Fresh expressions - kingdom advance
From a report by Fresh Expressions
Encouraging news from different denominations regarding how Fresh Expressions of church has flourished over the last 15 years.
The Methodists report that Fresh Expressions of church have become a significant part of Methodist life in a relatively short time. When
research was carried out in 2016-17, there were estimated to be over 1,000 fresh expressions complementing around 4,500 local churches.
Their standardised weekly attendance is estimated at around 14,500, compared to around 200,000 in traditional local churches. The overall community of those who are part of the fresh expressions community is estimated at 37,000, compared to 495,000 in the wider community for local churches. Both these measures suggest that around 7% of the Methodist community is found in fresh expressions of church.
What are other observations?
Fresh expressions are evangelistically fruitful: their leaders estimate that 24,000 (65%) of those attending fresh expressions had no recent involvement in church. Over 2,900 new or renewed faith commitments are estimated to have been made. 19% of all reported new/renewed faith commitments involved baptism or confirmation.
Fresh expressions are successfully engaging with younger people: at least 38% of those attending fresh expressions are 16 or under.
Fresh expressions are highly relational. Their approaches to evangelism and discipleship formation focus on relationships rather than programmes.
17% of fresh expressions are creating indigenous leadership. 59% of leaders are lay and 46% are volunteers. 64% of the leaders are women.
7% have reproduced to form new fresh expressions.
Fresh expressions are already demonstrating considerable longevity: at the time of the survey 63% were five years old or more.
Fresh expressions employ multiple, creative ways to engage with the Bible.
90% of fresh expressions use existing church premises for some or all of their activities.
Mature fresh expressions may be ecclesial communities, but only 0.5% have taken the formal step of becoming local churches.
You can read the full report and its findings here.
Some case studies come from the Church of England:
The God At Work report released by Leicester Diocese, working with the Church Army, shows an encouraging picture. It marks the end of a five-year project to develop Fresh Expressions in the Diocese and the beginning of their continued work at championing re-imagined models of church.
Since the diocese began significantly investing in Fresh Expressions of Church in 2011, there are more than 3,500 people attending Fresh Expressions, which makes up 19% of the diocese’s total number of worshippers and if other pioneering missional activity is taken into account then it’s more like 25%. The report shows that nearly 60% of the people attending these activities wouldn’t come into contact with the Gospel in any other way.
You can read the Diocese’s report on God at Work here.
Developments in the Carlisle diocese were reported in a Church Times in September 2019 following an audit by Church Army. one in four people (3,100 people in total) were attending church in Carlisle diocese does so through a Fresh Expression of Church.
See the article here.
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