Original Posting At http://godlifechurch.me/2016/03/07/listening-to-a-new-song-fresh-expressions/
It’s become apparent in recent years that people engage with church in different ways and new forms of church have been around in different guises for many years.
The people of God have sought to engage with the community in relevant ways they have discovered that new ways and forms of being church are needed, as traditional forms have continued to decline or as people have a new vision of what church might look like.
We might ask ourselves, ‘What is a Fresh Expression?’ In some sences defining Fresh Expressions is akin to catching jelly! In that it comes in many forms! Fresh Expressions isn’t an entity in its own right but is simply two words that denote the type of Church that seeks to be defined by them. I think that’s a good thing.
When Did It Start:
‘Fresh Expressions of Church’ is a term coined by the Church of England report ‘Mission-shaped Church’ and used in the Church of England and the Methodist Church for the last 12 years. It is a way of describing the planting of new congregations or churches which are different in ethos and style from the church which planted them; because they are designed to reach a different group of people than those already attending the original church.’ Freshexpressions.org.uk
The demarcation of Fresh Expression offers us many things: validity, support and a level of accountability. For example a church that is defined as being in the same stable as a Fresh Expression adheres to particular values:
It is a form of church for our changing culture, established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church. •It will come into being through principles of listening, service, incarnational mission and making disciples; •It will have the potential to become a mature expression of church shaped by the gospel and the enduring marks of the church and for its cultural context. Freshexpressions.org.uk
What Does It Do For The Church?
This organisation offers emerging churches and communities much needed validity as they have been and can be sidelined as not being ‘proper church’. Some may think such attitudes have evolved but I can assure you that this is not universally true! Finally, the movement offers support through gatherings of like-minded people and online resources.
The Fresh Expression movement isn’t a church, but both rests within the boundaries of the broader church and outside it, in a spiritual no man’s land, seeking what God is doing and joining in. It isn’t a value judgement on other forms of church, but complements what God is already doing in the midst of the local Christian community.
The Future Looks Bright.
New forms of church are not something we need to fear or be afraid of. The challenge for both the inherited and non-inherited models of church is to continue to build bridges with one another. After all, we are all from the same stable, so to speak, the one with Jesus the Messiah in it.
Moving forward, let’s work hard to enable these fledging communities to flourish and become what God is calling them to be. Let’s not hinder them but let us also value what we have had and what we now have in the inherited model with equal passion, keeping in mind that neither the inherited nor the non-inherited church is the last word on what church should look like. It is God’s church first; let us walk with our God, full of the Spirit, as the church is continually working to His praise, paying attention to what God has done through his Son and is doing through the Holy Spirit.