We equip Christians to start these expressions of church among the many segments, neighborhoods, and people groups of society.
Fresh Expressions is an international movement of missionary disciples cultivating new kinds of church alongside existing congregations to more effectively engage our growing post-Christian society.
Beginning in 2004 as an initiative of the Church of England and the British Methodist Church, the movement has resulted in the birth of thousands of new communities in the UK alone and brought renewal to scores of established churches. The movement has spread to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Germany. In 2010, the movement began taking shape in the US through the vision and generosity of the Baptist General Association of Virginia and a growing number of partners committed to a new era of missional ecumenism, a unity around the mission of God the Father through the resurrected Son in the power of the Holy Spirit.
What is a fresh expression of Church?
A Fresh Expression is a form of church for our changing culture, established primarily for the benefit of those who are not yet part of any church.
Around the world, Christians are stepping out in faith and beginning fresh expressions of church, new or different forms of church for a changing culture.
Each fresh expression of church is unique, and designed for their particular context. They can be rural or suburban, in public spaces, housing projects and college dormitories. Some are aimed at specific groups, ranging from “Messy Church” for families with children to “Amore Groups” led by married couples. There is biker church, cowboy church, church for artists, church at or after work; the sky’s the limit. Each is an adventure in bringing the power of the Gospel to people who might never experience Christian community and the transformational and self-giving love of Jesus.
Four guiding principles tie fresh expressions together. Each one is:
- Missional – Joining God’s mission by going to those not currently served by any church
- Contextual – Grounded in the language and culture of the people in and for their particular context
- Formational – Focused on discipling people in the way of Jesus
- Ecclesial – Forming local, tangible Christian communities that are able to step out as church in their own right
Why Fresh Expressions?
Our world is rapidly changing. It needs a church, rooted in scripture, orthodoxy and tradition; but fluent in the language and culture of the world today.
What sets Fresh Expressions apart is a focus on forming faith communities especially for those who have never been involved in church (un-churched) or who have left the church (de-churched). But this doesn’t mean giving up on the established church. There is a great inheritance in the established church that can and must be passed along to future generations. We believe the key to doing this is by partnering with pioneering leaders, dynamic pastors and existing churches denominational streams and agencies who are committed to make disciples who make disciples, raising up leaders with a passion to join with God in the mission edges where new forms of church can flourish.
Chris Backert National DirectorRead Bio
Working with church leaders to develop new expressions of Christian community is the passion of Chris’s life. In addition to his role as National Director of Fresh Expressions US, he serves with the Baptist General Association of Virginia in the area of growth and venture development. He also serves as National Director for both Ecclesia, a US network of missional churches, as well as Missio Alliance. Previously, he served as pastor of New Life Christian Fellowship, a large university congregation in Blacksburg, Virginia and has been involved in the planting of three new congregations.
Chris completed his doctoral work at Fuller Theological Seminary with a focus on the future of denominations in North American. He lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with wife Rachel, daughter Elliana and son Jase.
Chris holds a D.Min. in Missional Church Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary. He lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with wife Rachel, daughter Elliana and son Jase.
Travis Collins Director of Mission Advancement and Southeast Regional CoordinatorRead Bio
Travis’s service as Director of Mission Advancement and Southeast Regional Coordinator brings together his calling and experience as missionary and pastor. He serves as Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Huntsville, Alabama and was previously pastor of Bon Air Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia.
His twenty-five plus years of ministry have included missionary service in Venezuela and Nigeria. He is a graduate of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama and earned the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.He is the author of Directionally Challenged (2007), Tough Calls (2008), and From the Steeple to the Street (Seedbed 2016).Travis and his wife, Keri, have three adult children.
Gannon Sims Director of Ministry FormationRead Bio
Gannon serves as Director of Ministry Formation, developing our cross denominational networks, The Amore Project and the Ananias Project. He also coordinates the Fresh Expressions efforts of the Baptist General Association of Virginia, an association of 1400 churches in Virginia and 16 other states.
He earned the Bachelor of Arts Degree from Baylor University and the Master of Divinity degree from Duke University. Prior to entering seminary, Gannon worked as a legislative aide in the U.S. Senate and as a public affairs officer in the anti-human trafficking office at the U.S. State Department. He has served in various roles at several churches, Baptist, Presbyterian, and Anglican.
