Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fresh Expressions News

The easiest thing is just to cut and paste the latest FX bulletin....

Welcome to the December edition of e-xpressions. New stories on our website this month include:
Hartcliffe and Withywood Lighthouse, a fresh expression on two needy estates in Bristol.
The Terminus Initiative, a fresh expression at a bus station.
Emmanuel Café Church, a student fresh expression in Leeds 'fuelled by coffee';
Solace, a fresh expression for clubbers in Cardiff.
December's podcast has more from Solace and Emmanuel Café Church, as well as news from the Mission21 conference in Bath. You can also hear a longer interview with Graham Cray at Mission21 in our podcast extra.

From generation to generation
Fresh expressions of church are for all generations, from pre-school children and their families to the 'Jagger generation' (Old Mick is a pensioner now!) and every possible local combination. But it is particularly good to see older generations blessing God's work among younger ones.

The Methodist chapel on Polzeath beach had just four members left – the longest serving being 90 and 85 years old – when the suggestion was made that the chapel be developed as a fresh expression for the surfer community who flocked to that beach most of the year. It took them a whole thirty seconds to agree to the idea, and then to actively bless the work as it took shape as Tubestation.

A group of senior members of a Women's Institute, many in their eighties, once told me that they were worried that none of their grandchildren ever came to church. 'Do you think they would ever come to a church like ours?' they asked. When I replied that I did not think they would, they asked what could be done? There is now a monthly, all age fresh expression of church in the barn where we were meeting.

In Luke, chapter one, there is a lovely example of this cross-generational blessing when Elizabeth, 'in her old age', greeted her relative Mary, who was probably about fifteen, with wonderful Holy Spirit inspired word of praise and encouragement. 'Blessed are you'. Elizabeth thanks God for something which, she could not yet see, which would take place through some one else, and which still awaited God's fulfilment: namely the kingdom which would come through the child Mary was carrying. Then she encouraged her young relative to continue in faith – believing that the Lord would fulfil his promises.

On of the evidences of God's Spirit at work is when we can rejoice when God does something in the next generation, which we have not seen in our own, and encourage young disciples to trust God's word.

Mary's response, which we call the Magnificat, reminds us all that God's mercy is for those who fear him 'from generation to generation.'

You can watch the Tubestation story on expressions: the dvd - 2: changing church in every place.

Christmas is coming...
Christmas is a comin' in. That makes it high time for not one, but two, Advent Beach Hut Calendars – and a Christmas Day sermon by text. Last year, the Beyond group in Brighton and Hove hit the headlines with their seaside variation on the advent calendar. Each night a different beach hut opened their doors to reveal the owner’s interpretation of a favourite Christmas carol.

The seasonal success is being repeated on the Sussex seafront this year – and, for the first time, in Bridlington. Pioneer minister Ben Norton, of XY Church for Men, is using one beach hut and 24 different local community groups and individuals to tell the Good News of Christmas.

Revd Matt Ward of Leeds University's Emmanuel Café Church has also been in festive frame of mind and prepared a Christmas Day sermon to send to Café Church student regulars by text. Read the full story in our Christmas Day sermon media release.

Fresh expressions are for all generations, both young and old. This is echoed in specific pages in the guide part of Share.

Fresh expressions for under 5s and their families contains four examples of fresh expressions for this age group, including a write-up of the soft play centre, The Wesley Playhouse, which will feature in the January Fresh Expressions podcast. There are hints, tips and principles for people working with this age group and a list of suggested resources.

Children's fresh expressions contains two examples for this age group, including a Messy Church in Sheffield. Again, there are words of advice and a list of resources.

Finally, there's a page called Fresh expressions for older people which has write-ups of three
examples, a 'Things to bear in mind' section (with helpful statistics) and a list of helpful resources.

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