Tuesday, 25 September 2007

First bite at fresh expressions

I spent Saturday in London at a Fresh Expressions vision day, one of several events over this year in association with FEx. I enjoyed it, and I think it was a worthwhile day for the 150 or so who attended.

Most of the issues I had reflected on before, but one question was new. 'when is a fresh expression not a fresh expression?' I was asked to comment about how FEx related to Emerging Church and the growing number of 'renewed expressions' in inherited churches (i.e. restarting the youth group and calling it a FEx).

I made the following comments.

I am less concerned with what you call all this stuff than with the fact it happens. Anything which contributes to the enlivening and renewing of the Church, large or small, seeming significant or modest - I'm for it!

But I do think there are differences between FEx and Emerging Church. Namely

EC tend to be a new ecclesial community in virtually every respect. Often arising from Alt Worship they tend to be configured around a group of believers, often pilgrims with stories of aother associations with church and churches, now finding a home together in a group with a rich ecclesial life. They spend time and energy adopting and creatively using all kninds of materials from Christian history to enrich their lives. They often talk in terms of new monastic movements.

There is growing up a corpus of writing, blogs and websites relating to EC, which already demonstrates a rich variety of expressions (e.g. Karen Ward seems to have a different kind of enacted ecclesiology to Dan Kimball)

By contrast FEx arise largely from inherited or traditional Church networks and often represent a renewed or innovative ministry within the whole ministry of the church. They seem to be more traditionally evangelistic in the sense that they are very often designed to engage people who do not know or have not experienced Christian faith with an authentic and innovative version of it. In this sense many FEx are not full blown ecclesial groupings (though some are).

But I'm sure there is more to it than this! What do you think?

Martyn

6 comments:

Sally said...

I guess I would echo your thinking that FEx's grow from within a traditional base, whist an EC tends to develop away from that base often as a result of either on the positive side missionaly minded folk who have sought to take the gospel out to a community, on on perhaps a more negative front formed when a group of disenchanted folk who have left the traditional base meet up and renew their life and walk of faith together.

The main thing here is the need for acceptance and dialogue with these new forms of church and the traditional church, we need to be people of grace esp. with those who have formed from a disenchanted group where healing may be needed.

How fond of labels we are!!! And God just keeps on doing new things!!!

Miles XClarke said...

President,
May I refer you to our ongoing dialogue.
'methodistpresident.blog.com'
I have sent the blog address to David for comment before wider circulation.
Kind Regards,
Miles.

thetriangularhat said...

the world was in imminent danger
the religious and crazy had merged
no sign of a babe in a manger
the lunatic fringes converged
the gays had to deal with repression
the young people gave up the vote
in the blackhole of stress and depression
there weren't any leaders of note
so in this mix of despair and oppressions
when the planet is left in the lurch
the methodists compare fresh expressions
with the models of emerging church
can't we take our eyes from our navals
in the light of the mess we are in
spot the world needs new insight, not labels
to challenge the cycles of sin.
let's stop trying to be clever
and start living faith bearing lives
and freed from the angst of endeavour
we might find the kingdom arrives

thetriangularhat said...

thetriangularhat said...

the difference between shipping and anatomy has always been elusive, so despite the spelling error, the sentiment remains the same ...

the world was in imminent danger
the religious and crazy had merged
no sign of a babe in a manger
the lunatic fringes converged
the gays had to deal with repression
the young people gave up the vote
in the blackhole of stress and depression
there weren't any leaders of note
so in this mix of despair and oppressions
when the planet is left in the lurch
the methodists compare fresh expressions
with the models of emerging church
can't we take our eyes from our navels
in the light of the mess we are in
spot the world needs new insight, not labels
to challenge the cycles of sin.
let's stop trying to be clever
and start living faith bearing lives
and freed from the angst of endeavour
we might find the kingdom arrives

29 September 2007 16:24

John McWesley said...

The Methodist Church flunked fresh expressions, or whatever you want to call it, when it refused even the possibility of blessing civil partnerships.

The most significant place of fresh expressions in Methodism is the bread-making work in Liverpool City centre. It is a special place with its work alongside those marginalised and excluded by church and society.

Working with these communities as the key part of its mainstream work would truly be a fresh expression for Methodism, not sitting around doing the old stuff while drinking coffee at tables.

Andy said...

Looking at the differences described between FEx and Emerging church, I would be tempted to qualify things slightly. My understanding is that what is being described as Emerging Church here is in fact Emergent Church- a group within the global movement that is characterised by McClaren etc and the Emergent Village : these are the guys who are more about rethinking theology, while emerging church can arise from inherited church.

Fresh Expressions is on its way to becoming a term to describe those forms of emerging church found within Britain and more specifically linked to the Methodist and Anglican initiative of the same name...which gives those forms other implied things such as pastoral oversight from bishops or superintendents as well as accountability to traditions and access to resource.

Generally, these labels are used more by those outside each of the groupings or to distinguish one group from another: an emerging church leader might make use of theological texts by Emergent Village writers but be funded and supported by Fresh Expressions while producing worship based on Orthodox traditions... what box should they be put in?

As triangular hat has already said, do labels help, when what is needed is insight and lives that bear fruit.