fresh expressions of church
organized as mission resources, with traditional house groups
taking on mission in a wider sense and developing a Jesus
The intention here was not to copy Latin American models,
but to adapt them to context using common tools and
processes. The churches asked the questions: `What is the
Lord saying to us? What does he want us to do? What use
is this church in this community and what difference is it
making?' It was important to listen to what the local
community had to say. One result was that a small sailing
yacht, donated to a Plymouth parish, evolved into a staffed
programme with a fleet of boats, enriching the lives of
disadvantaged young people in the city.
can BECs work here?
In South America, the shortage of priests and the large number of
the poor mean that BECs have been forced to grow up from below.
In England the Anglican Church is still structurally present in cities and
towns. But the Church of England model of an outside leader, a large
imposing building and hierarchical belonging to the wider Church has
the effect of alienating many Urban Priority Area (UPA) people, feeding
resistance and hindering the growth of indigenous church. In turn,
because of the impoverishment of UPA areas, even motivated outsiders
find themselves struggling or losing energy. It is hard to begin an upward
cycle, when the first step of being an alternative and attractive
community that demonstrates the vision through its life and witness
is so difficult.
In South America there exists lay theological and community
development training that resources a `pastoral agent'. S/he helps
the BEC reflect in the light of Scripture on their experience, and to
coordinate and develop the life of the community. Some are members
of religious orders. The lack of pastoral agents in the UK may explain
why the BEC model is seldom evident in Anglican churches. It is also
true that much English leadership training demands an enculturation
into middle class values, which is either alien to, or serves to alienate,
leaders from UPA society.
The institutional church is often concerned about who will pay for
buildings and clergy issues that may be secondary in UPA areas where
there is a passion for Christian renewal and direct engagement with
God's mission purposes.