I took my doctor of ministry students to England to learn from English church leaders who embody a modern spirit of John Wesley. They balance a concern for people’s eternal salvation with people’s need for physical salvation from poverty, crime and lack of opportunity.
One such colleague is Rev. Canon David Male, the Church of England (C of E) director of evangelism and discipleship. Below is a quote he recently gave to the English Guardian newspaper about how innovative “fresh expressions” of the church are coexisting along traditional congregations.
“C of E traditionalists launch fight against worship in ‘takeaway, cinema or barn’” by Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian Newspaper, London, UK, 8/6/21.
“The Rev Canon David Male, the C of E’s director of evangelism and discipleship, said: ‘It is really heartening to see people coming together with a passion and concern for the parish, which is a precious inheritance at the heart of every community in England and the core of the C of E.’
A key part of the church’s strategy was to ‘revitalise the parishes and churches up and down the country,’ he said. ‘Throughout our history there have always been other forms of churches alongside and within [parishes] – from cathedrals and chapels to fresh expressions and church plants, all of these come from and are part of the parishes. We need them all.’
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I’ve enjoyed taking friends and students to England to see how the church is being revived in “organic and need meeting ways” in the homeland of Wesley. Below is an article from the English TheGuardian Newspaper about the organic strategies being embraced by the Church of England. While taking my Doctor of Ministry students to England we met with many of the leaders of the “Fresh Expressions” movement of renewal and revival in the Church of England. Check out http://www.Wesley Tours.com or http://www.Wesley.tours for information about upcoming British experiences.
C of E to create 100 new churches as number of Anglicans hits new low
by Harriet Sherwood, Guardian Newspaper, 7/11/18.
Despite forecasts that church attendances will continue to fall for years to come, Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, insisted churches across the country were “bursting with life”.
The new churches would be in “the places of greatest need in our society”, he added.
“These projects are wonderful examples of how churches are seeking to be faithful to God – and faithful to their communities in love and mission. Through their innovation, they signal a growing determination in the church to share the good news of Jesus Christ in ways that make sense for those in our most deprived communities.”
Among the recipients of grants will be nine new churches modelled on Ignite, a café-style church in Margate, Kent. It was founded 10 years ago to work with marginalised and deprived communities.
Three of the new churches will be in coastal towns: St Peter Port, Guernsey; Herne Bay, Kent; and Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey.
Another three churches will be created on housing estates on the edge of Plymouth, and a further nine in market towns in eastern England. In Swindon, a former railway works building will be converted into a church aimed primarily at people aged under 40.
Up to 50 new churches will be established in the diocese of Leicester and 16 in the diocese of Manchester.
The C of E’s “renewal and reform” programme, aimed at modernisation and growth, includes diverting funds away from struggling rural parishes to new evangelical churches in towns and cities.
The programme has been championed by the archbishops of Canterbury and York and senior church officials. But some critics say the new priorities risk alienating the C of E’s traditional backbone.
(Photo; Twenty-four-year-old Lauren Simpson, is exploring a call to ministry while undertaking a year-long placement at Bestwood Park Church in the north of Nottingham as part of the Church of England’s Ministry Experience Scheme.)
A record number of people are taking part in a Church of England scheme which provides a practical year in a parish to young people considering a call to ministry. The Ministry Experience Scheme is a nationwide initiative which developed from ad-hoc programmes run by individual parishes and dioceses. It offers young people, aged between 18 and 30, the opportunity to spend a year working in a parish alongside a vicar in what some have dubbed “apprentice vicar” posts.
In 2005, 47 young people took part in placements. This year, that figure has risen to 150. More than two thirds of dioceses in the Church of England are now taking part in the Ministry Experience Scheme.
“Young adults on the scheme are encouraged to explore their vocation – not just to ordained ministry – living and working in communities in both urban and rural areas,” the C of E said in a statement. “The placements offer theological teaching and skills training whilst immersing the participants within a local parish. Each scheme is unique to its community, giving the participants the opportunity to support their local communities through charitable, pastoral and community-based activities.”
… The scheme is becoming a key component of the Church of England’s drive, through the Renewal and Reform programme, to attract more young people and more women and people from ethnic minorities into both lay and ordained roles.
One current participant, 24-year-old Lauren Simpson, is undertaking a placement at Bestwood Park Church in the north of Nottingham. She is helping to run Messy church events, a fortnightly youth group, a youth worship band and other projects including a weekly lunch in the church hall.
“I am just over half-way through my placement, and I am being stretched and challenged more than ever before,” she said. “I have really been welcomed by the community, and I have had a chance to do a lot both inside and outside the church.
