Global Ministries

The United Methodist Church

Connecting the Church in Mission

Center for Mission Hosts Fresh Expressions Spark Day

*Yvonne Njoroge

Atlanta, Jan. 27, 2016—On January 25, 2017, the Center for Mission Innovation (CMI) hosted a Fresh Expressions Spark Day Event at the General Board of Global Ministries headquarters. This event was held to equip Christians to plant Fresh Expressions communities locally by learning how to renew existing congregations. Attendees learned different ways to start Fresh Expressions communities by building networks and relationships. Attendees included more than 240 members of the North Georgia, South Georgia, and Florida annual conferences.
 


Watch highlights of the event. 

Fresh Expressions is an international movement that is creating new church communities alongside existing ones that are primarily for the benefit of those who are not yet a part of any church. Born from a Church of England and British Methodist Church initiative, Fresh Expressions has since expanded to other countries, including the United States.


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Rev. Audrey Warren. Photo Cynthia Mack.

Often, people go to a church and want to provide a prescription, “this is how we need to do things.” However, explains the Rev. Audrey Warren, Pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Miami, FL, which has a Fresh Expressions community, “A prophetic description before prescription is how we work to towards a great church.” Fresh Expressions catalyzes churches for new people in new places, and in new ways.


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Rev. Michael Beck. Photo Cynthia Mack.

“The Time of the professional minister is over; the time of the missionary pastor has come,” said Bishop Ken Carter of the Florida conference. The kind of relationships we are trying to form through Fresh Expressions are the kind that the church, as we do it now, have no chance of creating them. Some examples of Fresh Expressions include Wildwood United Methodist Church in Wildwood, FL, which holds a service at a tattoo parlor where the Rev. Michael Beck leads a Bible study to share the gospel with workers and customers as they are getting inked. Another is a yoga class at the Yoga Chapel led by Warren for new (and old) comers to a church that allows them to discover a new form of worship at First UMC in Miami.


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Rev. Kevin Griffin. Photo Cynthia Mack.

The healthiest and most sustainable Fresh Expressions congregations are operated as a team-based effort by following the five characteristics of a healthy team as described by the Rev. Keven Griffin pastor of Connect & Form at Grace Community Center in North Fort Myers, FL: a deep level of trust, healthy conflict, commitment, high standards, and results. Griffin shared a quote from Bishop Graham Cray, “This is not a solo effort. Fresh Expression must be birthed out of a team, not by a solo pioneer!” Griffin reminded everyone in the session that even Jesus built a team. When pastors try to do it all, we rob people of the ministry they are called to do.

Fresh Expressions is transforming the way we look at ministry; showing an outward expression of an inward grace. It is a way in which God is birthing new things. As the CMI mission statement notes, “The Spirit is always moving to sweep the Church into a new mission age.”

*Yvonne Njoroge is Digital Media Producer, Communications for Global Ministries.