Friday, December 7, 2012

What is “Fresh Expressions”?

by Rev. Dr. Larry Hovis

On February 1, 2012, at FBC Greensboro, CBF of North Carolina (in partnership with CBF National, Center for Congregational Health, and Virginia Baptist Mission Board) will host a Fresh Expressions Vision Day. But what is “Fresh Expressions”? Something you spray on your body or in your bathroom?

Actually, Fresh Expressions is a movement of the Holy Spirit that began in the Church of England, has spread throughout other denominations in the United Kingdom, and has now made it to the U.S.  According to,

“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, contextual 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.”

Fresh Expressions is not a program or a marketing tool to get more people to attend Sunday morning worship services or a strategy to increase contributions. “While all fresh expressions are different,” says, “there are some guiding principles that tie them all together. Fresh expressions are:

  • ·         Missional – serving those not currently served by any church;
  • ·         Incarnational – listening to people and entering their culture;
  • ·         Discipling – helping people enter more fully into the life of Christ;
  • ·         Ecclesial – forming church.”

Fresh expressions of church, ideally, are launched by or exist in partnership with, “inherited” churches. Together, they form what Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams calls a “mixed economy”, existing side-by-side, enriching one another in mutually supportive ways.

Fresh expressions require little or no budget. Instead, they will demand that we approach our communities with:

  • ·         Open eyes – to see people in our community that need Jesus but to whom we may have been blind
  • ·         Open hearts – to make space and time in our busy lives to cultivate relationships with them

I believe fresh expressions may be a significant avenue through which the churches of our fellowship more faithfully and effectively reach people in our community with the Good News of Jesus, people that may never enter our buildings. In doing so, these fresh expressions may, in ways we can’t now imagine, serve to renew and revive the congregations historic congregations we love so much.

Interested in learning more about this movement, and how you and your church might join in? Visit for more information.  Then join us on February 1, 2013 at FBC Greensboro.

Larry Hovis is the Executive Coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina.

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