mission shaped church
many (or most), even after they are no longer `young', the existing ways
and styles of doing and being church will not be attractive or meaningful.
Hence the contemporary and long term importance of congregations for
and by young people.
So Bishop Graham Cray suggested in an address in 1999:
It follows that `youth congregations' are not a bridging strategy. They are
not a temporary holding camp where young people can be acclimatised
to existing church. It is not a bridge to the real thing. These groupings
take responsibility for worship, pastoral care, mission and evangelism.
To their members they are the only real thing they know. It is an
experience of the Church of Jesus Christ.
why so many expressions?
This chapter has recorded a number of different styles or types of church
that have emerged in the last decade. They are ways in which the Church
of England has sought to engage with the variety of diverse cultures and
networks that are part of contemporary life. They reflect our Anglican
instinct to be `how' and `where' people are, not simply to wait for them
to come to us, and the missionary principle of seeking to inculturate the
gospel, rather than imposing a single culture or style on the variety of
cultures within our society.
Many of these fresh expressions have been motivated by a desire to
connect the gospel and church with fresh cultures and unreached people.
Only creative church planting will do in a society where those with
spiritual questions naturally assume that the church is not the place
to find the answers, since Christianity has been tried and found
Some pioneers and leaders have yearned for a more authentic way of
living, being and doing church, and this led to fresh thinking about what
church can or should be. In part, the story of these expressions of church
includes an element of disillusionment with the existing church and its
values. In other expressions of church, motivation stems not from
disillusionment, but from discovery.
The variety of fresh expressions is an encouraging sign of the creativity of
the Spirit in our age. Fresh expressions should not be embraced simply
because they are popular or new,
but because they are a sign of the work
of God and of the kingdom.