Fresh Expressions of Church
A fresh expression of church is a form of church for our changing culture, established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church. Only about 5% of the population of the UK now are born again Christians. A majority of people over 50 have rejected any Christian knowledge or understanding they had through connection with a church. An even larger majority of those under 50 have never had connections with any church, or have an understanding or experience of Christian faith.
The context – a changing world
- changed Sundays
- changed relationships
- changed culture
- changed knowledge
- church decline (especially among the young)
- URC decline – membership fell by 50% 1972 – 1995 and is still falling
- by 2033 the Church of Scotland, Methodist Church and URC are expected no longer exist
Our mission context
- should not be motivated simply by these negatives!
- our response is to Christ’s call to make disciples
- serving and loving in the name of Christ – where He would be
- one beggar showing another beggar where to find bread
Our mission context – the good news
- there is still spiritual hunger
- God’s Spirit is always on the move and at work well outside the church walls
- we can join in with the Spirit, if we’re open to doing things differently – we can plant acorns
- Fresh Expressions are growing….
- God has given us so much – He expects much of us!
Fresh expressions and the URC
Methodists and Anglicans have more than 1000 fresh expressions each – involving at least 66,000 people meeting at least once a month. Holy Spirit is stirring other denominations and traditions – all over our land, raising up people with a heart for the lost, through fervent prayer identifying those possibilities that God is preparing. Acceptance and ownership by congregations is essential.
Acts of loving service, building community, encouraging discipleship, evolving worship – where people are – accepting they are on a journey and this will take time – God’s time. Accepting that these folk may never come to worship on Sundays (like we do!)
A key moment for the URC June 2009 – joined FE
September 2011 URC appointed Linda Rayner as FE coordinator – who initiated a national mapping exercise
Synods appointed advocates and offered resources and support. The URC are now partners in the ecumenical Fresh Expressions organisation (visit Fresh Expressions website here)
There are now more than 30 examples of fresh expressions in Wessex Synod. I have been advocate for the Synod for 7 years and run training days for groups of churches looking into or explorimg the possibilities of developing a fresh expression. They are all different! I have many resources for you to borrow. It’s vital in this sort of ministry that there is shared vision within the fellowship, and especially amongst the leadership, otherwise misunderstandings can happen.
Jesus said “Put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch” Luke 5: 4
Wessex Synod Advocate for Fresh Expressions of Church
023 8084 6404
For details of the next Fresh Expressions event, please take a look at our Calendar (“Events” category), or search for “Fresh Expressions”