Fringe Expressions

Blog banter on church leadership and fresh expressions

Up at 4am this morning. Interesting blog banter going on from 3 Brits:

1. Richard Passmore on Fresh Expressions

"I think FE may actually hinder change in the longer term because of the gravitational pull of the institution and accompanying orthodoxy. I think we are already seeing dissenting voices being marginalised as FE spreads and the orthodox centre gathers pace. I was talking the other day to someone about how some of the most pioneering imaginative work (both inside the Church of England and outside) i see are not part of FE. Is Fresh Expressions a Movement?

 Fresh expressions comment on passmore

2. Mike Breen on church leadership.

At the end of the day, what most pastors want (and have been trained to want!) is minions to execute the most important vision of all. Their own. In doing this, they effectively kill people’s ability to get a vision of their own. Why the leadership movement is leaving your church leaderless

A good sharp post by Mike Breen! Worth a read. I left a comment regarding the choice between leaders and entrepreneurs. My comment hasn't popped up yet [don't you miss the coComment web service that stopped in March 2012?] but I have blogged on this before:

"Leaders help move the existing and sometimes struggling structures forward into greater productivity and encourage people to follow. Entrepreneurs invent and innovate new structures tailored for the changing situations, but not without continuity with the past. In a world of relentless change, entrepreneurs rule. If the church expects their impact to continue, it needs to create and celebrate a culture of innovation, finding precedents in the Scriptures [come on . . . look harder] and examples in the developing non-western world." Tallskinnykiwi, Entrepreneurs or Leaders? 

3. Phil Wood explores the impact of Mennonites on fresh expressions/emerging church with his post entitled Mennomergent

Prophets of the New Order

Ngatiawa Community, a contemplative monastery of Urban Vision was featured last month in the Anglican publication Taonga. Justin Duckworth [pictured below] has a Youth For Christ past as well as a Baptist background but felt that the Baptists already had lots of good works going. The Anglicans, however, needed some encouragement. Thus the decision to "add value" to the Anglicans by aligning with them.

Nice thinking. Read the article. It's also another good example of next generation ministry that prefers NOT to plant new churches [see my last post] but still maintain a contemplative life and active ministry among the urban poor through Kingdom-minded intentional communities.

Best time to visit the monastery is at PassionFest, Feb 24-26. We will probably return in time for the festival.

Urban vision

Resourcing Missional Entrepreneurs (without creating charity cases)

Prague. Yesterday I spoke to a group of Christian business professionals and Foundation leaders from USA about how to resource missional entrepreneurs in Europe in a sustainable way, ie, without creating eternal charity cases. These people, all of them very friendly,  are part of a European tour organized by Fred Smith of and Lee Behar of The Maclellan Foundation.

image for the gathering presentation

I talked a little about what we have been doing in the past ten years in Europe and some of the best practices we have observed from our collaborators. In hindsight, I thought the presentation was a little too heavy on the strategic side and lacked some warm human stories. . . . Oh well. After I spoke, my good friend Sasa Flek shared about the Bible21 project which was excellent.

But here is my presentation. And if you happened to be in the audience, then please accept my humblest apologies.

Fresh Expressions Gathering in UK


There was once a movement in the churches in UK back in the 1980's and 90's. It was called "alt. worship". Then the movement discovered some colleagues on the other side of the pond and the movement was renamed "emerging church". Then some bishops waved their hand and rechristened it "Fresh Expressions". It was the same but it was also different. And it now had the blessing of the church which meant an easier ride, less enemies, more funding, greater understanding but also less punk rock and wild rebellion. It also meant a little historical editing and some loss of individual voices that were subsumed into the bigger picture.

But its been a great ride and a great privilege to sponsor projects under all of these titles.

A special gathering of Fresh Expressions leaders starts tomorrow. Today is the last day to register. [PDF] David Male, founder of Netchurch and author of Church Unplugged, is organising this meeting. I can't be there, as I told David. Apologies to all! Hope it goes well!

But I do send greetings to the 50+ people who will be there. They are coming from 10 countries. Thats great!

Fresh Expressions is an international movement with a different flavor in each country. My observations from a busy year of traveling and interacting with Fresh Expression leaders in many countries:

In England, Fresh Expressions is primarily an Anglican and Methodist movement. The Anglicans coined the phrase and have cast the most obvious Fresh Expression shadow. The Church of Scotland have been doing a tremendous job with their 'emerging church fund" but they have not yet fully shifted their terminology over to FE. [There might be some history there]. Some other fresh expressions of church are reluctantly being counted among the others but are reluctant to hand over the keys to the Anglicans and here I am talking about the Anabaptist type groups like Urban Expression. But by and large the FE movement is a RAGING SUCCESS and there might now be 3000 fresh expressions of church in the UK.

In most of Australia, the Uniting Church is one of the strongest voices for FE but the Anglicans are strong in Sydney. My time in Adelaide was amazing and I wouldn't be surprised if that city emerged as the FE leader in Australia.

In New Zealand, the Baptists are busy getting some networking going around the country and the Anglicans are also involved. Obviously.

In South Africa, probably the Anglicans but I didn't see many new expressions of church.

So it really is an international movement but the event this week will feature only English speakers. That's a bit of a shame. I think if they wanted to attract more leaders from the 'colonies" then they just might have to ask a few of them to speak as well as listen.

