What is a fresh expression of church?
A fresh expression 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.
It emphasises four things in particular. Fresh expressions are:
- Missional – serving people outside church;
- Incarnational – listening to people and entering their culture;
- Educational – making discipleship a priority;
- Ecclesial – forming church.
At the heart of fresh expressions is a different way of thinking about church. Many existing churches operate with a 'you come to us' mindset.
Fresh expressions have a 'we'll come to you' mindset instead. They start not with an invitation ('Come to us on our terms'), but with an offer ('We're willing to come to you, serve you and stay with you. If you want, we'll also help you to be church in a way that suits you - in your style, not ours').
The aim is not to provide a stepping stone into existing church, but to form new churches in their own right. The flow is from the congregation to people outside – not inward, but outward.
Fresh expressions is a new mindset, not a new model of church to be copied. It is a mindset that starts not with church, but with people who don't belong to church.
Society has changed and church must change too
Those who think and write about Christianity and our changing culture. They are wrestling with the challenges presented to the Christian faith by 'post-modern' thought and behavior. How can the gospel connect with today's world? What might be the implications for church?
Those exploring new forms of church mainly with people who still go to church (but who are often about to leave). Typically they are into alternative forms of worship and authentic community. Many have a missional heart, but their starting point is to work with Christians who are dissatisfied with existing church.
Society has changed and church must change too. The challenge for all of us is to recognize God at work in each other and champion what God is doing.
Come check out Community of Travelers beginning at 5 PM at St Aidan's on Sept 12 and see what Fresh Expressions of Church is all about!