Roadblocks to fresh expressions

Monday, 27 February, 2012

What stops fresh expressions of church starting and growing? A selection of leaders and pioneers reflect on some of the biggest obstacles to the growth of fresh expressions of church.

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Transcript

Beth Tash: I think it would be really difficult to have a new form of church unless you're actually hanging out a lot with non-Christians, actually to build relationships, to learn about their world, to actually make friendships rather than seeing people as projects or getting too swamped by Christians.

Mark Berry: I think the main thing that seems to be stopping it getting going at the moment is a question of values - understanding the communication between what I guess is the... what the values of the church are, what the values of the kingdom are - I think the gravitational pull to the sort of survival mentality within the church is pulling resources and pulling energy away from new forms in their own right starting.

Tim Lea: Suspicion and fear from other Christians I think really - fearful that we do things differently and so when we talk about the language of the mixed economy I think one of my issues is sometimes that we can talk about that but actually the practice of it I think is really hard and I think that we struggle with that practice because people do things in different ways.

Philip Roderick: How do we consolidate without being organisationally or institutionally heavy - and that's a real tension. How do we marry creativity with non-institutional bureaucracy. So knowing how to guide ourselves through that journey, that's one of the real ways of avoiding the roadblock.

Mark Williamson: For me, I think the main challenge that I've experienced and also others that I know with... that I work with have the same challenge, is the institutional church not releasing pioneers enough and being perhaps too suspicious of what is going on, certainly not giving their support to what is happening.

Beth Tash: I think we've got to watch how busy we are, especially with things like administration and buildings and project plans. I think we've got to keep ourselves open to being in step with the Spirit and going with the flow, seeing what relationships open up and seeing where God leads us.

Mark Williamson: Pioneers aren't able to give sacraments in the church unless they're ordained, and I think that's something the church needs to get its head around if it's really serious about supporting fresh expressions of church. Allowing lay people to be able to dispense sacraments.

Beth Keith: The research that I've been involved with has shown that where pioneers are placed in parish settings or in existing churches, that they can get drawn into the activities of that church - which can be really good for the church and for developing that church into mission, but can distract them from engaging in the context and developing forms of church that are further away from what already exists.

Paul Dever: Lots of good stuff happening, but on the whole people can't imagine how a new form of church could take shape in their community as opposed to someone else's community. And finally, and I think most importantly, a lack of friendships. Our world is so busy, we've got so much to do and we don't have time to build friendship with those in our community, our workplaces and that has to be the starting point for us all, is to build those friendships.

Rich Atkinson: I believe one of the major problems is when we look to a bunch of pioneering edgy people to do that work, rather than trying to engage the whole church in constantly reaching out to the lost. And I think one of the main ways we do that is less focussing on church structure and training and all that kind of thing and actually focussing the church on loving the people that are right next to them every single day. So almost re-examining our hearts as much as we re-examine our structures.

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