fresh expressions of church
people live is decreasingly of importance for them the important parts of
their lives, and important friendships and experiences, are elsewhere.
In 1994, Breaking New Ground noted the validity and importance of a
church in mission working with networks as well as with parish. The mission
opportunity is to connect church and gospel with the culture and way
people are living, rather than assume connection will always be most fruitful
through locality and parish. An Anglican network church is defined, neither
by its Sunday style, nor its philosophy of ministry such as Cell or Seeker,
but by whom it is for people who live in a network environment. The word
`parish' is used in a similar way, to describe who church is for. `Parish' does
not mean a particular theological tradition, nor a type of social setting such
as urban or rural. It is shorthand for a church that seeks to serve everyone
within a particular geographical area.
Many Anglican churches are consciously or unconsciously serving a
congregation of people with a similarity of interest, personality or
background. They typically rely on a `come and join us' approach: if you
like who we are, you will feel welcome and at home here. `Network church'
encourages a `go and inhabit' approach: gospel and church becoming a
reality among the variety of ways people are living. They involve not so
much cross boundary as non boundary church planting, because many
people are no longer defining themselves by geographical boundaries.
Although network churches are a departure from the classic parish model,
they nevertheless represent a valid and Anglican way of fulfilling our
national calling to be a Church for all people.
how do these network churches form?
Network churches are developed for mission to particular social and
cultural groups. They are shaped by engagement with that particular
context and culture, as well as by engagement with the essentials of
gospel and the traditions of the Church. Bishop Michael Nazir Ali argues
for this two stranded method to create all shapes of the Church to
Some examples of networks are those formed by common work,
leisure interest, music preference, or disability (such as the deaf
Many network churches see their worship as accessible to outsiders, but
the enthusiasm of their members and the use of small groups are usually
the routes through which people first come into contact with the worship.
These churches are committed to being culturally accessible, as well as
repudiating some of the ugly or unchristian aspects of modern life.
Similarly, they can be counter cultural in their approach to the wider