The Forum at The Seattle School is partnering with The Missional Network for an intimate, three-day event inviting denominational leaders into an important and timely conversation about the shifting state of church systems and denominations. The Denominational Leaders Gathering, February 18-20, will provide a limited number of West Coast denominational leaders with the frames and processes needed to engage changing cultural realities in their local communities.

Those changing realities are well documented. As young people continue to express disillusionment with traditional church structures at an unprecedented rate, and cultural questions of identity and diversity widen the divides within and between denominations, many leaders are wondering how to move forward in a manner that is marked by wisdom, boldness, and creativity.

“As far as we know, leaders across denominations throughout the Northwest never gather like this to talk about their missions and communities,” says Dr. Dwight Friesen, Associate Professor of Practical Theology at The Seattle School and a co-facilitator of the event. “They gather within their tribes, but not all together like this—Baptist, Vineyard, Lutheran, and others—to talk about how we can faithfully guide our communities in our local contexts.”

Here at The Seattle School, we believe that God is already and always at work in our communities and neighborhoods, and that by discerning God’s movement in our local contexts, we can step into something new and transformational. In that movement, our focus shifts from seeing how many people we can fit into our buildings to wondering how we can best love God and love our neighbors in the particularities of our communities.

This is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but rather an ongoing process of conversation and exploration. The Denominational Leaders Gathering is an opportunity to consult with other leaders from a variety of denominational systems for co-learning, community building, and networking. Because we all come from unique communities with unique challenges and opportunities, we believe that we have much to learn from each other.

“Every denomination, regardless of tradition, is feeling the crunch of the old systems we’ve had, and they know that something new is being birthed,” says Friesen. “But they’re not sure how to navigate these changes wisely with the resources that they have. So to get these leaders together to talk about best practices and everything that they’re learning—it’s a gift. And that we get to host this, that these leaders see The Seattle School as a resource for facilitating this dialogue, that we get to help them have the conversation they need to have but don’t usually get to have, feels like an institutional gift to all of us. I am humbled by that.”

Dr. Dwight Friesen, Alan Roxburgh, and Dr. Craig Van Gelder will help facilitate this gathering. Friesen is the Associate Professor of Practical Theology at The Seattle School, co-founder of the Inhabit Conference, and a pastor, church planter, writer, and consultant with more than 25 years of experience in the realms of church and leadership. Roxburgh, with more than 30 years of experience in church leadership, consulting, and seminary education, leads conferences, seminars, and consultations all over the world through The Missional Network. Van Gelder, who holds a Ph.D. in Missiology and a Ph.D. in Administration in Urban Affairs, regularly consults with denominations and their congregations in the areas of organizational development and adaptive change processes.

The Denominational Leaders Gathering is 4-9 p.m. February 18, 8:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. February 19, and 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. February 20. To maximize our opportunities to learn from each other, space is very limited. Learn more and register here.