Fresh expressions of church is the name given to a large number of groups of people in the U.K. that have developed in the period from 1990 to the present day.   They are characterised by lack of formal adherence to traditional patterns of church life, language and meeting places.   This new movement attempts to make the Christian message relevant to people who are not already part of a church.   Members of such groups seek to redefine what it is to be church and aim to create new ways of connecting with the communities in which they live.   The 2007 statistical returns from the Church of England reveal that several tens of thousands of people are involved in such groups attached to the Church of England.

Fresh expressions of church have been created for, among others, skateboard and BMX culture in Essex, cafe culture in Kidsgrove, artists and creatives in London, university students in Southampton, surfers in Cornwall, Asian people in Birmingham, people living in the city centre of Manchester and children in Portsmouth.

In September 2005 the Church of England and the Methodist Church recognised this movement by setting up an organisation, Fresh Expressions, to monitor and encourage fresh expressions in those denominations. Fresh Expressions has a core team of 15 people and is led by Archbishop's missioner, Rt Revd. Graham Cray, former Bishop of Maidstone.

The development of the ecumenical Fresh Expressions initiative is based on the Mission-shaped Church report of the General Synod of the Church of England in 2004 (Church House Publishing ISBN 0-7151-4013-2).   The Methodist side of the movement is recorded in Changing Church for a Changing World (Methodist Publishing House ISBN ).   The United Reformed Church, the Congregational Federation and Ground Level Network are also formal partners.

Fresh Expressions defines 'fresh expression' as:

  • a form of church for our changing culture established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church.
  • It will come into being through principles of listening, service, incarnational mission and making disciples.
  • It will have the potential to become a mature expression of church shaped by the gospel and the enduring marks of the church and for its cultural context.
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