last updated on: 15th Jan 2016
What is a fresh expression of Church?
A phrase like 'fresh expressions of Church' can be vague and unclear. Sometimes the label is used to cover almost anything - even a new church noticeboard! But the important thing is intention. When a new mission project or group begins, what is the intention? If it is to work towards establishing a new worshopping community especially for those who have never been involved in church (un-churched) or once were, but left for whatever reason (de-churched), then it is a fresh expression of Church in the making. If, though, the intention is to do mission better or more imaginatively in order to attract people to existing church, it isn't - although doing that is always an excellent idea. The aim is not to provide a stepping stone into existing church, but to form new churches in their own right. So it is important to decide the direction you are heading in, before you begin the journey. Both are equally valid but they require approaches.
In November 2010 the Church of England in Leicester and Leicestershire agreed a major new vision and strategy for Fresh Expressions, with the aim, in twenty years, of seeing as many mature fresh expressions of Church as there will be inherited expressions of church (i.e. 320 in Leicestershire). To read a summary of what was agreed click here.
To make this a reality, there is a considerable investment of new resources - especially in the form of support for volunteers who are leading or helping to lead Fresh Expressions of Church (Pioneers). In partnership with the Methodist District, becoming a Pioneer brings a range of support, training and development opportunities. Click here to read more on becoming a Pioneer.
Also, reflecting the ecumenical nature of new forms of church, a strategy team for the county and city to steer the vision (called a FEAST) has met since 2010. Read more on this vision, plus at the end of the paper a host of frequently asked questions here.
For a further introduction to fresh expressions of Church and examples of what is going on click on the video's below (each ten minutes long, the second follows on from the first). Or keep reading below the videos for more details on supporting fresh expressions in Leicester and Leicestershire:
Are you involved in leading a fresh expression of Church? Are you passionate about reaching beyond the church community in imaginative ways, to impact people’s lives with the message of new life offered by Jesus Christ? If the answer to either of these is ‘yes’, then one of these groups may be for you. Meeting in three geographical areas around the Diocese, these groups are a form of support, encouragement and resourcing group for those involved in a wide range of new forms of being church. If you’re not currently involved, and would like to be, contact Mads.Morgan@leccofe.org or Matt.Pitt@leccofe.org or Jonathan.Dowman@leccofe.org
Share the Guide Website
For more information, ideas and examples of Fresh Expressions visit the national ideas website at:www.sharetheguide.org
Mission Shaped Intro (MSi) & Mission Shaped Ministry (MSM)
Two courses exist to help you explore more about Fresh Expressions. Mission Shaped Intro (MSi) is a seven week course looking at the ‘why’ of creating fresh expressions of church rather than the ‘how’. It takes us on a journey looking at the ever-changing nature of our social communities and why the church needs to rethink its approach to those communities in meaningful and relevant ways. Suitable for anyone who is interested, whether involved in a Fresh Expression or not, it’s designed to present those changes in an informative and interactive way, with verbal presentation, powerpoints, movie clips and stories with group participation. A number of Mission Partnerships have found this a helpful, thought provoking course on the changing culture we live in. For details of the next one, or to explore running one for your Mission Partnership, email Claire. The diocesan Mission and Ministry team have all the resources needed to run one and would be happy to lend them out.
Mission Shaped Ministry (MSM) is an 16 month course designed for those involved in leading, or helping to lead, a fresh expression of Church. Meeting on one Saturday every two months, it is more of a ‘how’ than a ‘why’ course. This is also the normative training route for those who will be licensed as Pioneers (lay people, normally volunteers who are leading or helping to lead fresh expressions). For details of the next one (they start every six months in Leicester) or to find out more contact Jonathan.Dowman@leccofe.org
Are you considering starting a fresh expression, and want to read around the subject a bit more? Or perhaps you've been leading a fresh expression for a while but would like to be encouraged in your leadership? We have an excellent library of books available that live in St Martins House (most of the time!) that you can read FOR FREE. These range from classic titles such as “Mission Shaped Church” to recently published books such as “Being Church Doing Life”. We've got great testimonial books like “Irresistible Revolution” being read by people at the same time as “Church For Every Context”.
As the network of fresh expressions grows within our diocese, one way in which we want to be able to support, equip and resource those around us. The Library forms a key part of this, and we really want to be able to bless people with books to be able to read. Anecdotally we are hearing that people really appreciate the current nature of what texts we have – and we are always welcoming suggestions. Spending time reading is something that holds great potential, so please do take the time to consider borrowing a book or two! The list of currently available texts is available here, and if you want to borrow something then please get in touch with Luke Fogg at Luke.fogg@CovLec.org. Don’t worry if you can’t get to St Martins House, the least we can do is serve you by making sure the book gets to you.
Some initial start up money is available for fresh expressions of Church from the Growth Fund for more details of how to apply visit the special page on the link to the left of this page. There are also a number of other grant making bodies which invite applications from fresh expressions of Church including the Church and Community Fund, the Cinnamon Network and the Andrews Charitable Trust. Those licensed as Pioneers also recieve a grant each year to be able to attend courses, conferences, and for general support and resourcing. For more on Pioneers click here.
For more information on Fresh Expressions more widely visit www.freshexpressions.org.uk