Monday, April 22, 2013
In sure and certain hope
Andrew Dutney, President of the Uniting Church, dropped in on my Sustainability and the mission of God presentation at the Australian Association of Mission Studies (Adelaide chapter) today, when I presented some of my findings from research into UK fresh expressions ten years on.
Andrew offers a fascinating followup reflection, pondering further some of my ruminations around the implications for a church that seeks to live in response to an Easter story of death and resurrection.
One of the interesting things [Steve] found is that there’s about a 50% attrition rate in the Fresh Expressions he’s followed over the last decade. He checked this against other writers’ lists of innovative faith communities like that and found a similar “death” rate.
But he also found significant signs of new life – resurrection even – associated with those short-lived churches. Individual participants report being transformed by the experience and prepared to offer significant leadership in mission after the demise of the Fresh Expression they were part of. Other faith communities – both established congregations and other Fresh Expressions have learned from the experience and example of the community that has wound up. And many of those communities have left behind “products” generated in their years of vitality – art, liturgical resources, training modules etc.
So, Steve told us, that 50% attrition rate doesn’t mean that half of the Fresh Expressions initiated weren’t worth the effort. Not at all. They are integral to the dynamic of the church’s discernment of and participation in the life of the Holy Spirit in the world. They too embody the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic movement.
You’d think a movement oriented around the death and resurrection of Jesus would get that intuitively.
Andrew then moves from fresh expressions to ponder the implications for inherited expressions, particularly churches facing death. It’s really interesting. More here