Archive for July, 2017

Three Essentials in a Fresh Expression of church…

July 14, 2017

Before you attempt to start a Fresh Expression of church to reach people in our post-Christian society, it is best to first prayerfully address these essentials.  I had the privilege this summer to spend 6 days with Rev. Graham Horsley, the Connexional Fresh Expressions Missioner for the British Methodist Church. He was involved in the originating group of Anglicans and Methodists that came together with Archbishop Rowan Williams of The Church of England in 2004 to imagine and pursue a fresh approach to being the church in the post-Christian, western world.

Graham and I traveled to Fresh Expressions churches so I could see example places and leaders that are having Kingdom success, and one place that is struggling and about to regroup & relocate to better engage their growing metro area. As we drove through the idyllic countryside of the rural Cornwall region west of metro London, I asked Graham to summarize what is essential in starting a Fresh Expression of church.

He immediately referred to the teachings and exercises from a book British Methodists follow when they establish a Fresh Expression community. Michael Mynah and Rob Peabody’s refresh, published by Monarch Books in 2016, is an excellent 92 page overview and guide that a team can use to get started. This book leads your team through the stages of prayerful reflection, discovering God’s preferred future for a community, imagining a process to engage people and develop processes that enable the fresh expression church to be effective as to a specific area of need and hope.

refresh book

Graham instructs his leaders to first address the Context.  What are the needs here? And what’s the culture of this community? What kind of fresh expression will speak the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the hearts and lives of people in this community?

Then look at Missiology. A fresh expression that succeeds in Kingdom effectiveness will have a handful of people from the start who continually bring new people to gatherings, service projects, information sessions and introductory events. These folks are contagious because of their love for each other and new people they are meeting in their neighborhoods, workplace, sports field, school, everywhere! They are known for their loving, non-judgmental presence and warmth. Bottom line: they are people who love other people and their love influences the emerging fresh expression of church to be a contagious people of love. Nobody has to even say it – folks simply experience being loved in this new community.

And a fresh expression leads to church – a group of people who become a body of Christ like the early church we read about in the New Testament. So we need to address Ecclesiology. A fresh expression of church has a process for intentional discipling of people coming into the new community. They are intentionally building a Christ-centered community. They are united as a body around a simple vision to be the love of Christ wherever they are and to whomever God brings into their lives.

A Fresh Expression of church trains mentors for people coming to faith in Jesus Christ. This new community offers relevant worship in a style that speaks to its specific community. The leadership is committed to worship that communicates the Gospel of Jesus in a way that ministers to who is in their community. They will together work for justice and mercy, live out the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to every follower of Jesus and be prayerfully looking for ways to assist another team somewhere else start a fresh expression of church in their community.

A Fresh Expression where a bank & church serve the community together

July 11, 2017

Nineteen years ago a historic church located at the Lambert South tube station in London was purchased by a bank. Since that time the community has flipped and is now primarily people who moved to the city from all over Great Britain and the world. They are struggling to assimilate, get good jobs, care for their children and rebuild their lives.

The bank’s main customers moved to other areas and it was struggling like the community. That’s when a Fresh Expression team from the Anglican Church brought a plan to the bank. Oasis Church proposed to team up with the bank. The church would open a childcare center on an empty floor of the bank bldg. The bank would work with the church to offer accounts, financial advice and planning, and low-interest loans to the newcomers so they could start small businesses needed in the struggling community. The church would hold Sunday worship in the bank’s conference room; counseling and daily prayer services before the bank opened; family activities, singles gatherings and language classes in the evenings.

The arrangement worked so well the church & bank then teamed up to open the Hub Coffee House. It provided a safe, inviting place for newcomers to gather. The church has a financial info carousel in the cafe and the church set up a reading table on prayer, parenting, following Christ, marriage and dealing with depression, addiction & health. The pastor and trained laity hang out and work the cafe so they can engage people & answer questions prompted by Art, posters and services advertised there.

After 5 years, they worship 70-125 people a week. The childcare center is full at 90. The pastor has baptized about 3 dozen new believers. They have had 62 complete the Alpha class. 21 new businesses have been launched in the community & 18 have succeeded, employing over 80 people. There is high turnover in the church due to constant relocation of the people moving thru this community. Yet due to their early partnership with the bank, the church became self-supporting in 18 months.

 

 

A Church to reach Surfers!

July 4, 2017

 

TUBESTATION Church is located in the old Methodist church in Polzeath, in the county of Cornwall, England. 10 years ago the church had dwindled to about 12 people all over the age of 70. Every weekend this beautiful beach town was filled with surfers and people of all ages on holiday. The church asked their young pastor what they could do to keep the church open and he said we need to reach out to these surfers. He knew some Christian surfers and asked them to envision a church that could minister in significant ways in this unique setting.

The elderly members gave their blessing and this team of young, visionary adults took the reins and redesigned the building and ministries in very innovative ways. Today the church is celebrating 10 years of beach ministry and amazing growth. They are a 7 day a week ministry center. They have an art gallery in their basement where local artists can display their works and engage others in conversation. They rent surfing and water sport equipment to gain income for the ministry and have a first rate coffee bar and cafe in the old chapel.

The sanctuary was remodeled for contemporary worship. The wall behind the pulpit has a cross inside a wave. The old chancel area is a skateboard ramp used during the week by children. The historic Bible is on top of an antique book shelf. The shelves contain board games for the cafe patrons. Sunday worship features an excellent band and a preacher in jeans and a T-shirt. The pastor is a surfer and uses surfing metaphors in teaching the scripture text. The Worshipers come from the surrounding villages and across the UK. They are dressed in beach attire, are all ages with many are Millenials. Children are everywhere and welcomed with crayons and coloring sheets during worship.

In each of these ministries the staff and members engage the guests and seek to make connections. They look to have “holy moments” with others through shared coffee, conversations, answering questions and recapping surf stories from the day. The church name, TUBESTATION, refers to the church’s mission. A tube is a perfect wave for surfing, usually around 6-8 feet. The church invites individuals from all walks of life, age and background to catch the wave of God’s love and grace.

This church has been very successful in its Kingdom mission. Numerous people have met Christ, decided to follow him and experienced authentic Christian Community. Baptisms are common practice as well as testimonies shared in worship and prayers for individuals who drop in for coffee, food, to meet friends or see the artwork. It was initially funded generously by the district office and soon became self supporting. Check out their website: TUBESTATION.org for more on this creative, exciting Fresh Expression of church!