Churches are often inadvertently designed to create consumers. Worship services, bible classes, small groups, even service projects, can become a “product” for church members to consume. But sitting in your pews are women and men who, given the permission, encouragement, and training, could be released to start and lead a fresh expression of Church.
When a church leader hears about fresh expressions, it is easy to say, “yes, but we don’t have the leaders we need to run the programs we have now!”The truth is, most churches have potential pioneers who may have never understood that their passions or skills can be used to create new spaces for people to encounter the kingdom of God. Click To Tweet
Who are the leaders you might have missed?
Consider that person you only see one or two Sundays a month. It could be because they have a passion, perhaps fly fishing, rock climbing, or windsurfing. Or the person who will never join a small group, but once or twice a week, they can be found organizing a board game night or going out swing dancing. These people may often have a deep and mature faith, but they’d rather spend their free time pursuing their hobbies than consuming church programing.
What would happen if you sought out the hobbyists in your church, not to guilt them for skipping a Sunday, but to equip them to use their hobby to build a community that could become a new form of Church?
Who throws parties in your church? Who organizes play dates or bridge games? Who puts together the meal train when someone goes to the hospital or plans a baby shower?
Chances are there are individuals in your church who are already using their gifts for bringing people together. What would happen if those same people were to be given a vision of how tribes they are already gathering for parties could mature into an expression of church?Chances are there are individuals in your church who are already using their gifts for bringing people together. Click To Tweet
There are unofficial roles that every church community needs. You won’t find them listed in the Epistles or demonstrated in Acts, but nonetheless, functional churches tend to have them. These are roles like meal preparer, chair setter-upper, mechanic and handyman.
Fresh expressions of church often begin when Christians look for purposeful ways to love and serve a specific group of people. These tangible acts of love-of-neighbor open the doors to relationship and community. No one is better at providing tangible help than the man or woman with a garage full of tools and a passion for serving others.
There’s a strange thing that happens to many new churches a few years in: suddenly, they find themselves drowning in small children. It seems that new churches tend to attract younger people, who may soon be starting families, while middle-aged adults and grandparents seem harder to find.
This is too bad, because no one is more equipped to start or support a fresh expression of Church than grandparents! They have unmatchable life experience, decades of discipleship and often, flexible schedules. While a young parent might struggle to pick kids up from school and put dinner on the table, a retired grandparent might have the bandwidth to cook a meal and share a Jesus story. If part of your church is greying, God has given you a gift that can help in forming a new expression of Church.
There is a whole group of Christians who have been marginalized and overlooked in many churches. While debates over roles for women continue in some areas of the Church, a thoughtful reading of scripture makes it clear that Jesus and the early church relied on women to pioneer new forms of Christian community. Mary, the first to witness and share about Jesus’ resurrection, has earned the title “apostle to the apostles.” Phoebe delivered and may have even expounded on the letter to the Romans. Tabitha, and her work with widows, has all the earmarks of what we now would refer to as a fresh expression of Church.
Unfortunately, many women do not feel like they have opportunities to use their giftings in existing church structures. Fresh expressions of church are places where women can start and lead something new, and eventually, impact the Church as a whole. Are there women in your church who need to be encouraged to live out their calling by starting a new demonstration of Christian community?Fresh expressions of church are places where women can start and lead something new, and eventually, impact the Church as a whole. Click To Tweet
Who is missing from your church leadership? Who are the women and men who God has called, but may not yet be leading? What would it look like for you to affirm, encourage and equip them to start a fresh expression of Church?
Chris works across the organization to help get new projects off the ground and into the world. He also helps to manage our email, social media and other digital communications. He helped plant Austin Mustard Seed, where he served for five years as Community Developer. He also works with several other non-profits and businesses to tell their story with content and social media. In 2012, he graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary with a M.A. in Global Leadership. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife Laura.