62 episodes

Every movement for change starts with a generative conversation. The Igniting Imagination podcast features rich conversations with leaders across the church landscape that invite you into new possibilities for yourself, your church and your community. Each episode offers inspiring ideas to guide your journey of faith in service. Join us to spark the spirit within you as a leader bringing about the world that God imagines. Brought to you by Wesleyan Impact Partners, dedicated to investing in the potential of the church.

Igniting Imagination: Leadership Ministry Wesleyan Impact Partners

    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 4.9 • 19 Ratings

Every movement for change starts with a generative conversation. The Igniting Imagination podcast features rich conversations with leaders across the church landscape that invite you into new possibilities for yourself, your church and your community. Each episode offers inspiring ideas to guide your journey of faith in service. Join us to spark the spirit within you as a leader bringing about the world that God imagines. Brought to you by Wesleyan Impact Partners, dedicated to investing in the potential of the church.

    The Current Project with Alisha Gordon

    The Current Project with Alisha Gordon

    Rev. Alisha Gordon wants black single mothers not just to survive but to thrive socially, economically, and emotionally. This vision, borne out of Alisha’s own experience as a single mother, led to the start of the Current Project, an advocacy and mission-driven organization focused on supporting the well-being of black single mothers by connecting them to the resources needed to attain and maintain thriving. At the end of every episode this season, we have asked each guest, “What is a breath of fresh air in the church today that is nothing less than the gift of the Spirit?” This conversation with Alisha is a breath of fresh air that will leave you inspired, hopeful, and energized for working for “thy kingdom come” today. As Alisha says, “I think we actually have the capacity to save the world right now. We don’t have to wait until the return. We can just do it.” May it be so!

    “Programming is key because the program is often the bridge that meets the needs when policy fails us, and policy what gets people from the program in which they're doing well back into a society that can actually sustain their thriving.” (8:41)

    “These were not mothers with a lack of innovation, a lack of ideas, or a lack of desire.
    The only thing that was missing was that they needed someone to believe, someone to resource them and someone to get out of their way.” (15:10)

    “I am of the strong belief that as we work and live and play in the margins that marginalized people know better than anyone what it is that they need. They don't need anybody to tell them that.” (16:42)

    “It's really about how do we give people the opportunity to dream? And how can they dream safely? How can they live in a community where they can live out their dreams without worrying about them getting snatched from them by violence or bad policies?” (17:00)

    “When we talk about the social, economic, and emotional thriving of not just Black single mothers, but of all people, we're talking about a notion of nothing missing, nothing broken, nothing or no one, or no policy or no social idea getting in the way of people experiencing the fullness of what God has caused us to experience.” (26:00)

    “I think we actually have the capacity to save the world right now. We don't have to wait until the return. We can just do it.” (36:00)

    “The breath of fresh air we need is a willingness to tell the real truth, to go against doctrine, denomination, and politics, and tell the real truth. And this is really inspired in particularly by GenZers. A lot of them don't go to church, but they're still the hands and feet of God. They really don't care about offending people as long as the offense gets us to the greater good.”

    We discuss:

    Alisha’s journey to start The Current Project as the pandemic exposed so many of the gaps in marginalized communities. (5:23)How the pandemic ignited social entrepreneurship and Alisha’s own project which started with a virtual economic and mental health wellness group. (6:23)Programming and policy must complement each other for people to thrive. (8:41)The Current Project grew out of a survey of 230 moms in East Harlem and a promise she made to God. (9:51)The survey revealed Black single mothers who were very clear about their purpose and goals and only in need of resources and support. (13:57) Along with resources we must create safe places for people to dream and imagine what’s possible. (17:00)The financial sacrifice and leap of faith Alisha made to start The Current Project. (17:32)Overcoming an oppressive theology of shame to get to a place of thriving. (21:47)The core of The Current Project's work is to move from surviving to thriving, to...

    • 41 min
    Staying Awake for God's Sake with Tyler Sit

    Staying Awake for God's Sake with Tyler Sit

    When Rev. Tyler Sit set out to plant a church in Minneapolis in 2015, he began by listening. He walked every neighborhood in the city to listen for God’s dreams and discern where God wanted him to plant a church. He listened to neighbors over meals to hear what kind of church they would want to be a part of. What emerged was a church led by BIPOC leaders focused on eco-justice, community organizing, and centering marginalized voices in the community. New City Church gets its name from Revelation 21 which describes a heaven where God lives in a new city where all tribes all welcomed, there is no more violence, and the earth is renewed. Tyler’s book is “Staying Awake: The Gospel for Changemakers.” This conversation will open your eyes and re-energize you for the change making work of the gospel in your context.

