in my new role i am now on the fresh expressions round table. this means meeting with the fresh expressions team and others involved as partners in encouraging fresh expressions of church, the emerging church and all that. i really enjoyed the first meeting. i was reflecting on fresh expressions and the astonishing shift of environment there has been in the church of england following the publciation of mission shaped church. i know lots of people have their frustrations and that isn't surprising. but there are lots of new shoots and a new culture of permission in ways that were not there 10 or even 5 years ago.
one of the unseen pieces of work that fresh expressions has done, and this is due in large part to the institutional credibility, patiience and hard work of steve croft who heads it up is to get changes to policy. this may sound dull but in the long run may end up being the real legacy of fresh expressions...
- one is a new pathway to ordination for pioneer ministers recognising that people starting new communities have a very different set of gifts and skills and training needs to pastor/teacher types. this is already leading to a whole raft of people applying to get ordained who probably wouldn't have before.
- the second is opening up a new set of training for lay (hate that word but you no what i mean) pioneers to be resourced by regional training partnerships or dioceses.
- and the third is developing a code of practice for dioceses, pastoral and mission measure. in effect this is addressing the parish system which has made it awkward for someone starting something new as it feels like they are on someone else's territory. this piece of legislation means that it is now possible to view the bishop as a leader or broker in mission (and hopefully some bishops might see themselves as precisely this), and there is a new device of a bishop's mission order that is the technical way that this permission is granted.
even writing that short summary i realise it may not sound the most exciting piece of news ever, but having the nous to get involved in and negotiate these changes is a wonderful gift to the church of england and those concerned for change and creating new things. i'm sure it has taken a lot of patience and there's a whole lot of working out to be done in terms of what it means. the pastoral measure has yet to be apprioved by parliament.
rowan williams is a real supporter of fresh expressions - i think he is wonderful in so many ways. in a recent interview he says it in a way that couldn't be clearer when asked what things he thinks are most critical in the short term...
In the Church of England, the biggest most positive focus is the project that we call Fresh Expressions, an initiative for networking and resourcing church planting across the country