If you are a church that is seeking to reach those who don’t know Jesus Christ then you are likely to grapple with the issue of how do we connect with our community. How do we, appropriately, share our faith. What more and more people are finding is that we need to go to where people are and sit with them and see how God might already be at work and see how we can join in.
There are a multitude of ways that you might start a fresh expression of Church. Here are just a few suggestions.
- Pray. Prayer is the undergirding of our listening and our seeking what God is up to. This takes time and will need to be continued through the whole process.
- Don’t do on your own what you can do in a team. The team doesn’t need to be large (3/4 of all fresh expressions in Southwark have started with 3 or fewer people) but a team allows for sharing of ideas,
- Go on a Mission Shaped Ministry course or one of our other courses led by practitioners, interacting with others who are working out what to do and how to do it.
The picture below shows a typical process of starting a fresh expression. Notice that it doesn’t rush into a worship service. For a fresh expression not just to be a reflection of the likes of those who are wishing to start one it needs to listen and discern what is appropriate for the people or community it is seeking to reach.
4 things to consider when starting out
- Listen to what God might be saying. Very often God prompts us out of the corner of our eyes. We need to be aware of what is happening at the periphery of our vision. What are the things we are not concentrating on that God might be speaking to us about?
- Be aware of your context. Your context is different from other people. So, look and listen as to what might be appropriate at this time in this place. What might work in one place might not in your different circumstances and context.
- Keep in mind that your tradition has great riches in it. The Catholics in the Church were responsible for much church planting in the 19th Century. The evangelicals were very involved in arguing for social justice. So, dig into the wisdom of your tradition and see how this might inform what and how you do things.
- It is very easy to overlook the resources that God has entrusted us with. The people in our church, the people that they can reach. We might think that we have little but we can be amazed at what God can do through people that we might overlook.
Of course, please do contact Will Cookson, Dean of Fresh Expressions for the Diocese to talk through some of the ideas, issues, possibilities that you see.