I already feel like an inadequate blogger. Having spent a while reading other people's blogs, they seem thoughtful, well written and full of insight. It rather puts me off writing anything at all, but I thought I would give it a go as one has to start somewhere!
So, here goes!
A couple of weeks ago I was at a service under the banner 'Fresh Expressions'. I had, of course, heard of the expression and 'movement' (it probably shouldn't be called that, but I can't think of another word for it right now). I had, to be honest, a very blinkered view of 'Fresh Expressions'; that it was something from the charismatic wing of the Anglican Church and that under the banner of Fresh Expressions there was an encouraging of break away groups from the mainstream and established church; possibly using excuses to do so along the way. In my view parishes should be able to adapt and provide worship and ways to God without the need to do this under the banner of 'Fresh Expressions'; it should be something we do as church in a community.
My experience, I think very much down to my preconceived ideas didn't do anything for me; in fact exactly the opposite; I needed to take the air after and go for a walk to burn off some angst. However, I felt it important to talk it through with my Vicar to really dig a bit into what Fresh Expressions truly was - and apart from anything else, dump on him my angst. We talked and I did some research. My incumbent lent me a DVD to watch.
A revelation! My eyes were opened! I still feel uncomfortable with anything termed 'Fresh Expression' and seeing it as a seperate entity to the mainstream church as I feel that it perhaps encourages people to breakaway from the church in the community rather than encourage people finding new ways to be part of church in the community. However, there are some truly great things happening that involve people taking the Gospel and church to a wider congregation. Street Pastors, Cafe Church, Church in sports halls etc etc.....I found the DVD both moving and encouraging. But.......I still have an issue with the term and there being a seperate 'entity' that is called 'Fresh Expressions'; after all, should church in itself be a fresh expression? I am called, I believe to be a fresh expression, to evangelise, to practice mission in the community and find ways to take God to the wider world. Do I need to do this under a banner, under a title? No I don't.
It got me thinking, which is always a dangerous thing! How do I take church to people who don't experience church on a Sunday (or any other time)? My mind is buzzing and there are a number of things that I am now thinking through to put in place.
So, my preconceived ideas about Fresh Expressions were totally misguided. I am sorry for that. I now look at it in a totally different light. I still have an issue with how it is perceived, but for one am now understanding of it and will seek to create some Fresh Expressions.
I would strongly recommend 'Fresh Expressions in the Sacramental Tradition' (ed. Steven Croft & Ian Mobsby, Canterbury Press). As an Anglo-Catholic this also gave some great perspectives on Fresh Expressions.