At the heart of this movement is an instruction from Jesus found in Matthew 28: 16-20, called ‘The Great Commission’. Jesus had risen from the tomb alive, showed himself to his friends and on one of those occasions said to them:
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Sharing all that we love and know about Jesus with people who don’t yet know much about him is what we mean by ‘mission’. But everyone is different, and Church as we traditionally know it may not work for everyone, for all sorts of reasons.
New Christian communities don’t necessarily have to look the same. A fresh expression of church might look somewhat, (or very) different to a traditional church but worship, prayer and service to Jesus and the community can all still happen there wonderfully, but it would be tailored to the context. What matters is not what it looks like, but that Jesus is known and loved there. This video offers some examples:
Fresh expressions are varied and will frequently look different from one another. This is because they are contextual forms of church – which means they are specific to the life and people of a particular place.
Because they are often in partnership with a parish church or co-exist in deaneries, people talk about fresh expressions as being part of a ‘mixed economy’ - or, more recently, a 'mixed ecology' - where different types of church revitalisation activity is happening together.
"I believe that God is calling us to be a church of glorious and profligate diversity"Archbishop Stephen Cottrell, Presidential Address: General Synod July 2020
Fresh expressions really grew in the Church of England out of a Report called Mission-Shaped Church (first pub 2004). Since then, so much has been learned about best practice and how to help fresh expressions be sustainable for the long term.
The Church of England approach to developing fresh expressions is called Greenhouse. It is designed to help fresh expressions get established, be resilient, sustainable, and to go on multiplying.
Did you know?
Fresh expressions account for 15% of Church of England congregations
That’s more than 50,000 people!
There’s a lot of variety
Fresh expressions don’t always look the same
Some fresh expressions originate from a parish church
Others grow out of pioneering work happening away from the church
Fresh expressions are often led by lay people
This means they don't always have a member of clergy leading them
Fresh expressions complement other forms of church planting and revitalisation
They all work together with parish churches in a ‘mixed ecology’
Our new Greenhouse approach builds on the learning gathered about fresh expressions
Over the last 16 years since the Mission-Shaped Church report
Greenhouse equips teams of people to design, grow and cultivate fresh expressions
Helping them to become more sustainable and multiply