4.44: How to Cultivate the Mixed Ecology in a Regional Church System with Calla Gilson

Terri Elton and Dee Stokes welcome Calla Gilson.

“On the Way” document: https://nwos-elca.church/on-the-way/
Learn more about the “On the Way” at https://nwos-elca.church/on-the-way/ and https://nwos-elca.church/2021/10/27/innovator-learning-academy/

In a world where traditional forms of worship and fellowship may not be as effective, it becomes crucial for the Church to find new ways to connect with people and share the message of Jesus. This is where Fresh Expressions of Church comes into play. Terri and Dee got a chance to sit down with Calla Gilson, a passionate advocate for fresh expressions and a staff member at the Northwestern Ohio Synod.

In this thought-provoking conversation, Calla shares her insights on how churches can engage with their communities and resonate with people outside traditional church settings. Together we explore the power of embracing a mixed ecology approach, where the beauty of the incarnation is simplified and reflected in everyday life. Calla’s inspiring quote, “Somehow, the stuff of life resonates with people outside the church more than our bells and smells and shiny things,” challenges us to reevaluate our approach to sharing the Jesus story.

Throughout this immersive conversation, we dive deep into practical strategies and innovative practices that foster authentic connections and nurture new communities.

Gain valuable insights on how to navigate the complexities of a regional church system and create a meaningful impact in your community.

Key Insights:

  1. Understanding the concept of mixed ecology in a regional church system
  2. Simplifying the incarnation and embodying the Jesus story in everyday life
  3. Reevaluating traditional church practices to resonate with people outside the church
  4. Strategies for engaging with communities and fostering authentic connections
  5. Nurturing new communities and embracing innovative practices
  6. Creating meaningful impact in a regional church system

Join us for this compelling conversation with Calla Gilson as we explore the transformative power of cultivating a mixed ecology in a regional church system. Discover how to authentically connect with your community and share the essence of the Jesus story in a way that resonates with people’s lives.



Calla Gilson

Calla Gilson serves as the Lead Coordinator for the Discipleship Initiative of the Northwestern Ohio Synod (ELCA), where she loves dreaming with folks across 22 counties about what God is up to in their communities. She holds a B.A. in International Affairs from George Washington University and is a YAGM Jerusalem and the West Bank alum. If she isn’t pulling espresso shots at the local coffee shop, you can find her digging in the dirt of the garden at home or alongside neighborhood families in the community garden – which both rely heavily on the abundant grace and care of gardener Jesus.

Meet Your Hosts

  • Terri Elton

    Terri is a teacher who loves Jesus and God’s world. She currently is a Professor of Leadership and Dean of Academic Affairs at Luther Seminary, but has also served in congregations and non-profit settings. In her free time, Terri loves to bike and explore nature. She, along with her husband Eric, believes the world is interesting and together they travel to different cultures and places as often as they can.

  • Dr. Dee Stokes

    Dr. Dee Stokes is an entrepreneurial minister, educator, consultant, author, and podcaster. With 30 years of experience in education, Dr. Stokes understands what it means to be co-vocational and serve God in the Church and in the marketplace. She has worked at every level of education and has also served as a Senior Pastor, Formation and Connections Pastor, and Teaching Pastor. She has a passion for God and His Church and to see people walk in divine destiny. Her degrees are in Sociology (BA from UNC Charlotte), Public Administration (MPA from Devry University), Biblical and Theological Foundations (MBTF from Asbury Theological Seminary), and Educational Leadership (Ed.S. & Ed.D. from Liberty University). Dr. Stokes's research interests include Cultural Intelligence, Emotional Intelligence, Burnout, Transformational Leadership, unconscious bias, and spousal responsibility.

Your voice matters


Take the 7-minute audience survey.