fresh expressions of church
context, TOM was created to support people called as leaders
in mission to plant missionary churches. It aims not to remove
people from the context in which God has called them to
serve often secular employment.
Members embrace a rule of life of simplicity, purity and
accountability, as an authentic contemporary expression of
ancient vows. The pattern of life is expressed through five
common daily times of prayer. Accountability within the Order,
and to the wider Church, is structured through the offices of
the Superior, Visitors, Guardians, and Seniors. Individuals may
be involved with the Order as Temporaries, Permanents or
TOM is intended to be a global movement with its own
indigenous leadership structure in every part of the world
where it operates. The home of the Order is in Sheffield.
The emphases of these groups will differ, as did the emphases of historic
orders. What can be noted is that some groups, such as the Northumbria
Community and the Order of St Thomas, are intentionally mission focused.
In some ways, missionary communities and church planting teams have
overlapping characteristics. The dynamics of both groups could be shared
with great profit. Church planters would gain from the treasures of
disciplined spirituality and community. New Mission Orders might learn
from the wisdom gained in planting and in missiology.
It is important to distinguish between youth services (worship events
that may be occasional, and may or may not be led by young people
and youth congregations (congregation for youth, by youth). Youth
congregations often have a weekly pattern, have recognized leaders,
pastoral structures and clear mission intentions. Another model centres
on an area youth celebration, probably monthly, linked to youth cells in
supporting churches. The growing trend for youth worship and the
development of youth congregations both demonstrate the difficulty of
integrating young people in to the Church of England as we know it.
Although there are some notable examples of youth congregations, in
practice there are, as yet, relatively few full blown youth congregations
identified and reported.
There are indications of an increase in youth
congregations, and an attempt to gain a detailed national view is only