Good news in Research

This autumn we have seen a raft of encouraging and impactful research released about the impact of Fresh Expressions around the country.  Here at FX HQ we’ve been taking the reports in and wanted to report their insight and findings.

Methodism’s Hidden Harvest

The Hidden Harvest report is an exploration of fifteen years of innovation and pioneering in Methodism with Fresh Expressions of Church.

It states:

“the fresh expressions movement within the Methodist Church has been extremely successful in welcoming previously unaffiliated people into Christian faith exploration and participation. Nearly two-thirds of the participants in the wide-ranging, contextually- and theologically-diverse Methodist fresh expressions are new to Christianity.”

The report details how there are now over 1,000 Fresh Expressions of Church with a standardised weekly attendance of around 14,500.  These Fresh Expressions are reaching people otherwise not attending Church, with 65% of those attending not from that background.  They are also good at engaging with young people, 38% are 16 or under.

You can read the full report and its findings here.

Learning Lessons in Leicester Diocese

The God At Work report released by Leicester Diocese, working with the Church Army, shows an equally encouraging picture.  It marks the end of a five-year project to develop Fresh Expressions in the Diocese and the beginning of their continued work at championing re-imagined models of church.

Since the diocese began significantly investing in Fresh Expressions of Church in 2011, the report shows there has been a 125% increase in the number of people attending.

They detail that there are more than 3,500 people attending Fresh Expressions, which makes up 19% of the diocese’s total number of worshippers and if other pioneering missional activity is taken into account then it’s more like 25%.

The rport takes time to highlight not just Fresh Expressions which take on an ecclesial nature but helpfully all the other pioneering work which  has not yet reached that place or are developing differently.   The report shows that nearly 60% of the people attending these activities wouldn’t come into contact with the Gospel in any other way.

Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, said at the reports launch:

“I believe that the fresh expressions movement is one of the most significant developments the Church has experienced over the past few decades. The results of this research have not only helped us better understand those pioneering missional activities which fit the Church Army criteria for fully formed fresh expressions of Church, but also to gain insight into where God is at work in other pioneering contexts in the diocese.”

You can read the Diocese’s report on God at Work and find a copy of the research here.

There’s also brilliant accompanying movie you can see below.

Carlisle Fresh Expressions

We shared recently the news of a fascinating Church Times article on 6th September concerning developments in Carlisle Diocese recently, where ONE in four people (3,100 people in total) were attending church in Carlisle diocese does so through a Fresh Expression of Church.

We particularly liked the research’s emphasis on independence and mutuality.

“While previously fxC (Fresh Expressions) sought growing into ‘three-self’ responsibility, self-reproduction, self-financing and self-governing, a healthy interdependence is now encouraged, with traditional parish churches and fresh expressions of church learning from and supporting each other.”

You can find the study, Fresh Expressions in the Diocese of Carlisleby the Church Army online.

We love data…

We love these studies and the weight and importance they give to data.  Whilst numbers aren’t everything (as each study points out) they do give some insight into the impact Fresh Expressions is having on the Church and the ways they grow.

If you’ve commissioned any research or are conducting any yourself, do get in touch.

Why not comment on this article and share your views on social media.  We’d love to hear what you think.

Posted in #freshquestions, Feature.

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