The National Gathering is NEXT Month!

The NEXT Church National Gathering is next month and we couldn’t be more excited! Gathering with you, in the height of spring in the DC Metro area, feels like an oasis of joy on the horizon. Here are some details we’d like to highlight as you register and plan your trip to the National Gathering.

Book Your Lodging

There are a lot of places you can stay in the Falls Church area. We’ve reserved two blocks of rooms at local hotels close by the church for your convenience. The room rates are available until March 18, or until the rooms are sold out. Don’t delay! Make Your Reservation

Child Care

We will offer childcare at the National Gathering (for a small fee) during the Pathways and Plenary sessions to make gathering more accessible to parents of young children. Children are always welcome in worship and at meal times! If you are interested in childcare or would like to learn more, please contact Jen James by Monday, March 18.

Exhibit Hall

The National Gathering is just that – a gathering. It is a place to connect with other church leaders and dream together. We are pleased to offer 1 or 2 person exhibit hall registrations at the National Gathering this year. Learn more about the Exhibit Hall

Schedule

Are you trying to coordinate your travel arrangements or curious about how the days will flow? Check out the gathering schedule to orient yourself to the rhythm of the gathering. See the Schedule

 



Leadership at the 2024 National Gathering

“If we host a National Gathering, we aren’t doing it the old way.”

The NEXT Church Vision Team was clear when they made the decision to bring back the National Gathering – it wasn’t going to be the same old model. The Church, in so many ways, isn’t the same Church it was in March 2020, so our gathering couldn’t be the same either. This was an opportunity to get clear about why we gather and what impact we hope to have.

We know there is something special that happens when people gather together across the Church with a common passion to lead more courageously towards wholeness, justice, and transformation. We’ve invited a team of incredible leaders to accompany you during the National Gathering. These leaders will embody multiple roles throughout the week. They will lead pathways, preach and lead in worship, dialog with each other through a plenary discussion, spark ideas in ignite presentations, and sit at table with you and share in community meals.

We hope you will come be a part of this holy work, happening on the ground… together.

 

With Hope and Joy,

Larissa Kwong Abazia
Executive Director

Conversation with the Vision Team

We are grateful to those who attended our Town Hall Meeting on Monday, January 29, 2024. NEXT Church leadership shared some updates and then engaged in a generative activity and discussion. Check out what you missed!

Here are some highlights:

  • The Vision Team is seeking individuals to serve on the NEXT Church Vision Team for a two year term. Read more about the opportunity and submit your application by Friday, February 23.
  • Participate in the upcoming Lenten Series using a preview of our new resource “Antiracism as a Way of Being.” We look forward to this resource becoming available for wider use in late Spring.
  • Register for the National Gathering in Falls Church, VA on April 8-11, 2024. We hope to see you there!
  • Participants heard from Larissa Kwong Abazia, NEXT Church’s new Executive Director, about the direction and vision for NEXT Church in this chapter.
  • We spent a lot of time dreaming and wondering about the church in 2024. You are invited to add your own thoughts to the Jamboard.
  • Consider supporting NEXT Church with a financial gift, both individually and as a church.

Let’s Journey Together This Lent

You are invited to join us on a Lenten journey.

We have been working with Crossroads Antiracism Organizing & Training for over a year to curate a brand new resource to cultivate antiracist leadership. We’ve taken the best of our previous resources, made adjustments based on your feedback, and rooted rich theoretical concepts into practice. Antiracism as a Way of Being illustrates antiracism as an embodied way of moving and being in the world. We believe this resource will be transformational for you, individually, as well as your community. It will be available for wider use in late Spring.

Over the six Thursdays in Lent, we are offering a preview opportunity to engage the series and its content. The series is designed in six video modules (approx. 30 minutes in length) and participants will watch one video each week. The group will gather for one hour facilitated discussions weekly beginning at 1 pm EST/ 10 am PST on Thursday, February 15th. Together, we will explore the posture of antiracist leadership.

Consider making this your Lenten practice in the upcoming season.



Join us for our Town Hall 🎤 

Let your voice be heard at our Town Hall Meeting this Monday, January 29 @ 8:00pm EST//5:00pm PST.

Whether you work in congregational leadership, serve in non-traditional ministry, are an active church member, however you encounter the church, we want to connect with you. Register for the Zoom link.

 

One the Journey Together,

Larissa Kwong Abazia
Executive Director

Start the Year Off With a Burst

At NEXT Church, we are continually seeking ways to develop and equip leaders for sustained and courageous leadership. We have curated five timely and important topics for all church leaders to engage as this new year begins. Start 2024 off by investing in yourself, a team you work with, and/or the leaders around you. Check out the topics below and register!

