Announcing Fall Cohorts!

There is something really powerful that happens when leaders from across the Church gather together in community around a common purpose. Leaders dig deeper. Relationships are strengthened. Sustainable transformation begins to take shape. Healthy practices take root.

We are offering four rich offerings beginning this fall. The topics include: building collective flourishing for people of color, embodied antiracist practices designed for white people, personal health through the enneagram, and an opportunity to apply for our Preaching for Change initiative. Our coaches will accompany you through these groups to take what you are learning and support you through actionable next steps, while encouraging you all along the way.

Will you join us as we journey together?

Beyond the Book

Embodied Practice Designed for White People

A book about justice is only powerful if it is a catalyst for actual change. Jennifer Harvey’s new book “Antiracism as Daily Practice” sets the table for meaningful conversation among white folks seeking to live in a way that grows racial justice. Led by the author and NEXT Church Coaches, join other white folks from across the country to discuss the content of Dr. Harvey’s new book and engage its actionable reverberations over 6 cohort sessions.

LEARN MORE AND REGISTER


Envisioning and Enacting Collective Flourishing

A Coached Journey for People of Color

What does it look like to build the spaces and the world we truly need – together? Participants will explore the liberatory journeys of people of color in the past and present through readings, videos, and other engaging materials. Following this grounding work, the group will consider how to navigate power dynamics and their own participation in systems and structures of harm to create revolutionary outcomes: moves toward genuine community, healthy self-and-other accountability, and embodied care and awareness that can buoy us collectively in challenging times.

LEARN MORE AND REGISTER


Enneagram and Leadership

Building Your Inner Team

In conversation with the Enneagram, we can celebrate the strengths God has given us, identify our personality challenges, and put deeper self-understanding into action. The aim of the cohort will be to identify natural gifts and reflexive tendencies, develop instinctive capacities, identify underused strengths, learn how to approach conflict with awareness, and begin to apply the concepts in participants’ leadership contexts.

LEARN MORE AND REGISTER


Preaching for Change

Applications for Fall Cohorts are Open!

Worship is a catalyst for congregational change, rooting people in the proclamation of God’s Holy Word and the movement of the Holy Spirit in order to embody their faith in the world. The Preaching for Change initiative creates the opportunity for transformation by developing learning environments for discernment, growth, and experimentation. You are invited to form a cohort to join this Initiative. Applications are now open for the fall cohort, with a July 31 deadline.

LEARN MORE AND APPLY

It’s Better When We Go Together

If you’ve engaged with NEXT Church in the last six months, you have probably heard someone say, “It’s better when we go together.” This embodies everything we believe at NEXT Church. Better doesn’t always feel good or comfortable, help us get somewhere together faster, or mean that we will get everything that we want. And going together means we get out of our own way and move toward God’s way.

I don’t mean this as a cliche. When our leadership looked to the future of NEXT Church, we bet on the importance of a network of leaders connecting, embodying and practicing their work, and impacting the Church as a collective movement. We want to disrupt transactional engagement (What will I get out of this? How will this help us?) to acknowledge that the moment something becomes a “best practice” it is commodified and universalized.

NEXT Church is committed to building collective spaces where we can make room for unique, lived experiences. We seek to flatten the organizational structure, both ours and those which we navigate, to arrive at a faith which calls us to embody who we are and what we believe so that change is possible. Programs and gatherings are merely spaces where we show up with and for one another, practicing what we believe and providing accountability for the work ahead.

I am brought back to this year’s national gathering by a repetitive chorus from worship, “We get there together or we never get there at all.” We all need one another in order to create this space and the path ahead. Otherwise, we won’t get anywhere at all.

Here are a few ways you can join other leaders in the NEXT Church network:

Welcome to the Vision Team!

Celebrate our newest Vision Team members, leaders from across the church who will foster relationships, uphold the organization’s embodiment of its mission and vision, and engage with those on the ground to address the needs and support necessary today.

LEARN MORE ABOUT NEXT CHURCH LEADERSHIP


Pride Month Roundtable Conversation

In partnership with A Sanctified Art and More Light Presbyterians, join us on May 21 at 12:30 pm EST for a Roundtable Conversation on Pride/Imago Dei Sunday. Consider how you have already and will continue to celebrate the liberation of all people.

REGISTER FOR THE ZOOM LINK


New Resource Alert!

Together with Crossroads Antiracism Training and Facilitation, we are excited to release a new resource, “Antiracism as a Way of Being.” Check your emails at the end of the month for more information and the opportunity to join an information discussion about our approach and hopes for this work.


Fall Offerings Coming this 
June

Our NEXT Steps Coaching Team is planning several opportunities to engage in cohort learning beginning this fall. More information and registration will be sent in early June. The Preaching for Change initiative will also open up a second round of applications at this time.



With Hope and Joy —

Larissa Kwong Abazia

Executive Director

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