How do you define a fresh expression of church?

The precise definition of a fresh expression of church has evolved over time. The term was coined by the Mission-shaped Church report. It was taken from the promise made by Anglican clergy every time they take up a new post: 'to proclaim the Gospel afresh in each generation'.

Fresh expressions:

  • serve those outside church (they are missional);
  • listen to people and enter their culture (they are contextual);
  • make discipleship a priority (they are formational);
  • form church (they are ecclesial).

More formally, currently we think this is the most helpful definition:

A fresh expression is 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.

The important things to notice are that fresh expressions have an emphasis on mission, that they are culturally appropriate, that they come into being only after a time of listening to the local community and that one day, as disciples are made, they will become a mature expression of church.


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