Friday, August 13, 2010

Fresh expressions. Import or Local (South Australian) produced?

I wrote the following for New Times, the monthly denominationl magazine here in South Australia. Others beyond might be interested.

South Australia is famous for our local produce – Kangaroo Island honey, Riverlands dried fruit, McLaren Vale reds. So it is worth reflecting on Dave Male’s recent Synod input in light of what is happening locally in South Australia.

Dave suggested that a fresh expression goes through a number of stages in their formative journey. This starts with “listening to God’s call”, moves to “loving service”, then is followed by “forming community” and “disciple-making”. The result is “church” emerging in a fresh space, opened up in response to the creative work of God’s Spirit.

So in light of Dave Male’s input the Fresh Expressions team cast an eye over what is being locally grown here in South Australia.

Candlelit Reflections at Modbury have sensed God’s call and their “loving service” has involved creating a quiet, meditative space. The next step in their “fresh expression” journey includes how to appropriately gather individual seeking spiritual searchers into community.

Fresh expressions are never only urban. In the Barossa, Greenock Uniting Church have seen people begin to gather around a building used for “loving service” not on a Sunday, but in a mid-week café with local art and craft. The next step in their journey also involves the challenge of “forming community.”

Hungry no more, at Mt Barker, has seen their “loving service” naturally lead into “forming community.” Their challenge now includes “disciple-making,” with the realisation that the people they are ministering with have unique needs. Hence discipleship and church will definitely need to take shape as a “fresh expression.”

A fresh expression journey is never linear, as is evident in the Esther project. An initial dream to form church around theatre production then took shape in 2009 around storytelling. Community began to form, but recent changes are causing a re-think.

City Soul or Eco-church would be an example of Dave Male’s final stage, “church” taking unique shape, whether around student life or environmental concerns. Both are locally grown, and missionally creative, fresh expressions.

The Synod Fresh expressions team are keen to build on these, and to encourage other locally grown products. The Regenerate pub conversation serves as a bi-monthly resource (for information contact Nicola Shaw at Uniting College). Plans are underway to offer a Fresh expressions vision day on Saturday, 27 November, 2010 and Fresh Expressions training through the Mission-shape ministry course in 2011.

Steve Taylor, Director of Missiology, for Fresh Expressions team

Posted by steve at 03:46 PM