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What Does the Development of Fresh Expressions of Church in the UK Tell Us about Mission Today?

Back in 2004, the General Synod of the Church of England published a report entitled Mission-Shaped Church: Church Planting and Fresh Expressions of Church in a Changing Context. It quickly sold thousands of copies, and--as Steven Croft (the first team leader of the Fresh Expressions movement) comments--it became a "landmark report" far outselling any other official Church of England report. (1) The tenor of the report was straightforward in its challenge. "The Church has got to realize its missionary responsibilities," it stated.
We live in a society, whether that be urban or rural, which is now
basically second or even third generation pagan once again; and we
cannot simply work on the premise that all we have to do to bring
people to Christ is to ask them to remember their long-held, but
dormant faith. Very many people have no residue of Christian faith at
all; it's not just dormant, it's non-existent; in so many instances we
have to go back to basics; we are in a critical missionary situation.

It concluded by stating, "The reality is that mainstream culture no longer brings people to the church door. We can no longer assume that we can automatically reproduce ourselves, because the pool of people who regard church as relevant or important is decreasing with every generation." (3)

This--or something similar--has been the widespread experience of traditional denominations across many parts of the contemporary world, particularly where the influence of the West has been significant: including Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States. The statistics bear out the fact that since the 1960s the churches in these places have been in decline. They have been steadily losing more members than they have gained through the traditional avenues of baptisms, marriages, funerals, or pastoral encounters and visitation. (4) One way of putting this is to say that such churches have lost their "refill factor."

The wider missional church movement, which could be argued to have roots in the early charismatic movements of the 1960s, but which--at least in the UK--can be traced back to the alternative worship movements in the 1980s, constitutes a significant response to this failure. (5) At its heart is represented a strategic change in direction.

This has involved a move away from the expectation and assumption that outsiders will go on wanting to "come to church." Rather, it acknowledges that mission movement will need to lead in the opposite direction, seeking to meet people on their own ground, with the church making the move outwards toward those who do not yet attend. In the UK this response has taken a particular form and flavour under the umbrella title of "fresh expressions of church." (6)

It is 15 years now since the Mission-Shaped Church report came before the General Synod of the Church of England in 2004. Subtitled "Church Planting and Fresh Expressions of Church in a Changing Context," the report caught "the wind of the Spirit" in narrating the stories of fresh forms of church that were organically springing up across the country. The report provided both a theological and methodological framework to help the church understand what God might be doing, and gave guidelines for a range of appropriate responses.

Extensive work undertaken recently by the Church Army's Research Unit for the Church of England has provided a clearer picture of what has been happening in the years since the report's publication. Their report, entitled The Day of Small Things, was compiled by George Lings and undertook a review of fresh expressions activity in half of the 42 dioceses of the Church of England in 2014. It found that in the ten years up to 2014, there had been 1109 fresh expressions established in these 21 dioceses. The report suggests by extrapolation that an estimate of 2100 fresh expressions across the denomination is not unreasonable.

The Church Army research was based on a list of ten defining "indicators" that a fresh expression had to meet if it were to be included in the statistics. (8) Of the number of possible fresh expressions put forward from across the UK, 1679 were not included in the research because they failed to meet the ten-point assessment. In itself, the comparative strictness of the inclusion criteria suggests that the overall missional impact is certainly higher than made the final statistics, as many of the mission initiatives excluded from the report were on their way to becoming more recognized fresh expressions and would have been included in a more recent analysis. This suggests that there might be as many as 5000 fresh expressions or mission communities within the Church of England today. The Church Army report concluded that as of 2014, 15 percent of all churches in the Church of England were in fact "fresh expressions." It also reported that numbers attending fresh expressions were on the increase, with a net growth ratio of 250 percent. (9) In addition, it found that in most instances, 40 to 60 percent of people attending fresh expressions were outsiders to the faith--either never having been part of a church or having not attended for many years. (10) The figures showed that the combined de-churched and non-churched attendees exceeded the presence of Christians (Christians 40 percent, de-churched 27 percent, and non-churched 33 percent), and the report stated that these figures are rarely seen in established parish churches (or "inherited" churches). On the basis of the research, it concluded that fresh expressions of church are the most effective missional means of reaching those currently outside the church in the UK.