Each workshop is 90 minutes and will include rich content provided by experts and practitioners alongside facilitated coaching by NEXT Church staff. Sessions will be recorded and available for individual use up to 90 days following the session.

Workshops begin next week and take place on Wednesdays and Thursdays @ 1:00pm EST/10:00am PST. 

Register for one workshop ($29 each) or all five (only $99)!

 

 

 


🚨ICYMI

Do you have a group of colleagues with whom you want to discern, grow, and experiment? Is there a group in your church who would benefit from accompaniment? Unlock a trove of resources and support by applying to be a part of this initiative! Applications are due January 7. Contact LeAnn Hodges with questions.

LEARN MORE

Moving Through Shadows With Hope and Joy

As the shadows lengthen on another year, it is natural to turn inward in reflection. So we ask ourselves: What have we done? Where have we been? Where would we like to go in the new year? Navigating life and leadership through the pandemic has led to some fallow times, but in this season, we have leaned into our roots of deep listening to the Spirit and to our network. What is NEXT Church called to in these times? Since May of this year, the Vision Team has acted as the NEXT Church organizational board, developing financial resources to sustain the work, and serving as the primary relationship builders across our network.

As a commitment to the season of listening, we re-connected to the network through 9 learning circles, 4 coaching cohorts, a town hall, 40+ relational meetings, numerous round table discussions of over 150 people, and 116 voices in a National Gathering survey.

We are convinced, now more than ever, that we need a connectional network like NEXT Church that meets the church – members, ruling elders, youth leaders, educators, pastors, seminarians, and church professionals – where it is and pushes us to imagine the possibilities and abundance God calls us to.

From our discernment and deep listening, we have clarified the mission of NEXT Church, which is to:

  • Create expansive spaces to strengthen relationships across the Church.
  • Develop and equip leaders for sustained and courageous leadership.
  • Accompany leaders and congregations towards embodied wholeness, justice, and transformation.

Together we are entering into a new season in the life of NEXT Church. A season focused on the needs of the Church today rooted in meaningful connections, deep growth, and impactful actions. In this season, we are committed to reflection and action, discerning how to cultivate more stability, viability and sustainability going forward.

As part of our discernment, we have come to bear witness to the gifts already present. For the past season, Larissa Kwong Abazia has served NEXT Church as the Designated Strategic Director. The Vision Team recognizes the need for stable leadership, clear role identification, and a commitment to the sustainable development of NEXT Church. That is why the Vision Team announces, with joy, Larissa will become the Executive Director of NEXT Church starting January 1, 2024. Larissa has led us during a time of deep transition by listening to the network and guiding our way forward. We believe that her presence has been an immense gift to our movement and that she is the one to lead and accompany NEXT Church as we move forward.

We are thrilled about what this next season will bring! Join us for skill-building in our Winter Workshop Burst. Check out the opportunities for cohorts for the Preaching for Change initiative. We hope to see you at the 2024 NEXT Church National Gathering in Falls Church, VA, April 8-11, too!

If you are reading this, you are a part of the NEXT Church network. We are grateful for you and we need your support in order to continue sparking these connections and cultivating change in the church and world. If you have benefitted from NEXT Church’s presence in the world, we ask you to give back to this formative movement.

  • Provide a financial gift to allow us to close the fiscal year strong.
  • Set up a monthly gift (or increase your gift) to deepen your commitment to the network.
  • Make a pledge for 2024, either as an individual or a church/organization, to enhance our impact in the new year.

Whether or not you can give financially, please hold the NEXT church network, our staff and coaches, and our Vision Team in prayer. We value your prayer, your generosity, and your participation in and connection to this incredible network.

While the shadows grow long, we cling to hope. Hope in knowing that God – Emmanuel – is with us. Hope that we will follow as the Spirit continues to push, nudge, and shove us with her guidance. Hope in the knowledge that the darkness gives space to germination for the new growth that will come after the winter. Join us in the anticipation of what is to come at NEXT Church! We’re excited to grow with you toward possibility and potential.

With Joy,
Angela Tyler-Williams
Allison Arsenault
Andrew Plocher

On Behalf of the NEXT Church Vision Team

Keep The Movement Going

At NEXT Church, we are curious about the ways to embody the work ahead so that we live as the beloved communities we are called to be. It is not about striving for perfection, right answers, solutions, or immediate fixes; we believe it’s about uncovering vulnerable ways to live together and make our faith incarnate everywhere we go.

