of Houses of Study at United Theological Seminary are dependent on sufficient enrollment.
— Certificate in Fresh Expressions and Pioneer Ministry —
Fresh Expressions Learning Communities
Over approximately 8-9 months, Learning Community cohorts meet for two weekend retreats, monthly connection and support through coaching. Teams and individuals discern and implement intentional steps toward developing fresh expressions of church appropriate to their unique contexts. The FXLC is a great opportunity for both pioneers, supporters, and permission givers to ignite new communities of faith. Upon completion United Theological Seminary will confer 5.0 CEU’s. Link here for upcoming Learning Communities already scheduled or to request one near you.
Pioneer Leadership Academy (Coming in 2021)
The Pioneer Leadership Academy (PLA) 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 pioneer ministry. Upon completion, United Theological Seminary will confer a Certificate in Fresh Expressions and Pioneer Ministry and 8.0 CEUs.
Resilient Church Academies
Resilient Church Academies (RCA) are month-long experiences of in-depth equipping for church leaders around timely needs facing the church in this tumultuous season. This is some of the best “just-in-time” training available for church leaders today. Learn from leaders like N.T. Wright, Keisha Polonio, Tod Bolsinger, and Laceye Werner and engage with topics such as Digital Ministry, Navigating Change, Dinner Church, Dialogical Preaching, Contextual Intelligence, Trauma Healing, and much more. Multiple CEU options are available for each track and master-class sessions. Visit resilientchurchacademy.com to view current offerings and register today.
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.
Learn more about Fresh Expressions US
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Fresh Expressions Advisory Council
Rosario Picardo – Faculty Advisor
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.
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 who has three campuses and worships over 4,000. Also, Roz was one of the founding pastors at Mosaic, a new multicultural church in Dayton, Ohio, that recently celebrated its first year in the community launching with 564 people.
In addition to his work in the church Roz leads a consulting group for church planters/pastors called Picardo Coaching LLC and is the author of 7 books.
More recently, Roz works bi-vocational at United Theological Seminary. He serves as Director of the Seminary’s Pohly Center for Supervision and Leadership Formation, a faculty consultant in United’s Doctor of Ministry program and an affiliate faculty member, and Director of External Partnerships.
Jorge Acevedo – Spiritual Leadership Advisor
Jorge Acevedo loves Jesus Christ and his Church. Touched by the grace of God at seventeen, he was never the same. Rescued from a life of addictions, his greatest delight is connecting people to Jesus and the Church.
Born in Puerto Rico, Jorge at the age of four months, moved with his family to the United States where he was raised. Jorge is married to Cheryl Montgomery. Their oldest son, Daniel is married to Courtney who gave them four beautiful grandchildren, Mia, Levi, Seth and Zoe. They also have a younger son, Nathan.
Jorge is the Lead Pastor at Grace Church (www.egracechurch.com), a multi-site, United Methodist congregation in Southwest Florida with four campuses (Cape Coral, Fort Myers Shores, Fort Myers Central, and Sarasota). Grace Church is recognized as having one of the largest and most effective recovery ministries in America. From 1992 to 1996, he served as Executive Pastor at Christ Church United Methodist in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; from 1988 to 1992, as the Associate Pastor at First United Methodist Church in Kissimmee, Florida; from 1984 to 1988 as Minister of Youth and Children at Trinity Hill United Methodist Church in Lexington, Kentucky.
Jorge is a 1984 graduate of Asbury College where he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree majoring in Bible. He is also a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity Degree. Jorge was ordained as a Deacon in the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church in May 1986, and an Elder in May 1990.
Jorge was the 2001 recipient of the Denman Evangelism Award from the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church given to a pastor for excellence in evangelism. In 2007, he was named the Distinguished Alumni of the Year at Asbury Theological Seminary. In 2009, the Foundation for Evangelism named Jorge the 2009 Distinguished Evangelist of the United Methodist Church. He was a 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 delegate to the Jurisdictional Conference and a 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 delegate to the General Conference. He served on the Call to Action Steering Team (2009-2010) and the Commission on a Way Forward (2017-2018) for the United Methodist Church.
Jorge co-authored A Field Guide for Methodist Fresh Expressions (Abingdon Press, 2020), wrote Neighboring (Abingdon Press, 2019), co-authored The Grace-Full Life: God’s All-Reaching, Soul-Saving, Character-Shaping, Never-Ending Love (Abingdon Press, 2017) and co-authored Sent: Giving the Gift of Hope at Christmas (Abingdon Press, 2015). He also authored Vital: Churches Changing Communities and the World (Abingdon Press, 2013) and co-authored The Heart of Youth Ministry (Bristol House, 1989). He has also written for the United Methodist Publishing House, Circuit Rider magazine, Good News magazine and Our Faith Today.
Michael Moynagh – Theological Advisor
Rev. Dr Michael Moynagh is a minister in the Church of England and is based at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. In the early 1990s, he led a church that was one of the first in the UK to start an intentional teenagers’ congregation. He has been involved in new types of Christian community for over 20 years, learning from the “pioneers” involved, and writing extensively about them. His books include Church for Every Context (2012), Being Church, Doing Life (2014) and Church in Life (2017), a book on innovation in the church. Additionally, his latest book is co-authored with Michael Beck “The 21st Century Christian: Following Jesus Where Life Happens” (2020).
