What Is a Fresh Expression?
Fresh Expressions is a movement to reach unchurched and dechurched people with the gospel of Jesus Christ in order to make new disciples of Jesus Christ. We must find new ways and create new spaces for people to experience Christian community. However, it is not just about creating new groups; these groups must also have a way for those attending a group to become those who follow in the Way of Jesus.
Four Components of a Fresh Expression
- The new community needs to be focused specifically on reaching people outside of the church. By design it gives the unchurched and the dechurched a fresh experience of Christian community. While the group needs to have some devoted Christians at its core, it must also reach out with love to those who need to experience Christian community with authentic followers of Jesus Christ.
- Meets regularly. Groups need to meet at least monthly. Some groups will meet weekly. Some will follow a different time schedule. The group can meet online or in a physical location. A one-time outreach event does not meet the criteria of having regular meetings. However, such an event may be helpful in identifying who is interested in this Fresh Expression of Christian Community.
- Makes Disciples. There are many ways to define a disciple. The one used here is that a disciple is a person who follows in the Way of Jesus. Some new communities may do this through focusing on Bible Study. Some new communities may have a strong element of service or advocating for a social justice issue. Some new communities may focus upon worship through music, sacraments, liturgy, witness or a message. Some will do a combination of these elements or all of them. The way disciples will be made will vary with the context of the Fresh Expression. However, becoming a disciple and being a disciple who follows in the Way of Jesus is the priority.
- Relates to a United Methodist Church or Entity. Many Fresh Expressions will break the mold of the way we typically “do church”. Many will meet away from the church in a different space. Many will meet on a different day and time than Sunday mornings. They will simply do church differently; but in such a way that it will be attractive and winsome and will draw those who are not a part of the already established church to a Fresh Expression of church. However, these Fresh Expressions are a part of the Body of Christ. In the United Methodist culture they will be “connected” to a United Methodist church, campus ministry, or some other entity. This connection does not mean that the Fresh Expression is expected to funnel everyone to the established church. It means that the established church and the Fresh Expression of church are better being connected to one another.
Application for Fresh Expression Grants
Most Fresh Expressions of church do not need funding from the Conference in order to get started. Most Fresh Expressions simply do not cost a lot of money; however, some established churches will find it helpful to receive a grant in order to cover some or all of the costs. There are two types of grants that can be applied for:
- Seed Grants – These grants are available to start a new Fresh Expression. The amount of a Seed Grant is $500 or $1,000 for most Fresh Expressions and $2,500 for a dinner church model due to food costs.
- Micro Grants – These grants are available to Fresh Expressions that are already in place that have shown fruitfulness in making disciples. The amount of a Micro Grant can range from $1,000 to $5,000. These grants can be applied for annually for up to 3 years. Preference will be given to those who can match the grant received.