We come alongside leaders in the Church – church members, ruling elders, youth leaders, educators, pastors, seminarians, and church professionals  – to learn and grow in order to bring a taste of the kin-dom of God here on earth together. This year we held 9 learning circles, 4 coaching cohorts, spoke with 40+ individuals as a part of a season of listening, and gathered 137 people in various roundtable discussions. 

Though founded by a group of pastors from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) over 14 years ago, NEXT Church has never been an entity of the denomination. We do not receive annual, denominational funding, rather, we rely on the generosity of our network (individuals, churches, ministries, and organizations) for primary financial support.

While this structure allows us to be nimble so we can accompany others in innovative ways, it means every dollar we receive is necessary to keep NEXT Church going.

You are critical to making this network sustainable. As this year comes to a close, we need you to be a part of the movement at NEXT Church.

  • Provide a financial gift to allow us to close the fiscal year strong.
  • Set up a monthly gift (or increase your gift) to deepen your commitment to the network.
  • Make a pledge for 2024, either as an individual or a church/organization, to enhance our impact in the new year.

There are still approaches to explore, areas to stretch and grow, and ways to impact the world around us. We are excited to see where we will go together.

With Thanksgiving for your Support,

Larrisa Kwong Abazia
Designated Strategic Director

Preaching for Change – Cohort Application Open!

As a regular preacher in the local congregation, I am increasingly aware of how formative our worship can be, and how many distractions there are that too often prevent Christ’s liberative gospel from taking root and being a catalyst for congregational transformation.

With excitement, I invite you to consider applying to join our new Preaching for Change Initiative. This initiative is designed to accompany Christian leaders through personal and communal growth that is centered on the proclamation of God’s Word.

NEXT Church believes that leading change starts with the cultivation of a deeper personal awareness for both leaders and the communities they serve. This preaching and worship centered initiative:

  • begins with the internal work of preparing the leaders and community for change,
  • builds upon an evaluative practice of accountability to the work we are called to do,
  • creates a collaborative learning environment to move communities toward wholeness.

Applications are due January 7 for self-created cohorts.

LEARN MORE AND APPLY

Save the Date: The 2024 National Gathering!

The Church is always called to be on the ground and grounded. Rooted in the needs of others and the yearnings of all Creation, we respond with trust and confidence as people of faith to transform the world around us. This work requires trust, openness, and resiliency.

We also must remember that we do not go on this journey alone. Over and over at NEXT Church, we have heard the deep desire to gather together in one place together. We hope you will save the date for the National Gathering from April 8-11, 2024 in the Metro DC area. Participants will dig deep into a chosen topic alongside a lead practitioner and coach to move toward engagement and application. Registration will open in December.

We will continue our longstanding commitment to connect people across various locations, experiences, and contexts:

  • A January and February Workshop Burst will help to start the year off right. Weekly opportunities focus on different areas, including but not limited to, community organizing skills, storytelling, preaching and worship, and engagement in antiracism work. Participants can register for individual workshops or purchase a pass for all sessions.
  • The Preaching for Change Initiative will open applications for self-created cohorts exploring the ways worship moves the needle toward change and transformation. Applications will open in November.
  • A new antiracism training video series, “Antiracism as a Way of Being,” will become available in early 2024. This updated set of videos will provide foundational understanding and practical application for participants.

Grounded in our faith, the NEXT Church network will journey together by listening deeply, remaining open to new ideas and possibilities, experimenting with the learnings, facing unexpected results and challenges, and leading toward new places we could have never imagined.

Keep an eye out for these opportunities in the coming weeks!

 

On the Journey Together,

Larissa Kwong Abazia

Designated Strategic Director

Town Hall: Update from the Vision Team

We are encouraged and energized by those who attended our Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, September 28, 2023. NEXT Church leadership shared some updates and we heard from so many of our leaders in the network. Check out what you missed!

Here are some highlights:

  • NEXT Church is refining how we embody our work. This is happening in three ways:
    1. Accompaniment – standing alongside leaders as we all engage in the work of ministry
    2. Co-Creators – creating a space for all to engage
    3. Co-Conspirators/Collaborators – learning from one another and trusting the knowledge in the room
  • Our Preaching for Change initiative has done a lot of listening and had a lot of conversations with others. We hope to launch in November with an invitation for cohorts to apply for the first round. Grab 5-8 colleagues or church members who want to dig into moving your congregation through changes using preaching as a moment of impact. Stay tuned for more information coming soon!
  • NEXT Church has a new antiracism resource called “Antiracism as a Way of Being” coming this fall in partnership with Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training.
  • A sub team of the Vision Team has been meeting to consider a National Gathering in this season. We are planning a National Gathering for Spring 2024! Stay tuned!!
  • Please consider supporting NEXT Church with a financial gift, both individually and as a church.