Monday, 16 April 2012

Proclaim the Faith Afresh in Each Generation

Every time the bishop welcomes a new priest and gives them a license to minister, we hear those words, ''to proclaim the faith afresh to this generation'. Here is a book that argues that 'fresh expressions of church' (ie. doing things differently yet in ways that resonate with the traditions of Christianity) are a normal part of the church's DNA. There have always been new shapes of church emerging. What makes them authentic? And what makes them different from the shapes we already have? This newly published book, written by two of the staff of Cranmer Hall theological college in Durham and the Director of Training for the national Fresh Expressions Team, is an introduction to fresh expressions of church and pioneer ministry in today's society. It is written as a study guide for churches who might be thinking about doing something differently.  It also explodes some myths and misunderstandings about what constitutes a 'fresh expression'. The final chapter tackles the thorny question of how a fresh expression becomes part of the ongoing life of the church without becoming a stale or  directionless expression!  The book is conceived as a boat to take you on a voyage. David Goodhew provides the rudder - a look at how fresh expressions are central to the Christian tradition - part of the life blood of the body of Christ - and he gives a rationale for their appropriateness in 'such a time as this'. (Interesting that this should come from Durham where I recently heard Mark Bryant, the suffragan bishop, preach an eloquent sermon on the need for the church in the north east to recapture the understanding of 'fresh expressions' which it so clearly and enthusiastically showed in the nineteenth century under the challenge to respond to the new urbanisation of the country.) Andrew Roberts builds the hull, looking at the issue of what so-called fresh expressions are and what they aren't and examining some examples of good practice. Michalel Volland hoists the sails with a chapter on God's call to pioneer ministry and a look at what the long haul means. The book provides scholarly analysis while also drawing on practical experience and is well worth a read if you are thinking about new directions in your own living out of your faith, particularly  if you are doing this with others and feel a call to something new.

There will be a book launch at Cranmer Hall (Tristram Room) on Tuesday 25th April at 5.45pm. You can go along and meet the authors. Or contact them at  

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