Quick Look A02 – Mission Context

"There is a fabric of the old way of being society and being church.  We are not about patching the fabric of that old garment but seeking to set up a new loom to weave the new fabric for tomorrow's society of the kingdom." 

Sister Mary Clare

Session Aims:. To develop an understanding and overview of the current UK mission field and explore a range of possible mission responses.


The background to where we are.

The Mission Shaped Church Report set the tone for this new movement

Our changing mission context5 changes

  • Changing Sunday patterns.  DIY and Sports rather than Church.
  • Changing Relationships.  New social patterns not dependent geography and promoting networks.
  • Changing Culture.  The world is different and changes come quickly.
  • Changing Faith knowledge.  A basic knowledge of Christianity is now much reduced in the population as a whole.
  • Changing practice - from religion to spirituality.  The rise of "spiritual but not religious".

How have you witnessed these changes?  What affect do they have?


Richter and Francis 1997 and Tearfund's Churchgoing in the UK surveys 2007.  Suggested declining regular attendance but also highlighted fringe, open and closed de-churched, non-churched. 

Three missions responses -

  • Attractional – Come. E.g. Back to Church Sunday.  How can we help people to come back to what we have?
  • Engaged – Go and come. E.g. Hope UK.  How can we be present in our towns and cities and invite people to join us in our churches?
  • Emerging – Go and stay. E.g. Fresh Expressions of Church.  How can we go out into our communities and relate the building blocks of our faith to the culture and context we find?

Incarnational Mission – John 1; 14 (The Message)

"The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.  We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son.  Generous inside and out, true from start to finish."

What is a fresh expression of church?

“A fresh expression is a form of church for our changing culture established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church.

  • It will come into being through principles of listening, service, incarnational mission and making disciples;
  • It will have the potential to become a mature expression of church shaped by the Gospel and the enduring marks of the church and for its cultural context.”

Application questions

  • How has the present mission context changed for you?
  • How do you feel about the present?
  • Share specific examples of the 3 mission responses in your context?
  • Do you have experiences of the mixed economy?
  • What are the barriers to the mixed economy becoming reality?
  • What could you do next?


mission-shaped church: church planting and fresh expressions of church in a changing context (2nd edition), Graham Cray, CHP, 2009.

Mission Shaped Ministry Course, session A02.  Full details via www.missionshapedministry.org


Next session

A03 The Mission of God