    “Innovation is born out of the innate Holy Spirit momentum that is already present among people in the neighborhood. The church is just there to hurry it along and keep people on board.” (11:42)

    “If what we're doing as a church doesn't resonate with the felt visceral experience of the people in our neighborhoods, the people who are right in front of us, then what are we doing?” (14:40)

    “The idea with centering marginalized voices is we want the people who are the most oppressed by society, the most neglected by society to be able to start, stop, and steer the conversation.” (16:56)

    “We're entrusting the marginalized folks in our community to steer the conversation, away from what is maybe most important to the dominant culture and toward what might is most important to people who are oppressed by the dominant culture.”(17:45)

    “I would encourage church leaders to consider what happens if the next international racial awakening happens in your front door?” (23:10)

    “We need a separate sandbox for innovation where different rules apply. Where we have a dashboard of accountability metrics defined by planters and their communities, not just nickels and noses.” (40:35)

    “There is no mechanism of social change or personal transformation that doesn't require organizing of a lot of people together. I think that organized religion is a requirement for social change today. It's a precondition for us to experience personal transformation and social transformation.” (44:30)

    We discuss:

    Tyler’s innovative approach to ministry, focusing on solidarity and listening to the community. (7:43)Starting New City Church with a prayer walk through every neighborhood, paying close attention to each neighborhood’s needs. (8:46)Starting a multi-site church with a common mission and vision but specific to the neighborhood of each church. (13:12)How centering marginalized voices and entrusting them to steer the conversation is central to New City Church. (16:12)Being faithful in social movements instead of being in charge of them (19:05)How New City Church responded to the murder of George Floyd and how other churches can be faithful in social movements. (21:11)Centering marginalized voices means finding a new center of gravity for a community, not excluding anyone. (26:14)His book, Staying Awake: The Gospel for Changemakers was created to be useful to the people Tyler is ministry with. (29:01)The origins and mission of Intersect to support intersectional church planting for marginalized communities. (30:59)Realistic planning for funding ministry is key because it’s not enough just to have a great entrepreneurial idea. (33:43)The importance of institutional support from the Minnesota Annual Conference, Candler School of Theology, and different churches. (38:37)Organized religion is a requirement for social change today....

    • 48 min
    Human Again with Michael Gienger

    Human Again with Michael Gienger

    “This place makes me feel human again” is a phrase often heard at Galveston Central Church from people at radically different ends of the socioeconomic spectrum. Being a part of the community grounds people in the truth that they belong to each other. It is not too much to say that this conversation with Rev. Michael Gienger will make you feel human again. We talk with Michael about the church’s transformation from transactional ministry to relational ministry, the systemic impact the congregation is having on the city’s approach to homelessness, the improbable friendships that are probable at Central, and the fruit of scrappiness that churches are discovering as they try ministry in new ways. What you’ll hear from Michael is not just an inspired vision for being the church; you will also experience his authentic love for Jesus and tenacity for the poor that will leave you filled with real hope for what God is doing right now in and through leaders and congregations. Glory be!
    “It just became very obvious that with our little teeny tiny church we were never going to be able to do big things that God had in store for us unless we chose to partner with other organizations and utilize their gifts and graces. And our name didn't need to be on everything.” (15:23)

    “What Central has done really well is fostering improbable friendships. Really what's happening here is we’re getting out of a transactional model, a social service model, that's based on hierarchies of the haves and the have nots.” (16:52)

    “Our kitchen feeds hundreds of people every week, but when you walk into the kitchen I don't think you can tell who's somebody who slept on the beach last night, who's a UTMB student, and who's a congregant that showed up.” (18:49)

    “We have this wonderful mix of people that are all serving together, that are learning from each other and are starting with what's right with you rather than what's wrong with you. We're not trying to fix people, we're just trying to have this tenacious solidarity with each other.” (19:02)

    “It's hard to follow Jesus to live the full life that God's called us to if you don't have access to medical care, or if you don't have access to food or whatever else you need.” (22:01)

    “My role is to help people come along and understand just a different way of being in the world. I’m convinced when people are met with that kind of love, when they get to see their neighbor up close, that’s really where transformation happens.” (29:03)

    “If we're going to be in solidarity with the divine, it means solidarity with the poorest among us because this seems to be where God shows up.” (38:15)

    We discuss:

    The journey that led Michael to Galveston Central Church and his innovative approach to ministry. (7:10)The challenges of restarting a church that had been around for 130 years that is averse to change and doesn’t have many resources. (9:50)Reopening Galveston Central Church with an eye for who they hadn't been in ministry with before. (12:10)Accomplishing what God had in store for the church required partnering with other organizations and not worrying about who gets credit. (15:19)Michael’s innovative approach to ministry, including fostering friendships, moving away from a transactional model, and partnering with other organizations. (16:28)Flattening power dynamics with monthly listening sessions to really understand the community’s needs and following their lead to meet those needs. (17:41)Central’s innovative clinic where the patients are in charge and the doctors and nurses and social workers and others who come are the guests. (19:40)Starting by caring for the whole person, weaving together their spiritual lives with their “actual” lives as a way to

