Dr. Rodger Nishioka's Ancient Future Church

November 14-15, 2014, Highlands Camp and Retreat Center

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Presentation Slides (PPT - Click here to download a free viewer):

Everybody Loves Raymond - Prodigal Son  (begin watching at 3:56)

The Theme

For many congregations in the 20th century, we simply opened our doors and people came in. It was the pattern, the norm. No longer. Like the early church, most people around us are either indifferent to the church or hostile. This is why many Church leaders are reading the Acts of the Apostle, the stories of the early Church, not as ancient history but rather as a guide for how we might be in ministry today, hence the term "the ancient future Church" when describing the Church of 2014 and beyond. 

Keynote Addresses and Small Group Discussions

Our keynote speaker was Dr. Rodger Nishioka, the Benton Family Associate Professor of Christian Education at Columbia Theological Seminary.  Following each of Rodger’s keynotes, he invited us into small group discussion.   Rodger began by indicating there is a spiritual awakening occurring in the U.S. right now.  People are feeling isolated, alone, and are looking for a connection to other people and to God.  We must be attentive to and share the signs we see of mystery, awe, and wonder.

Group Building for Faith Formation and the Acts Church

A group is two or more individuals who interact with one another interdependently to pursue common goals.  They share a common understanding and pattern of group norms for behavior and interaction and they have spent enough time together so as to be invested in one another’s growth and well being.  Research show 17 hours of continuous, not contiguous time spent together is required for a group to achieve “groupness”.

Being and Becoming the Body of Christ Today

Historically the Church has gone through dramatic change every 500 years.  This often includes a loss of power or place to the new and not-yet form that is rising and can open the way to a broader, deeper way of being the Church.  While not the signal of the end of the current 
expression of being the Church, it is a dramatic change in the expression.

The First Century was known as the “People of the Way”.  The way is characterized in Acts 2:22-24 as living, dying and rising in Christ. Rodger asked all to consider how our ministry contexts are living, dying and rising.

Eight Emerging Ministry Trends for the Future Church  

The following trends are worthy of our attention:
1) from tribal education to immigrant church -  teaching newcomers to the church about our worship 
2) from mission out there to mission right here - authenticity and effectiveness are a result of our having an impact in the neighborhood in which we worship
3) from reasoned spirituality to mystery-filled spirituality -  issues of mystery, awe and wonder are hugely attractive today
4) from credentialed leadership to gifted leadership - seeking leaders who have the ability to convey who Jesus is
5) from long term planning to short term planning - because God is doing it now, our focus should be 4 to 6 months out
6) from mass evangelism to one-on-one evangelism - springing from relationships
7) from high tech to high touch - handcrafted foods and goods are highly valued today
8) from discipleship to apostleship - an apostle is sent out; our calling is to be a people who are sent out

Rodger believes this is not a time for anxiety; this is Christ’s Church and we will exist as long as God desires.  We are being called to trust more in the One who called us than in ourselves.


Like the early Church of Acts 2, the retreat included teaching and fellowship together with breaking bread and prayer.  Worship was woven throughout the gathering.  Tom Sheffield presided at the communion table.  Rodger Nishioka and Kathi Worthington preached during our worship services.  Music was led by Cheryl Denslow, pianist Diane Gallagher, and a special retreat choir.  Retreat participants led our worship.


A total of 138 people participated in the retreat, representing churches from Plains and Peaks and Denver Presbyteries.   Teaching elder participants were active, retired, pastoring a congregation, serving Denver presbytery, or engaged in new worshiping communities.  Ruling elder participants were those currently serving on a session, and or serving on Presbytery work group, Council or committee, or General Assembly entities.  Candidates and inquirers and congregational leaders were also present and engaged in the retreat.  Korean translation was provided by Ruling Elder Ki Park.


The Leadership Work Group of the Presbytery of Denver thanks our partners, the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation, the Synod of the Rocky Mountains, and Highlands Presbyterian Camp and Retreat Center. Without their support this event would not have been possible.

Comments from Registrants About the Retreat

“Great Job. Great speaker. I felt there was a good balance between work and social.” 
“Thank you so much for the great handbook.”
“I really enjoyed the communion.”
“Rodger was amazing!  More time with Rodger.”
“Great value for money charged. Good mix of presentation and small group discussion.”
“Thank you! It was wonderful!“
“This has done a good deal of good in my deep, thirsting soul—at a time when my essence desperately craved fuel.”