“This experience has given me an insight into the church in a way that otherwise would have not been possible.”
The Bishop of Burnley, Philip North, chairs the Scheme’s steering committee. He said: “I thank God for the success of the Ministry Experience Scheme and for the young adults across the country who are devoting a year of their lives to the service of others, including the work of parishes in both urban and rural areas, helping to witness to the Good News of the Gospel…
Read more at … http://www.anglicannews.org/news/2018/05/three-fold-increase-in-young-people-on-church-of-england-ministry-discernment-placements.aspx
Bermondsey Central Hall no longer has its grand 2,000-seat sanctuary… Bermondsey is not a Methodist tourist mecca like Wesley’s Chapel, built by Methodism’s founder John Wesley as his London base, or Methodist Central Hall Westminster, across from Westminster Abbey.
But their congregations are all growing, filled with Methodists who have come to London from many other countries, mostly from Africa. And all three are trying to respond to the communities around them, to be relevant — both spiritually and socially — in today’s London.
Such growth is not the norm for many other congregations in the Methodist Church in Britain. A report released during the 2017 British Methodist Conference last June showed that membership had dropped significantly below 200,000 — to 188,000.
The silver lining to this cloud: churches reach an estimated half a million people weekly through cafés, youth clubs and alternative forms of church…
“At the heart of this report, there is a challenge,” the Rev. Gareth J Powell, secretary of the conference, said after the Statistics for Mission report was received. “…that we must take seriously our responsibility for being an evangelistic community of love which leads people to Christ.”
…What does it really take to grow the British Methodist Church?
The Rev. Martyn Atkins, former top executive of the British Methodist Conference and current superintendent minister at Westminster, said the church’s experiment over the past 14 years with what it is called “Fresh Expressions,” has demonstrated that making new disciples is just plain hard work.
Successful ministries take longer and cost more than expected “and whatever you think you’re going to do, you’ve got to do it twice as zealously or twice as creatively to get what you thought was the answer you were going to get,” added Atkins, who is chairperson of the Fresh Expressions board.
Winnie Baffoe is one of the Fresh Expressions pioneer workers employed by the church who is encouraged to think out of the box. She describes her position as “a holy risk.”
She has created “Mummies Republic” at the South London Mission, teaming up with government and social agencies to address the mental health issues and physical and social needs of vulnerable mothers with children aged 5 and under.
“My thing has always been to create a fresh expression of church so that I feel Jesus is walking in the neighborhood,” she declared…
For the Rev. Jennifer Smith, who became the superintendent minister of Wesley’s Chapel last September, the concept of taking Jesus outside the church building is crucial.
“When we are working so hard to keep the doors open…it can be easy to forget that we too can walk out,” she noted. “We do need to move beyond what I would call an attractive model of mission — you come to my house where I can host you and welcome you. Actually, that’s not how Jesus worked.”
Read more at … http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/british-methodists-open-doors-to-stay-relevant?
Commentary by Prof. B.: My students in Transformational Leadership have the opportunity to hear in Oxford the author of this article, Michael Moynagh, personally explain the shared economy strategy of the Fresh Expression Movement. Read this article for a good introduction. First is a lengthy video followed by a short article.
(Drawing from his experiences, both as the Director of Research for Fresh Expressions and as Editor of Share–a collection of resources out of the Fresh Expressions phenomena–the Rev. Dr. Michael Moynagh (based at Wycliff Hall, Oxford) shared with assorted members of the Trinity community the impact that this, more than 10 year pioneering movement continues to have throughout the United Kingdom; April 11, 2013)
Just as the pieces of broken bread – in their different shapes and sizes – belong to the one loaf, we see that in all our diversity we belong to each other because we each belong to the one body of Christ.
Phil Potter, Team Leader of Fresh Expressions UK has likened the ‘mixed economy church’ to rivers and lakes. Rivers flow, bubble with energy and bring new water into lakes. Lakes are deeper and more tranquil. Just as rivers and lakes need each other, new forms of church flow into the existing Church and are enriched by its depth and traditions.
Four Methods that Mix Things Up
In some cases, a mixed economy church develops when new believers have a blended church experience. They attend both a fresh expression and an established church. There is nothing in the Bible to say that you can’t belong to two local churches! Rather than consumerism, this is about commitment – to more than one Christian community.
Shared events between an established church and a fresh expression can also lead to the development of a mixed economy church. The two communities can share social events, study groups, short courses, outreach or occasional acts of worship. Both will have a richer church life for having shared together.
One place to start might be for a fresh expression to look out for opportunities to serve its parent church. Might it provide the refreshments for a church study day, for example? There is nothing like loving kindness to open others’ hearts.
