The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. Matthew 13:44
When we consider fresh expressions of church, images of the Kingdom propel our theory and practice. This is no small task, especially when the full view is hidden from plain sight.
A new study released by the Church of England shows the impact of Fresh Expressions of Church within the Church of England. Of the 20,000 people currently involved in a fresh expression of church, 35 percent of them had gone missing from church at some point of their life. 40 percent of these people were completely missing—hidden. You can read the report here.
Stan Graham, a trainer and strategist on our Fresh Expressions US Team says that “leadership in a Fresh Expression of church is about going to a place that none of you has been but at least one of you has seen.” This is what the research data suggests. It’s the result of people—many of them volunteers rather than paid clergy—who are willing to see.
Who do you see that others don’t? Where are the places you’re likely to find hidden treasure? If you find the treasure, will the joy of the Gospel compel you to invest in the whole field? It takes different people from different perspectives to risk investing in places that none of us have been but at least one of us has seen. When we take others with us, more often than not, we end up seeing a place that we know all too well through a different set of eyes—even the place where you’re sitting right now.
Who helps you to see? Ask them to journey with you to look for that which might be hidden in a familiar place.
At the National Gathering in March, we’ll be challenged to find the hidden people in familiar places. Al Roxburgh will help us with our process of discernment. Mike Moynagh will confront us with the possibility of fresh expressions of church in the workplace. Workshop sessions will give you the time and space to learn to see things a bit more clearly. Who are you bringing with you?
Gannon Sims is Director of Networking and Communications for Fresh Expressions US. He lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia where he works to bring Fresh Expressions of church at the University of Mary Washington.
Gannon is the Director of Ministry Formation for Fresh Expressions US and leads the Fresh Expressions efforts of the Baptist General Association of Virginia. 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 enjoys forging partnerships between followers of Jesus from different traditions and 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.