A Fresh Expression is a form of church for our changing culture, established primarily for the benefit of those who are not yet part of any church.
Riverside’s commitment to the Fresh Expression movement is part of our core value of planting new faith communities. We live out this vision for fresh expressions of church through our local mission initiatives such as Lunch for the Soul and Ignite. We support the equipping of entrepreneurial leaders for these kinds of emerging missions through our partnership with Shannon Kiser, Fresh Expression’s Director of Training.
Fresh Expressions is an international movement of missionary disciples cultivating new kinds of church alongside existing congregations to more effectively engage our growing post-Christian society. Our world is rapidly changing, and more and more churches are disconnected from the neighborhoods and networks all around them. While fewer people are making their way to existing churches, people are still searching for hope, meaning, and purpose. Fresh Expressions is helping the Church step outside its buildings and sanctuaries, connecting with people where they are–in neighborhoods, workplaces, dog parks, tattoo parlors, cafés, and more. There, the everyday people of God prayerfully find ways to serve the people around them, build community with those involved, help people discover Christ in their midst, and encourage church to emerge around individuals coming to faith. Church for people right where they are–in the middle of everyday life.
Beginning in 2004 as an initiative of the Church of England and the British Methodist Church, the movement has resulted in the birth of thousands of new communities in the UK alone and brought renewal to scores of established churches. The movement has spread to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Germany. In 2010, the movement began taking shape in the US. Fresh Expressions US now works across denominations to cast vision for a new kind of church, to train entrepreneurial leaders to start fresh expression initiatives, and to help denominational leaders develop strategies for mission experimentation.
Today we are seeing fresh expressions of church emerge in places like fitness centers, skate parks, homeless communities, rehab centers, McDonalds, and breweries. We are seeing fresh expressions of church emerge among artists, special needs families, hikers, photographers, skiers, business owners, and food pantry clients. People who, for whatever reason, would never come looking for church on a Sunday morning are finding faith as the church comes looking for them, offering glimpses of the kingdom of God that are relatable and actually experienced as good news.
The Fresh Expression movement honors both tradition and innovation in the Church. Inherited churches who carry on the deep traditions and rhythms of the people of God, equipping followers of Jesus to love, serve, and disciple others. Fresh expressions of church who experiment on the mission edges, changing people’s assumptions about God and God’s people and inviting them into life with Jesus. BOTH are vital expressions of the body of Christ, and BOTH are needed as we seek to live out the Great Commission in the 21st Century.