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Archbishop praises ‘crucial’ work of Fresh Expressions

Thursday 23rd April 2015

Archbishop Justin Welby has praised the “crucial” work of Fresh Expressions as the church in England seeks to engage with an increasingly complex culture.

Speaking at a Fresh Expressions ‘From Margins to Mainstream’ event held at Lambeth Palace yesterday, the Archbishop spoke of the “huge complexity” of engaging with the modern world.

But he said the Church was well placed to meet this challenge because of its great diversity and vibrancy. From Fresh Expressions and pioneer ministry, to cathedrals and training institutions, he said the Church is “more of a jazz band than a symphony orchestra”.

He added: “It’s an improvisation… it’s the process of bringing together so many different aspects of what it is to be the church and enabling those to work in harmony.”

Within this he said that Fresh Expressions plays a vital role in bringing people to faith in Christ.

Looking forward, the Archbishop said the Church must lift its gaze from internal conflicts and focus on “the work of the Spirit to move through this land, renewing it and strengthening it and bringing people face to face with Jesus Christ”.

During his talk Archbishop Justin reflected on the harmony between a lot of Fresh Expressions work and his own ministry priorities of prayer, reconciliation, and evangelism and witness.

Prayer features heavily in many fresh expressions, he said, because they draw people to faith and to relationship with Christ. “And the most natural thing to do, especially for new Christians, is not strategic plans but passionate prayer,” he said.

Fresh Expressions is also “crucial” in helping reconciliation between diverse groups within the church, he continued.

“Reconciliation is about the business of living diversely in a diverse world in a way that draws people face to face with Jesus Christ. And reconciliation happens in the church not when we look inward at each other but when we look outward, and begin to work together for the good of the Kingdom of God. Fresh Expressions is crucial to that.”

The initiative has also been “a gift” to evangelism and witness across the country, he said – but stressed that this work could not be done by any one group alone.

The work of bringing more and more people to faith in Jesus was “in the hand of God,” he said. 

But it needs “fresh expressions to be utterly normal within the life of the Church of England, within its training, within its sector ministry, within its mission action planning. It requires each to see that they need the other. It requires the orchestration and the inspiration of the Spirit of God.”

Archbishop Justin welcomed the appointment of Revd Canon David Male to the new role of National Adviser for Pioneer Ministry. 


 

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