What Is A Fresh Expression Of Church?

Here is forty-second video that explains what is and what isn’t a Fresh Expression:


Misconceptions About Fresh Expressions

Norman Ivison summarises seven misconceptions about Fresh Expressions of Church. They are well worth reading, since many of these are often heard from seasoned churchgoers who are reluctant to support new, culturally relevant ways of reaching people for whom church as we know it is a foreign country.

Here is the Anglican video he mentions:

Reasons For Church Growth And Decline

Last week the Church of England published an excellent short report on the reasons churches grow and decline (mainly in numerical terms). You can read or download the report here, and here is a video about it from the Church Army, especially about Fresh Expressions of Church:

While not all of the research can be translated into the context of another denomination, such as Methodism (we don’t have too many official ‘cathedrals’), there are some clear challenges for us. For example: two inhibiting factors are an inconsistent approach to worship and a minister leading more than one congregation. The system of the Circuit Plan can lead to worship styles changing from week to week, and it is common for ministers to have pastoral charge of more than one church.

What signs of hope and challenge do you find in the report?

“I Don’t Fit”

Suit fitting

Suit Fitting by Shonali Burke on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Sometimes we so want our churches to grow that we try to get newcomers to fit in with what we are already doing, only to find it’s as difficult as trying to get into that old clothing our waistlines have long outgrown.

So what do we do, missionally? There are many experiments around to build Christian community for those who don’t fit into church. Do we need to create an outreach that might grow in its own right, and not necessarily feed new numbers into our existing congregations? Kind of, “It’s church, Jim, but not as we know it”?

Here is one such attempt in Northern Ireland that is clearly bearing fruit. But how telling is a sentence in the penultimate paragraph?

We have experienced some hostility from local churches but enjoy considerable favour from the community, who have strongly encouraged us to stay and value our friendship.

Not On A Sunday

Sunday School award

Sunday School Award by Michael Jefferies on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Experienced churchgoers are familiar with the problem of getting people to attend a service on a Sunday. The decline in the ‘traditional Sunday’ and of faith in general mean that people now have other commitments on Sundays, many of them unavoidable.

So what does the church do? There are several communities that have tried meeting at alternative times. One, in Halifax, meets on a Saturday evening and is called the Saturday Gathering. They have even had baptisms and confirmations there.

Is this a creative approach to a mission situation? Or does it compromise the link with our belief in the Resurrection?

What do you think?