One of the other things that researchers found was that fresh expressions are numerous, but that they are also small, averaging around 50 in membership. However, at the same time it found that they had broken new ground by reaching a significantly younger demographic than that represented in inherited churches. For example, whereas the average age of Church of England attenders in late 2010 was already around 61 years old, 38 percent of those attending Fresh Expressions were found to be under 16, nearly doubling the percentage of those of the same age attending inherited churches. (11)

While the other historic denominations in the UK have not done such extensive research as the Church of England, the broader picture appears similar. For example, in 2009, research carried out by the Methodist Church calculated that there were already 846 fresh expressions in that denomination, and there are a growing number of fresh expressions in the Salvation Army, Baptist Churches, and the Church of Scotland. (12)


The 2004 Mission-Shaped Church report built on a 1994 Church of England report entitled Breaking Ground: Church Planting in the Church of England. (13) But Mission-Shaped Church argued that things had moved on significantly in the intervening years. For example, deep sociological trends in the context of late modernity and postmodernity--particularly in urban areas--had steadily eroded the idea of geographical "communities" as traditionally envisaged by the Anglican "parish" structure. Focusing on the idea of geographical parishes alone or on a "one size fits all" strategy was therefore no longer adequate as a missionary strategy for the Church of England. A mutual partnership of parochial and network churches, using traditional alongside fresh approaches, as well as developing strategies for shared ministry in larger areas was therefore a priority. (14)

In some ways, the network approach to fresh expressions (based on the sociological work of Manuel Castells (15)) has not developed as the report had envisaged. The vast majority of fresh expressions have in fact been parish-based rather than around wider networks of relationships. Nonetheless, the report argued that new expressions of church were a vital means whereby a modern, increasingly secularized, post-Christendom England might be reached with the gospel. It quoted Stuart Murray's words, "Only creative church planting will do in a society where those with spiritual questions naturally assume that the church is not the place to find the answers, since Christianity has been tried and found wanting." (16) But the report is significant, not simply because of its sociological and missiological analysis, but because--for the first time--it argued that such "fresh expressions" of church could and should be incorporated into an Anglican understanding of ecclesiology as a valid expression of its ongoing mission. Building on Breaking New Ground, it put forward legal, pastoral, and episcopal resources for these new church structures, and made 18 recommendations for "diocesan strategy," "ecumenical cooperation," "leadership and training," and "resources" for the implementation of its vision within Church of England structures. Many of its eighteen recommendations have since become normal practice in the Church of England.

However, although the movement was birthed within an Anglican setting, it developed a strong ecumenical flavour from the beginning. In September 2005, for example, the Church of England and the Methodist Church set up a joint organization, called "Fresh Expressions," to monitor and encourage new expressions in the two denominations. A Fresh Expressions charity had been established in the same year in order to sustain and resource what became a growing movement. Since then, the number of official denominational partners in the UK has expanded to include the Salvation Army, the Church of Scotland, the Baptist Union, and the United Reform Church. Other streams, net-works, and organizations have also been part of an evolving story. (18)

Fresh Expressions: Observations for Mission from the UK

Mission in post-Christendom cultures

The significance of the Fresh Expressions movement in the UK is perhaps best understood in the broader context of the missionary challenge facing the church in a post-Christendom culture. Here, a key characteristic of the movement has been that missiological and theological reflection has been at the heart of the initiative from the start. (19) Part of the reason for this is that the movement's location within established denominational structures has meant that a wide range of theological resources has been made available to it. (20) Central to this debate has been the question of ecclesiology and its relationship to the wider movement of mission. Toward the end of the 1990s, for example, Stuart Murray was writing that "[c]hurch planting may be a crucial element in mission to post-Christendom, but only creative church planting will do." He saw this as a unique opportunity for "theological reflection and renewal" in asking "radical questions about the nature or the church." (21) Commenting on this, Stefan Paas--in a detailed recent study of church planting in Europe--reflects that "this amounts to a reintroduction of ecclesiology in the language of evangelical church planting. Instead of being a mere reproduction of semi-ecclesial business models in the interest of rapid numerical growth, church planting came to be seen as a context for missiological reflection and renewal." (22)

