What is the difference between fresh expressions and emerging church?

In terms of theology or understanding of mission, there is no fundamental difference. Those who prefer the phrase fresh expressions and those who prefer the phrase emerging church are both seeking to develop new ways of being church that are culturally and contextually relevant. There is a very high degree of commonality in the values of fresh expressions and emerging church.

Practically there are differences. Emerging church in North America tends to be about doing church differently for Christians, though there are exceptions. Fresh expressions, as we have defined them, have a focus on those who don't attend church.

There are also differences in the way that the institutional church is perceived. Those who talk of fresh expressions tend to see it as a good thing that many denominations are recognising that for reasons of mission new forms of church are needed. They welcome the blessing and backing of the denominations.

Those who prefer the language of emerging church will argue that what they are part of is organic or of the community (rather than of the institution). They can often be wary of perceived attempts by denominations to control fresh expressions.

In this discussion we need to be careful that the urgent need to do mission and the energy we need for that is not lost in debate about words or unnecessary duplication of resources.


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