Wednesday, July 06, 2011

fresh expressions: three dangers

I was helping a group of leaders from Mission Resourcing (part of the South Australia Synod) this morning think through fresh expressions. They have a simple mandate, to not have one person being a Fresh expression champion, but to let fresh expressions shape each and everyone of their ministries – justice, youth, children, IT, rural, urban, multi-cultures.

In an ideal world, fresh expressions are encouraged to emerge from a process that begins with listening. This then allows acts of serving. These form community, for the service occurs in partnership and relationships are built. In the midst of the relationship, the Jesus story that shapes us is told, and explored together (evangelism and disciplemaking). As a result – of listening and relationships and storytelling, a worship life emerges, one shaped by the context and the relationships.

Which led to me sharing some stories, three dangers of fresh expressions.

Simple photocopying. We go visit a fresh expression. It’s established as a worshipping life. We see something we like at the end of their process. And without thinking about the why (it developed), or where (the shaping of the context), or who (the folk that have shaped the story), we simply point and go, ‘Oh, that’s a Fresh expression.” And we make a photocopy for our place.

Rejecting simple photocopying. We go visit a fresh expression. It’s established as a worshipping life. We see something we don’t like. And we simply point and go, ‘Oh, that’s a Fresh expression. I don’t like that” And we decide Fresh expressions is not for us. We opt out of the hard work of thinking about the why (how it might develop uniquely with us), or where (how our context might uniquely shape), or who (the unique gifts of the folk who might be gathering around our table).

Skipping straight to the end. This is sort of like wanting dessert without the entree or mains. We ignore the listening and relationships and storytelling. This is perhaps because of Christendom – that our mindsets are so shaped by thinking that church is about worship – that when we hear the word “fresh expression” we just redesign what happens on Sunday morning. Whatever, the result is that we skip straight to dessert. We redesign our worship. We put out some publicity. And then after a few months of effort, we begin to wonder why new folk don’t come. We invest in some more publicity.

Posted by steve at 12:55 PM


  1. Reading Neil Cole’s Organic Leadership is giving me adeeper appreciation of the need for context specific, individual solutions for the communities around me.

    Comment by Ann McK — July 13, 2011 @ 10:09 am

  2. Thanks Ann. This notion of context also came up in class today, with folk urging each other to be local rather than global in their worship,


    Comment by steve — July 13, 2011 @ 5:28 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.