NEXT Church 2015 Gathering: Day 1

By Laura Cheifetz, Social Media Curator of #nextchurch2015

We can all acknowledge it’s weird to mix the media, to have Tweets read from the church lectern. But that’s what we’re doing, knowing that the conversation is happening in multiple ways. If you’re like me, the conversation is happening live, in real time, at Fourth Presbyterian Church, while it happens via text and private message on a personal phone, while it also happens via Facebook, and while it happens on Twitter. Bringing the Twitterverse together with the live/real time conversation means bringing more voices to the conversation. We have formal responses to presentations up on the platform, and we have responses online.

At morning worship, @TheRevHanPowell preached about Peter. There weren’t enough bulletins for everyone. (That’s cool, admit it.)

Tweets heated up in a discussion about the use of Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” during worship. @TheRevHanPowell got a laugh out of us when she called our passing of the peace “competitive.”

We wrote down things to let go on strips of paper, and people posted photos of the papers being stapled together into chains.

She brought up the “Jesus question” – Jesus as historical figure? Jesus as savior?

@pstamaury stated, “Protestantism reduced confession and reconciliation to piety from its sacramental and communal status #reclaim it”

@miheekimkort said, “Maybe church should focus on facilitating confession rather than proclamation.”

Themes that emerged in the morning session included:

  • The hard work of diversity, and addressing race and racism. The church is too white.
  • White people committing to the work most people of color have to do by default
  • How can we share, support each other in having difficult conversations about race
  • How churches can involve more ruling elders and members in NEXT
  • How to make the conference concrete after returning home, live what we learn
  • Wisdom comes from diversity
  • Intersectionality – how can the church talk about race as well as other identities facing discrimination
  • The importance of testimony

@bookkats was concerned with how church can best support and include millennials, who need time and money, by helping with debt reduction, perhaps exchanging loan payments for volunteer time.

On the Topic of Giving Up Membership

@MBauhof says @uvchurch didn’t have membership for its first three years

On the Gift Economy and Social Enterprise

@CNeely says Time magazine speaks of social enterprise this week

@gklimovitz loves the concept/praxis of Gift Economy. Sounds like Acts 2.

@miheekimkort says it is yucky to talk about the ethos of consumption tied with compassion


@landonwhitsitt Market economy can be a tool for bad or good

@marykathryndean notices “this ‘gift economy’ video talks about paying it forward and all, but doesn’t address people who can’t afford lunch.

For Workshops

The workshops with the most buzz discussed failure, culture change, mission, and formation. No one could tweet out of the movement workshop (fair enough), and not much tweeting came out of the incarceration workshop, but I know it was happening thanks to @CoachRevJen

On failure

@kathleenhenrion #failurelab telling stories of failure without “tying it up with a bow,” no lesson assigned at the end

Many mused on failure, how we can give permission without destroying each other, without enjoying the failure of others, and how to reflect on failure without giving into despair.


@RevMcWhit mission is less about people coming to church & more about church being sent to people. Less transactional & more relational

@revfelipe Missional church: God is already working in the community, we just may not have noticed. – Edwin Andrade

There has been ongoing conversation about how in the presbyterian church, we don’t really have lay people. We have Teaching Elders, Ruling Elders, Deacons, and members. Others mused about how membership as a model doesn’t work as well as it used to, with some considering “covenant partnership” as a model instead of “membership.”

@kathleenhenrion Confession as countercultural #failurelab

@theleannem How do we avoid the schadenfreude in this format? #failurelab

@erincounihan Culture Change Workshop: you should always have someone under 25 in leadership!

@jasaface Less magnet-ministry, more slingshot-ministry; get out into the world instead of waiting indoors

@rosynotrosie #nextchurch2015 is curing presbyopia (old eyes) #missionalcommunities

At the Jazz Service

@revmamd I’ve got a front row seat as Lucy Smith leads this jazz combo and it’s pretty rad

The Rev. Joy Douglas-Strome preached about the third space, faith, and the uselessness of our anxiety, and Twitter blew up.

@spooks1185 Where is your third space?

@scottpcusa “Maybe someday we’ll all find that rainbow connection.” (Rev. Joy Douglas Strome) #Word

@kathleenhenrion Easter spoiler alerts at #nextchurch2015

@mnewgale Jesus: “Can’t let a little thing like crucifixion get in the way of what I trained you for!”

@fyamada We have been given the gift of the gospel, and our energies are hijacked

@thesoulstepford “Faith has never been dependent on sight”

@jodicraiglow “You may called into a weighty institution, but the ministry of Jesus Christ is alive and kicking.” Joy Douglas Strome.

@nanettesawyer Lives are depending on us living out the good news

@chrisbjames I challenge you all today: find a better job than this one.

We then wrote on ribbons what gives us courage to step forward, to do this best job in the world.

And for Fun!

@erincounihan How to mess with Presbyterians: Sit in a different pew for every session.

@presoutlook When I was 10, I read books. The original hand-held device. – Joe Small

Laura Cheifetz is a pastor and the executive director of Church and Public Relations for the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. She blogs at