Eighteen gathered to hear Rev Bob Franklyn introduce “Fresh Expressions of Church” which was conceived in the UK and was introduced into NZ in 2010. We examined the changes in our society over the past 20 years: a big one being theology versus the developments in science, changing relationships, changing cultures, less knowledge of Faith, and a deep spiritual hunger. Church culture can stifle creativity. Churches can frame regulations and structures to order its life and protect against error, but these can create a “can’t do” rather than a “can do” mindset. People can feel restricted and disempowered.
We examined what is meant by church and were in fits of laughter with “Mr Bean Goes to Church” and a smile was left on our lips when it was mentioned spot the Protestants in Mass because they were just behind in the rituals, which led to “What makes Church Church?”
We were asked to design our own church. Everyone seemed to have space that could be utilised in many ways and one the great idea of a huge pop-up tent wherever it was needed. We were alerted to the wanting to please The People. Church has become the centre and we’re not meeting the needs of those on the edge. Bob said “He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.”
We examined Acts 2 verses 42-47 in a negative way and we were shocked because the realisation that all the Apostles did really became so magnificent and fresh. Church should be an invitation to come as you are. Not just for those who are regulars or members but for future members: We were encouraged to put aside the things that were a hindrance. Bob talked of the Christ-shaped hole in us that cannot be filled by horoscope or palm readings.
A shared Morning Tea gave us time to get to know each other and then Linda Hall of NZLPA extolled its virtues for Lay Preachers with access to the Website (https://nzlpa.wordpress.com) for preaching material, news of courses and Gatherings. The membership of $25 waged and $20 unwaged includes receiving “Word & Worship” booklets by post, 4 times a year.
Bob Franklyn continued by saying that Fresh Expression of church is a form of church for our changing culture established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church. The principles of listening, service and making disciples will have the potential to become a mature expression of Church shaped by Gospel and the enduring marks of The Church in the cultural context.
Fresh Expressions of Church is not taking away Sunday services. It is held at a time and place suitable for the community. But first a careful look at the community needs consideration; it’s demographics, the venue, a group of 5-8 lay people to get it off the ground; the styles of Church with Christ at the centre. 60% of all fresh Expressions is lay-led. Do not give up if you have failures!
A formative journey underpinned by prayer and an on-going listening relationship within the wider Church. A Listening, Loving and serving, Building community, Exploring discipleship, Church taking shape, DO IT, Gathered and centred in Christ, and DO IT AGAIN! The formats are numerous, but best to devise what is needed by your community or based on “Fresh Expressions” examples like Messy Church once a month art and craft all age involvement, Songs and a cuppa for the Old, Konnections; Morning Tea and a God Slot. Zac’s Place (Based on Zacchaeus) and open to all in the city using Bible study as a basis in a café setting. Bread Making in a Bakery-come-café setting. It’s Church Planting Jim, but not as we know it! (Taken from Star Trek speech.) It’s a development that is attractional: Come, Go and then come, go and stay with Fresh Expressions, form a community away from the Main Church but utilizing Church buildings.
of the New Zealand Lay Preachers Association. (NZLPA)