Gannon is married to Carey, who also is a graduate of Duke Divinity School. Together they work to bring fresh expressions of church to the collegiate community at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Shannon Kiser Director of TrainingRead Bio
Shannon serves as Director of Training, leading our team of mission strategists and trainers in the development and implementation of the Mission Shaped Ministry course through Pioneer Learning Communities. She is also a pastor on staff with Riverside Church in Sterling, VA, a Church that worships in two languages and engages in several Fresh Expressions of Church. In the last several years, Shannon has been involved with the Presbyterian Church’s New Worshiping Communities initiative, and has directed the coaching network that supports pioneer leaders.
Shannon lives in Springfield, VA with her husband Patrick and teenage daughters Catherine and Suzanne.
Sarah Keasler Coordinator of Operations and CommunicationsRead Bio
Sarah Keasler serves as Coordinator of Operations and Communications with Fresh Expressions. Keasler is a leader in non-profit management, most recently having developed the operations of a city-wide after school program for underprivileged youth in Miami, Florida. Keasler is a graduate of the University of Miami and is pursuing her MBA at Friends University. She is married to Keas Keasler and they live in Wichita, KS.
Chris Morton Content and Social Media ManagerRead Bio
Chris manages our social media presence. He serves as Community Developer for Austin Mustard Seed, a new Church Community in Austin, Texas. He also helps several other non-profits and businesses to tell their story with content and social media. He blogs about getting life on track and the Church on mission at ChrisMorton.info. Chris earned a B.A. in Music at Harding University and an M.A. in Global Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary and is married to Laura.
Jane Linton AdministratorRead Bio
Jane is an Administrator for Fresh Expressions and also for the Ecclesia Network. She holds the a BA in Political Science and History from Virginia Tech. During her time in Blacksburg, she was active with New Life Christian Fellowship.
Jane and her husband Brandon have three children. She enjoys spending time cooking, crafting, cheering for the Hokies and playing with her kids.
Cheryl McCarthy Coordinator of Prayer Mobilization & the Ananias ProjectRead Bio
Cheryl serves as the Coordinator of Prayer Mobilization desiring to under gird the foundation of this national missional movement in prayer. She brings over 20 years of Intercessory Prayer experience as she and her husband, Bill, have served in Anglican church plants. They began in Virginia at Truro Church in Fairfax and Christ the Redeemer in Centreville then serving in the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) for 7 years. Cheryl is the Head Intercessor for the Titus Institute for Church Planting and is the Executive Director of The SEEDS Ministry in New Bern, North Carolina that began out of her service to a local golf club. Cheryl and Bill have five awesome children; Caela, Isabella, Daniel, Gracie, and Liliana who are each thriving in their mission life together.
Michael Beck South Atlantic CoordinatorRead Bio
Rev. Michael Beck is South Atlantic Coordinator Fresh Expressions US and North Central District Cultivator of Fresh Expressions for the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Michael serves as senior pastor of Wildwood UMC where he directs addiction recovery programs, a jail ministry, a food pantry, and a network of fresh expressions that meet in places like tattoo parlors and burrito joints. He currently lives in Wildwood with his wife, Jill, and their blended family of 8 children.
Luke Edwards Mission Strategist & TrainerRead Bio
Luke Edwards is the Pastor of King Street Church, a network of fresh expressions in Boone, NC. Luke is a licensed local pastor in the United Methodist Church. He is passionate about balancing tradition and innovation to create new forms of church for folks previously excluded from church. You can follow him on twitter at @lukesedwards or check out his blog www.lukesedwards.com.
Verlon and Melodee Fosner Directors of Dinner Church Collective & Northwest Regional CoordinatorsRead Bio
Lead Presenters, Verlon & Melodee Fosner have been in church leadership for 35 years, and for the past 18 years have served a 93 year-old church in Seattle, Washington. In 2004, their long effective church began to decline, and they were faced with the decision: move to the suburbs or become an urban church. They felt called to not only stay, but to dive further into the urban neighborhoods of Seattle – especially the ones with a sparse church presence. After numerous failures, they decided to try the Agape’ Feast church model talked about in the New Testament. And to their great surprise they found an immediate intrigue among the unchurched Seculars living in Seattle neighborhoods. Within a year, they had hundreds of Seculars as friends, gathering around their tables, and talking about Jesus. What began as an urban Dinner Church spread into a multi-site Dinner Church, and then expanded into a national Dinner Church Network. In 2014, Verlon received a Doctoral degree for his research on “The Dinner Church of the Apostolic Era”, and has written three books on the subject – all of which are available on this website. Then in 2016, Verlon and Melodee joined the Fresh Expressions US team to lead the DinnerChurchCollective initiative.
