Fear+Less Congregations Initiative

Funded by the Lilly Endowment for $1 million over five years


Mission:  To support congregations in SEEing the gifts in all individuals and the shifting values in their communities, HEARing God’s vision for wholeness, and amplifying CHANGE through partnership and hope.


SEE

Scriptural Foundation: Acts 10:1-11
Primary Theme:  Incarnational Hospitality

Incarnational Hospitality creates fear+less spaces for strangers to share their God-given gifts and to see themselves as "like all others, like some others, and like no other” ( Lartey, In Living Color, 172-174).

Primary Objectives:

  • Define incarnational hospitality
  • Identify strategies to circumnavigate the fear of the unknown and the fear of strangers
  • Examine SEEing as a resource to enhance insight, discern gifts, and identify the shifting values in community
  • Becoming people and places of Interrupting Hope


HEAR

Scriptural Foundation: Acts 10:9-33
Primary Theme:  Whole Life Stewardship

Whole Life Stewardship results from hearing God’s vision for undivided living within yourself and within the community.

Primary Objectives:

  • Define (individual and communal) wholeness, stewardship, and vision
  • Identify strategies to circumnavigate the fear of plopping (painful experience of sharing your authentic truth and being completely ignored) and the fear of appearing ignorant
  • Clarify the vision of the local church as a result of identified gifts and shifting dynamics within the broader community
  • Reimagine the practice of stewardship as vision casting that actively listens for ways to cultivate wholeness in the individual and community


CHANGE

Scriptural Foundation: Acts 10:34-43
Primary Theme: Practicing Christian Faith through Partnership and Mission

The inbreaking of the Spirit shatters boundaries and sparks change when unlikely partners see + hear God at the center.

Primary Objectives:

  • Define mission, partnership, and center(ing)
  • Identify strategies to circumnavigate the fear of plopping
  • Introduce a theory of (individual and communal) change grounded on the principles of identity, purpose, community, empathy, and legacy
  • Recognize ways the Holy Spirit is at work in centering uncommon partners 
  • Reimagine the practice of missional partnership as a form of communion that sparks change grounded in Hope


PROCESS

  • Each participating congregation will form a team comprised of at least five people
  • The learning process includes
    • Experiential and high energy learning led by West Ohio’s partner, Fearless Dialogues (SEEing, Interrupting Hope, HEARing, CHANGE, Implementation).
    • A trained coach will work with each congregational team to contextualize what they have learned to their unique church and community.
    • The team will develop and implement an action plan
  • At the conclusion of the learning experiences, the coach will continue to work with their congregational team to develop a Connection Plan that extends a Fear+Less Culture further into the congregation and commuity
  • Upon submission of their Connection Plan, each congregation will receive a seed grant for implementation. 
  • Each congregation will provide stories of how they are becoming the Fear+Less witness in their community

Dates (Fridays:  6:00 – 8:00 pm; Saturdays:  10:00 am – 12:00 pm, unless otherwise noted)
The first session of each cohort will be held in person. All remaining sessions will be held virtually through Zoom.

3rd Cohort (Spring 2023):  February 4 (9 am - 4 pm in person); February 10-11; March 3-4; March 24
4th Cohort (Fall 2023):  September 16 (9 am - 4 pm in person); October 6-7; October 27-28; November 17

Contact Person:  Dee Stickley-Miner, dstickley [at] wocumc.org, 380-223-9382