Thursday, September 22, 2011

the two strands to fresh expressions

So there are two strands to Fresh Expressions. There is the official narrative, begun by Mission-shaped Church: Church Planting and Fresh Expressions in a Changing Context report, sustained by msm courses, fronted by key figures, framed by the Share website.

Then there are the local expressions, the narratives of ordinary folk doing faith and life. The Ecclesiology and Ethnography has featured three research papers on these local expressions. In fact, there’s been more genuine research on fresh expressions at this conference than there was at the Evaluating Fresh Expressions research conference I attended in Durham last year. The papers at the Ecclesiology and Ethnography have emerged from participant observation of life over time, have charted and explored faith on the ground.

Which of course raises the question of how these two strands relate? A number of roles are possible.

  • Funder – in which the official gives resource to the local
  • Gatekeeper – in which the official sees, or is seen to, legitimise the local
  • Storyteller – in which the local needs the official in order to provide space of experimentation, in which the stories of the local to be shared with another local, in order to release imagination, especially when “church” is so powerfully shaped by history. (It means buildings, rows, Sunday, official leader).

What is intriguing is that these two strands are entwined. The official could only emerge because of the local. Mission-shaped Church: Church Planting and Fresh Expressions in a Changing Context is based on collating local stories. It only emerged because of those stories.

Posted by steve at 12:07 AM


  1. Hi Steve
    I see in the Mission really matters newsletter that there are some resources called ‘faith stories’ and ‘mission stories’, Aussie made. Do you think they would be suitable for use in NZ?

    Comment by Lindsay Jones — September 22, 2011 @ 7:51 am

  2. certainly faith stories yes. mission stories is a bit too australian. can get it from mediacom.

    have you seen


    Comment by steve — September 22, 2011 @ 8:35 am

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