Thus, I make it my ambition to proclaim the good news, not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him shall see, and those who have never heard of him shall understand” (Romans 15:20-21).

St. Paul was an apostle who was called by God to plant new churches in places like Ephesus and Philippi. After starting those new faith communities, he continued to nurture them by sending envoys (Apollos, Timothy, Titus, Chloe) who carried and delivered detailed letters. St. Paul had a gift and a passion for planting and nurturing new communities.

During this past Saturday and Sunday, a group of innovators gathered at the Spiritual Center of Maria Stein in Maria Stein, Ohio, for an Innovator Learning Academy weekend. We were led by Rev. Dr. Michael Adam Beck, who serves as the Director of the Fresh Expressions House of Studies at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. We spent time in conversation about the importance of fully understanding our contexts and trusting the dynamic work of the Holy Spirit. We also learned a prayer discipline (Labyrinth Prayer) and took time to celebrate (and learn from) our failures. Much of our learning also took place as we gathered for meals, games, and an awesome campfire.

The purpose of the Innovator Learning Academy is to equip lay and rostered innovators to plant and nurture new Christian communities within their unique contexts throughout Northwest Ohio. Working in collaboration with a team of scholars and practitioners, cultivators and coaches, the academy values practical learning, personal reflection, individualized coaching, and collaborative conversation.

We are now in the process of forming our second class of innovators. The application for the Innovator Learning Academy is now open and will remain open through November 8. Lay folks and rostered ministers alike are welcome and invited to apply!

Click here to apply today for the 2021-2023 Innovator Learning Academy!