Throughout the country fresh expressions of church are emerging, built not around tried and tested church models, but arising indigenously from within a community because of the vision and commitment of incarnational mission leaders. Richard and Wendy Price are two such leaders, and in this article Bob Hopkins looks at their story so far.
Richard and Wendy Price for years were key members of St Pauls, Boughton in Chester. Richard became a lay reader, regularly leading and preaching at services, and Wendy had led Parents and Toddlers. They were living on a large estate of some 5000 population in the suburbs of the city. They began to develop a vision for a new sort of mission on this estate. They built relationships with neighbours at the school gate, over the fence, out and about. A video of Christian testimonies lent to neighbours soon had others asking to see it.
All these contacts led to a couple of regular meetings in the home where they ask just two questions of a bible passage: What truth do you see? And what are you going to do about it? Richard and Wendy also began a Sunday morning breakfast in their homes with neighbour families coming in for cereal, toast, coffee, prayer and cut and paste common worship! In two years there were 18 neighbours converted, three of whom were baptised by the vicar in an inflatable pool in their back garden in September 2005.
Their “Breakfast Church” started at 8am so that Richard and Wendy could rush off to parish morning prayer at 10.15am. However, in time they were commissioned to concentrate on this fresh expression of church and released from duties at the parish church. A vision grew for a cell on every street!
This is emerging church in every sense. Firstly, it is the seeds of the gospel in and through Richard and Wendy, that are bearing fruit in their context and church is taking shape in the everyday lives of residents. It is not come to us in our existing church but go and allow church to emerge. Second, it’s one of a whole diversity of fresh expressions of church that is emerging in our contemporary culture. It is very light weight and doesn’t have the assumptions of professional clergy leaders or of expensive buildings. Even the model of small group is so simple it doesn’t require lots of experience or bible knowledge, to lead. So multiplication is built in from the start.