A third expression of the mixed economy occurs when emerging Christians connect to the church at large. This can happen through events run by local churches together, or through regional and national conferences and training events, or through accessing Christian resources and making connections online.
Fourthly, the mixed economy develops when new Christian communities cluster together. In an English cathedral city, a small team hosts a monthly Sunday breakfast for people in the neighborhood who don’t attend church. Up to 60 have crammed into a house!
The Birth of a Mixed Economy Church
A house is crammed with people who do and don’t have a church. They’ve gathered around the breakfasts are other events, such as ice cream parties in the summer and hot chocolate parties in winter.
These individuals start to ask questions about spirituality and faith, they are invited to a weekly meeting at which the core team eats together, plans, prays and studies the Bible. If a person enjoys it, they are invited to join the team.
Within two or three years, the team grew from 8 to 18 people. It multiplied into two cells. The cells meet from time to time.
Now, picture the same scene after five years:
Some of the cells will no longer be new. They will represent an established church. As new cells keep being added and cluster with these older cells, they will give birth to….a mixed-economy church!
If you lead a fresh expression, keep connecting to the wider body! Existing churches may be refreshed and energized by the new life you bring. Your fresh expression may be deepened by the wisdom and experience of established churches.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “In my research into emerging and fresh expressions of the church in both North America and England, I have witnessed what Scot McKnight calls ecclesiaphobia. Here is a good introduction to the concept, along with some important concerns.”
In a few of his many writings Roger Scruton wags his finger at the deconstructionists, and he’s concerned especially with Foucault and Rorty and in some measure Derrida. He calls the concern oikophobia. (See his A Political Philosophyor The Need for Nations.) Oikophobia is a Greek term, composed of house/household and fear, and the term is thus used to describe rejection of all things local and home-ish, that is, that which is Western, traditional, the supposed hegemony of bourgeois culture, and what amounts to a Western sense of economy.
To one degree or another the oikophobes become anarchists. Anarchy, by definition, is oikophobia. Oikophobia, it can be said with utter candor, in the hands of some — I have my eye on a few authors and supposed leaders of the church who in one way or another believe God/Jesus has left the house — has become ecclesiaphobia, a fear of all things connected with the institutional, traditional church. In fact, both terms are suspect: institution and tradition. It must all be done away with, we — I now speak in their mindset — must start all over again, we gather our crowds of the discontented, and then we pretend (for that is all it is) that the institution and the tradition are dying so let’s join in what will be when it will be and we will be its true priests and prophets (most are males.
For sure, some ecclesiaphobes claim they love the church and that is why they are oikophobic ecclesiaphobes, but the fact is that they (1) love only the church constructed in their own mind of idealism and (2) snarl at most or all institutional or traditional forms of the church. Indeed, they are rejecting 99% of the church in the world. The hubris can be breathtaking.
First, we and they only got to the social tolerance and acceptability of their accusations on the basis of the oikos and the ecclesia as it existed in that traditional and institutional form.
Second, ecclesiaphobia operates structurally with a series of denials: it…
(1) nullifies the church is to operate on the basis of the Biblical tradition of Wisdom, made manifest in Christ and in the history of the church through an ongoing accumulation of theology-in-praxis that becomes both the resource and the guide to present and future decisions,
(2) diminishes Scripture as the origin for all theological reflection,
(3) quenches the Pneuma of God (God’s Spirit) over time — that God’s Spirit has been at work in the entire history of the church — as a fund of wisdom and divine guidance or discernment,
(4) minimizes tradition as another fund of theology-in-praxis-over-time and thinks instead starting anew will become a better tomorrow, and
(5) it fundamentally veers in its arrogance from the judgment of the universal, catholic church in the world and believes itself either as the vanguard of where the church ought to be or as so wise that it need not listen to the wisdom of the church universal.
To sum this up, the ecclesiaphobe has denied the sacredness of the church, or put differently, the sacredness of the history of the church. The enviornment of the ecclesiaphobe is de-sacralizing of the past. What gives them energy is belief about the future church.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “After reading this well-written article by Ed Stetzer, learn more about the beginnings of this ‘fresh expression movement’ in the chapter on St. Thomas’ Church in Ryan Bolger’s book ‘Gospel after Christendom‘.”
Between January 2012 and October 2013,the Church of England’s Church Army‘s Research Unit studied over 1000 cases of church planting and church growth from 10 dioceses of the Church of England. They looked at data from 1992 – 2012. Of the 1000 cases studied, 518 met criteria necessary to be labeled as what they call a “Fresh Expression of Church.”