In broad terms, the discussion has been developed within the sweep of thinking about the missio Dei, in which mission is not primarily understood as originating from the agency of the church (or for the sake of the church, for that matter), but as a movement toward creation from within the life and love of God as Trinity. The place of the church within this flow is significant for the Fresh Expressions movement. For the forming of "church" is increasingly understood as a "subset" (or implication) of God's missionary movement, rather than understanding the church as itself the agent of mission. In this context the original report quoted the words of Tim Dearborn that "It is not the Church of God that has a mission in the world, but the God of mission who has a Church in the world." (23) One might take this understanding a step further in catching the impetus of fresh expressions thinking by quoting the words of Jurgen Moltmann, when he argued, "It is not the church that has a mission of salvation to fulfil in the world; it is the mission of the Son and the Spirit through the Father that includes the church, creating a church as it goes on its way" (24) This suggests that there is a flexibility of form and shape to the church (or churches) so created, and that contextuality is key to church formation in the local setting. It is in this sense that the original report emphasized that it was written as a response to the action of God in a changing context: that "the Church is the fruit of God's mission," and that it reflected an "ongoing and shared calling to embody and inculturate the gospel in the evolving contexts and cultures of our society." (25)

Therefore, missiological and ecclesiological focus as an outworking of theological reflection can be said to lie at the heart of the rethinking of the Fresh Expressions movement. When it works with more flexible and less "fixed" conceptions of church --embodying the need for a greater openness to what the Spirit might be doing in our localities and how understandings of church might come to be expressed--it is doing so from a committed theological base. At least in intention (and with lively ongoing debate and discussion), this has been the result of theological reflection rather than simply a pragmatic response to cultural changes.

The question of "church"?

Perhaps the most significant element in this discussion has been a refocus on the question of what we mean by "church" in the context of post-Christendom church planting. What exactly is it that we are planting? Here, previous approaches are being reassessed in the light of theology and missional practice. Within this newer context, questions like the place of the sacraments or the question of church "order" are being debated in new ways and will doubtless continue to be so. More broadly, there has been a discernible integration of understandings of "church" and "mission," and of the relationship between them. Indeed, the Fresh Expressions movement might legitimately be seen as something of a protest movement against the dis-integration of these two concepts at the local--as well as theological--level. The attempt to reconnect and re-integrate understandings of church and mission is continuing to open up new dimensions to older questions.

Thinkers within the movement have helped to reframe some of these questions by focusing on different aspects of a complex whole. For example, in his foreword to the original Mission-Shaped Church report, the then Archbishop Rowan Williams argued, "If 'church' is what happens when people encounter the Risen Jesus and commit themselves to sustaining and deepening that encounter in their encounter with each other, there is plenty of theological room for diversity of rhythm and style, so long as we have ways of identifying the same living Christ at the heart of every expression of Christian life in common." (26) Here, and elsewhere, closer connections were being suggested between "evangelism," "encounter," "discipleship," and inherited understandings of "church." Building on these insights, Michael Moynagh--for some years a member of the UK Fresh Expressions Team--speaks of the essentials of a newer conception of church in terms of "four sets of relationships" focused around the central presence of Jesus. These he describes as "to the Godhead," "between members of the local church," "to the world," and "between each part and the whole body." (27) Although each of these relationships is distinctive in character and quality, each of them is also deeply interconnected, enabling a generative mutuality of relationship with God, with each other and with the wider world. With relationality around Jesus at the centre, such an approach to church description has suggested that ecclesial practices may be interpreted in fresh and organic ways, underlining their importance in supporting, sustaining, and renewing these relationships, rather than replacing them as the essence of ecclesial conception. In this understanding, the Fresh Expressions movement argues that it is not the practices of the church which define its essential character. Rather, it is the relational interplay of these interconnecting elements--with Jesus at the centre--which express its true essence. Church practices, such as word, sacraments, or prayer, are deeply significant in promoting, enhancing and deepening these essential relationships, but they should not necessarily be thought to determine the church's essential character.

