In the course of the last month, I’ve been looking through all 43 Diocesan websites for resources in the areas of mission and Fresh Expressions. The full research is here:
Based on diocesan websites alone (which I’m aware don’t give the full picture), the level of engagement with Mission Shaped Church, Fresh Expressions, and the Mixed Economy church is mixed. Several Dioceses give it a high profile, some don’t mention it at all.
However, this isn’t an indicator of how seriously the dioceses take mission: for example both Southwell and Manchester have plenty going on, but neither gives FX a very high profile.
For simplicity, I’ve grouped all the Dioceses (excluding Sodor and Man, which has a very skeleton website) according to what level of profile they give to Mission Shaped Church, Fresh Expressions etc.
The following dioceses use their websites to draw attention to particular Fresh Expressions in their area, and provide background on what Fresh Expressions is:
Bristol, Chichester, Exeter, Guildford, Liverpool, Oxford, Ripon and Leeds.
Of these I would say that Bristol, Exeter, Guildford and Oxford exemplify the level of engagement and fruit that would be good to see in every diocese.
The following Dioceses (typically) have a Fresh Expressions page, run the Mission Shaped Ministry training course, and have some level of encouragement for Fresh Expressions, perhaps with examples of a particular project.
Chelmsford, Ely, Gloucester, Norwich, Peterborough, Southwell, Truro
Fresh Expressions material consists mainly of links to other sites, no evidence of any work in the Diocese.
Bath & Wells, Blackburn, Bradford, Chester, Coventry, Durham, Leicester, London, Manchester, Portsmouth, St. Albans, St. Edmunsbury & Ipswich, Sheffield, Southwark, Wakefield, Winchester (but a new appointment here, so would expect profile to rise), York.
Nothing on the site to do with Fresh Expressions or Mission Shaped Church.
Birmingham (though the ‘local projects’ section has examples of what you’d call Fresh Expressions), Canterbury, Carlisle, Derby, Hereford, Lichfield, Lincoln, Newcastle, Rochester, Salisbury, Worcester
Based on the above, the majority of Dioceses (29 of 43) give low or no profile to Fresh Expressions on their websites.
Though in some Dioceses, mission is a clear priority with or without Fresh Expressions, a glance at the list above will show that for many of them, Fresh Expressions has made little or no impact on their public face as shown through the Diocesan Website – which is also now a prime place for archiving resources, stories and training materials.
I'm sure that there is plenty more going on than the diocesan sites record, and the reasons for this not feeding through to the sites could be many and varied! This information is accurate at the time of writing, based on what I can find on the websites. There may be hidden gems, but they’re too well hidden to find! As websites will change, it’s true as a snapshot, but not as a moving picture.