In this section:
What is a Fresh Expression?
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 (i.e. those who do not or often cant or and and would not naturally come to our Sunday services or traditional form of church. These are proving very effective for many of out parish churches.
Any church, large or small and in any setting can make fresh expressions work with any type of people; they are particularly successful in reaching younger generations; children, families, young adults and parents.
There are four essential elements of fresh expressions. They are:
they prioritise on serving people outside the Church
they adapt to the local context; reaching out into peoples networks and lives; joining in with them rather than getting people to come to us
discipleship is a priority They journey with people to people to discover and become more like Jesus
fresh expressions are church, not bridges back to existing church but forms of church for others in the midst of their lives
Within our Fresh Expressions and Messy Churches we can encounter people who may never have heard about God. Understanding and responding to our communities is of key importance to Fresh Expressions. Sharing the Gospel Message within these Fresh Expression is perhaps one of their prime purposes. Consider questions such as "Who taught you about faith?" and "How do you talk to others about Jesus?" as you explore Evangelism with your Fresh Expression.
Where are our opportunities?
Fresh expressions are found in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and are growing in number and size. Locally, over 3000 people attend fresh expressions; half have no church background. Nationally 1 in 8 local churches have a fresh expression and new examples emerge all the time. There are countless opportunities to start a fresh expression. Popular examples include:
Parent and toddler groups intentionally adding prayer and worship and opportunity for parents to engage are emerging as churches in their own right and not a bridge back to Sunday church. These can feed into:
For many churches across the diocese (approx. 130) Messy Church, continues to be one of the more significant ways that they connect with their local community.Messy Church is a fun all-age expression of church, its primarily for people who dont belong to another form of church already, and can be a great place where children and adults can explore faith together.It usually involves some creative time to explore a biblical theme through activities, crafts and getting messy.There is then a celebration time which might involve a story, song and prayer, and then finishing with a sit-down meal together. Many expressions of Messy Church continue to explore how they might develop, deepen discipleship and nurture. For further ideas and resources click here for the Diocese of Lichfield Messy Church Page and here for the National Messy Church ideas and resources.
Schools Based Churches
Messy Churches, additional, midweek and alternative services formed amongst networks of children and parents in familiar surroundings of their local school.
Often the next step for children growing too old for Messy Churches. Small group / cell based youth churches, which can be peer led are simple and effective.
Fresh expressions for parents
Often formed for those attending Messy Churches) are emerging; Messy Mums, Knitting church, Mens breakfasts, Shed church, Pub church etc.
Popular reimagined services that offer an experience more like going to a coffee shop than the traditional flow and flavour of traditional worship can help all ages engage afresh with church. Activities and discussions around tables with good coffee, tea and often cake!
Messy Churches and Fresh Expressions are places where you meet people who may not normally engage with church. Begin to think through questions and opportunities where people can think through what the Christian Faith means to them and what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
Vocation is knowing who God calls us to be and what God wants us to do with our lives. Within Fresh Expressions, vocation can often be explored through questions such as, who am I and what am I becoming? Ensure that opportunities, space and time are created where people of all ages and stages can think through this big questions.
How we can help you
We have a wealth of experience and expertise to help you form and grow your fresh expression and can offer you insights from the wide range of fresh expressions that are already running. Most churches successfully start fresh expressions themselves but were happy to support you with consultation, accompaniment or signposting to resources. We can help your fresh expressions leaders connect with the wider network of fresh expressions in your area though learning communities, Messy Meetups and fresh expressions Hubs and help you access training.
A useful starting point is the diocesan fresh expressions website (HYPERLINK HERE?). The national fresh expressions website (HYPERLINK HERE?) with resources, guide and stories is also useful. We highly recommend the short bookRefresh, A not so new Guide to Being Church and Doing Life (M.Moynagh and R.Peabody, Awaken 2016) for all involved or thinking about fresh expressions. Messy Church has their own helpful website too.
Things to consider when setting up a Fresh Expression
Fresh Expression have identified 6 steps to consider when exploring the creation of a Fresh Expression of church. These steps include (Refresh, 2016);
- Ask another Christian work in a team
- Begin with what youve got who are you? What do you know? What do you have?
- Chat to others- Speak to God, to those you serve and to others with wisdom
- Dream up lots of possibilities
- Experiment like crazy
- Follow the Fresh Expressions journey (listening, loving and serving, building community, exploring discipleship, church taking place, do it again….)
Refresh, A not so new Guide to Being Church and Doing Life (M.Moynagh and R.Peabody, Awaken 2016)