some methodologies for a missionary church
trained teams resourced dozens of Alpha courses focused in
some ten parishes. Community members and converts were
organized in dispersed cells across a 20 mile radius, and
grouped into three regions for periodic celebrations and Alpha
services. This fresh expression of church is in the process of
gaining Extra Parochial Place (EPP) status.
Fresh expressions of church in the countryside tend to start by reaching
networks of mobile people over a larger geographical area than the single
parish. Sometimes this is mission led, as with a youth congregation working
across all the parishes of a high school's catchment area. Sometimes, it is
more to do with scarcity of leadership. Few church planters are placed in
rural parishes. In a multi parish benefice, clergy and readers will be already
ministering in half a dozen or more separate congregations and cannot
sustain new initiatives in each parish.
Because church planting in rural areas almost always involves growing a
new expression of church alongside the old, sensitivity is particularly
needed towards the relationship between fresh expressions of church and
small parish churches who could see the innovation as `competition'.
However, small congregations may welcome a fresh expression of church
if it serves a clearly different part of the community, releasing the
congregation from the pressure to change a dearly held worship style
or to attempt the impossible task of meeting the diversifying needs of
everyone. The pressure of responding to variety is often increased because,
in the countryside, the Church of England may be the only visible Christian
presence. Therefore, many Anglican congregations contain high numbers
of Christians originally from other denominations. That diversity can be a
source of tension, but it can also be a benefit, in that it means that
planting teams are likely to contain a denominational mix, and a variety
of insight and approach.
A story: `4 All', Southrepps, Trunch Team Ministry
When the Revd David Bartlett became Southrepps Team Vicar,
he intended to heed the bishop's advice not to change
anything for a year. However, it soon became apparent that
about 20 Christians from different parishes had an unmet
need for contemporary worship in which their children would
happily share. Some of these families had started to give up
on existing church.
It was decided to start a service at 4.30 p.m., when it would
not conflict with other services in the team and would