In many churches, innovation and experimentation is avoided, often due to a fear of failure. Author and Episcopal Priest Lorenzo Lebrija joins the pod to talk about Design Thinking, why frameworks can be helpful in church contexts, and why failing is okay. Lebrija believes that God rewards faithfulness, not success and encourages leaders to examine their goals rather than just aiming to get people in the seats!

The Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija is the Chief Innovation Officer of Virginia Theological Seminary and the founding director of TryTank Experimental Lab, an action laboratory for church innovation. Prior to launching TryTank, Fr. Lorenzo was the Chief Development Officer for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. He also served as the Pastor on behalf of the Bishop at St. John's Episcopal Church in San Bernardino, CA, and as priest associate at St. Athanasius Episcopal Church at the Cathedral Center of St. Paul in Los Angeles. He studied at the General Theological Seminary in New York City where he earned his Master of Divinity degree. His book How to Try is available by print or audio.

The Future Christian Podcast is a production of Torn Curtain Arts and Resonate Media.

 

Growing up as a child, Christina Edmondson believed there were not that many white Christians in America, because the people she saw couldn't be connected to the Jesus she knew. In the years since, her passion for following the way of Jesus and bringing love and justice to racial dynamics in America has shaped her work. In this conversation, we talk about why talking about racism is not a "distraction" from the gospel, why common memory is crucial for forming community, and how to have a trauma-informed mission strategy. 

Christina Barland Edmondson is a higher education instructor, organizational consultant, and co-host of the Truth's Table podcast. She is the coauthor of Faithful Antiracism and has served in a variety of roles in higher education including as the Dean for Intercultural Student Development at Calvin University. She is also a certified Cultural Intelligence facilitator, public speaker, mental health therapist, and a consultant in the areas of ethics, equity, and Christian leadership development. Christina holds a PhD in counseling psychology from Tennessee State University, an MS degree in family therapy from the University of Rochester, and a bachelor's degree in sociology from Hampton University. Her writing has been seen and referenced in a variety of outlets including Essence.com, YourBlackWorld.com, and Gospel Today magazine.

The Future Christian Podcast is a production of Torn Curtain Arts and Resonate Media.

While the Covid-19 pandemic forced many churches to join the digital revolution, many have failed to accept the "Great Digital Commission." Believing that embracing social media can be a catalyst for church growth and transformation, Caleb Lines joins to the show to talk about the importance of evaluating vision and mission, why branding is more than just trendy graphics, and why not everything you do at your church needs to be replicated online also.

Rev. Dr. Caleb J. Lines is Senior Minister of University Christian Church in San Diego. Additionally, he is the Co-Executive Director of Progressive Christianity.org and is the Co-Host of the podcast The Moonshine Jesus Show. Caleb has a passion for pursuing social justice for the marginalized, demonstrating the Good News of God’s radically inclusive love, and proclaiming a relevant message for today’s ever-changing world. Caleb is the author of The Great Digital Commission: Embracing Social Media for Church Growth and Transformation His writing has been featured in The Nation Magazine, Disciples News Service, Chalice Press, The Christian Left, The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, The Center for Prophetic Imagination, the Convergence Leadership Project, and Sojourners. Caleb has a D.Min from Duke Divinity and a M.Div from Yale. 

The Future Christian Podcast is a production of Torn Curtain Arts and Resonate Media.

For the last 10-20 years, church planting has become formulaic and systematized, as large church planting organizations brought corporate practices and values into the church world. This kind of business thinking has created an "industrial church starting complex" that according to author Nick Warnes, needs to be re-examined. In this conversation, we talk about a better model for church starts, the need for churches to shift from internal growth to reproduction, and why denominations are no longer a viable protocol to start new churches.

Nicholas Warnes (Masters of Divinity, Fuller Theological Seminary, Emphasis in Worship Theology and Art) is the Founder and Executive Director of Cyclical. He enjoys the regular pattern and rhythm of being both the Executive Director of Cyclical Inc. and Director of Cyclical LA, a ministry of the San Fernando Presbytery in Los Angeles. Nick is also a recognized speaker on church planting, coach for New Worshiping Communities with the Presbyterian Church USA, and is the chair of the board of the Church Planting Program at Fuller Theological Seminary where he is also an adjunct professor (church planting certificate). Nick is the author of several books including Deconstructing Church Planting. Nick lives with his wife, Whitney, and son, Lee, in Los Angeles, CA. 

The Future Christian Podcast is a production of Torn Curtain Arts and Resonate Media.

As more churches struggle post-Covid, many are looking at how their building and property can support their flagging budgets. Yet, according to real estate expert and author Dominic Dutra, if churches are simply leasing or renting their property just to prop up their dwindling budgets - they're only hurting their mission. In this conversation, Dutra talks about his experience with real estate and church property, how real estate and church mission go together, and what questions to ask if your church is declining. Dutra also examines the three common moves for churches and property, including merging, leasing, and selling.

Dominic Dutra has spent his life serving his community. As a leader in the world of real estate, an adjunct faculty member at his alma mater (Santa Clara University), a two-term member of the Fremont City Council, and a committed Christian, Dutra seeks to leverage his experience to further the mission of the church. He aims to partner with organizations to reach fiscal sustainability and create more effective ministry. Dutra and his wife, Lisa, have been married for thirty-five years and have raised two children—Tricia and Gabriel. Learn more about his book here:

The Future Christian Podcast is a production of Torn Curtain Arts and Resonate Media.