Bishop Graham Cray will be speaking. I highly recommend hearing him. He has served the movement well as an ambassador, cheerleader and guide, [see his thoughts on monastic FE] and we all owe him. Same for John Drane. And Maggie Dawn. Ok - I guess there are lots of great speakers, even if they are all English :-]

Related: I am hoping many Fresh Expressions will start on the margins and work towards self-sustainability. I am calling these Fringe Expressions and we are starting 50 of them this year.

Fringe expression fresh

Introducing Fringe Expressions

You've heard of Fresh Expressions? Good. I want to introduce the idea of Fringe Expressions which is our next major project.


But before I waffle on about what I mean by that strange phrase, I need to pause . . . and say . . .  THANKS to our sponsors for the incredible last season of support for our Missional Entrepreneurs Project.


You all rock. Yes, you rock indeed!

We just completed our first year of NO REGULAR INCOME [ouch!!] and YET we were able to keep going by the grace of God and the generosity of people like you. In fact, we were able to minister in over 20 countries last year and help equip over 500 missional entrepreneurs for effective ministry in their cities.

We could not have achieved the outcomes of the Missional Entrepreneurs Project without the generous sponsorship of these wonderful churches, individuals, businesses and organizations  . . . . [no blushing you guys!]

Top sponsors last season: CMS, Gateway Baptist, Maclellan Foundation, Grace Community, Theo Presents, Edugames, Christian Associates, Sir Tobys, PT and Magz, Jarda B. from Google, and the families of W, Sheng, Webb, LaBorde, Warren, Standerfer, Thomas, Fernandez, Chapman, Blick, Allis, and others. LOVE YOU ALL!!

Also a big thanks to my wife and 5 kids who have camped [cramped??] in an overlander truck and tents for the past year, switched to home-schooling, endured many hardships and sacrifices . . .


. . . as well as some scary, hair-extending moments

. . . like driving through a bumpy swampy wasteland in Albania

. . . and getting chased by drug dealers in the Rif mountains of Morocco

. . . and eating camel couscous in the Sahara desert.

[hmmmmm . . . that camel was quite good, actually]


Well, our family, minus one son who jumped off the truck to get into university in Texas, is about to launch out in a few weeks for our next season of ministry overseas with a very special focus:

We are going to partner with leading mission organizations and denominations by helping them start 50 new church/mission structures around the world that will act as role models for church planting in the toughest parts of the world.

As well as being highly effective fresh expressions of church and mission, these new communities will bring a lasting, holistic impact through these 3 strategies:

1. Through social enterprise and mico-business they will move their ministries towards long-term sustainability.

2. Through social justice ventures they will touch the needy in their cities in measurable ways - ie, a spiritual, social, financial and environmental impact.

3. Through social media streaming they will contagiously share their story to leverage their experience and compel others to follow their examples.

Sneaky . .  huh?

These 50 new communities will be fresh expressions of church but, also, because they will intentionally position themselves to impact those on the fringe, we will call them "fringe expressions".

By fringe, I mean the cultural fringe (alternative, non-churched, victimized) the economic fringe (poor, needy, vulnerable) the geographic fringe (church-unfriendly areas and countries) and the spiritual fringe [NOT your father's old-time religion] where traditional church efforts make little progress.

Or in other words, they will go where no fresh expressions or missional communities or emerging churches have gone before.

What we need for this next season [and this is where you come in] is:

- Business entrepreneurs to advise on how these social enterprises can launch successfully

- Social media geeks to assist these ministries to have a compelling online presence

- Social justice practitioners to point us to the most urgent needs in their countries

- Denominations and mission agencies who want to partner with us in starting a fringe expression in their backyard

- Sponsors to fund this project with $$ and ££. €€'s are good too. I figure the project will take US$210,000.

- Sponsors to support our family with a salary. Half a pastor's wage should be enough.

- Prayer supporters and cheerleaders to encourage us and some to host us as we pass by in our truck.

- 5 cities to launch missional social enterprise centers that will provide training and resources for the movement.

Biggest needs right now are visas (US$500 - really urgent actually), a replacement computer (US$1500) [Andrew's Macbook died 3 months ago and the whole family is sharing ONE computer, which is not easy with a compulsive blogger in the family . . .  not saying who . . .] and plane fares to get to our European gatherings (US$2400). We also need insurance and rego for the overlander which is in Prague right now (US$750).

Donations can be made in UK through Stewardship [tallskinnykiwi - 20041672], USA through Community Development Initiatives Inc. (yep, 501c3, tax deductible, etc). Email me at tallskinnykiwi at gmail dot com for more details.

A quick and painless no-brainer love-gift??? Use this Jonesberries Paypal button.

oooohhhhh yeah I feel that love!!!!!!!!

Our newsletter has more info including all the dodgy countries we are about to enter. Can't say everything on the blog [let the reader understand]. In the box below you can request your inclusion into our somewhat irregular, annoyingly propaganderous, often intrusionous and yet strangely and suprisingly intriguing newsletter of the intrepid adventures of our family and team as we venture forth into the world of fringe.

join our mailing list
* indicates required

So . . .  time to launch forward into the next season. Fringe Expressions is an 18 month project and it will be a strrrreeeeeeeeeeetttching challenge for all of us. Can I count on your support?

UPDATE: Fringe Expressions Facebook group

RELATED: Bishop Graham Cray: Fresh expressions on the Fringe?

Share the Guide: How can we sustain our fresh expression?