    • 43 min
    Fishing Differently with Sidney Williams

    Fishing Differently with Sidney Williams

    Expanding imagination for ministry can happen when you employ the FISHing differently framework developed by today’s inspired guest and 2023 Locke Innovative Leader, Rev. Dr. Sidney WIlliams. As the saying goes: “what got us here won’t get us there.” Instead of focusing purely on the financial capital needed to fund ministry, Sidney invites us to FISH differently than we ever have before, and harness the power of Faith capital, Intellectual capital, Social capital, and Human capital. If you are like the disciples who are tired of catching few fish, this episode will make you want to get back in the boat and try again with a Jesus-led and Spirit-driven invitation to fish differently for the sake of the kingdom.

    “Storytelling is a form of pastoral care. To get people to do things differently, they have to know you know their story, so that before we write the next chapter in this journey together, you know how we got here.” (12:37)

    “Churches that really excel in making an impact in their communities have created a safe space where people feel like their ideas will be heard and their differences are nurtured.” (17:15)

    “We've got pastors and bishops and church leaders and lay leaders who are focused on budgets and money as if that's the goal rather than the harvest. What I try to teach and preach is there is no shortage of money, but we have to focus on solving problems.” (25:47)

    “It's less about fixing people and more about asking, God, how can I partner with the people closest to the pain?” (29:18)

    “Greatness is not about how great the speech you give, how big the crowd you assemble, how much power you assemble in your community organizing. Greatness is what's replicable.” (40:30)

    “If we kind of blame the system it can almost give us a reason not to do the work as opposed to knowing we are a part of the system and asking how we can bring about justice and equity and mercy and love and grace and hope and those things that God is calling us to be.” (44:35)

    “Fishing differently is learning how to thread to needle in a way that you can put together a tapestry, a cloth of different fabrics that would probably never come together on their own and threading that fabric together in a way that comfort gives warmth and comfort to the people in our community who need it most.” (47:48)

    We discuss:

    Sidney’s journey from Wall Street to Fishing differently. (5:36)The FISHing Differently framework and how Sidney developed it. (9:54)Healing and pastoral care through storytelling. (12:37)Churches are part of the ecosystem that God has put in place. (17:36)Discerning purpose and measuring impact of a congregation. (23:54)Solving problems, finding funding, and partnering with communities. (28:31)How Sidney led the church to rebuild and reimagine ministry. (30:09)Partnerships to sustain ministry. (35:25)Changing systems from within and working with flawed systems. (39:28)Why calling everyone to a common table matters today. (47:05)

    About Sidney Williams

    Rev. Dr. Sidney Williams, a social impact advisor and community builder, is President & CEO of Crossing Capital Group and Senior Pastor of Bethel AME Church in Morristown, New Jersey. Sidney is the author of a href="https://www.jplbooks.com/collections/certa-books-devotional/products/morning-meditations?variant=50620785171" rel="noopener noreferrer"

    • 51 min
    Innovating for Love with Kenda Creasy Dean

    Innovating for Love with Kenda Creasy Dean

    Why do we innovate? The goal is never innovation itself. As Dr. Kenda Creasy Dean says, “The goal is always loving people well.” This conversation is packed with insight and wisdom that gets to the heart of why innovation matters. We often feel pressure to innovate in big ways that make things bigger, faster, stronger but Kendra reminds us that the innovation present in the incarnation was smaller, slower, and more vulnerable. How can we cultivate a balance between prayerfully listening and holy impatience so that we meet people where they are and love them well? This conversation ignited our imagination for innovation in ministry–we can’t wait for you to hear it!
    “We know we’re supposed to love our neighbor, but we don’t always know how to love well.” (8:29)
    “Social innovation is a way of making change that keeps human relationships at the center. We are creating new ways to relate to one another that are helpful and life giving and dignity restoring.” (11:38)
    “We don’t have to go out and look for people who need ministry. We just look around and figure out how God has called us to be Christ’s envoys in that setting.” (13:49)
     “We don’t want to make our goal innovation. We want to make our goal loving people well.” (16:03)
    “We often think about innovation as helping things get bigger, faster, and stronger. But in the incarnation, God got more limited. God got smaller, slower, and more vulnerable.” (25:18)

    “The innovation we are behind is about slowing things down, breaking things apart, making people more human and vulnerable.” (25:26)

    “The point is to disrupt and to re-enter our large systems with the perspective of love. There’s nothing more disruptive than sacrificial love.” (27:45)

    “There's nothing that gives me more hope than the young leaders who are out there. They have holy impatience in spades. They will make a hundred mistakes. They will jump the gun, and they will be eager and in their own way.  They are completely smitten with God and with the people who God has put on their path. It's really hard not to be hopeful when you get to work with young leaders.” (38:36)

