One of the most obvious things in the whole of Christendom has to be what we call a 'Fresh Expression' of Church! One of the most depressing things has to be those people who consider them to be of limited value or a means of gathering people together so they can be shepherded into 'proper' church', especially when they consider themselves to be missionally minded.
Fresh Expressions provide an opportunity for people who 'aren't Church' to become 'Church' and this means that it happens when, and where, those who aren't can make be there. Not only that but it also does church in a way that those you're doing it for can understand it and make it theirs, as you lead them to a place where God makes them theirs!
Now there appears to be some who have misunderstood these Fresh Expression in that, using 'Messy Church' as an example, they see it as outreach rather than church and this is wrong, the Fresh Expression IS church and therefore, being a Cranmer fan, includes .bath and bread. - yes I defy people, the aim of the Fresh Expression is to build a sacrament entity - that's why it's called church!
So a few foundational thought and the erasure of a few lines that some appear to have drawn:
1. All clergy are pioneers - would that they were, but of course they should be in terms of hearts desire and in the equipping and enabling department too (which means supporting 'Mission Shaped Mission' course to their members and perhaps even signing up yourself!).
2. Fresh Expressions are hard - but they are valid and effective. They take time and should have as the subtext the understanding that it is Church that's being built, not some parachurch club!
3. It's all well and good being an 'entrepreneur' but that's not permission to be other than Church and something where it's hard to identify what you're doing as less than Christian. We do what we do in the name of Christ and if we neglect to proclaim Him or preach His crucified and risen we have to ask what we're doing and why?
4. Missioners, Pioneers and church-based Clergy are part of the same Church with the same goals and should see that we can only be effective when we are effective together - take a quick reminding glance of 1 Corinthians 12 - then realise the strength of the Church is in the engaged and effective, and deployed, laity
5. Mission, and especially Fresh Expressions, are best done across parish and denominational boundaries - stop making Parochial ( in its worst sense) and start being Kingdom minded.
So there we are - Monday is with us
let's need the difference where we are this week - be blessed out there :-)