Three mission responses

In seeking to lead a church into a more missional quality, it can be helpful to recognise that there are three broad options. All can be effective, but wise leadership will assess which is appropriate for the stage of the church’s life and the context. Some contemporary literature may suggest that one or other is preferable but it is our contention that best practice involves selecting the right option based on these highly variable factors. Continue reading “Three mission responses”

The Origins of Natural Church Development

Comprehensive worldwide research

The Institute for Natural Church Development International, based in Germany under the leadership of Christian A. Schwarz, undertook worldwide research in the early 1990s. 1000 churches in 32 countries were surveyed to determine if there were principles producing healthy church growth independent of

  • denomination or theology
  • country or culture
  • leadership style
  • size
  • ministry model

The key question was: “What church growth principles are true, regardless of culture and theological persuasion?” Continue reading “The Origins of Natural Church Development”

Three “parties” to mission understanding and strategy

The Big Picture – the three ‘parties’

All mission engagement requires attention to three foundational factors that should shape mission responses. These three components are essential to be understood for existing churches but even more important in pioneering mission and planting fresh expressions of church. Continue reading “Three “parties” to mission understanding and strategy”

Jesus’ four “streams” of Communicating the Kingdom of God

The Gospel accounts of the ministry of Jesus bring together how he “the Word” communicated the truths of God. We are used to thinking that truth is communicated verbally and in propositional statements. However, that by no means the only channel or stream of truth that we find in the New Testament. Continue reading “Jesus’ four “streams” of Communicating the Kingdom of God”

Issues of Maturity

I remember our first child being born. She was healthy, but a bit large. My wife Helen burst blood vessels in her face pushing Hannah out into the world. Taking both of them home some days later I remember thinking “what are we supposed to do now?” At each stage of life things seem to be more complicated: birth, raising a toddler, handling adolescence. Each stage requires more wisdom, more experience and the previous chapters don’t equip you very much for the next one, yet there is no escape from the process. Much the same is true in seeing young churches develop from birth into healthy adulthood.

Continue reading “Issues of Maturity”

Loyal Radicals

A while back a friend was going to address a large gathering of a historic denomination in another continent and called me on the phone for ideas as he was doing his preparation.

One of his questions was “What are the things that we observe that have most contributed to the beginnings of a “sea change” within the Church of England towards mission, Fresh Expressions and church planting?” Continue reading “Loyal Radicals”

Fresh Expressions of Diocese!?

It is most heartening that a whole new atmosphere of encouragement and permission is beginning to spread across the Church of England following the Mission-shaped Church report. Clearly the vision of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams for a Mixed Economy church helped enormously. However, with God encouraging us with so much creativity in the field of fresh expressions cropping up all over the place at the grassroots… could God have in mind for a similar more radical transformation of the diocesan structures? In this article Bob Hopkins discusses some of the possibilities. Continue reading “Fresh Expressions of Diocese!?”

Is planning “Old Hat” for church planting and Fresh Expressions of church?

The Mission-shaped Church report suggested that missionary lessons of today are moving us away from detailed advanced planning and focusing more on discernment in context (page 24). In referring to this at the Mission21 conference in Sheffield in March 2006, the chair of that report, Bishop Graham Cray suggested that we needed to look for a partnership between planting pioneers and spiritual directors. We view this as a most exciting possibility. Continue reading “Is planning “Old Hat” for church planting and Fresh Expressions of church?”