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“You don’t ever get to a fixed understanding of what this place is like and in what way the gospel responds to that. It is constantly changing and growing and moving. Needs change, interests change, you change, and your perception of the gospel changes. As long as you are comfortable with the idea that it’s not a set-and-forget approach to ministry—that it actually emerges in an organic, relational, communal, place-based kind of way—it can be very exciting and liberating and freeing. It’s also nerve-racking and requires constant vigilance.” — Michael Frost

author & practitioner; Manly, New South Wales, Australia


Reclaiming parish. Reimagining leadership. The terrain of the 21st century requires a new way of practicing and developing leaders. We have seen the failures of leadership styles that seek to apply one way of doing church across all neighborhoods, cultures, and contexts. At The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology, we are reclaiming the parish model as the hope for the future of the church. Leaders of the new parish recognize that their pastoral work is not confined to a church building or to the people that walk through its doors. New parish leaders see themselves as pastors of the neighborhood working for community revitalization, knowing that their local parish is the context in which God’s kingdom flourishes. Thousands of churches and faith communities are moving toward a more locally embodied way of being the church in everyday life. This journey is complex, the transition is challenging, and the experienced guides are few. Training rarely equips leaders with the skills to investigate the uniqueness of God’s work within particular communities and within their own personal stories. Without like-minded practitioners to inspire and support them, these leaders often feel adrift and alone as their creative imagination for the kingdom of God fades.

The Leadership in the New Parish Certificate is designed to provide inspiration, support, and practical tools for leaders with an imagination for what the flourishing of the kingdom of God looks like in particular neighborhoods.


The Leadership in the New Parish Certificate is an imaginative, collaborative, and transformative process where leaders join together to passionately engage the intersections of God’s story, their personal story, and the story of their particular neighborhood. “This is the way forward: to be more committed to the local, to the neighborhood, to the parish. I think this is most exciting, important, new thing that is happening.” — Glen Soderholm church planter & certificate participant; Guelpo, Ontario, Canada

The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology, in partnership with Parish Collective, is excited to offer Leadership in the New Parish – a missional certificate program designed to embolden pastors, ministry leaders, community developers, and neighborhood practitioners for the new parish. The Seattle School brings its model of relational hermeneutics grounded in personal narrative alongside the Parish Collective’s commitment to reimagining the church through place-based solutions. Together, we have developed a program equipping leaders to boldly follow God into their neighborhoods and listen well to God’s desire for shalom there. Committed to a holistic training experience, Leadership in the New Parish’s innovative think-tank model fosters collaborative dialogue, entrepreneurial imagination, and personal discernment that create space for deep formation – as a person and as a practitioner.


Leadership in the New Parish is for pastors, lay leaders, churchgoers, theologians, and entrepreneurs with a heart for reimagining church and transforming neighborhoods. Our collaborative think-tank model and small group leadership clusters ensure space to dream about incarnational work rooted in particular people in a particular place alongside a particular God. Traditional educational models are hierarchical, placing greater value on abstract scholarship than on praxis. This hierarchy is not helpful for the new parish model. Instead, we believe that the imaginative ideas of scholars and the grounded discoveries of practitioners can enrich one another toward the hope of God’s kindgom breaking forth in our neighborhoods.


We are developing leaders rooted in their neighborhood. Participants remain embedded in the context where their calling is already active, while attending four intensive sessions and participating in ongoing conversations. During this program, your parish is the primary locus for organic experimentation and theological reflection, supported by generative readings and ongoing discussions with your cohort. Participants will develop local practices as they reflect on their parish with prayerful curiosity for their place, its people, and God’s desire for shalom in their neighborhood. The four intensive Wednesday-Saturday sessions are gatherings where: • recognized leaders and practitioners with deeply place-based practices are brought together for robust dialogue. • shared language emerges and the historical context in which the new parish model was developed is engaged. • small group leadership clusters allow for participants to share in more intimate work around their personal narratives to engage their leadership style of relating. • cohort collaboration engages the themes from their neighborhood’s stories and discerns ways forward. • immersive field visits to diverse parish expressions foster generative conversations around new parish innovation.

“My longing to grow, work, and lead others in my neighborhood has deepened through this program—as well as my understanding that I can’t live into my calling alone.” — Elizabeth Sparks

practitioner & certificate participant; Tacoma, Washington


This is an invitation to audacity — to believe that the gospel is transformative today and that God’s Spirit is at work in the particularity and uniqueness of ourselves and our neighborhoods. Through The Leadership in the New Parish Certificate, practitioners will: • move deeply into their own desires, woundings, failures, and triumphs in order to know how their story influences their unique leadership style. • collaborate with a wide network of practitioners around the stories of God’s unique work in their neighborhoods. • develop skills of missional innovation by discerning and engaging their neighborhood’s stories, cultures, and desires in holistic ways. • enact processes of church revitalization that transition congregations and faith communities toward partnership with the neighborhood. • become attuned to the practice of relational presence with neighbors. • imagine ways to continually renew their responses to the dynamic, changing community and God’s unique calling in their neighborhood. • decipher place-based, holistic measurements for ministry effectiveness. • follow God boldly into their neighborhood.


