Reading over Christmas

Evaluating Fresh Expressions

This is a new book edited by Martyn Percy and Louise Nelstrop (Canterbury Press) and is a welcome contribution to the recent Anglican phenonoma of 'fresh expressions' (what happens when they are no longer "fresh"?).  Having given it a quick read, several chapters stand out. Martyn Percy's 'Old tricks for new dogs? A critique of fresh expressions', Pete Rollins' 'Biting the hand that feeds: an apology for encouraging tension between the established church and emerging collectives', Mark Mason's 'Living the distance between "a community of character" and a "a community of the question"' and Louise Nelstrop's 'Mixed economy or ecclesial reciprocity: which does the Church of England really want to promote?' What each of these chapters raises is the serious theological and ecclesial questions behind pragmatic ventures like 'fresh expressions'.  I don't want to suggest the emerging church and fresh expressions are all bad - there is much, in my opinion to like, especially within emerging churches - but there is a serious need for theological reflection. I hope to blog some more on specific chapters.


simon jones

Not to attempt new things - or fresh expressions - would surely raise even more theological and ecclesiological questions in a country where church membership/attendance is still plummeting...

Steven Croft has recently edited an interesting collection of essays called Mission-shaped Questions raising some of the concerns that might lurk in your comments. It has some excellent essays in it - worth checking out.

andy goodliff

Simon, I take the point and I'm not suggesting that we don't (as UK churches) do anything ... just that often we go ahead in pragmatic mode and leave the theological reflection until later

... the (perceived?) success of church growth stuff, purpose driven, alpha is that they're pragmatic - the theology is almost trivial.

I know about Mission-Shaped Questions, but not read it ... books like this are important because they help us evaluate and ask questions of our practice.

simon jones

I agree that the perceived success of church growth theories and programmes such as Alpha and Purpose-driven church is not all the cheer-leaders suggest.

My experience of emerging church is that it is more self-consciously reflective of what it's doing; it's asking theological and ecclesiological questions as it goes along.

Obviously, it's not dotting the 'i's and crossing the 't's but it is asking what we are are and what we do and why as it gives shapes to what it's doing.

see-through faith

looks an very interesting read. We learn a lot from critique :)

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