by the Chair of the Working Group
Breaking New Ground: church planting in the Church of England was
published in 1994.
It set out to recommend good practice for church
planting, and to address difficulties raised by a small number of
unauthorized plants. It was of particular importance as the first formal
document in which the Church of England owned `planting' as a missionary
In 2002 the (then) Board of Mission set up a new working group to review
the original report, to assess progress and to consider new developments.
In particular it was recognized that a variety of new forms of church in
mission were emerging or being put into practice within the Church of
England. The new working group was to review these `fresh expressions
Breaking New Ground saw church planting as `a supplementary strategy
that enhances the essential thrust of the parish principle'.
most significant recommendation of this current report is that this is no
longer adequate. The nature of community has so changed (and was
changing long before 1994) that no one strategy will be adequate to fulfil
the Anglican incarnational principle in Britain today.
now multi layered, comprising neighbourhoods, usually with permeable
boundaries, and a wide variety of networks, ranging from the relatively local
to the global. Increased mobility and electronic communications technology
have changed the nature of community.
It is clear to us that the parochial system remains an essential and central
part of the national Church's strategy to deliver incarnational mission.
But the existing parochial system alone is no longer able fully to deliver
its underlying mission purpose. We need to recognize that a variety of
integrated missionary approaches is required. A mixed economy of parish
churches and network churches will be necessary, in an active partnership
across a wider area, perhaps a deanery.
In addition, our diverse consumer culture will never be reached by one
standard form of church. The working group has evaluated a wide variety
of `fresh expressions of church'. All have strengths and weaknesses, and
none are appropriate for all circumstances. In particular the dominance of
consumerism presents a major challenge to Christian faithfulness. What is