Launch & Lead, a program in The Academy for Missional Wisdom, is a two year non-degree program that provides laity and clergy with the theological foundation and practical skills needed for starting and leading micro-communities of contemplative prayer and missional action. The program integrates distance learning technology, immersion experiences, spiritual direction, and retreats as well as a contextualized practicum with coaching to provide accessible and affordable education for persons who work full-time.

A Distinctive Process

Launch & Lead differs from many forms of theological education. Rather than the “traditional” campus setting, where students relocate or commute to certain location for months or years at a time, Launch & Lead combines online coursework, one-on-one and group processes of coaching and spiritual direction, and local training retreats so that the “campus” is essentially anywhere it needs to be. It is in your living room, office, coffee shop, and neighborhood. Our campus in right in the midst of the very context in which God is inviting you to join in the ministry of reconciliation, hope, and healing.

The same goes for Launch & Leads’s classrooms. The online courses allow (and instructors often encourage) you to complete assignments “out there” – among the people who live, move, and have their being in close proximity to you. But there is another distinction that is just as important. Launch & Lead is intended for more than missional knowledge and understanding. It is intended for missional wisdom…where knowledge is rightly and justly translated into action. Everything about our process is meant to assist individuals and teams in launching and leading a missional community. You and your team; the ones whom God has been preparing for just such a time as this, determine the format, structure and specific details of this community – Launch & Lead equips you to do so with missional wisdom.

Before You Begin

The process of forming missional communities begins with curiosity and imagination. This site provides details, stories, and resources pertaining to Launch & Lead's vision, goals, and processes. If what you see resonates with what you long to see, perhaps Launch & Lead is right for you.

Our geographically based cohorts start twice a year, in January and late summer. Due to our hands-on and personalized approach, the number of cohorts and the spaces available in each are limited. You are welcome to contact us before applying to determine if there is currently a cohort forming near you. If there is not, we will help you to start that conversation with others, or you might decide to join a cohort forming in another area.

Upon acceptance to Launch & Lead, it will be necessary for you to make preparations to set aside time for training retreats and online course work. Courses in Launch & Lead are designed for individuals with full time jobs, whether clergy or laity. For this reason, online courses are only 6 weeks long, with a 3 week break between courses (there is some fluctuation in break length due to holidays and other scheduling issues – but these are all published before the cohort begins.) 

Each course will typically require one book, weekly participation through viewing course videos and dialoging in online forums, and typically 1-2 papers. You should be ready to dedicate about 5 hours per week during online courses – perhaps a little more if you choose to complete all assigned readings during the course. (You’ll have the reading list ahead of time and are welcome to complete readings during breaks between courses.)

As Launch & Lead begins, our participants report gaining tremendous insight through the retreats, courses and spiritual direction activities. Slowly, you will begin to learn and discern with those in your cohort, as well as those friends in your neighborhood that share your calling and are beginning to come together as the nucleus of this community. 


Coaching

You are the expert. 
This statement sums up one of the most central aspects of the coaching relationship. Coaching in Launch & Lead is not the same as mentoring, consulting, or additional teaching. Each of those approaches have value, but when it comes to launching and leading a missional community, coaching offers something uniquely powerful. Our coaches are trained in, and operate from the International Coach Federation’s understanding of coaching: a process by which one person engages another in “a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” 

Our coaches know that no one is more qualified than you to discern how your strengths, passions, and callings intersect with the needs, possibilities, and present work of God in your specific context. You are the one who has feet on the ground. You are the one who is present – and the one God is calling - in this place, at this moment. 

You are the expert on your calling and your context. The coach is an expert in drawing that expertise to the surface, sorting through the options, and moving forward with passion and effectiveness.

Participants are paired with a coach during Module 1, and they will work together, with increasing frequency, throughout the 2-year program. This coaching work is included in Launch & Lead tuition, though participants have the option of purchasing additional sessions if they choose.

Spiritual Direction

Like a coach, a spiritual director is someone who is committed to listening with others. Where coaching focuses on identifying motivation for action, spiritual direction is rooted in the nature of being. Regular opportunities to reflect and evaluate “how it is with our soul” are absolutely essential in the process of leading missional communities. 

Each cohort has a local spiritual director that will work with them throughout their time in Launch & Lead. The spiritual director observes course discussions, participates in training retreats. Through regular communication, and multiple face-to-face “Days Apart,” the spiritual director helps establish a culture of support and mutual encouragement among cohort peers. 

The spiritual director also guides participants through two workbooks written by the Academy of Missional Wisdom’s Director of Spiritual Formation, Rev. Wendy Miller – herself a spiritual director who was named Professor Emeritus in Spiritual Formation at Eastern Mennonite Seminary after teaching spiritual formation, spiritual direction, and supervising training of spiritual directors for 19 years.


