By Spencer Burke, Executive Director at Hatchery

            Derek Sivers has a TED Talk called How to Start a Movement. It begins with some shaky video footage of a man dancing alone in a public space, surrounded by other people. He is then joined by another man who enthusiastically not only becomes part of the dance, but invites his friends to participate as well. It doesn't take long before it reaches a tipping point. One of the best lines is, “The first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader.” In a lighthearted and beautiful way, this statement captures a key insight in my experience with Hatchery LA.

            Not so long ago, Hatchery LA was just a dream and some plans on paper. I received amazing support for this dream here in the PSWR. The main focus was, and is, to plant Common Cause Communities in the South Bay. I get a little emotional when I think about the students who decided to pack up and move to the region to be part of this new adventure. Each has unique perspectives and ways that they want to have an impact on the world. Nathanael Welch wants to raise awareness of the experiences of persons with disabilities and to focus on welcoming their presence, especially in faith communities. Jessika Perez wants to focus on how the table can be a space to share food and stories and can be instrumental in shaping our identities. Kevin Kang is our newest innovator. He wants to focus on developing a ministry for second generation Korean Americans. It's been wonderful to see the students grow personally and find their theological footing. Small moments have carried great significance. Moments like a student giving a first sermon, wrestling with what it means to be a pastor, and feeling warmth and acceptance as newcomers to the Disciples. If the innovators and Common Cause Communities being planted are conceptualized as a pebble, what we've come to realize is that there are meaningful ripples being created.

At our core is a three-year learning program for individuals who want to become social transformation entrepreneurs and invest in local communities by launching sustainable Common Cause Communities.

We noticed the first potential for a “ripple effect” as we were developing our students' seminary curriculum. We wondered if it would be possible to provide a meaningful service to local and regional ministers. We were so honored recently to have 50 regional ministers participate with us during our events and receive continuing education units. We're looking forward to continuing to be a valuable educational resource for ministers in the PSWR.

As I've travelled to share about what we're doing at Hatchery LA, I've received a great level of enthusiasm. We've been part of a study group in reimagining theological education. Princeton and Harvard wrote papers about the work we're doing to integrate ministry and social entrepreneurship. I've talked with numerous people and watched their eyes light up. These are people on the ground working in their communities, but who want to benefit from the underpinnings of the program: Theology and Social Entrepreneurship. We recently launched our first certification program with the goal to equip people around the country in the work of transformation.

            There's an old saying that we overestimate what we can do in a year and underestimate what we can do in ten years. Sometimes I have to remind our team and innovators that we didn't even have a logo eighteen months ago. That's the sort of conversation that take place with people who want to be part of imagining and working toward new possibilities for the church. I'm incredibly thankful and see great hope as Hatchery LA looks ahead. 

AuthorAlisa Mittelstaedt