The question of what constitutes "church" will doubtless continue to be widely debated within the movement, not least because of the movement's title itself, and because of its ongoing focus on the development of communities which are ecclesial in nature. (28)

Ecclesiology from below

A connected impulse of the Fresh Expressions movement in the UK has been the shift away from the church's practice of institutional worship as the starting point for mission. This represents a move away from "attractional" models of church which have seen the improvement of the church's provision of a worship experience as the key factor in drawing people to faith. (29) This newer approach was also in contrast to the perceived view of Breaking New Ground that '"church plants' might be bridges to bring people back into 'proper' church." (30) The breakdown of the refill factor has shown that attractional models based on this kind of assumption are generally less successful at connecting in significant ways with those who have no prior connection with the church. A number of attractional models have been tried over recent years in the UK, but with limited success in terms of bringing about genuine conversions as opposed to growth through transfer from other churches.

The fresh expression model of mission aims to be an incarnational model of contextual theology which claims that fresh local inculturations of the gospel are required within a post-Christian society--particularly one which has modelled church for centuries and in which the idea of faith attached to existing models is fading fast. Church has to evolve in particular contexts; it cannot be simply cloned or replicated. This was not the original model envisaged in the movement in the 1990s, but is one that has evolved partly out of reflection on practice. It is pictured above as a model in which an emphasis on listening and serving the locality (rather than setting up a worship centre) constitute the first steps in the kinds of missional journey that are likely to be most effective in connecting with those outside the church. It is certainly a "slow burn" model, taking time for the communal shape of the gospel in this particular setting to take form. (31) In fact, the Church Army suggests that it can take up to ten years to get to a stage where the concept of "church" really begins to take on a sustainable and recognizable form. This is understandably a difficult message for denominations that are looking for quick wins with the use of dwindling resources. But the "slow burn" model does mean that the new churches gradually taking shape are being formed (and re-formed) largely from the resources of their own memberships, with fresh insights being contributed along the way by those joining from outside.

Contextual mission at the local level

An essential characteristic of the fresh expressions story in the UK is that it has been a grassroots movement working at the local level, seeking to bring into being new Christian communities for those currently outside the church. The impetus of the Fresh Expressions movement was therefore partly a call to the wider church to respond more radically to the movement and action of God at the local level, and to reflect in response to this the fact that "ecclesiology is a subsection of the doctrine of mission." (32) As the Mission-Shaped Church report went on to argue, "Part of the paradigm shift since Breaking New Ground is the discovery that fresh expressions of church are not only legitimate expressions of church, but they may be more legitimate because they attend more closely to the mission task, and they are more deeply engaged in the local context, and follow more attentively the pattern of incarnation." (33) The report argued that this pattern of cross-cultural mission and the formation of intercultural churches is not in fact new, but reflects the patterns of church planting recorded in the book of Acts as responses to what God was doing in new and local contexts. (34)

In sum, it is significant that the Fresh Expressions initiative in the UK did not come about primarily because denominational leaders decided that this would be a significant missional strategy for the UK context. Rather, it reflected a local uprising of contextual missional activity across the UK. That the denominations responded so positively and were asking how they might support what was already happening was itself an underlining of the significance of local initiative. The local nature of this activity has subsequently been borne out by the evidence. In a 2014 report commissioned by the Church of England, the evidence showed that 82 percent of the membership of 500 fresh expressions analyzed across ten Anglican dioceses were made up of people from the local context. (35)

Fresh expressions and the mainline churches

One of the key differences between the Fresh Expressions initiative in the UK and the Emerging Church movement (36) in the USA, for example, is that out of the 1109 fresh expressions identified in the UK by the Church Army's research, only four had left the denomination out of which they had been formed. In addition to this, the Church of England statistics show that 75 percent of all fresh expressions have remained within the parishes that started them.

