Posted by: ronontheroad | November 13, 2012

Fresh Expression

2012-04-01 20.04I was asked by a friend “how can something that has been going for more than 20 years still be a fresh expression?”

Apart from working out what we mean by “Fresh Expressions” when we talk about worship, I think the question is interesting.

Is “fresh expression” in the same category as “new penny”? Back in the day, we had pounds, shillings, and pence here in the UK: 12 pennies to the shilling, 20 shillings to the pound. Then, in the 1970’s we had “decimalisation” – we suddenly had 100 pennies to the pound. And the Royal Mint issued these small coins that bore the legend “1 new penny” on the reverse side. These coins were first issued in 1971, but it wasn’t until 1982 that new coins were produced that dropped the “new” penny designation. Of course the older coins remained in circulation for many years after that.

Or is “fresh expression” just a shorthand for things like “messy church” or “cafe church”? – I hope not. Each of these have their place, as do choral evensong and compline, but they are not the only way of expressing worship. As Rob Bell puts it “We must first make decisions about what it means at this time, in this place, for these people.”

I am involved with different expressions of worship – as a member of a small Vineyard Church learning how to be a family together, in First Friday finding ways of making time and space for God, and in The Mass, creating a safe environment for people to explore spirituality – even though they would not be comfortable in a more conventional setting.

But to me, Fresh Expression should be like fresh coffee – even though the ingredients may be the same, each cup is created (expressed!) afresh, relying on the skill of the barista to ensure that all the ingredients are freshly prepared and served up (maybe with an artisic flourish). And the best part of coffee is not in the drink itself, but being able to spend time with friends and share life together.

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