'As a pioneer you see something - a possibility, an idea, a way that things could be better or new or different. And then you make something happen out of what you see.'
Jonny Baker, Pioneer Practice
Pioneering is all about growing new forms of church where church isn’t.
The thing is this doesn’t happen by accident.
The process of starting a Fresh Expression of church is often described as a journey, but unlike most of the journeys we go on, the fx journey doesn’t have a fixed destination.
Fresh Expressions don’t take a model and replicate. We let the place we’re in and the people around us shape what church looks like. From new housing to rural, urban to suburban, messy church and third age to forests, coffee shops, beaches, pubs, barns, online and even church buildings, an fx is all about doing church that makes sense to the people and place it finds itself in.
So the best way to equip you for the journey you’re about to begin is to give you some tools to help navigate the next steps in this adventure God is calling you into.
TOOLS FOR THE JOURNEY
A compass is essential because it will help you start in the right direction. Without a compass you risk getting lost, but with a compass you can navigate the journey.
The points on the compass are four values that will give you reasons for what you are doing and steer you in the right direction. These values are:
- Being Missional
- Being Contextual
- Being Formational
- Being Ecclesial
A compass points you in the right direction, but a map shows you the route to take. You’re going to need both a compass and a map to get to your intended destination, otherwise you will just wander.
There is a huge gap between building community and starting a church which is why we need the fx journey as our map by putting in some smaller steps to bridge the gap.
The fx journey describes how most Christian communities emerge. It’s a way of thinking that will help you plan your journey, recognise how far you’ve travelled and where to go next.
FOOD FOR THE JOURNEY
Our Christian discipleship needs food as well – not just food for ourselves, but food to share with others on the way.
So after finding one or more friends in a corner of your life and discovering a simple means to love the people around you, remember, as you befriend them, to share your feelings and thoughts about Jesus as opportunities arise.
You can share Jesus without pressuring people or feeling awkward. It can be as comfortable as enjoying a meal. Click on the link to discover natural and contextual ways to bring a spiritual element to the community you’re gathering.
THE ADDRESS OF YOUR DESTINATION
The fx Godsend resource (available in an app and book), describes the address of that destination in the language of Fresh Expressions of Church as:
“New Christian community, growing in four overlapping sets of relationships, all founded on Jesus.”
The four relationships are:
- With God directly in prayer, worship and study
- With the outside world
- With the wider church
- Within the new community itself
This is the essence of the church: four overlapping sets of relationships all rooted in Christ.
Get started on the journey!
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One of the four key activities of fx is to enable the resourcing of the movement, by providing and sustaining a framework that empowers practitioners and pioneers within the movement to co-create and resource one another. Check out the wealth of resources and training available to you wherever you are on the fx journey.
STOP STARTING WITH CHURCH
‘Stop starting with Church!’ Was was the dictum developed early in the 1990’s by fx pioneers Bob and Mary Hopkins as they observed the ever-increasing diversity that God was initiating in the early UK church planting movement.
HOW TO BE SUSTAINABLE
The challenge here is to understand sustainability in ways that do not pre-judge what the venture will become. We should not assume that a sustainable fresh expression will look like inherited church.
HOW TO LOOK AFTER YOUR SOUL
Taking care of your own soul is just as important as the work of pioneering itself. There are some particular challenges unique to fx practitioners simply because you’re starting something new. Not everyone gets you, the work is tough and it can be very lonely. But don’t worry, you’re not alone; here are some reflections from fx practitioners about how to take care of your soul on this journey.