It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the church has fallen on hard times in the Western world. If you don’t believe me, consider the fact that there are now 130 million unchurched people in the United States, making it the largest mission field in the Western hemisphere and the fifth-largest mission field on earth.
Face it; we live in the new mission field.
The Fresh Expressions movement is one of the ways that our Lord is calling the church back to reaching our world for Christ. In many ways, fresh expressions of church are nothing new. I believe that we can learn amazing lessons from historic examples of fresh expressions. The term “fresh expressions” comes from a historic understanding. You may be wondering, “What, if anything, can Christian history teach us about fresh expressions today?” The answer is a lot.
The Fresh Expressions movement isn’t just a fad that started yesterday. Christians have been making disciples for over two thousand years through fresh expressions of church. The pages of church history are full of amazing stories of men and women of faith who changed the course of history and influenced the world through fresh expressions of church in their time. Their stories remind us that the Lord can do extraordinary things through ordinary people who step out in faith.
Church history is a treasure chest full of lessons that can teach us how to make twenty-first-century disciples for Christ through fresh expressions of being church for the sake of the unchurched.
In the next few posts, I want to invite you on a journey to explore timeless lessons for modern-day fresh expressions from three fresh expression movements that changed the world. Each of these movements released hundreds of missionaries who went out to start fresh expressions of church.
I believe that these lessons contain the seeds of renewal that can help the church create new fresh expressions of the church in our day. These lessons are not dependent on any particular person, culture, or nationality.
Rather, they transcend denominational backgrounds and geographical boundaries. They contain timeless truths that can be applied to any context of ministry regardless of where you live or are called. This is not just an invitation to walk through the past, but an engagement where the past, present, and future collide. Let the wisdom of the past inspire you to make disciples of the future.
Dr. Winfield Bevins serves as the Director of Asbury Seminary’s Church Planting Initiative. He has a passion for equipping others to spread the gospel in their own context. As a seasoned practitioner, he has used his experience to train leaders from diverse backgrounds on three different continents. He is the author of several books, including Plant: A Sower’s Guide to Church Planting. You can find out more about him at his website winfieldbevins.com.