As we approach Christmas this year some of the FE team were chatting about those things that have encouraged and inspired us most in 2016 throughout the world of Fresh Expressions.
Amidst a year of considerable upheaval in the world we’ve been struck by the incredible imagination, skill and perseverance of ordinary people around the UK and around the world who make Fresh Expressions of Church happen. In Messy Churches or Goth Eucharists, with young people and with the elderly, in urban settings and in the rural countryside, God is at work.
We ended up with five highlights that we wanted to share with you:
The Day of Small Things
2016 has been a year of increased and continuing momentum. We are grateful to George Lings and his team as they released their second phase of research showing the growth and development of Fresh Expressions across the country. Graham Horsley recently shared at the Re:Imagine conference that approximately 12% of all those worshipping in a Methodist Context in the UK are in a fresh expression of church.
This sense of moving forward was reinforced by growing numbers as gatherings such as Catching Sight, The New Monastic Gathering and Germinate. The international movement also gathered in Capetown in February where we discovered that the movement brought the hope of a new future for the church in South Africa at a time when tension and separation was still part of everyday life.
The Fresh Expressions Partners
2016 saw the development of the FE Community gatherings as a place of connection, inspiration and information for partners old and new at the heart of the movement has been really important and forms part of our strategy to release all aspects of what God’s doing to everyone. These times have been much appreciated as we focus in on reproducing, embedding, partnership and innovation.
The 2016 production of “Refresh” booklet by the Young Adult Hub and the simple cartoon “Refresh Your Community” has been a landmark in terms of helping us shape young adult work and resourcing for the future. The book and cartoon have captured the imagination of many.
We are privileged to here many simple down-to-earth stories of people who encounter Jesus through gathering with others in a Fresh Expression of Church. These stories are countless to share and many of them to personal to be more than a conversation, but we delight in the changing of lives taking place all over the UK and people encounter Jesus in a re-imagined church.
And Lastly, to the movement …. thank you for you
If you’re reading this and are part of exploring, enabling, establishing or sustaining a Fresh Expression of Church then thank you. You are our highlight of 2016 and without you none of this would happen. We are grateful to God that in each of us we see the light and life of Christ at work and flourishing. Our prayer for 2017 is that this light continues to grow and shine. Thanks so much for travelling with us.