It is surely significant that from its outset, the Fresh Expressions initiative in the UK was given support by the Church of England, personified by the newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. He openly welcomed the Mission-Shaped Church report, providing a foreword for it, and consistently placed the initiative within a necessary process of missional "rediscovery" that included the structures of the church itself. What he envisaged was "a principled and careful loosening of structures" to allow the movement to flourish and continue to be generative in facing an unprecedented challenge. (37) In this context, the Fresh Expressions movement has been more of a reform movement within denominations than a revoludon which seeks to overthrow structures and institutions. In his foreword to Mission-Shaped Church, Archbishop Rowan summed this up when he commented that "The challenge is not to force everything into the familiar mould; but neither is it to tear up the rule book and start from scratch." (38) In light of this commitment, he began to introduce the phrase "mixed economy" to refer to the reality that fresh expressions and "inherited" forms of church were often found existing alongside each other and should be encouraged to flourish in partnership with one another. (39) The concept of "mixed economy" therefore emphasized not only the need for nurturing and developing both traditional and new forms of church, but also the fact that both forms of church needed to learn from each other and work with each other. In an Anglican context, this can also be seen as one way of incarnating what the Preface to the Declaration of Assent requires of ordination candidates that they "proclaim afresh in each generation" the gospel entrusted to them. The movement is about honouring the tradition and yet recognizing the need to develop it respectfully for a changing world.

Archbishop Rowan also supported wider partnerships with other mainline denominations as the Fresh Expressions initiative gained momentum. In all this, the movement had the backing of the mainline denominations and sought to nurture what was going on within them in reimagining mission in a post-Christian context. One illustration of this is the rise of the Messy Church phenomenon. (41) From humble beginnings in a single church in Portsmouth in 2004, Messy Church growth is substantial and is still on the increase. There are now over 3500 Messy churches registered on their directory, in more than 20 countries. Recent work by the Church Army's Research Unit--collected in its report Playfully Serious: How Messy Churches Create New Space for Faith (2019)--shows how they are proving successful in reaching people who weren't previously attending church. But it also demonstrates that the movement is growing disciples and modelling new patterns of leadership within established churches (mainly by women) across a wide range of economic and social contexts. (42) Messy Church values are about being Christ-centred, catering for people of all ages, and being rooted in the values of creativity, hospitality, and celebration. Many of these have arisen from within more traditional churches searching for a way to do something about the declining refill factor.

Fresh expressions and lay initiative

Another major observation from the growth of fresh expressions within the Church of England (and seen in other denominations, too) is that nearly half of these churches are led by lay people. This has potentially significant implications for the nature of the church and the renewal of its tradition. The 2014 statistics showed that whilst nearly 55 percent of fresh expressions were led by clergy, over 45 percent were being led by lay people. (43) In addition, the gender split across both groups was roughly 50/50. Meanwhile, 36 percent of the lay leaders, while receiving various forms of denominational support, held no formal authorization in the Church of England. Once again, this emphasizes the essentially grassroots nature of the movement, often initiated by local lay people who were concluding that there must be a better way to do church in their local contexts and then finding resources, models, and support to help them get things started.

The lay factor has had (and will doubtless continue to have) a huge influence on patterns of local church leadership, not least in releasing a substantial groundswell of new leaders for the future church, many of whom will doubtless pursue vocations to ordination as well as other forms of leadership. In fresh expressions today, women are just as likely to be found in leadership as men, and lay people as much as ordained clergy. This in itself represents a new development within the Church of England, potentially contributing fresh insights about roles and teams within patterns of church leadership. In addition, the almost even split between ordained and lay leaders is already helping to reframe "the imagination of who can lead in God's Church." (44) Contributing to this picture is the fact that there are now three times as many unlicensed lay leaders involved in fresh expressions as there are "qualified" lay leaders (such as licensed Readers or Church Army evangelists).

The growth of lay leadership within the movement is likely to increase. At the time of writing, the Church of England is looking to train an extra 6,000 pioneers by the year 2027; of these, it is projected that at least 5,000 of these will be lay people. (45) In support of this, a number of dioceses are developing lay pioneer training and providing other forms of support. The concern will be how to ensure effective accountability and support for such leaders while not domesdcadng or frustrating them through styles of training which are not suited to their pioneer temperaments.

The changing missional landscape: Continuing questions from the UK

Fifteen years on from the Mission-Shaped Church report, cultural patterns and ecclesial responses are continuing to evolve. One of the big questions the Fresh Expressions movement faces is how it remains fresh as it begins to be more "normal" in church life. Another issue is how it relates to the resurgence of a church-planting model that foregrounds the homogeneous unit principle as the key to church growth. (46) The Fresh Expressions movement has been liable to this kind of critique from the outset: the critique that "it accepts without challenge a ... perspective that simply colludes with the general culture of consumer choice." As Rowan Williams argues, it will be in the challenge to take up the cross of Jesus and in the forming of genuine communities of Christian presence in local neighbourhoods that such critiques may best be countered. Perhaps also, further consideration of the relationship between initiatives for the sake of mission among particular groups related to the wider generational and culturally diverse ecclesiology of the New Testament is needed in order to fill out as well as enrich our understanding of the church's missionary calling in the world.

