the story since Breaking
Since Breaking New Ground, new styles and approaches to mission have
been developing. In the changing mission context, identified in Chapter 1,
new movements by God are evident. Things have been happening, and
there is growing understanding of the need for fresh approaches in mission
and church planting.
snapshots since 1978
In the late 1970s, church planting in England was largely unknown. The
Church of England was familiar with the idea of daughter churches, and
in the decade following each world war the century wide overall decline
in opening new church buildings was reversed. A good example of newer
starts was the clutch of Area Family Services, begun in local secular
venues in a single parish, under two successive incumbents in the town
of Chester le Street.
Church growth thinking arrived in the UK via the Bible Society in the mid
1970s, sowing ideas that growth both in quality as well as quantity
could become normal. This growth was understood as developing the
work of existing churches, not creating additional ones. This may have
assisted the birth of a more outward looking church, but was not a
direct precursor of planting and unhelpfully has often been confused
Only three fresh expressions of church were planted in 1978, and of those
one was the reopening of a closed church building. It is not clear why, by
1983, this number of church plants had trebled to nine, or in 1985 fifteen
examples were begun.
In 1984 the first book on the subject was
published for the English market How to Plant Churches from the
British Church Growth Association.
It comprised papers from an earlier
interdenominational conference, but the essays mixed enthusiasm and
caution. The first Church of England church planting conference was at
Holy Trinity Brompton, London in 1987.