A call to be involved with fresh expressions may come through:
- your interests and passions;
- experiencing a tension between reality and the ideal;
- scripture, prayer, a dream or vision;
- other people.
You could be a gift to fresh expressions by:
- becoming a pioneer;
- joining a church planting team;
- enabling a fresh expression by giving permission, mobilising support or providing training or mentoring;
- supporting a fresh expression through prayer, financial giving and encouragement;
- leading a fresh expression to the next phase, once a pioneer has finished his or her job;
- researching fresh expressions.
What qualities might be required in someone leading a fresh expression?
The Church of England believes that individuals who are ordained to pioneer ministry should display the following qualities (taken from their original Ordained Pioneer Minister Guidelines):
- vision for planting fresh expressions of church within contemporary culture;
- an authentic, integrated understanding of the particular ministry envisaged;
- capacity to innovate and initiate;
- mature and well-developed devotional life;
- well-developed abilities to initiate change and enable others to face it in a flexible, balanced and creative way;
- demonstrable maturity and robustness to face the demands of pioneering mission and ministry;
- well-developed understanding of the interaction between gospel and culture;
- clear vision of the place of their envisaged ministry within the wider church's response to God's mission to the world;
- the ability and desire to work in a team and collaboratively;
- commitment to reshaping the church for mission.
These might be helpful criteria to use in testing the call of anyone seeking to pioneer a fresh expression, whether a couple of people doing so among their friends or someone being appointed to a full-time post.
We would emphasise the important quality of being able to develop a form of church that fits the specific context.
- do you have a passion or interest you could share?
- are you fully committed to the principles behind fresh expressions?
- do you want to work with your friends or people in a different cultural context?
- can you see any opportunities for a fresh expression?
- from whom might you seek advice?
- might you take time out for extended prayer and reflection?
Leading a fresh expression
Someone might grow in preparation to (help) lead a fresh expression by:
- exploring the Guide;
- visiting a couple of fresh expressions – better still, joining one!
- paying careful attention to their own spiritual and personal growth.
All good advice. I can think of many stories connected to these. I think it's valuable to support someone else's fresh expression before launching out to do your own. God seems to honour that self-giving service and you can learn a lot of things that can be applied. When it's your turn, its important to be open to the fact that God might lead this new expression [or what comes after it] in a very different direction or give it a very different shape than what the leader (you) predicted. Sometimes unlearning what we think church should be is the door to allowing God to add the 'fresh' to the new expression of church.
Andrew Jones (tallskinnykiwi)