JR Briggs Mission StrategistRead Bio
J.R. serves as Northeast Regional Coordinator. He leads The Renew Community, a Jesus community for skeptics and dreamers in Lansdale, Pennsylvania and oversees Renew Apprenticeship, a year-long program that helps young leaders and pastors become effective and faithful church planters for contextual ministry in the 21st century. He holds degrees from Taylor University and Biblical Seminary and is the creator of the Epic Fail Pastors Conference, which helps pastors embrace failure as an opportunity for grace and growth. Briggs and his wife Megan have two sons, Carter and Bennett.
Craig Williams Mission Strategist & Western Regional CoordinatorRead Bio
Craig has worked in the arena of fresh expressions of church for over 25 years. He was the organizing pastor of Trabuco Presbyterian Church of the PCUSA and pastored that congregation in Southern California for 19 years. Since, Craig has served the PCUSA both regionally (in the Pacific Northwest) and nationally (as Catalyst for 1001 New Worshiping Communities in the Western States). Craig developed a process for assessing potential church planting leadership, Discerning Missional Leadership and has assessed hundreds of individuals who have expressed interest in new expressions of church. He also helped develop the PCUSA’s national coaches network and was one of the authors of “Starting New Worshiping Communities: A Discernment Process”. Craig continues to coach and mentor those engaged in starting new work.
Craig has recently accepted a new call as Pastor of Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in Thousand Oaks, CA. He says it’s time to assist an inherited congregation with embracing a mixed economy of Church for a changing context.
Craig has his Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from Columbia Theological Seminary.
Kris Beckert Mission StrategistRead Bio
Kris is an associate pastor at Vine Church a church plant in Fairfax, Virginia and serves as our Coordinator of Operations. She completed the M.Div. at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC and has served at churches in the Baptist, United Methodist, and Nazarene traditions. Prior to being called to ministry, she received an M.S. in environmental science from the University of Maryland, where she also worked in the field, researching coastal environments and enhancing science communication. Kris is an avid runner, cartoonist, and archer and enjoys cheering for her Carolina TarHeels and Philadelphia Phillies.
Winfield Bevins Director of RemissioningRead Bio
Winfield Bevins is the Director of Asbury Seminary’s Church Planting Initiative. He is also Canon for Church Planting for the Anglican Diocese of the Carolinas and adjunct professor at Trinity School for Ministry. As a seasoned church planter, he has used his experience to train church planters from diverse backgrounds on three different continents. He frequently speaks at conferences, churches, seminaries, and retreats on a variety of topics. He is the author of several books, including Plant: A Sower’s Guide to Church Planting. You can find out more about him at winfieldbevins.com.
Tom Herrick Mission StrategistRead Bio
Tom is a Fresh Expressions Mission Strategist, who leads Vision Days and also coaches MSM/Pioneer Learning Community participants. He also serves as the Canon for Mission in the Anglican Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic and Executive Director of the Titus Institute for Church Planting, a ministry dedicated to establishing a church multiplication movement in North America. His work includes coaching and training church planters and network leaders, training and certifying coaches, performing assessments for prospective planters, developing strategic plans for churches, networks and dioceses, and teaching church planting for several seminaries. Tom is a frequent conference speaker whose passion is to spread the vision for Great Commission Church Multiplication. Tom and Carol have been happily married for 35 years and live in Clifton, VA. They share life with their two adult children, Angela and Nick, and daughter-in-law, Marie.
Stan Graham Mission StrategistRead Bio
Stan is a church planter and founding pastor of both Crossroads Church in Odenton, Maryland and Pathways Church in Forest Hill, Maryland where he currently serves. He has also worked as a church planting consultant, assessor, and coach for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, the Baptist General Association of Virginia and The Ecclesia Network.
He received the M.Div. with a focus in biblical languages from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and completed additional study at Fuller Seminary. He lives in Belair, MD with his wife of 25 years (Kathy) and their three children (Caleb, Sarah and Micah). Before entering vocational ministry, Stan worked over a decade with the Army Corps of Engineers.
Ken Balch Mission StrategistRead Bio
Ken Balch has served in a variety of roles in both pastoral and compassionate ministries in urban and suburban settings on the East coast and Midwest since 1985. He and has worked training pastors and with church plants and church planters for nearly 20 years. He currently serves as the Missional Leadership Specialist for the Mid-Atlantic District Church of the Nazarene where he develops leaders, works in organizational development and strategy and serves to support the ministry of congregations, compassionate ministries and non-profit organizations in the Mid-Atlantic region.