The Leadership in the New Parish Certificate is bringing scholars and practitioners together to embody a new reality. Leadership in the New Parish was birthed out of the dreaming of The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology and the Parish Collective. After launching the Inhabit Conference – a unique annual gathering for practitioners of practice, presence, and place – they identified the need for an immersive training program for the unique, challenging, and enriching place-based movement happening across the world. These conspiring dreamers – Dwight Friesen, Tim Soerens, and Paul Sparks – now serve as core facilitators and producers of this dynamic certificate program. Dwight Friesen lives with his family in a neighborhood in Bellevue, WA, and is Associate Professor of Practical Theology at The Seattle School. He has experience as a pastor and church planter, staying active with local and international missional and emerging church movements. His research focuses on the development of connective church leadership and structure out of relational hermeneutics. Tim Soerens lives with his family in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle, WA. Tim is a church planter, social entrepreneur, and CoFounding Director of the Parish Collective. He has served and consulted with various neighborhood and city-wide organizations and is founding adviser of Hub-Seattle, an innovative co-working space. Tim received his Master of Divinity degree from The Seattle School. Paul Sparks lives in downtown Tacoma, WA, with his wife where they curate a growing faith community. Paul is the Co-Founding Director and a Lead Consultant for the Parish Collective. He is recognized as a leading grassroots organizer and expert on incarnational church planting and neighborhood placemaking. He has over two decades of ministry and community development experience.


To facilitate the uniquely experiential and formative ethos of this program, The Leadership in the New Parish Certificate is designed for an intimate cohort of practitioners. The application process is intentionally structured to offer you a taste of the experiential and relational nature of this program, while providing us the opportunity to get to know more of your story and calling. • Complete the online application at theseattleschool.edu/certificate. • Submit $50 application fee (Inhabit attendees may receive a fee waiver). • Submit a Narrative Statement of Purpose: • Share context about you, your parish, and the work God is doing in your neighborhood. • Describe what is drawing you to The Leadership in the New Parish Certificate and how you imagine this program will prepare you to engage in the transforming work within your neighborhood. • Submit a Vocational Summary of Experience. • Provide a Letter of Sending from your parish. • Provide a Letter of Recommendation from a leader or mentor.

Extended information about applying, deadlines, session schedules, tuition costs, payment options, and other program details can be found by visiting our website:

theseattleschool.edu/certificate


“How simple the solutions are, yet at the same time how profound the needs are.� — Cary Umhau entrepreneur & certificate participant; Chevy Chase, Maryland

The Parish Collective joins The Seattle School as a holistic support network seeking parish reconciliation and renewal. Parish Collective connects and resources people of faith in particular neighborhoods to be the church together in the place they live. Their grassroots-level work weaves together neighborhood churches, missional communities, and any group of Christ-followers desiring renewal in their parish. The Parish Collective is committed to neighborhood reconciliation and parish renewal through the work of coming alongside parish movements, developing rooted postures and practices for becoming more present in our neighborhoods, and inspiring greater participating in what the Spirit is up to within our unique contexts.


The mission of The Seattle School is to train people to be competent in the study of text, soul, and culture in order to serve God and neighbor through transforming relationships. The dream of The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology began around a kitchen table, where a gathering of a few like-minded, equally passionate dreamers dared to imagine a new kind of theological and psychological training. The Seattle School was initially established under the auspices of Western Seminary in 1997, gaining independence three years later. Over the next decade and beyond, The Seattle School has been committed to training therapists, pastors, artists, and leaders to take the concepts of text, soul, and culture to their zenith - an engagement of the Kingdom of God in the face of the other. The Seattle School is a progressive, multi-denominational institution. Founded upon the belief that the presence of our Truine God is continually revealed through relationship, The Seattle School is a learning community information by incarnational theology and a relational hermeneutic. Valuing discourse as a powerful means of discovery and growth, The Seattle School is intentionally interdisciplinary and multi-denominational. We believe that our engagement with God, the holy text, our own stories, and the cultural contexts we live in are enriched by robust dialogue and intentional community fostered amongst student, faculty and staff coming from a myriad of cultural backgrounds, church traditions and denominations.

“There’s a history of God’s spirit already moving over the lifespan of that town, that city—and we’re playing a part in God’s story right now just by sitting and engaging with one another. That is the very heart of what it means to be incarnational.” — Brian Bajari community builder & certificate participant; Carmel, California


“I love the church and I am burdened by its ineffectiveness. Yet I sense something of the Gospel being born again—in me, in my neighborhood, and in those around me.” — Dwight Friesen

Co-facilitator of The Leadership in the New Parish Certificate scholar & practitioner; Bellevue, Washington

Contact The Seattle School 2501 Elliott Avenue • Seattle, Washington, 98121 206 876.6100 • 888 977.2002

theseattleschool.edu/certificate

The Leadership in the New Parish Certificate at The Seattle School  

The Leadership in the New Parish Certificate is a practitioner think-tank to equip leaders in reimagining missional innovation & church revi...

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