Across North America, more and more denominations and church leaders are wrestling with the challenge of engaging people and cultures that are increasingly diverse. Inasmuch as local congregations have a tendency to homogenize over time, becoming places that people of different backgrounds, interests, and cultures feel welcome can be difficult. At the same time, at the center of God’s own identity seems to be an impulse to cross cultural (and any other) barriers that might exist in order to know and be known. Such is the fundamental task of love!
Emanating from the research and writing found in the watershed text, “Mission-Shaped Church,” Fresh Expressions is a movement that began in the UK that seeks to help denominations and churches address these issues both theologically and practically.
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.
In just under 10 years, the Fresh Expressions movement has worked with existing denominations and partners to begin over 2,000 new expressions of local churches, which have the potential to breathe new life into their founding churches and help the Body of Christ experience greater amounts of cross-cultural reconciliation. So encouraging has this movement been that there are now iterations in the United States and Canada.
So let’s talk about this over the coming week…
- Are you familiar w/ the Fresh Expression movement?
- What are your thoughts on and experiences with primarily homogeneous churches seeking to work, serve, and grow across cross-cultural boundaries?
On this topic, check out the workshop below offered by Habacuc Diaz-Lopez, Ben Jamison, and Gannon Sims, who work with Fresh Expression in the US. They get to share some incredible stories and expand a bit more on the vision of Fresh Expressions.
Starting new communities of faith is the best way to reach new people for Christ. But the traditional model of church planting is too costly and staff heavy for most churches to pull off. One exciting alternative is the Fresh Expressions initiative, which over the last 8 years in the UK has started 2,000 new communities alongside and interrelated to existing churches. In this workshop, we will explore this exciting model of “bottom up” church multiplication that begins with community, mission, and discipleship, and is able to be both lay and staff led and part of an existing congregation or an independent start.
The audio download of this workshop is available HERE and is available for free all day today, 7/15/13 (discount automatically applied when you add the workshop to your cart).
Missio Alliance Comment Policy
The Missio Alliance Writing Collectives exist as a ministry of writing to resource theological practitioners for mission. From our Leading Voices to our regular Writing Team and those invited to publish with us as Community Voices, we are creating a space for thoughtful engagement of critical issues and questions facing the North American Church in God’s mission. This sort of thoughtful engagement is something that we seek to engender not only in our publishing, but in conversations that unfold as a result in the comment section of our articles.
Unfortunately, because of the relational distance introduced by online communication, “thoughtful engagement” and “comment sections” seldom go hand in hand. At the same time, censorship of comments by those who disagree with points made by authors, whose anger or limited perspective taints their words, or who simply feel the need to express their own opinion on a topic without any meaningful engagement with the article or comment in question can mask an important window into the true state of Christian discourse. As such, Missio Alliance sets forth the following suggestions for those who wish to engage in conversation around our writing:
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If you disagree with something the an author said, consider framing your response as, “I hear you as saying _________. Am I understanding you correctly? If so, here’s why I disagree. _____________.
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One of our favorite tenants is that “an enemy is someone whose story we haven’t heard.” Very often disagreements and rants are the result of people talking past rather than to one another. Everyone’s perspective is intimately bound up with their own stories – their contexts and experiences. We encourage you to couch your comments in whatever aspect of your own story might help others understand where you are coming from.
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