Photo: Frontier facilitators Emma Gray (third from right) and Nathan Marshall (far right) with Frontier participants (from left) Abi Skelly, Peter Dalbrun, Loani Falconer and Mike Smith.

By Emily Ferguson

A frontier is the extreme limit of what is known, beyond which lies wilderness. So, when you sign up for Fresh Hope’s one-year pioneer training program by the same name, it’s not surprising that significant formation follows.

Frontier participant Loani Falconer, from Southern Church in Albion Park, embarked on her Frontier journey while exploring God’s call in the context of a huge residential development going up around her church.

“I have a longing to figure out how our church can be real to the people we brush up with who aren’t part of a Christian community or don’t know who Jesus is,” she said. “So, when this opportunity came up to do Frontier I thought, I’ve just got to do that – I’ve got to be with a community of people who are trying to do something different and not just wanting to replicate what they’ve always known about church.

“In the past I’ve struggled with the concept that the church is asking and waiting for people to come to us. Now I’m convinced I must be amongst the community to follow where God is asking me to be there, too.”

Frontier has also been a significant turning point in participant Katoomba Lighthouse Church Pastor Peter Dalbrun’s own formation, as well as in his thinking about Jesus’ church and its mission.

“Frontier has completely turned my thought pattern upside down,” he said. “After a year of reading several books, studying different communities and church models and working through the hard questions, I see that the time for drawing the lost to church with good programs and free coffee has passed.

“When Jesus walked the earth he did not expect people to change and become  something new in order to be acceptable to God. He took God to the people in a way they could understand. This should also be the purpose and mission of the church today.”

Frontier has involved extensive reading, times of focused teaching from church leaders, thought leaders and pioneers, monthly group discussions via Zoom and field work, all running alongside spiritual formation.

“It’s been a year of discernment: trying to figure out with God who I am, what he’s up to, and then following that prompting,” Loani said. “Maybe there’s an initiative, but maybe there isn’t – maybe it’s clarifying something else. It’s easy to be in a hurry to get to the doing, to say this is what we’re going to do and off we go. But this year has been about actually slowing down a bit and seeing things from a different perspective along the way.”

Expressions of interest for the 2021 Frontier cohort can be registered at [email protected]