Monday, 30 September 2013

Let’s get Missional!

Many words are found in church language yet not all of us fully understand them. Realising this, I thought I’d have a quick go at making sense of them here – so here goes:

An extremely popular word these days. For me, it was George Carey, as Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC) who made me aware of the word  but Priest and theologian, Leslie Newbiggin, who made it real.

Newbiggin used the word to describe the life, ministry and mission of the Church thus:

‘The Church is sent into the world to continue that which he (Jesus) came to do, in the power of the same Spirit, reconciling people to God.’

It is in the reconciling  (mending relationships) between God and the people in it that Church finds its most important role, for we are not (as someone said recently) ‘do gooders’. We are in the world to point to – and look like Jesus!

Missional Church seeks to build bridges and make Jesus, the Christ, known in the world. It looks at ways of being effective and influential and in being involved with, and in, everything around us.

Missional Church is a church with open doors, hands and hearts – welcoming and embracing all who come into contact with it as family and friends.

Fresh Expressions (FE)
I was recently invited to an ‘FE’ evening and the person next to me assumed it meant Further Education (which was a fair guess) - never good when we fail to define the terms, abbreviations and acronyms we use, is it?

A good definition of an FE is:

‘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.’

In a nutshell – if people who are not part of church would come if there was a Wednesday, 5pm service, then that service would be a Fresh Expression.

One such service is ‘Messy Church’ which seeks to build a church for those with children.
Note – it is a church in its own right, not merely something to bring people into the other Sunday services. This would make it messy outreach!

Fresh Expressions have four marks in that they are:

·     missional – serving people outside church;
·     contextual – listening to people and entering their culture;
·     educational – making discipleship a priority;
·     ecclesial – forming church.

A healthy, effective and flourishing Church consists of the traditional church buildings and services and alongside these we have Messy Church and other services, some in the same building and others in cafés, clubs, pubs, homes and wherever the need is found to be.

These many expressions of church (traditional and fresh) work together for the Kingdom of God and do so across denominations and any other boundaries that might exist. This is exciting Church as it creates new relationships with people and churches around us too.

Hopefully this short piece has given you a feel for what missional church and the opportunities and excitement that is to be found by be part of it?

To find out more take a look at the 'Mission Shaped Ministry' site

and have a look at

Fresh Expressions   too!


Harriet said...

HOw useful is this! Thank you - we are looking into this as I write.

Vic Van Den Bergh said...

Hi Harriet. really pleased to hear this. Just meeting with Vic. Andrew Roberts Director of Training Fresh Expressions