The place of wor­ship in fresh ex­pres­sions

The Church of England - - FEATURE -

The rec­om­mended best prac­tice for those plant­ing a fresh ex­pres­sion, which we call a fresh ex­pres­sion’s jour­ney, rec­om­mends that the last phase, not the first, is to es­tab­lish a reg­u­lar, pub­lic act of wor­ship. Other­wise the dan­ger is that the plant­ing team cre­ates the ser­vice they hope the people they want to en­gage with will like, rather than pa­tiently build re­la­tion­ships and ex­plore dis­ci­ple­ship as the process for learn­ing what sort of gath­er­ing for wor­ship is ap­pro­pri­ate to the mem­bers and their con­text.

The temp­ta­tion is also to take a com­plete model of a fresh ex­pres­sion of the shelf, and so by­pass the whole process of prayer­ful dis­cern­ment, which is the foun­da­tion for any con­tex­tual mis­sion.

But this doesn’t mean that the plant­ing team can­not have a wor­ship life of its own. On the con­trary, it is vi­tal that it does. To pray and wor­ship to­gether is vi­tal for team for­ma­tion. Ini­tially the plant­ing team will be part of two churches or con­gre­ga­tions: the one send­ing them and the em­bryo one they are hop­ing to plant. As the process de­vel­ops they need to be re­leased to fo­cus fully on the new, while the fresh ex­pres­sion’s pat­tern of wor­ship, once it has been es­tab­lished. Ini­tially the team will wor­ship in the way most suited to their task, but their task is to plant a fresh ex­pres­sion of church whose wor­ship is most suited to those be­ing drawn to faith through it. Be aware of the dan­ger of es­tab­lish­ing a pat­tern and just as­sum­ing that it is au­to­mat­i­cally trans­fer­able. This is partly a mat­ter of be­ing ap­pro­pri­ate to cul­ture and con­text, but also a straight­for­ward mat­ter of size.

The aver­age size of a Church of Eng­land fresh ex­pres­sion is 44. What works for a team of six can’t sim­ply be re­pro­duced for 40, un­less you are us­ing a cell­based model.

The cre­ation of an ap­pro­pri­ate form and cul­ture of wor­ship in a fresh ex­pres­sion is just as much a mat­ter of dis­cern­ment as the ear­lier stages of the process. The team will bring their ex­pe­ri­ence and un­der­stand­ing of wor­ship to the task, whether they are aware of it or not, but they should not im­pose it or their ini­tial pat­tern on those who join them. In­stead they need the skill to shape wor­ship with and for oth­ers.


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