Overcoming obstacles? (Kate Kendall)

Monday, 8 June, 2009

Kate KendallKate Kendall discusses overcoming obstacles.

This blog was sparked off by the two comment sections on Share - Things that went well and Things to learn from - and I'd be interested in knowing how other fresh expressions of church overcome obstacles.

Both fresh expressions we've set up have been in response to hopes in parish profiles that the church would become more inclusive and representative of its local community, but unfortunately a profile doesn't necessarily reflect the mind of the majority of the congregation so setting up a fresh expression can be a bumpy ride.

Our fresh expressions involved setting up weekly all-age Sunday worship at a separate time to the 'main' service. Neither church had much of a history of modern worship and both fresh expressions were initially to meet the needs of younger members of the congregation who were drifting away.

I'm sure other pioneers find that a fresh expression takes time to establish; the first took about two years and our current one has been going since September and is gradually finding its feet. This is part of the natural evolution of such services and is quite a gentle process, but we have found dealing with external factors more difficult.

My questions are:

  1. Have other people experienced hostility, or indeed sabotage attempts, from established congregations when setting up a fresh expression?
  2. Do you find that most of your church cannot comprehend why people need to experience different forms of worship?
  3. Is the reduction of clergy posts going to be a problem? My other half is about to become solely responsible for two sizeable churches with seven services on a Sunday, one of which is our fresh expression. For us, and those who called us here, that is a priority, but the increase in clergy workload isn't going to help and means creating a much-needed fresh expression elsewhere in the parish is impossible at this stage.
About the author: 

Kate Kendall has been doing children's work and worship in churches for nearly twenty years and is married to a vicar in the Worcester diocese. She helped set up two fresh expressions: one in Ely and the latest in the Worcester diocese, both aimed at widening the age profile in middle-of-the-road Anglican parish churches.


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