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Saturday, 8 February 2014

10 #lessons for mature #expression #churches from #fresh expressions #research

I've been interested in the recent CofE research on church growth and have posted a summary of it in an earlier post on this blog.  

As part of that research I recently came across the more detailed "strand 3b" report by the church army on fresh expressions

Scanning through the detailed report I've picked out some of the lessons for fresh expression churches that are maybe equally appropriate the "mature expressions" churches - and then after the lesson in blue coloured font I've suggested some actions those lessons might lead to.

1) Fresh expression churches average size is 44 - so if you're church is bigger than that think through how you might create sub-communities of - say - 20 to 40 people.

2) Leadership can be be exercised by either gender, lay or ordained, full time to spare time - so make sure your church leadership team allows similar people to lead.

3) If you've just started something for pre-school or young children - then make sure you plan how you'll have something for them when they go to school or become 11 and change schools.

4) If you are ordained and very busy  - really give some thought and prayer to how you could put down some responsibilities and be renewed in your ministry by being part of starting something new like developing discipleship - including trying several different ways of achieving such.

5) Actively link to the wider church and let them know your progress and struggles - and as part of this choose some critical friends who can give you feedback.

6) Specifically plan how you will attract and connect with outsiders - so identify which social or cultural groups in your parish are under-represented in your congregation but which you have some relational links to.  Then in planning to reach those groups be prepared to start with a longer process of loving and serving people and making relationships that naturally include spiritual conversations rather than starting with how you get them into church for public worship. 

7) If you don't have a way of nurturing disciples get one fast - being apprentices of Jesus can happen in many ways, but it should be intentional and relational.

8) Consider how you practice and/or explain the sacraments in culturally suitable ways.

9) As concerns your regulars keep the life of the church simple - share out the tasks, make it a working boat (this especially includes prayer) not a passenger boat, look for gifts and ministries in newcomers.

10) Different groupings in your church have different internal dynamics and flourish better at certain group sizes - help each group's members identify what the best group size is for their group and when and how the group will start a new one to best transcend that ideal size.

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