When God calls us to work in the world and walk in the way of Christ, God has different ideas for each of us, some of them less conventional than others. Unfortunately, these calls don’t usually come with a road map or an organizational chart. Inspired by co-founder Nurya Parish’s experiences of constant Googling to find organizations that might be similar to Plainsong Farm before the farm even began, we are excited to share that the next installment in our cohort-building work focuses specifically on bringing new and innovative forms of ministry to life.
The eight participants in Plainsong’s inaugural Ministry Innovators cohort are following calls that push the boundaries of what church is and what it should do. Some are as physically close to Plainsong Farm as Greenville, MI, and some are as far away as Minnesota, New Jersey, and Georgia. They hail from different denominations, and while several are ordained, there is a strong showing of lay leaders pursuing their own ministry projects.
Our cohort members are at different stages in their journeys, but all are working with food, agriculture, or the outdoors to serve God. In the words of Lanni Latto, whose call at U.P. Wild Church riffed on an outreach push for young people and suggestions of bar ministry, “"The Upper Peninsula is...ten million acres of forest land, and everyone who comes here loves being outside. Why would we go inside of a bar?" There is a wonderful breadth of objectives and goals in the cohort - from stewarding woodlands, to feeding neighbors, to care farming with vulnerable adults.
While the promise of these community gardens, house (or outdoor) churches, and regenerative farms are evident and inspiring, the way forward for these ministries is not without challenges. Because Plainsong has encountered and overcome many of those same challenges in its history, the farm is well positioned to host this cohort and offer support and guidance. In Nurya’s words, “I wish something like this had existed when I was starting.” As an established leader in the national Christian food movement, this is both part of Plainsong’s mission and a way to grow that network - by creating and celebrating new leaders.
While the church today must hold space to lament dropping attendance, closing churches, and other painful challenges, the journeys of these cohort members showcase a more positive, generative side of change within the church. Justin Fast of Samara in East Michigan offered a description of his own ministry as “...a micro church, a dinner church, a-whatever-it-takes-to-lead-people-to-Jesus church. That model shifts and changes as it needs to".
In that spirit, we are thankful for these eight bold souls doing what they need to do to lead people to Jesus, and we hope you will join us in praying and giving thanks for what they do.