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Human Resource

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This month, we’re curating a series on NEXT Church resources. Members of the NEXT Church communications team, staff, and advisory team are selecting resources already on our site and sharing the ways they have (or would) use them in their ministry context. We pray these will be of use to you in your own ministry! Have other ideas for resources you’ve used from our website? We invite you to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter!

by Charlene Han Powell

I’ve been involved in the NEXT Church movement since the beginning-ish. It used to be a small group of people sitting around a few tables talking about what the church could be. Fast forward to a few years later and now it is comprised of hundreds of people around a number of tables across the country talking about what the church is already becoming. Dreams have become realities. Hopes have been realized. NEXT Church is a movement that is making a difference in the church.  I can personally testify to that.

When NEXT Church was in the early stages of its ministry, so was I. Not yet ordained. Not yet called. Not yet employed. I didn’t even know what resources I needed to be a good pastor. I just knew I needed some support and fellowship for this long and often lonely journey. I have found that in the NEXT Church community. Every regional gathering I attend, every conference I go to, every workshop I participate in, I walk away feeling less crazy and less isolated in this vocation.  The most valuable resource that NEXT Church has offered me are the people I have met and the relationships I have formed.

But the human resource I have found in NEXT Church is more than just companionship. When I needed to reimagine officer training* this past year, I reached out to my network of colleagues I have met over the years at the National Gathering. When I was navigating a recent job transition, I connected with those in NEXT Church who had gone through the same thing. When I am stuck in any sort of ministry-related rut, I rely on the wisdom and experience of this amazing community of passionate and capable leaders.

The best part about utilizing this valuable resource within NEXT Church is that all YOU have to do is show up. Next time we are in your area, show up. If there is an online roundtable that piques your interest, show up. When registration for the National Gathering goes live, SIGN UP and then show up. And get ready to reap the unbelievable benefits of this fantastic movement.

*Stay tuned – we’re offering a blog series on officer training next month! 


Charlene Han Powell is the Executive Pastor at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in midtown Manhattan. Originally from California, Charlene is a proud New Yorker raising two young girls on the Upper West Side.

This Connectional Church

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This month, Jeff Bryan is curating a series reflecting on the 2018 National Gathering in late February. You’ll hear from clergy, lay people, community leaders, and others reflect on their experiences of the National Gathering and what’s stuck with them since. How does the “Desert in Bloom” look on the resurrection side of Easter? What are your own thoughts of your National Gathering experience, or on what these reflections spark for you? We invite you to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter

by Angela Ryo

The first time I attended a NEXT Church National Gathering was three years ago. I was in my first call as a resident minister — a two-year position for recent seminary grads to explore every aspect of ministry in a large congregational setting. Going to the National Gathering was a natural progression of what I wanted out of ministry: to imagine a different church, a different set of tools for ministry, and life-transformative outcome and not just soul-draining output.

So I went for the first time, looking for others who were doing ministry differently and wanting to learn and connect with them. That particular year, there was a workshop titled, “Do Something Else.” Perfect. Just what I was looking for. It was led by three very energetic (I mean, “exactly-how-many-cups-of-coffee-did-you-have-this-morning?” energetic!) pastors who were doing ministry differently. They sure LOOKED crazy! But as crazy as they were, by the end of the workshop, I remember looking at one of them in particular — Nate — and thinking, “how cool would it be to work with someone like him, who can imagine a different way to BE the church!” But he was all the way from Delaware and I was in Michigan — fat chance that would ever happen!

The next time I saw Nate was the following year at the National Gathering. He had accepted a call at a church in Michigan and he was looking to put together a team. I had my first informal interview with him between workshops. And yup, you guessed it — he’s now my head of staff. That’s just a prime example of what NEXT Church is all about: bringing total strangers together in surprising and awesome ways!

This year, I came to the National Gathering with my boss — the one I met at a National Gathering two years ago. We dreamed together as we watched Ignite presentations about Pres House and Serve GR and asked each other, “Why aren’t we doing this at our church?” During David Leong’s keynote, we thought about how we can help our church be at the forefront of change by lifting up artists as prophets and adding fuel to their imagination. Having enjoyed my time with old and new friends, I left the National Gathering feeling rejuvenated and refreshed with a renewed hope for the Church.

I am no longer a resident minister whose job description is to be curious and to dream and experiment. In the busyness of everyday ministry, curiosity and imagination often take the back seat because they feel like luxuries I can’t afford. However, reflecting on my experience from the National Gathering, I am reminded of the importance of practicing the following in my ministry:

  1. Interaction with ALL KINDS of people (even those you think had too many cups of coffee!).
  2. Integration of what I learn from them into my daily life as well as my ministry (workshops are great at that).
  3. Imagination of what the church OUGHT to be and CAN be (Ignite conversations will do that for ya!).
  4. Inspiration of the Holy Spirit to be transformational rather than transactional in all of our relationships both in our church and community (David’s keynote hit the spot).
  5. Invitation to others to join and dream with me in my ministry and vice versa (that’s NEXT Church, y’all!).

I hope you will keep dreaming with me until the next National Gathering! And who knows? You might end up meeting your head of staff there just like I did!


Angela Ryo is an assistant pastor for Christian Formation at Kirk in the Hills in Bloomfield Hills, MI. In her previous life, she was a high school English teacher in Chicago, where she grew up. She loves to watch food documentaries and horror movies, but sometimes, it’s hard to tell which is which.