Though much is changing in our culture and world, God continues to work through Christians to reach others for Christ. Recently the North Alabama and Alabama-West Florida New Church Teams partnered to host a day that focused on a “fresh” way of doing this. 90+ persons participated in the March 30th Fresh Expressions Vision Day hosted by Prattville First United Methodist Church.
Participants learned of an evangelism process that has had a positive outcome since its inception in 2004 by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. These 12 years later it has grown to be a worldwide movement in a variety of denominations, including the U.S. United Methodist Church. God is using this tool to discover, develop and deploy spiritual leaders to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Thanks to Executive Director of New Church, Rev. Dr. Richard Hunter, and his Alabama-West Florida counterpart, Rev. Neal McDavid, for planning this inspiring Vision Day. Also, thank you to the 90+ persons who attended the event, including 47 from the North Alabama Conference. Your passion for faith-sharing and energy for ministry fill my heart with hope for a bright future for the church.
What is a “Fresh Expression?” “A fresh expression of church is a new form of church for a fast-changing world that serves those outside the existing church, listens to people and enters their culture, makes discipleship a priority and intentionally forms Christian community.” (http://freshexpressionsus.org/about/#what) A Fresh Expression works alongside, not in competition with, existing churches to reach persons for Christ.
Do we have any “Fresh Expressions” developing in North Alabama? Absolutely! Examples include a Dinner Church in Huntsville; a Community Coffee House Church in Lester Memorial, Oneonta; a Coffee Klatch Church in Tuscaloosa; worship at an assisted living facility in Madison; Crosshaven in the Park in Cahaba Heights; Waterfront Church at the Logan Martin Lake pavilion in Pell City; Flea Market Church in Limestone County; Campus Ministry after high school in Moulton; and Celebration Recovery groups in a variety of locations across the Conference.
How large must a church be to birth a “Fresh Expression?” Churches of every size are potential developers of Fresh Expressions in a location in their context.
Our New Church team will be hosting another Fresh Expressions Vision Day in North Alabama in coming months. Watch for details and plan to come as you are able. In addition to further developing your skills and knowledge, you will be reminded that our inspiration for faith-sharing lies in the new life we have experienced in Jesus Christ.
Yes, much is changing in our culture and world. Some things will never change, though, including a principle that Jesus used from the beginning of his ministry. Christians bring others to Christ. Fresh Expressions is an amazing tool to help us do this more effectively.
As always it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.
North Alabama Conference