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May 09, 2011


Jason Goroncy

Andy, if and when you have a moment, I'd be interested to hear your assessment on this quote.

bruce hamill

Interesting quote Andy. I am sympathetic by the idea that a kind of consumerism might be driving some of this phenomenon... but that is hard to assess. It is probable given that consumerism is an anthropological phenomenon not just a passing ideology, and therefore much harder to eliminate. However, what strikes me about the quote is what the 'fresh expression'/emergentism phenomenon is thought to be distracting people from - namely 'shaping the broader institution.' I am not anti-institutional in principle. However if current institutional forms are fundamentally flawed by constantinianism (which is my view) then although the distraction may not produce a real alternative, it is also not (as such) inherently flawed because people are distracted from these institutions.


I'm divided. On the one hand, given that being a member of Christ's body should entail movement between our preferred social groups, etc. (I'm not sure how else to phrase my sentiment here), I think that establishing services to appeal to specific social groups can diminish the meaning of 'church' in its truest sense. But on the other hand, it seems to me that cathedrals (for example) were designed to include so many side-chapels and other rooms for prayer that the Church has always made space for people of different liturgical persuasions to worship. I don't know... As I say, I'm divided.

Andy Goodliff

Percy follows the bit i've quoted with 'this sounds a bit harsh', but i think he shows the depth that he and others are concerned about abandoning the parish model. To be honest, i think as an anglican i would be too - i think there is much to commend the parish model and is it does seem that it is being abandoned in favour of fresh expressions. Having said some of what the emerging church is doing I think is worth supporting. I do wonder whether in a kind of way free churches are an example of fresh expressions from the past and in the present. I sometimes think fresh expressions is anglicans trying to be more baptistic. I think PERcy may be right that much of fresh expressions is spiritually light (perhaps true of a lot of free churches as well) - here i wonder whether the new monastic strand has more going for it ...

bruce hamill

I would be interested in what you see as the essence of the 'parish model' and what it has to commend it. I ask as one who thinks the 'free church' character of neo-monasticism is one of its chief virtues


There are many more things out there that threaten to damage the parish system than 'fresh expressions.' The 'problem' here, is that there is no one, uniform form of Anglican worship any more (if there ever was - I am not convinced that pure 1662-ism was ever as commonplace as some like to believe).

Anglican worship comes in all shapes and sizes, from pentecostal to catholic and theologically protectionist to theologically non-existent. I do not believe it is entirely a by-product of consumerism that people gravitate toward a form of church that they feel best caters to their spiritual yearnings.

If Anglican worship were more uniform, perhaps the dissenters would simply move to another denomination rather than a neighbouring parish. I think the point you made about the free churches rather suggests that this is quite probably what did happen in the past.

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