(Dr. Darren McClellan) - Yesterday I was able to gather with over 125 friends from across our annual conference for the Fresh Expressions Vision Day at Pensacola FUMC. Derived over the last decade from the Anglican and Methodist churches in England, a “Fresh Expression” is a form of church for our changing culture, established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church. Beyond this definition, the movement identifies two important qualifiers. First, it will come into being through the principles of listening, service, incarnational mission and making disciples. Second, it will have the potential to become a mature expression of church shaped by the gospel and the enduring marks of the church and for its cultural context.
I respect the missional impetus of this movement as it has proven to stretch our typical conversations about what it means to be the church. I also appreciate that it does not sacrifice the historic marks of the church (one, holy, apostolic, and catholic/universal) in the interest of relevancy and innovation. In my own ministry, I have known the disappointment and pain that comes from a new sprout that is somehow severed from its historical root. That said, I believe that ‘fresh expressions’ can be a beautiful and fruitful sign of the glory of God, but like all produce, will need to be ‘refrigerated’ in order to be of lasting health and pure effect. As Charles Wesley prayed, unite the pair so long disjoined, Knowledge and vital piety…
Surrounded by the good company of our connection, yesterday’s presentation served to reaffirm my commitment to existing AND new forms of church; not one over the other. As a treasured element of our doctrinal heritage, it is my prayer that we will press on, while staying plugged in, and remembering that “We share with many Christian communions a recognition of the authority of Scripture in matters of faith, the confession that our justification as sinners is by grace through faith, and the sober realization that the church is in need of continual reformation and renewal” (¶ 101, emphasis mine).
I would encourage you to prayerfully consider this new way to reach the unchurched. You can learn more here
or reach out to your pastor or district superintendent.
Photo courtesy of Pensacola FUMC Communications