There is doubtless a great deal more that the Fresh Expressions movement in the UK contributes and will contribute to a wider understanding of contextual mission. The missional challenge remains great in the Western European context, but at least some hopeful pointers are alive and well.

David Male and Paul Weston

David Male is the director of Evangelism and Discipleship, Church of England. Paul Weston is senior lecturer in Mission Studies and director of the Newbigin Centre, Ridley

Hall, Cambridge.

(1) In its first eight months of publication, it was reprinted six times and sold 14,000 copies. Church House Publishing described it as its "Harry Potter" tide. Stephen Croft was the Archbishops' missioner and team leader of the fresh expressions movement from 2004. He is now bishop of Oxford.

(2) Mission-Shaped Church: Church Planting and Fresh Expressions of Church in a Changing Context (London: Church House Publishing, 2004), 11-12.

(3) Ibid., 11.

(4) The most recent British Social Attitudes survey (September 2018), for example, reveals that the number of adults who identify as Church of England has more than halved since 2002, falling from 31 percent to 14 percent of the adult population. Affiliation is lowest among those aged 18-24, falling to just 2 percent, while the majority of every age group now identifies as having no religious affiliation at all. These figures are not connected to actual church attendance, which is lower still. See

(5) Gerardo Marti and Gladys Ganiel, The Deconstructed Church: Understanding Emerging Christianity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 24.

(6) A phrase introduced in the 2004 report. In this article the capitalized term "Fresh Expressions" will be used for the national initiative jointly sponsored by the Anglican and Methodist churches in the UK and responsible to the Archbishops and Methodist Council. The lower-case version ("fresh expressions") refers to the variety of new forms of missional church that are emerging as part of this initiative.

(7) George Lings, The Day of Small Things: An Analysis of Fresh Expressions of Church in 21 Dioceses of the Church of England (Sheffield, UK: Church Army's Research Unit, 2016),

(8) For a list of the ten indicators, see ibid., 18-19.

(9) For an explanation and commentary on the statistics see ibid., 102-103.

(10) Ibid., 44.

(11) Ibid., 103-105.

(12) For further detail, see; and

(13) Breaking New Ground: Church Planting in the Church of England--Report of a Working Party of the Board of Mission (London: General Synod of the Church of England, 1994).

(14) Mission-Shaped Church, 12.

(15) Manuel Castells, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture - Vol. 1: The Rise of the Network Society (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996).

(16) Mission-Shaped Church, 80.

(17) For the list of recommendations, see Mission-Shaped Church, 145-49. It is also worth noting that in making its case, the report shows an openness to missionary practice elsewhere in the world, which had seldom been characteristic of previous Anglican reports. This in itself is a significant shift in attitude in the context of developments in World Christianity, and the move from colonial to post-colonial approaches to mission. See, for example, the comments in Michael Moynagh and Philip Harrold, Church for Every Context: An Introduction to Theology and Practice (London: SCM Press, 2012), xviii.

(18) See, e.g., the work of Church Mission Society (; the Ground Level Network (; and Messy Church (; and 24/7 (

(19) See, e.g., the centrality of theological reflection in Mission-Shaped Church, ch. 5, "Theology for a Missionary Church." Much of the published discussion deriving from the Fresh Expressions initiative since then has also been theological in focus, even where critical: e.g., John M. Hull, Mission-Shaped Church: A Theological Response (London: SCM Press, 2006); Steven Croft (ed.), Mission-Shaped Questions: Defining Issues for Today's Church (London: Church House Publishing, 2008); Louise Nelstrop and Martyn Percy (eds), Evaluating Fresh Expressions: Explorations in Emerging Church (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2008); Andrew Davison and Alison Milbank, For the Parish: A Critique of Fresh Expressions (Norwich: SCM Press, 2010); Graham Cray, Aaron Kennedy, and lan Mobsby (eds), Fresh Expressions of Church and the Kingdom of God (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2012).

