Networks of networks for Fresh Expressions
Fresh Expressions is undergoing a process of change, and Baptists are now at the heart of the movement
A few years ago Baptists Together became partners of Fresh Expressions (fx) alongside the Church of England, the Methodist Church, the Salvation Army, the URC and the Church of Scotland. It is now 15 years since the publication of the Mission-Shaped Church report and the launch of the movement, and at the fx Community Gathering on 14-15 March 2019 a creative new structure and leadership approach was announced.
Over the last five years Phil Potter, the Team Leader and Archbishops’ Missioner for Fresh Expressions, has been facilitating a process of change. The organisation has been slimmed down and the emphasis is now on enabling and encouraging partners to start fresh expressions of church. The specific focus will now be on “connecting and catalysing the fresh expressions movement.”
This movement now exists much more as a “network of networks” than simply as a single organisation. A range of missional networks have emerged that together represent the breadth and depth of the movement. Two of these are led by Baptists: the ‘New Housing Hub’ facilitated by Ali Boulton and Penny Marsh, and ‘fx resourcing’ which is headed up by Simon Goddard. Other networks include ‘fx rural’ in which another Baptist, Simon Mattholie (CEO of Rural Ministries), is actively involved. These networks work across and within denominations and are enabled by leaders from the length and breadth of the country.
Within the movement there is a passionate commitment to following wherever the Spirit leads, and this has led to a completely new understanding of leadership. From April 2019 Fresh Expressions will be moving away from a traditional Team Leader role to create a community of leadership drawing from across the wider movement – including both Ali Boulton and Simon Goddard.
Phil Potter said, “We believe that this transition will help to fuel a movement that is not only committed to catalysing fresh expressions of church but is comfortable with the pioneer premise that ‘constant change is here to stay’.”