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  • 100 new worshipping communities in 10 years?

    Oct 11, 2016

    Jens Mankel, ​church ​planting and ​fresh ​expressions ​adviser in the ​parish ​development and ​evangelism ​team

    Jens Mankel

    Depending on your personality type and the length of your looming to-do-list attached to your already bulging diary, this number might be too small or rather too big!

    Numbers can overwhelm, especially if understood as targets that are to be met. This particular number however, is not driven by a zealous desire for better performance, resulting from some bizarre diocesan competition: 100 new worshipping communities stands for people’s lives radically changed, reconciled and transformed by Jesus. Some might say this sounds like hard work, a huge challenge, uncomfortably daring – just like any call to mission really.

     


    100 new worshipping communities stands for people’s lives radically changed, reconciled and transformed by Jesus. Some might say this sounds like hard work, a huge challenge, uncomfortably daring – just like any call to mission really.


    I wonder if the 70 (+2) disciples could have echoed all of the above sentiments when they heard Jesus call to go and be the good news to the surrounding villages: they were to go in pairs, leaving their credit cards and man-bags behind, leaving themselves vulnerable and dependent on the hospitality offered by the strangers they were sent to. Not exactly Church-planting as we know it. No invitations were handed out that read: come to us, we are a great discipleship community centred around Jesus – join us on Saturday mornings in Galilee. Their missional strategy was not involving becoming good hosts but rather entering other cultures, learning to be great guests, adapting quickly to any given context. (See Luke 10:1-12)

    So what are we talking about when we mention new worshipping communities? We are talking about new churches in housing development areas, churches multiplying in towns and cities, just as we have seen many times in the past. And we are talking about fresh expression of Church (fxC). It is usually at this point when eyebrows are raised and question marks appear: what exactly is an fxC? Does my new evening service count as such, now that the pews have been removed, the lighting has been adjusted and the hymns have been replaced by soft rock choruses? Even though style and form of worship may change over time, it is not the most distinctive sign of a fxC.


    So what are we talking about when we mention new worshipping communities? We are talking about new churches in housing development areas, churches multiplying in towns and cities, just as we have seen many times in the past.


    Here is the definition used by the Church of England’s department for research and statistics:

    A fresh expression is any venture that works mainly with non-churchgoers and aims to become church. A fresh expression is:

    1. Missional – it intends to work with non-churchgoers
    2. Contextual – it seeks to fit the context
    3. Formational – it aims to form disciples
    4. Ecclesial – it intends to become church

    fxC seek to engage with people who do not currently attend church, devising all sorts of Kingdom mischief in order to reach out and be church wherever they are. Church in that context can happen on any day of the week in whatever place will be open and fitting to host such a new community.

    The goal is to see 100 new worshipping communities in the Diocese of Guildford by 2027 – why? Because we want to reach more… and in order to do so the shift needs to be from being hosts to becoming guests, as we go into new contexts and cultures, engaging with those who are willing to welcome us.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

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