I’m embarking on a detour into the world of Fresh Expressions and stuff in my reading at the moment. It’s kind of tied in with wanting to understanding the full range of evangelicalism going on at the moment…I know that FE and co are not evangelical in one sense but many of them have grown out of that kind of sub-culture. More importantly, it’s kind of tied in with my personal exploring and asking God “what next?”. Whilst I won’t be looking at this type of community in my fieldwork I do want to look at, in a minor way, what the issues might be for single parents in these communities. Are they going to be the same or different to “traditional” forms of church? As I say, I don’t think this will be part of the actual thesis and so this might be a blogged detour based on thinking out loud.
I want to share this journey through the literature aswell, though, because I know that many of us often touch on the edges of this stuff, but aren’t generally part of it. It is a world that, in some ways, because we are “churched” twenty, thirty, forty somethings we are excluded from except at Greenbelt or when we are networking with those who are part of these communities. This after all is a world that is intended to connect with and build the “unchurched”. Yet, we touch on the edges of it because the journeys many of us have taken and the generation we are part of means we are in a “gap” where new networks and communities are formed to keep us sane and hanging in there when we are on the edges of our churches or(temporarily) out of church, aswell as when we are at home in our churches but unable to find people like us within them. It is a world which, if we couldn’t take our friends into churches for various reasons, we would want to connect them into.
Additionally, and more importantly, it is the world the limited money in many organisations is being poured into at the moment. We all know the church in the UK is starting to go through serious change and that mission is not only vital as a Christian command but also for the continuation of the church in this country over the next twenty years or so. There needs to be in place a range of lower key initiatives for if it does all go tits up and the majority of churches as we currently know them in this country do become unviable. I hope this doesn’t happen, but……. So for those various reasons that’s why I’m interested in looking at this stuff whilst valuing “traditional forms of church” and championing the cause of the “mixed economy”.
The first book I’ve read is “Through the Pilgrim Door” by Michael Volland, (who is now teaching the mission course at the vicar factory up the road). It traces, through a series of snapshots, the development of Feig. He apparently got some good advice off Bob Mayo early on not to try and define stuff too heavily, and so not allow the community to become something researchers could reinterpret time and time again until the analysis beared no resemblance to the community being studied.
Reading it was interesting. I’d only come across Feig once and that was last year. They were doing a pre-Greenbelt gathering and somehow I’d got myself on a mailing list telling peeps about it. When a Third Party, TOH and our host that evening asked where we were going my vague reply was “it’s something at the Cathedral, I’m not quite sure what, but we need to pop into Tescos on the way to get something to contribute”. It seems that was an accurate description of what was going on, having read the book.
The book has a few telling insights, but is more like a cup of de-caf. You know very pleasant but missing a whole lot of the stuff that really matters.
I would analyse the contents in more detail, but I have a bag full of Chrimbo reading from the library on the subject and want to go through a range of the stuff first, before I make any judgements.
On a related note the author of todays book is programming the New Forms venue at Greenbelt 2010. His latest blog post is asking for people who are “part of a worshiping community and fancy being involved in hosting worship next August, get in touch…”