Launch and Lead

June 23, 2017

Competency-Based Missional Training

Launch & Lead is distinguished by its hybrid approach to distance education. While we take advantage of modern technology to deliver instruction digitally so that it is accessible at any time and in any location, we also recognize the importance of meeting together face to face. There are a total of four gatherings. Students that begin Launch & Lead in Fall 2017 will meet on the following dates:

Leadership Workshop - Dallas, TX - November 1-3, 2018

Storytelling Retreat - Asheville, NC - Spring 2019


It is time. Are you ready?


To apply:



Since the first cohort in 2011, Launch & Lead (formerly known as The Academy for Missional Wisdom) has been equipping people and teams from all over the US to launch and lead alternative forms of Christian community, and/or provide support to those who do. Some have planted churches, networks of churches, and intentional Christian communities… some have helped focus, refine, or discover a new vision in established congregations, or changed the way their church or denomination supports and equips church planters... some have started non-profit organizations... some have started neighborhood ministries or simply reclaimed the concept of being a neighbor... During her time in this program, Jody Halstead, a participant in our first Western North Carolina cohort (fall 2012), not only worked to launch the Haywood Street Respite, a ministry of the Haywood Street Congregation in Asheville, NC. Haywood Street Respite is a safe place for eight homeless adults at a time to rest, get three meals a day, and be helped in other ways to “get back on their feet” following discharge from the hospital. It is short-term care in a home-like setting for folks who are too ill or frail to recover on the streets after surgery or acute illness. Many people have visited or volunteered at Haywood and know about the Respite. What you don’t see when you visit are the numerous setbacks, frustrations, and revisions Jody overcame in the journey of bringing this ministry to fruition. That is certainly the case as well for the Haw Creek Commons (HCC) project located at the Bethesda UMC in Asheville. HCC has already become a hub for experimenting with and teaching about alternative forms of Christian community, and things are about to kick into even higher gear as we near completion of renovation of the Bethesda campus and the opening of the HCC co-working space. Launch & Lead alum, Rev. Karen Doucette says: At Lake Junaluska during Annual Conference, I heard Elaine Heath speak, and, at that moment it seemed as the words were pointed to where I was sitting in the back left corner of the auditorium. I wanted to be involved in what she was describing and was grateful when asked to participate in the Launch & Lead program by our then District Superintendent, John Boggs. I had no idea what it lead to but I knew it would be an adventure. I enjoyed the gatherings and online classes, especially the ones related to fostering missional imagination and reading the Bible missionally. Now serving at Haw Creek Commons/Bethesda UMC as community pastor has been a life-giving gift as it combines my history as a social worker, my experience as a coach, and my great joy to serve as a commissioned Elder within the United Methodist Church. We continue, as a team, to cultivate space that will invite the neighbors into community within a number of contexts. Oftentimes, I find myself in different places doing stuff I never expected to do. This past summer, Ben Floyd, reflecting on his upcoming appointment in Todd, NC shared these words: I will be serving as campus pastor of Blackburn’s Chapel, connected to Boone UMC. Along with this privilege, I will also be serving as executive director of a non-profit that seeks to build community through listening, presence, and working with an intentional community of 3-4 young people who seek to live into their calls as disciples and disciple-makers in rural ministry. I can’t help but see this placement as being related to the work and formation I’ve been a part of through the Missional Wisdom Foundation. It was at the initial retreat for my Launch & Lead cohort four years ago that God spoke to me in a voice that was unavoidable. His call to me and my family was clear after that weekend – we were meant for ministry, more than what we were doing at the time. For me, that call took the shape of seminary and candidacy in the UMC for ordination. These are just a few examples of ways our alumni are actively pursuing the mission of God in their context. You can read more stories of our dispersed community in action by clicking the “Launch & Lead Stories” button at the bottom of the Launch & Lead page on the MWF website ( Launch & Lead doesn't tell you what to do. It helps you discover where the mission of God is already at work around you...and gives you the encouragement, support, and tools to participate in that mission with authenticity and in community. We are about to begin the first cohort of the newly redesigned Launch & Lead. The new version is built more intentionally around a competency-based approach, that provides measurable evidence (beyond their transformational stories) that our participants are not just learning about but are learning to do. We are also building in more options for tailoring your learning specific to your context and experience. We have ramped up the coaching support and are now including multiple powerful assessment tools (such as Strengths Finder 2.0, the Social/Emotional Intelligence Index, and the Energy Leadership Index) to support individual leadership development. And with our new national cohort model, participants will have the opportunity to meet and spend time with Launch & Lead participants from around the country twice a year.

Follow Jesus. Make Disciples. Transform the World.