Seeing and sharing what God is doing in mission
Fresh expressions of Church reports
The following reports were published in November 2016, and are the culmination of four years’ research into fxC in the Church of England. They provide a broad insight into how fresh expressions of Church develop, who attends them and how they can be sustained. Click the covers or titles to download PDFs of each.
The Day of Small Things – by George Lings
A large-scale analysis of over 1100 fxC surveyed across 21 dioceses of the Church of England, this project provides vast and rich data on missional and ecclesial characteristics of fresh expressions of Church.
What happens after research? – by Elspeth McGann
Is all this research useful? This report examines how 10 dioceses in the Church of England reacted to and practically utilised the investigations of Church Army’s Research Unit into fxC.
Seven Sacred Spaces
Seven Sacred Spaces, by former Director of Research Canon Dr George Lings, was previously available as issue 43 of Encounters on the Edge in 2009, then as an updated colour booklet from Church Army. These are now both out of print, but a full length, more definitive, edition of Seven Sacred Spaces was published by BRF in 2020. It can be ordered here.
“Too often people’s understanding of and engagement with ‘church’ is reduced to corporate worship, when it is so much more. In Seven Sacred Spaces: Portals to deeper community life in Christ, George Lings identifies seven characteristic elements in Christian communities through the ages, which when held in balance enable a richer expression of discipleship, mission and community.”
Snapshots – Stories From the Edge
Snapshots – Stories From the Edge was a free downloadable bulletin, in PDF form, which was released two or three times a year in 2014 and 2015. Each issue was written by George Lings and told the story of a particular fresh expression of Church, or explored the thinking within the relatively young discipline of creating fresh expressions of Church.
Click on each title to download the issue.
- Issue 1 (January 2014) – Exploring Holy Ground – this issue examines a community called Holy Ground that meets in Exeter Cathedral once a month using alternative worship, café church styles and extended meditation
- Snapshots Issue 1 update (December 2015) – Holy Ground has had a new baby
- Issue 2 (June 2014) – Surprises in a normal setting – a look at Fun-Key Church in Richmond, North Yorkshire, a monthly congregation that works for young and old, adults and children, with worship aided by craft, music, activities, prayer and fun
- Snapshots Issue 2 update (December 2015) – Depth at Fun-Key and diversity across St Mary’s
- Issue 3 (December 2014) – Church plants and fresh expressions of Church – how do these terms best relate? – George Lings argues the case that ‘church planting’ is a subset of ‘fresh expressions of Church’ rather than the other way round, and that an interpersonal way of describing church is better than a horticultural one
- Issue 4 (May 2015) – Welcoming the black sheep – this issue examines The Order of the Black Sheep in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, a fresh expression of Church, with rock music and ‘heavy metal’ roots, which provides a safe haven for those who feel they don’t fit in traditional church or refuse to ‘dress up’ to attend it
- Issue 5 (June 2015) – Good practice in deploying and working with pioneer curates – co-written by Ali Dorey and George Lings, this issue gives some guidelines on how best to deploy and map the key relationships of Pioneer Curates and their Training Incumbents
Modality and sodality thinking
During the last ten years, the terms modality and sodality have emerged as helpful frameworks to understand the function of two different kinds of structure that appear to play a part in biblical, historical and contemporary mission. These terms were introduced into mission thinking in 1973 by Ralph D Winter as a way of celebrating both the particular gifts and calling of mission communities (such as Church Army), as well as the gifts and calling of local church structures (parish, deanery and diocese) in mission. It is vital that both structures understand and appreciate the other so as to work together in a complementary fashion.
Click on the titles below to download two relevant PDF articles.
Why modality and sodality thinking is vital to understand future church by George Lings
The Two Structures of God’s Redemptive Mission by Ralph D Winter (hosted by the Frontier Mission Fellowship website)
Encounters on the Edge
Encounters on the Edge was a series of quarterly booklets from Church Army’s Research Unit, exploring the wide range of church plants and fresh expressions to come out of the Anglican Church in recent years. It ran from 1999 to 2012, reaching a total of 56 issues.
The majority of the issues were based on case studies (most in the UK, but some international), reflecting on good practice, and including strategic and theological commentary. Other issues covered generic subjects related to fresh expressions of Church.
ISSUES BY THEME
|Arts and church||25|
|Community||1, 14a 14b 14c,37,38,51|
|Ecclesiology (what is church?)||5|
|Evaluating fresh expressions of Church||50|
|Grafts||10a 10b 10c|
|HTB plants (Holy Trinity Brompton)||15|
|Lay leaders||9a 9b 9c|
|Leading fresh expressions of Church||36|
|Mission-shaped Church report||22|
|Multiple congregations||8, 35|
|Network church||7, 19, 41, 53|
|New housing estates||23|
|Rural||27, 28, 42, 45|
|Strategies for discernment in mission||30|
|Urban||14a 14b 14c, 39|
|Youth church||1, 2, 4, 21, 36, 48|
Issues in order of release
Click here to see a list of all 56 issues in order of release, including download links.