(20) It is significant that much of the theological discussion has been generated by publishers close to the centre of the denomination.

(21) Stuart Murray, Church Planting: Laying Foundations (Carlisle: Paternoster Press, 2004), 120, quoted in Stefan Paas, Church Planting in the Secular West: Learning from the European Experience (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2016), 46.

(22) Paas, Church Planting, 46.

(23) Quoted in Mission-Shaped Church, 103.

(24) Jiirgen Moltmann, The Church in the Power of the Spirit: A Contribution to Messianic Ecclesiology, trans. Margaret Kohl (London: SCM Press, 1977), 64 (emphasis added).

(25) Mission-Shaped Church, xii.

(26) Ibid., vii.

(27) Moynagh and Harrold, Church for Every Context, 106.

(28) See, e.g., the Anglican-Methodist report looking at the ecclesiology of fresh expressions and its relationship with the tradition: Fresh Expressions in the Mission of the Church: Report of an Anglican-Methodist Working Party (London: Church Mouse Publishing, 2012).

(29) This recognition is part of a paradigm shift in thinking even from the assumptions made in Breaking Ground (see e.g., Mission-Shaped Church, 23). For more on this, see David Male and Paul Weston, The Word's Out: Principles and Strategies for Effective Evangelism Today, 2nd ed. (Abingdon, UK: BRF, 2019), 91-105; 137-50.

(30) Mission-Shaped Church, 23.

(31) This closely reflects the missionary ecclesiologies of previous missionary thinker-practitioners like Roland Allen (1868-1949) and Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998).

(32) The words of former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, spoken at a Church Planting Conference in 1989 (quoted in Mission-Shaped Church, 24).

(33) Mission-Shaped Church, 23.

(34) On this, see, e.g., James D. G. Dunn, "Is There Evidence for Fresh Expressions of Church in the New Testament?" in Mission-Shaped Questions: Defining Issues for Today's Church, ed. Steven Croft (London: Church House Publishing, 2008), 54-65; and Loveday Alexander, "What Patterns of Church and Mission are Found in the Acts of the Apostles?" in ibid., 133-45.

(35) Report, From Anecdote to Evidence: Findings from the Church Growth Research Programme 2011-2013 (London: Church Growth Research Programme/Archbishops' Council, 2014), 17.

(36) We use the nomenclature of ECM (Emerging Church Movement) proposed in Marti and Ganicl, Deconstructed Church, 5-8.

(37) From the Archbishop's address to Synod in February 2004, quoted in Steven Croft, "Mapping Ecclesiology for a Mixed Economy," in Mission-Shaped Questions: Defining Issues for Today's Church, ed. Steven Croft (London: Church House Publishing, 2008), 6.

(38) Mission-Shaped Church, vii.

(39) Williams had first coined the term "mixed economy" in relation to the church in Wales when he was Bishop of Monmouth and subsequently Archbishop of Wales in the 1990s.

(40) The full text can be found at

(41) See George Lings (ed.), Messy Church Theology: Exploring the Significance of Messy Church for the Wider Church (Abingdon, UK: BRF, 2013) and

(42) See Church Army Research Unit, Playfully Serious: How Messy Churches Create New Space for Faith (Sheffield: Church Army, 2019),

(43) Lings, Day of Small Things, 62.

(44) Ibid., 175.

(45) The Church of England definition of "Pioneers" is that they are "people called by God who are the first to see and creatively respond to the Holy Spirit's initiatives with those outside the church; gathering others around them as they seek to establish new contextual Christian community."

(46) Developed by Donald McGavran in the 1960s (see Donald McGavran, Understanding Church Growth [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1970]); for discussion of McGavran in a European context, see Paas, Church Planting, 38-41, 113-15.

(47) Rowan Williams, "Fresh Expressions, the Cross and the Kingdom," in Fresh Expressions of Church and the Kingdom of God, ed. Graham Cray, Ian Mobsby, and Aaron Kennedy (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2012), 1. See Davison and Milbank, For the Parish, for a development of this critique in the UK context.

DOI: 10.1111/irom.12284
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Author:Male, David; Weston, Paul
Publication:International Review of Mission
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 1, 2019
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