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?