2011 NATIONAL GATHERING
THE FIRST NATIONAL GATHERING
February 28-March 1, 2011
Shannon Johnson Kershner
Andrew Foster Connors
Scott Black Johnston
The first-ever NEXT Church National Gathering was held at Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis. Scott Black Johnston opened us in worship, and by reflecting on the prophet Jeremiah, suggested that the church has been sent into exile because we’ve been corrupted by political power. In this powerful sermon, Scott names the gifts of exile and calls us to follow God’s command to the ancient exiles: seek the welfare of the city in which I have placed you in exile.
Andrew Foster Connors gave a 20-minute talk on missional leadership, or, as he calls it, “The Pastor as Organizer.” Andrew named five leadership insights he’s gained from community organizing and how they’ve shaped the congregation he serves into more faithful, fruitful followers of Christ.
Shannon Johnson Kershner preached next, reflecting on the gift of being given the powerful message of God in the imperfect, cracked pots of ourselves and the church.
Joe Clifford gave a testimony about the Christian vocation by explaining the chemistry concept of the “adjacent possible”– that there are numerous chemical reactions possible based on what is next to you. Likewise in the church, Joe noted, there is extraordinary change and opportunity possible, limited only by what we’re adjacent to. He cites as an example the possibility of connecting the Young Adult Volunteer program to campus ministry.
On Tuesday, Pen Peery preached on the book of Acts, offering a vision of connectionalism based on trust, that does not speak in one voice but celebrates the chorus of witnesses that make up Christ’s body. Christine Chakoian followed with a testimony, lifting up three ways in which our forebears responded to change and suggests these three practices are our work today.
Finally, Lewis Galloway preached in a closing worship service, proclaiming that despite anxiety, the lightning speed of change, uncertainty of the church’s message, that hope never gives up.