At the start of November we spent a day in the beautiful city of Ely at Blended Festival. ‘Blended Festival’ aptly described the theme for the day as the festival focused on what being ‘blended’ could look like. For those of you who don’t know, a blended economy of church looks like existing, or what is known by Anglicans as ‘inherited’ forms of church, and Fresh Expressions working together, co-existing, partnering together to see the Kingdom of God come where they are. The importance of this blended economy is that it takes value from both old/existing and new forms of church and recognises that these together can offer a beautiful picture of God’s love to the UK.
As Rev Martin Seeley and Rev Mike Harrison discussed in their opening vlog, the relationship between Fresh Expressions and inherited church is important because there is something about how one influences the other that is rich in ‘blending’. Revd Canon Tim Lomax used a picture of the trinity to explain this well in a later mainstage conversation; ‘We’ve been taught that sameness equals unity,’ he said, ’however within the life of the trinity we see that they are all one but completely distinct. They support each other to do what they do well and this is what unity looks like within Fresh Expressions and the blended church.’
Spread over several locations, the event took on a festival feel with real andimitation campfires hosting campfire conversations. Mainstage conversations focused around the six stages of the Fresh Expressions journey; listen, love, community, share Jesus, church, repeat and pioneer labs provided an interactive way to explore pioneer calling. There was also the opportunity to get involved in live experiences of fresh expressions of church including Sweaty Church, Forest Church and New Monasticism.
My highlight of the day has to be the campfire conversation with Tom Herbert and Revd Miles Blackley who hosted a live wild baking and campfire stories experience. Exploring the power of storytelling through four key P’s – be passionate, be punchy, be particular in what you say, be practical – as we watched grain being ground and bread baked on an open fire was a beautiful experience and a reminder of how God uses shared meals to build community. With Halloween having happened not long before this event, someone shared how camp stoves in the front garden, hot chocolate and a message of love on sweets for the neighbours was how they had expressed this value to their community.
Community and connection were an important theme of the day across many conversations. In ‘Exploring Discipleship’ Dr Paula Gooder and Mark Berry discussed how often we make discipleship about answers to questions whereas we should perhaps be focussing on community instead; reflecting back to each other Christ and the Christ we see within one another. Paula suggested that practicing love is central to our discipleship. She explained that in our society love has been made an exclusively emotional word whereas the biblical expression of love is an action word. Behaving the love therefore becomes fundamental to our discipleship; the emotion will mostly always catch up.
A campfire conversation with Messy Church thought about what it could look like for families to do faith at home. Lucy
Moore, founder of Messy Church, suggested that if we can crack that then we could see revival in the UK; after all that is where Jesus learnt about his faith.
You can find more snippets of discussions from the day by searching #blendedfestival18 on Twitter. One of the tweets we loved was Stephen Dove sharing ‘My favourite thing so far about #blendedfestival18 is meeting a whole range of people and hearing snippets of their stories.’ There is definitely something important in how days like this allow us to connect, hear and learn from one another.
What were your highlights from the day? Is there something that stood out that you have gone home and put into practice?
Article by Jo Edwards