When people ask me what I do, I’ve begun simply replying that I’m a professional connector. It’s a short-hand way to explain why I work with so many groups. Here are some of them…
Kingdom Experiments (kingdomexperiments.org) is the organization that I fundraise through to support ALL the following work. Its overarching mission is to help the church defy the captivity of this world and dream, vision, and experiment towards the Kingdom of God. In addition to supporting all my work through the following organizations and my meeting with people in general (and I do a lot of meeting with everyone from church planters to community leaders to people just trying to figure out life), a key project of Kingdom Experiments has been a weekly Community Dinner for 30+ people that models the practice of hospitality so foreign to much of the American church and provides space for people to both laugh and grapple with the hard questions of our day.
Since 2010, I’ve served as an InterVarsity Campus Staff Person at the University of Pittsburgh. I’ve been working with IV in various forms since college. I love working with college students as they tend to be particularly open to the radical call of Jesus. They are excited to be a part of a community that calls them to grapple with what it truly means to love the Lord their God with all their heart, mind, and soul and to love their neighbors as Christ has loved them. It has been really exciting to continue to see the chapter I work with widen and deepen. We have many students who are excited about being challenged, building community with one another, and radically living out their faith on campus and beyond.
One of our favorite activities in the Pitt IV Undergrad chapter this year has been Hard Questions Cafés. They are evenings when students are invited to ask difficult questions of life and faith. Everyone then discusses these questions together. It’s a rich experience where students learn how to address the concerns of their peers—an important skill in the post-modern culture in which they dwell.
For the last couple of years I have been on staff with the Simple Way (thesimpleway.org) aiding them with strategy, special projects, connecting people and communities, and helping form communities that flourish. Currently I’m focusing on the Community of Communities project (communityofcommunities.info) and Conspire Magazine (conspiremagazine.org) in addition to special projects and events as they arise.
My work with the Simple Way and beyond has provided the opportunity to foster effective community formation and help existing communities flourish. Last spring, I published Community Living for the Long Haul in Conspire Magazine. The article joins a group of essays (mattpritchard.com/community) I’ve written providing practical guidance to folks who are trying to start communities.
I serve on the board of the House of St Michael the Archangel (houseofstmichael.org), a community of people who read ancient church writings for the purpose of “total conversion.” It’s been one of, if not the, most formational experiences of my life. The work of the House is the deepest and most promising I’ve seen for helping the Church thrive in our post-Christendom culture. We’d love for you to join us at our Devotional Conference which takes place January each year. You could also become a part of our Intensive Cohorts–four Saturdays over the course of the year that initiate participants into the Church Fathers.
I convene Pittsburgh Year (pittsburghyear.org), an association of one-year programs dedicated to developing communities of young leaders to seek the peace of the city of Pittsburgh. When I arrived in Pittsburgh I learned that these programs existed in isolation, now they share best practices, market together, and connect their participants to change the world, starting with Pittsburgh.
In the fall I joined four other people in starting a new community in the neighborhood where I’ve been living for the last two years. Our household joins a strong relational network of Christians in our neighborhood who aren’t exactly an intentional community, but definitely fall within that stream. It’s been wonderful to live once again with people who are pursuing life together.
I’ve joined two church communities in Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh Mennonite (pittsburghmennonite.org) which is part of the Anabaptist peace-making tradition which I’ve self-identified with for many years, and The Open Door (pghopendoor.org) which is Presbyterian in polity and emerging in practice. This autumn I began the process to be licensed as a Mennonite minister.
I continue to travel frequently, to connect with communities, spend time with old and new friends, speak, take part in weddings, and accompany Shane Claiborne. Over the last year I’ve spent time in Chicago, Atlanta, North Carolina, St. Louis, Nashville, Milwaukee, New York City, all over Virginia, and Toronto. I regularly return to the D.C. area and remain connected with Holy Grounds (fairlingtonholygrounds.org) and Casa Chirilagua (casachirilagua.org). These travels continually affirm for me the exciting and complex time we find ourselves in and it’s been encouraging to learn from so many of you during these travels. If we’ve not gotten to talk or see each other in the last couple of years, hopefully I’ll be in your area soon. Of course, you’re always welcome in Pittsburgh!