Changing Times

As we head into 2020 I’ve found myself reflecting on the Fresh Expressions movement.

We are now 15 years old and for anyone who’s got a teenager living at home or for those of you who are teenagers right now you’ll be aware of the challenges of that age. As you move from childhood to adulthood and dependency to independence there are many transitions to overcome.

For a movement, transitions and challenges are huge too. Fresh Expressions was born out of a desire to follow the missionary Spirit and through the vision and generosity of those in the Church. We’ve been so grateful for funding, people, resourcing and support – which continues today. But as a relational movement how do we grow into maturity? Are we part of the furniture now or are we still a prophetic voice to pioneer? Are we a temporary movement or are we here to stay? Can Fresh Expressions still be ‘fresh’ in its 15th year, it’s 20th year or beyond?

As I look out on our movement I can see signs that God’s missional Spirit is at work and continues to invite us to join in. In the Methodist Church, the initiatives to develop “New Places for New People” is wonderful and backed by new staff and resources. In the Church of England, the Greenhouse Initiative is creating imaginative new practices and processes in 10 Dioceses which will build and embed contextual mission into the future of the Church of England. Every week we see and hear stories of people starting the process of the Fresh Expressions journey in their neighbourhood and starting new communities amongst families, young people, in workplaces and in new housing estates to name but a few. These are exciting times.

As I look at these wonderful developments I wonder whether I hear the Spirit’s voice in the questions I have about our movement. With all these new opportunities, what is the role of the Fresh Expressions? How can we help, support and inspire these and other new chapters in our story?

And these questions aren’t just for me to think about. The wider Church is in a time of fundamental change and we are all part of that process. As Fresh Expressions tackles it’s 15th year we all celebrate because we are all part of that movement, all carriers of God’s call to mission.

I’d like to invite you to consider what the Spirit might be saying to you. About answering some of the questions about growing to maturity? What is the continuing missional adventure we are called to? And what might be happening in your neighbourhood and how might you join in?

Why not let us know your thoughts?

Article written by Tim Lea, Networks Facilitator and Animator for Fresh Expressions.  You can continue the conversation with Tim by commenting here or using our Twitter @freshexpression and using the hashtag #timlea.

Photo by Dave Steer