In September 2017, I had the distinct privilege of travelling to the USA to meet & learn from pastors, writers and researchers. I was overwhelmed by the generosity and hospitality I received. Below are a few highlights from the 12 days – I strongly encourage you to check out the links.
First Stop – Los Angeles
Upon landing, I headed straight to Costa Mesa First Methodist Church, where I met Rev Sarah Heath (on her birthday!). Over two days we spoke of congregational revitalisation, community engagement & surviving the OC. Check out Sarah’s Sonderlust Podcast. I also met with Rev Blair Trygstad Stowe, who’d I’d met previously in Sydney for a World Methodist church event. Blair shared about how the UMC is evolving and learning – a great example is the LA ‘carpark church’ (check out City Beautiful).
It was a thrill was to meet Jake Muller, part of the team at Fuller Youth Institute, and co-author of Growing Young (the green book). We chatted at length about influences, strategy & regional resourcing opportunities. I’ve been a long-time fan of FYI’s work, so it was wonderful to connect.
The final conversation on the West Coast was with Spencer Burke – a true gentlemen & guru. I had hoped to learn a little about Hatchery LA, but our time explored spiritual entrepreneurism, fail-fast strategies, institutional collaboration & innovation, as well as our understandings of call and vocation. And Redondo Beach is amazing!
Second Stop – Minneapolis
12 days doesn’t allow for a lazy weekend in the fly-over states, so my visit to the twin cities was chock-a-block. I met with long-time friend (& my Yoda) Andrew Root and his family Kara (minister at Lake Nokomis Prebsyterian Church), Owen & Maisy. Andy & I spoke about his recent writing projects (Faith Formation in a Secular Age is phenomenal) and Kara & I spoke about Sabbath as community practice.
I also swung by Revolution Church, pastored by Jay Bakker – a great example of post-church young adult community which blends face-to-face & online networks.
I also met with Dr Gene Roehlkepartain, VP at Search Institute. Gene has a strong relationship with the Uniting Church in Australia, and we discussed Search’s most recent work regarding Developmental Relationships – check it out for free.
In the few spare minutes I had, I did manage to have a hot dog at a Twins game.
Third Stop – Philly
Philadelphia began with a cheesesteak at Dalessandro’s. #OMG
Spending time with Rev Keith Anderson was a delight. I learnt so much about intergenerational communities, digital formation & the best restaurants in Upper Dublin. Keith’s Click2Save Reboot is available mid-March. Upper Dublin Lutheran Church is a Zoe Project Fellow & it was great to hear about their experience as a participant before I met with Princeton Seminary staff. Finally, Upper Dublin was the launchof my international speaking career at GodOnTap. (for other international speaking requests, please contact my agent).
Heading to Princeton Seminary was my last official stop on the trip. There I met with Princeton Institute of Youth Ministry Director Abigail Visco Rusert and youth ministry sage/author/friend Rev Kenda Creasy Dean. We spoke about IYM’s research, events & the delivery of the Zoe Project. An extra bonus was getting a backstage pass to Princeton’s virtual learning classroom (check out X:PTS) during a live class with students around the world. I’m yet to be convinced theological learning is limited to a class/room environment, and X:PTS is leading the way.
Learn to fail fast.
Find conversation partners.
Innovation is an attitude, not an event.
Listen. Design. Practice. Repeat.
I can’t wait to go back…