The Church Planting Conference for Missional-Incarnational Practitioners
Last year was our first Praxis Gathering in Washington DC. We enjoyed the rich diversity of our presenters speaking into grounded missional practices: from Alan Hirsch flipping the apple cart on movements, to David Bailey unpacking racism in the church, to Mia Chang sharing her journey of being a woman church planter, to Jon Tyson equipping us in the discipline of missional preaching. It was a thick environment teeming with brilliant ideas, raw stories, hard fought wisdom and tangible practices to take back to our cities. We anticipate even more church renovating moments at this year’s Praxis Gathering in September.
Here in the West we are swimming in a sea of church resources. For many of us, it’s hard to imagine being a “successful” church without all the extra luxuries required to gather a crowd. Our ideas of church have picked up so much collateral that being on mission in God’s world has caused us to lean on bigger and trendier ministry machinery. What we sense is needed is a recovery of the small, potent, grassroots work of Discipleship. Discipleship has become a forgotten act and art in our culture of “Go Big or Go Home.”
Jesus taught us how to care for his church by telling us to go and make disciples. While Jesus had a public ministry to the crowds, he resisted their sway and demands. Instead, he poured intentionally and relationally into the shaping of his disciples. Discipleship is not a buzz word. It is the very foundation that the movement of the church is built on. This year at the Praxis Gathering we want to re-center the messy and vital work of Discipleship that compels us outward on mission.
We know that we are not alone in this groundswell of reorienting around Discipleship as the pulsing center of the churches movemental existence. We see ourselves as friends and co-laborers with those around the country who are helping recover the impulse that first propelled the church into the ancient world 2000 years ago. However, we still have a ways to go and we want to go together.
Our team has been dreaming about ways to pull authentic practitioners together for a couple of days of discovery and community-building around the exploration of discipleship as the engine of the church. We’ve been stirring on how to refine the template of last year’s gathering as to increase the Praxis laboratory experience for hundreds of church planters and leaders as we collide around fresh questions, missional theology and careful answers. We are creating more space for reflection and response after each workshop; we want to slow the pace down. We are eager to cultivate more connecting and community; a bit less monologue more dialogue. We are continuing to work towards more unity as the church on mission with less uniformity in the various ways we engage our contexts.
Springing from last year’s helpful feedback we want to continue to bring you tested practitioners who will unpack tangible concrete practices. We are excited to have new friends come and share, like Paul Sparks presenting on Discipleship and the Neighborhood, Natasha Sistrunk Robinson presenting on Discipleship and the Mind, Chris Folmsbee presenting on Discipleship and Millennials, Soong-Chan Rah presenting on Discipleship and Multiculturalism and Mark Scandrette presenting on Discipleship and the Family. We have a lot of new faces, but we also have some returning practitioners like Don Coleman presenting on Discipleship and Prayer, Deb Hirsch presenting on Discipleship and Sexuality, and David Fitch presenting on Discipleship and Presence. You can find a full list of speakers at the Praxis Gathering website.
We’re really looking forward to the new location. Our Gathering this year will be hosted by St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Washington DC, which is a newly-renovated space two blocks from the Capitol. The facilities include the beautiful 1888 neo-Romanesque sandstone altar and a panoramic display of Celtic-inspired stained glass windows of the life of Christ. Our gathering will be shaped by the beautiful architecture surrounding us. Our seating will be “in the round” to cultivate a participatory culture in our time together.
The church in the West is twisting and turning under the weight of Post-Christianity and the future vibrancy of the church will be shaped not by trendier methods, but by the refreshing of grounded discipleship in the neighborhood in innovative ways. This is the work of Praxis. Praxis is a process by which a theory is enacted or applied. What makes the Praxis Gathering a unique church planting conference is our passion for creating the space for real-time practice to collide with rich theology, and then be followed by deep reflection. During our time together, we will plummet deep into the hands-on-work of disciple-making with 200 + other practitioners to be equipped, nourished and sent back into the world.
We hope you can join us. Check out thepraxisgathering.com and get early bird registration now.
Peace to you,
Dan White Jr.