Moynagh is sometimes known as “the theologian of fresh expressions of church,” and has an international consulting and teaching ministry. He has also written extensively on social issues, and from 1995 to 2012 co-directed The Tomorrow Project, which advised the UK government and large companies on emerging social trends. London’s Financial Times described his co-authored book, Working in the 21st Century (2005), as “required reading for policy makers and human resource directors.” He is married to Liz, with two children and five grandchildren.
Rachel Gilmore – Contextual Church Planting Advisor
Rev. Rachel Gilmore most recently served as the Director of Recruiting, Training and Assessing for lay and clergy church planters in the United Methodist Church. Rachel and her husband, Rev. Brandon Gilmore, are pastors at Central United Methodist Church in Phoenix, Arizona where they are creating a new faith community while revitalizing the existing congregation. In 2009, Rachel planted a church in Virginia Beach and started two missional preschools. In 2017 she cultivated fresh expressions in the local jail and in a feeding ministry which provided food to over 40,000 people in 2020.
Rachel graduated magna cum laude from Duke Divinity School as a Distinguished Leader after serving for two years in the Peace Corps in Bulgaria. She is the author of Expanding the Expedition Reach with Missional Communities and a contributor to Launching a New Worship Community: a Practical Guide for the 2020s (Upper Room, 2021). Her story is also featured in Ready, Set, Plant (Upper Room, 2021) and From Franchise to Local Dive: Multiplying your Church by Developing your Contextual Flavor (Marketsquare, 2020).
Emily Reece – Equipping the Laity Advisor
Emily Reece served as Director of Church Development for the Indiana Conference from April 2018 until August 2020. Hailing from Muncie, Indiana, she now lives in Whitestown – the fastest growing community in the state for the past eight years!
Reece is a lifelong United Methodist with a rich history in service to the Church and the Connection. With nearly 25 years of professional ministry experience, she brings a wealth of knowledge and resources in the areas of church planting and revitalization, ministry coaching, community building, resource development, marketing, and storytelling, along with much more.
Prior to serving for 18 years at the General Church and Indiana Conference, Reece worked in lay ministry coordination for congregations in Illinois and Indiana. She also worked in corporate communications for a health insurance company, fundraising and public relations for the American Red Cross, and property management for Simon Property Group before beginning her ministry career.
A graduate of both Ball State (We Fly!) and Illinois State universities, Emily holds degrees in Journalism (Advertising) and Communication (Organizations). While pursuing her master’s degree, Emily taught the basic communication course at Illinois State and assisted two professors with their research and publications. Through these experiences she learned that grading papers in a “publish or perish” university environment was not her life’s calling.
Emily is an avid movie fan, with interests in classic, current, and international films. She also enjoys sewing, gardening, singing, dancing, and spending time with her family. Being “Back Home Again in Indiana” offers Emily (with her Labradoodle, Boomer) the opportunity to live nearby her sister’s family and her parents, all of whom live in Zionsville.
Chuck Salter – Mission Relevance in Cultural Contexts Advisor
Rev. Chuck Salter is Vice President of Ministry Advancement for ACS Technologies.
Chuck is a clergy member of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist
Church. As an ordained United Methodist minister, he has over 30 years’ experience in the strategic use of community demographic information. He has served as a church planter and denominational executive responsible for leading missional development and ministry advancement.
Chuck was a co-founder of MissionInsite, a web-based software solution providing community demographics and data analytics to nearly 200 faith-based agencies representing over 100,000 local churches. MissionInsite became part of the ACS Technologies family in October 2019.
Laura Baber – FX House of Studies Spiritual Advisor
Laura has been practicing the art of spiritual direction over 20 years. Her heart is to help people experience the deep well of God’s love through creative contemplative practices. Laura is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church. She received her M.Div. from Asbury Theological Seminary, a B.A in English Literature from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, and completed the Ministry of Spiritual Direction Program through the Center for Spiritual Formation in 1999.
She is the author of Rhythms of Restoration, Practicing Grief on the Path of Grace: A Field Guide of Mini-Retreats For the Hurting and Those Who Help Them (Seedbed, 2015). Laura lives in Florida with her husband John Esbenshade and their pandemic puppy Polly.
Sherry Krieger – Strengthening Ecumenical Relationships Advisor
Sherry Willer Krieger is called as the Director of Leadership Development for Congregational Care with the Northwestern Ohio Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). She holds a Masters in Theological Study from Trinity Lutheran Seminary and a Masters in Social Service Administration from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University.
Sherry is a Licensed Social Worker, a 28-year veteran in the mental health system and is a rostered Deacon in theELCA. Her passion is the intersection of faith, mental health, leadership development and the church – particularly new expressions of the church. Her work holds a two-fold focus: Developing new strategies, teams, and partnerships that help tend to hurting people, leaders, parishes, and communities; and networking and collaboration that focuses the whole Body of Christ on its call to work together and share in Christ’s mission in the world. She actively connects with ecumenical judicatories in developing parish partnerships throughout the synod. For Sherry, Fresh Expressions has unleashed a new sense of call to be a part of a wider movement of God’s healing and growth in this time and place, a movement that frees us up to be new, creative, and active beacons of Christ’s light, love and grace in the world.
Sherry is married to Andrew Krieger and they have 3 children, Jessica (21), Cassidy (19) and Cory (17). Her favorite activities are supporting her children’s activities, seeing and helping others realize the grace that is evident in all aspects and experiences of life, travel, photography, painting, movies and reading.