It is probably not a stretch to say that right now has been the most challenging...
GreenHouse (grēn’hous’) = Space to plant, cultivate, and grow
On any given Thursday or Sunday night, you will find a group of people gathered around a dining room table in the heart of downtown Colorado Springs, chatting about the various ministry experiences of the past week. The high school intern recalls a God-ordained conversation with a teenager struggling with cutting who found freedom from the weight of guilt and self-doubt at the winter camp weekend. In between bites of truffle-salted mashed potatoes, you will hear the story of how someone continues to intersect with her skeptic-but-seeking co-worker, and the opportunity she’s been given to embody the prayer of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount, to be salty and season the world with His truth and grace.
There’s banter, laughter, a few tears, and the hard word spoken when necessary. All of this is built around the common vision of intentional community, practicing the way of Jesus in day-to-day life, for the purposes of ministry and character formation that apply to our local and global realities in the 21st Century.
For the past four years, this community has been a training ground for young people exploring ministry as the call of God on their lives. In partnership with First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs, GreenHouse was launched as a comprehensive and integrated intern development program set in the context of intentional community. Most of the participants are in their early 20s, sinking their feet into one of their first ministry experiences. After a year or two in GreenHouse, these interns are well equipped to extend their passions and gifts out into the world in meaningful and transformative ways, whether that be their first job as a youth director, starting seminary coursework, or entering the marketplace.
Now in partnership with ECO and The Fellowship of Presbyterians, we’re designing GreenHouse 2.0. With the coaching guidance of Dana Allin (ECO Synod Executive), Jim Singleton (Fellowship of Presbyterians President), and Will Stoller-Lee (Fuller Seminary Colorado Director) I have developed a similar community model dedicated to leadership development at the early stages of ministry, specifically for seminarians.
GreenHouse 2.0 is a response to the (re)emergence of interest nationwide in experiential pedagogy for vocational exploration, theological education, and ministry preparation. In our contemporary context, it is clear that pastors and ministry leaders require more than Bible knowledge and credentialing in order to effectively serve churches and nonprofits or minister in the marketplace. The essential ingredients for ministry development now include things like training and equipping in a hands-on setting as well as space for reflection on these experiences. Just as Jesus invited his disciples into an immersive, mission-focused, relational community, so too, GreenHouse 2.0 is committed to learning alongside one another for the purpose of holistic Christian formation.
This new model implements one of ECO’s Core Values: Leadership Velocity. Beginning at the seminary level, innovative leaders are identified and nurtured in GreenHouse 2.0. Participants engage in a three-fold organic experience: 1) theological education, 2) ministry internship, and 3) intentional community practices.
- Formal theological education: Students are enrolled at least part-time in a theology degree program at a local seminary
- Church ministry internship: Interns work in a part-time ministry internship at a vibrant, local church
- Intentional community practices: Participants covenant together to practice communal spiritual rhythms, develop interdependent relationships, and live out Jesus’ teachings such as hospitality and simplicity
With the right momentum behind it, GreenHouse 2.0 could become an effective training and equipping tool for emerging pastors and ministry leaders across the country. We intend to launch this new community in Fall 2014 in Colorado Springs, and will follow up in the next year with similar models in other cities. In the meantime, we are actively looking for prospective seminary students who are eager to join us for a new model of ministry preparation and vocational exploration, or other partners who would like to explore a GreenHouse initiative in their own local community. Would you consider getting your hands dirty and joining us as we till the soil in GreenHouse?
Amber Odvody | Director, GreenHouse Ministry
Contact Amber directly at email@example.com