Far too often, churches are asking other to risk their discomfort - shouldn't churches be willing to risk their own discomfort for the sake of others? In this conversation, Sean Chow talks about how to help churches honestly assess their ability to pivot for change and growth, the importance of finding the right kind of change/growth leader, and why investing in resources bearing fruit matters. Sean believes that crisis accelerates change and understands the changes that are permanent post-Covid and what your church can do about them.

Rev. Dr. Sean Chow is the Associate for 1001 New Worshiping Communities for Training and Leadership Cohorts for the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA). He resources and consults with regional denominational bodies, churches, and church plants as they launch new creative expressions of church. He is a graduate of Azusa Pacific University (2005), Master of Divinity from San Francisco Theological Seminary (2009) and a Doctor of Ministry at New York Theological Seminary (2022). The author of Rediscovering Vitality, Sean has an inner desire to be a part of a God driven movement that impacts the world for God’s glory. His aim is to prepare, equip, and sustain leaders to do the work in which God calls them. He is a frequent speaker to churches, committees, gatherings, and conferences. Learn more here.

The Future Christian Podcast is a production of Torn Curtain Arts and Resonate Media.

 

In a time in which countless church leaders have cast aside Christian ethics in the pursuit of power, David Gushee believes that Christian ethics still matter. In this conversation, we talk about why ethics should still be important to Christians and churches, how he sees the kingdom of God as a basis for Christian ethics, and how to promote an ethic of creation care rather than a relentless pursuit of profits. And, in this post-Roe landscape, David examines the lessons from SCOTUS and whether the victory will be worth the cost for Evangelicals. 

Dr. David P. Gushee (Ph.D., Union Theological Seminary, New York) is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics atMercer University, Chair of Christian Social Ethics at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and Senior Research Fellow at International Baptist Theological Study Centre. Gushee is the elected Past-President of both the American Academy of Religion and Society of Christian Ethics, signaling his role as one of America’s leading Christian ethicists. He is the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of over 25 books and approximately 175 book chapters, journal articles, and reviews. His most recognized works include Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust, Kingdom Ethics, and The Sacredness of Human Life, and more recently, Changing OurMind, Still Christian and After Evangelicalism. Over a 28-year career, he’s been a devoted teacher, scholar, and activist on such issues as climate, torture, and LGBTQ inclusion. Dr. Gushee and his wife Jeanie live in Atlanta.

The Future Christian Podcast is a production of Torn Curtain Arts and Resonate Media.

It's vital that new churches and communities of faith are started in order to carry the faith on to future generations, yet church planting has never been harder. Setting aside the challenges of Covid and a culture in turmoil, there are common pitfalls that can trip up even the most agile. Pastor and veteran church starter Daniel Steigerwald joins the pod to talk about these common pitfalls and how they can be avoided, such as navigating bi-vocational ministry contexts, leadership challenges, and unrealistic ministry metrics.

Daniel Steigerwald helps pioneering leaders engage fresh ways to lead and multiply mission-shaped communities while tending to their holistic formation along the way.  Having worked for 30+ years in cross-cultural missions, church planting and pastoring, he knows personally how hard and soul-depleting ministry can become.  Dan holds a DMin in Leadership in the Emerging Culture from Portland Seminary, is credentialed at the PCC level under the International Coach Federation (ICF), and has authored a number of practical books including 10 Pitfalls in Starting New Churches: Avoiding Hazards on the Way to Health (2020).

The Future Christian Podcast is a production of Torn Curtain Arts and Resonate Media.

 

In many church and clergy circles, part-time is considered the "kiss of death," the dreaded sign that the church has thrown in the towel and is circling the drain, trying to squeeze out a few more months or years before inevitably closing its doors. It need not be so, says Jeffrey MacDonald. In this conversation, we talk about how utilizing part-time clergy can actually be a move toward vitality and growth for struggling churches, what denominations can do better to support PT clergy, and what churches and denominations owe to pastors who took on student load debt but can't find decent jobs to pay the bills. 

The Rev. G. Jeffrey MacDonald helps mainline Protestant congregations develop fresh vitality without full-time clergy. He does this through service journalism, authoring books, consulting with church leaders and serving as a part-time interim pastor. Ordained in the United Church of Christ, Jeff has won national awards for his religion coverage in The Christian Science Monitor, Religion News Service, Faith & Leadership and other outlets. He’s the author of Thieves in the Temple: The Christian Church and the Selling of the American Soul and Part-Time is Plenty: Thriving without Full-Time Clergy. He lives in Swampscott, Mass.

The Future Christian Podcast is a production of Torn Curtain Arts and Resonate Media.

"The church can break our hearts more often than it does the gospel work of healing us" says pastor Amy Butler, who in being the first woman to serve at 3 different churches knows what it's like to find heartbreak rather than healing. In this conversation, Pastor Amy shares why she still believes the church can be a powerful force for healing and hope, talks about Invested Faith - one of the ways she is seeking to lead the church forward into more healing and hope,  and explains why she's fascinated with the question, "what does it take to build community that can change the world."

Rev. Dr. Amy Butler currently leads National City Christian Church as intentional interim Senior Minister. Before that, Amy served for for five years as the seventh Senior Minister and first woman at the helm of The Riverside Church in the City of New York.  She holds degrees from Baylor University, the International Baptist Theological Seminary, and Wesley Theological Seminary. When she’s not busy leading, teaching, preaching or writing, Pastor Amy is an avid reader and loves to write, recently completing her first memoir which will soon be published by Penguin Random House Books. Pastor Amy is mom to three amazing young adults who are each making their way in the world; they are her favorites.  

The Future Christian Podcast is a production of Torn Curtain Arts and Resonate Media.

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