Twin Cities Learning Community

Dear Fellow Pastors,

We know that you see the value of teaching your congregation how to connect their faith to their work and the economy; to live wholeheartedly for Christ every day—not just on the weekends. We also know this takes time and investment on your part. Made to Flourish in the Twin Cities seeks to provide you with great resources and opportunities to help build this connection. However, we know that it goes far beyond the few ideas that you can gain at an event or by listening to a speaker. Often it requires time to reflect and make concrete plans as you move forward.

Imagine 25 pastors and marketplace leaders from your city engaging together to equip their congregations to become faithful followers of Christ through their everyday work — whether paid or unpaid. Learning Communities are the most in-depth training we offer. We bring pastors and marketplace leaders together in a collaborative learning environment centered around transforming ideas and best practices. Our Learning Communities aim to equip churches to infuse the message of faith, work, and economic wisdom throughout congregational life and practice. Across three sessions, pastors and congregational leaders learn from local thought leaders, assess their congregation on various dimensions, and design action steps to more robustly integrate faith, work, and economics, while receiving coaching along the way.

The learning community gathers for three interactive learning sessions over the course of six months, led by faculty and speakers who are thought leaders in their fields. The learning community will also include a meal for participants before the first session and a gathering after the final retreat to debrief and share progress. The learning community will be starting in January 2020.

We launched our first Twin Cities Learning Community in May 2017 and are excited about this second community. Participation will require time, effort, and finances ($2,000/church; significant scholarships are available, please ask if you have need).

We believe it’s worth the investment because of what is at stake if our congregations are not equipped to connect Sunday to Monday! If we don’t help our people connect their faith with their work, Made to Flourish President, Tom Nelson, sees at least five very perilous risks*:

  1. God receives a puny and impoverished worship from his new covenant people.
  2. Spiritual formation into greater Christlikeness is greatly hindered and often stunted.
  3. The plausibility of our Gospel witness is less persuasive or convincing.
  4. The proclamation of the Gospel is muted and muffled.
  5. The common good is at stake because the gospel is not lived out in the public square.

We would love to have you and your church involved in the Learning Community. Please let us know how we can help serve you so that can happen.

More information and registration for the Learning Community can be found in the following tabs.

In Christ,

Nathan Miller & Aaron Brockmeier
Co-Directors, Made to Flourish Twin Cities

*For more, see this video and Tom Nelson’s new book, The Economics of Neighborly Love.

Session Overviews

The Learning Community (LC) is a unique educational experience.  Over the course of three sessions, participating pastors and congregational leaders will learn from recognized thought-leaders, visit with practitioners on the leading edge of this movement, and wrestle with their own practical plan for implementing these learnings in their own church community.  And perhaps most significantly, they will do all of this while rubbing shoulders with others who are wrestling with the same issues in the same city/region.

Here is a brief snapshot of the content you’ll be discussing in the Learning Community:

Session 1 – Theological Foundations of Faith, Work, and Economics

Date: January 16-17, 2020 (One full and one half-day)
Location: Mill City Museum

Description: In this session, we seek to lay a theological foundation for the whole project. We will explore the Grand Biblical Narrative (Creation, Fall, Redemption, Consummation) and its relevance to our world and our work.  We will see how our work is a central aspect of our call to love God and neighbor.  In the words of Steve Garber, “Vocation is integral, not incidental, to the missio Dei.”

Faculty Member: Dr. Mike Wittmer

Dr. Wittmer is a professor of Systematic & Historical Theology and director of the Center for Christian Worldview at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He teaches various courses, including Graduate Research Methods, Christian Worldview, Medieval Theology, and Systematic Theology. He also supervises theses for masters-level students in historical and systematic theology. He is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society.

Dr. Wittmer is also an author and speaker. He has written several books including Heaven Is a Place on Earth: Why Everything You Do Matters to God, Becoming Worldly Saints: Can You Serve Jesus and Still Enjoy Your Life?, and Don’t Stop Believing: Why Living Like Jesus Is Not Enough.

He and his wife, Julie, have three children: Avery, Landon, and Alayna.

Session 2 – The Church for Vocational Discipleship

Date: March 5-6, 2020 (One full and one half-day)
Location: Calvary Church, Roseville campus

Description: Building on the Foundations from session 1, we now explore how this reframes the ministry of our local churches.  If our vocational callings are central to God’s mission in the world, in what ways are our churches aiding (or hindering) this goal?  How should a commitment to vocational stewardship affect the various aspects of local church life (preaching, liturgical practices, spiritual formation, evaluation criteria, etc.)?

Faculty Member: Pastor Artie Lindsay

Pastor Artie Lindsay serves as teaching pastor at Tabernacle Community Church, a multiethnic congregation in Grand Rapids, Mich. Artie was one of the lead architects in establishing the church. He earned a B.A. in political science from the University of Michigan before following God’s call into pastoral ministry. He moved from his hometown of Detroit to Grand Rapids, in the fall of 1995 to complete an M.T.S. at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary.

Before establishing Tabernacle Community Church, Lindsay served as the associate pastor at Messiah Baptist Church in Grand Rapids from 1997-2002 under the leadership of Dr. Clifton Rhodes, Jr. Pastor Artie has a burden and passion for community revitalization, and he continues to work extensively in the community to address the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of community members.

Artie is married to Raquel, and they have three children, AJ, Victoria, and Alysa.

Session 3 – The Church for Vocational Mission

Date: April 30-May 1, 2020 (One full and one half-day)
Location: Minnesota Humanities Event Center

Description: The church is called to join God’s redemptive mission “far as the curse is found.”  This includes seeking the flourishing of the communities in which he has placed us.  In this session, we focus on the central role of economic exchange and the role of the church in fostering a flourishing economy.

Faculty Member: Mr. Zachary Ritvalsky

Professor Zachary Ritvalsky is the Lancaster Bible College | Capital Seminary and Graduate School’s Philadelphia Dean, Site Director, and Interim Program Coordinator for the Community Transformation and Social Engagement degree program. Professor Ritvalsky holds a master’s degree in theological studies from Westminster Theological Seminary. A pastor of twelve years in West Philadelphia, he worked closely with neighborhood residents to start both a 501c3 community development corporation and real estate development company. Ritvalsky also helped launch Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower, and Rebuild (P.O.W.E.R). P.O.W.E.R. is an ecumenical organization seeking to promote justice in education, employment, and healthcare.

Post LC Coaching Call with Amy Sherman

Date: TBD (Video Call)

TOPIC: Theological Foundations of Faith, Work, and Economics The Church for Vocational Discipleship The Church for Vocational Mission
TEACHING THEMES: Insight for vocational stewardship from each of the four Biblical paradigms of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation A critical evaluation of church culture, including its mission, liturgy, pastoral practices, discipleship, and communication systems A critical evaluation of church ministries/outreach and community engagement
LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Biblical Understanding of Vocational Stewardship Transforming Church Culture Individuals and Churches on Mission
SPIRITUAL FORMATION EMPHASIS: Whole Persons: Personally Transformed Workers Whole Churches: Churches for Whole-Life Discipleship Whole Communities: Discipleship “For the Life of the World”
ECONOMIC WISDOM: Foundational Biblical Insights The Church as An Economic Actor How Churches and Commissioned Congregants Revitalize Communities
VOCATION INTEGRATION EXAMPLES: Individual(s)Shaped by FWE Theology ChurchesShaped by FWE Theology Communities Shaped by FWE Theology

The schedule will be posted as retreat details are final.

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