Launch & Lead participants are part of the Missional Wisdom Foundation’s expanding network of friends and co-laborers. We are dispersed community; a family drawn from diverse backgrounds, skill sets, and particular callings, but with a shared commitment to continue pursuing the mission of God in community . . . sent forth, yet deeply connected.

We look forward to welcoming you to this journey.

Go Out. Go Deep. Go Together.

For those who considering inviting or sponsoring individuals in a Launch & Lead cohort: 

These guideline questions will help to determine the likelihood that an individual will be a good candidate for training for starting a missional micro-community. It is recommended that candidates be interviewed before accepting them or funding them, to discuss these kinds of questions. In this way a judicatory group is more likely to support the training of people who will be fruitful and a good investment of resources.

**New Four Module Process

The two-year program is divided into four learning modules. Each module has distinct goals, but will follow a similar progression. Modules consist of 3 online courses followed by a training retreat, plus coaching and spiritual direction.

Module 1 – Orientation: Introduce the Vision Process (4 months)

This module lasts approximately 4 months and will introduce the theological concepts, as well as the expectations, logistics, and technology involved in the Launch & Lead process. During this time participants will work with their coach to form a deeper understanding of what they hope to accomplish in Launch & Lead. 

Courses

1.1 Intro to Academy Learning

1.2 Intro to Missional Community

1.3 Vision Project

1.4 Spiritual Life Retreat

Module 2 – Theological Foundations: Discover & Explore the Vision (7 months)

Building on the principles introduced in Mod 1, this module provides a firm theological foundation for developing missional community. The participants are equipped and invited to listen and pay close attention to what God is already up to in the neighborhood. Coaches will help participants consider how these principles apply to their context and calling, and when necessary, discern what that specific calling might be. 

Courses

2.1 Missional Imagination

2.2 Reading the Bible with a Missional Church

2.3 Spiritual Leadership Development

2.4 Missional Community Development 1

Module 3 – Leadership & Community: Solidify & Communicate the Vision (7 months)

The various components of this module are all designed to help the participant understand the why, how, and what of launching and leading a community. Coaching work is focused on helping each participant solidify their vision, communicate that vision to others, and bring together the core group / lead team for the new community.

Courses

3.1 Missional Ecclesiology 

3.2 Creating Culture

3.3 Beginning a Missional Community

3.4 Missional Community Development 2

Module 4 – Community Launch Practicum: Refine & Implement the Vision (6 months)


The final module is dedicated to launching the new community. To that end, there are no 6-week courses like those in previous modules. Learning takes place in the context of doing, reflecting - with the lead team, peers in the cohort, and the coach – and refining the vision and implementation plan as needed. Mod 4, and the two-year program, conclude with a final retreat to celebrate, share stories of struggles and victories, and consider the “next steps.” 

Courses

4.1 Practicum Check Point 1

4.2 Practicum Check Point 2

4.3 Practicum Check Point 3

4.4 Final Retreat

For more information, please Contact Us.

Cost and Funding

The two-year cost for Launch & Lead is $6,000. This includes:

  • All coursework
  • Four retreats, including lodging and meals
  • Six days apart
  • Individual coaching
  • Spiritual direction
Tuition does not include travel or textbooks.

Our students have accessed a variety of funding sources to help with tuition:

  • Texas Methodist Foundation
  • Duke Endowment
  • Congregational Development funds
  • District Funds for new ministries or leadership development
  • Individual Churches

We believe it is vital that individuals have at least a minimal level of financial responsibility for their own tuition. It has been determined that full scholarships can create a diminished level of commitment and/or accountability for the difficult work required in the academy.  Therefore, even for a college student, it is suggested that a payment breakdown be devised, for example, where the student pays 2% and the balance is borne by a combination of their home church, their Wesley Foundation, their conference, etc. Preferably the additional funding would be derived from the context in which they will be building community, so that there is support, accountability, and glad expectation!

Every situation is different and diversity of socio-economic backgrounds is an important goal.  Therefore, a person of little means would be welcomed to be on full scholarship.  But there would still be the need to determine how accountability would be defined for him or her.  That's true on the other side of the continuum as well!  If a person of great means could easily walk away because the tuition fee is of little consequence to them, it would be the same challenge!

Payments can be made through one of the following three options:

a. A single payment of $5,500 within the first 30 days of class (A $500 discount for paying in full)

b. Two annual payments of $3,000, with the first due at commencement of classes and the second one year from that date.

c. Eight quarterly payments of $750, with the first due at the commencement of classes.

  - For details or questions regarding tuition or payment options contact Rachel Wells.

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