    We discuss:

    Owen Ross shares what he means by “every church planting” (4:43)

    Kenda Creasy Dean on the point of innovation (10:27)

    Where the focus of the church needs to be (14:02)

    How innovation is connected with loving people well (17:30)

    The two things Kenda is hearing from leaders in the church right now (18:42)

    The role of connection and permission in innovation (21:18)

    Leading ministry that is responsive to the Spirit (22:32)

    Innovation that is centered in relationships and vulnerability (25:22)

    Learning to prayerfully listen (30:57)

    Discerning the difference God is calling us to make (33:44)

    Where Kenda draws the most hope (38:37)

    About Kenda Creasy Dean

    Kenda Creasy Dean is the Mary D. Synnott Professor of Youth, Church, and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary and an ordained United Methodist pastor in the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference. In addition to teaching in practical theology, education, and formation, Dean works closely with Princeton’s Institute for Youth Ministry and the a...

    • 39 min
    Loving our Neighbors Means Loving our Neighborhoods with Pastah J

    Loving our Neighbors Means Loving our Neighborhoods with Pastah J

    The last episode of our season on formation begins with co-hosts Lisa Greenwood and Tim Soerens each sharing their top three takeaways from the season. Don’t miss this great season wrap up! 
    And then: We couldn’t imagine a better conversation partner to end this season with than Jonathan Brooks, or as he’s better known, Pastah J, who offers a hopeful vision and powerful challenge for the church to lead the way out of these hard times: practice presence with all neighbors in all neighborhoods. “I don’t actually think that there are ever any God forsaken places,” Pastah J says, “but there are church forsaken places because it is the church that has decided to take all our gifts and talents, all that God gives us, our power, and reside in more comfortable spaces.” Rooted in scripture and grounded in theology, Pastah J reminds us that God is as interested in where people live as God is in whether they will go to heaven. Pastah J invites us to engage our neighborhoods right now for God’s sake.


    “I cannot understand my faith apart from my own social location and context and the struggle of African Americans in this country.” (13:53)

    “We need to think about how God feels about land, how God feels about place, how God feels about how we use spaces to bring him glory and cultivate the kingdom of God on earth.’ (16:24)

    “Loving your neighborhood is as important as loving your neighbor.” (20:15)

    “I don’t think God has forsaken my neighborhood. I think God is alive and well in my community, and if you come closer you’ll be able to see that.” (24:20)

    “I don’t actually think that there are ever any God forsaken places, but there are church forsaken places because it is the church that has decided to take all our gifts and talents, all that God gives us, our power, and reside in more comfortable spaces.” (25:05)

    “God is intimately concerned with where people eat, what people eat, where they live, how they’re educated, just as much as whether or not their soul will spend eternity in heaven.” (30:00)

    “The truth is that every person and every place display both the glory of God and the brokenness of humanity.” (34:16)

    “If you live in a place where the dominant narrative is that it’s beautiful, you as a Christian have a godly responsibility to expose the brokenness. And if you live in a place where brokenness and negativity is the dominant narrative, you have a godly responsibility to lift up the beauty there.” (36:24)

    “Preach with power, teach with power, love in ways that you never have, don’t give up. Allow the truth of what we’ve experienced to be the wind that blows you forward.” (51:00)

    We discuss:

    Tim and Lisa each share their top three takeaways from this season on formation (0:43)Pastah J: how place impacts the way we live out our theology and formation (14:27)

    The pivotal moment Pastah J realized that his neighborhood and his church were intimately connected (18:45)

    The impact of the narrative of upward mobility on urban neighborhoods and how it leads to “continual disinvestment” (23:10)

    Jesus call us to be uncomfortable and to reinvest in some of the places we have run away from (25:35)

    We need to need make bifocal “Glory of God” and “Brokenness of Humanity” glasses to fully see the world the way God does (32:00)

    Discipleship and formation happen in relationship to each other and to the places we live (39:30)

    God’s gifts and goodness exist for us in community with each other (44:42)

    Words of hope for everyone doing...

    • 55 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
19 Ratings

19 Ratings

Sweetpickles44 ,

Reservoirs of Resilience- Todd Bolsinger

TMF Leadership kicked off their new podcast series with an interview with Todd Bolsinger, author of Canoeing the Mountains, on his new book, Tempered Resilience. This is a must listen for any pastor or church leader as Todd, Lisa Greenwood and Bishop Janice Huie unpack managing a leader’s personal resilience to face the necessary resistance required to lead adaptive change in ministry, especially during this season of disorder.

Top Podcasts In Religion & Spirituality

Blaze Podcast Network
Joel Osteen
Tim Keller

You Might Also Like

Suzanne Stabile
Duke University
Ian Cron
Evolving Faith