mission shaped church
them to remember their long held, but dormant faith. Very many people
have no residue of Christian faith at all; it's not just dormant, it's non
existent; in so many instances we have to go back to basics; we are
in a critical missionary situation.
This report believes that the beginnings, in the last 20 years, of church
plants and fresh expressions of church represent the emergence of a
diametrically different approach that is both theologically appropriate and
strategically significant. Instead of `come to us', this new approach is to
`go to them'. We need to find expressions of church that communicate
with post Christian people, and which enable them to become committed
communities of followers of Jesus Christ. Then they, in turn, can continue
to engage in mission with and beyond their own culture.
from `where?' to `how?'
So how can the Church of England rethink its mission?
Anglicans aim to follow the pattern of the incarnation to be with people
where they are, how they are. The word `where' in that sentence suggests
geography and territory being in a particular place and location. In Britain
today, it might help to say that we must be with people how they are.
`How' is a word that suggests connection beyond geography and locality
connecting with people's culture, values, lifestyle and networks, as well as
with their location.
A geographical approach alone is not sufficient. Parish, by itself, is no
longer adequate as the Church of England's missionary strategy. `One size
fits all' will not do. A mutual partnership of parochial and network churches,
using traditional and fresh approaches, and sharing ministry in larger areas
The diversity of fresh expressions of church in this report ranges in style
of worship from the reinvention of the traditional to the highly innovative.
The size of these expressions ranges from the tiny cell to the enormous
gathering. Furthermore, the starting point in mission sweeps from relational
evangelism to many forms of social engagement. Venues and meeting days
are getting more diverse. This is a response to the sense that Sunday is
no longer a `church' day for our society, but rather a family day, or DIY day,
or sports club day or whatever people choose to do. Some people may be
keen to meet with other Christians regularly, but it is no longer feasible for
them to do that regularly on a Sunday.