Carolyn Kinsman, 11/10/2017
Research Unit > Glossary of terms used in fresh expressions of Church research

glossary of terms used in fresh expressions of church research

Rather than list all the entries alphabetically, they are by category and then listed A-Z.

  1. Types of fresh expression of Church
  2. Dynamics differentiating mission resources available to fresh expressions of Church
  3. Kinds of support to fresh expressions of Church
  4. Two groups in the UK mission field
  5. Three elements contributing to maturity and responsibility in fresh expressions of Church
  6. Various legal designations for churches and fresh expressions of Church
  7. Some ministerial categories of those who lead fresh expressions of Church

1. Types of fresh expression of Church

Where a type of fresh expression of Church is further explained in Mission-shaped Church, the letters ‘msc’ are put in brackets after it.

All age worshipThis term has been around since the 1980s and may be seen as a desire to go beyond the felt limitations of its antecedent, the family service. A few are still called that. Those limits were such services being too child-centred and an associated dumbing down of content. Those advocating and resourcing all age worship include Scripture Union and BRF/Messy Church, and also those voices insisting that children are part of today’s church, not of tomorrow. Its approach tends to be thematic and utilises different learning styles. It can be resource hungry, reflected in being equally monthly or weekly. They were not listed in Mission-shaped Church as they were thought then only to be a variant on existing Sunday services. The research period 2014-2016 has noted how often they are cited within the identity of fresh expression of Church. Yet of 90 cases, only 11 were described as solely all age worship. They are more commonly seen (66 times) as one value within some multiple congregations, church plants café churches and Messy Churches, in that order.

Alternative worship (msc) is often spelt alt.worship and sometimes using other labels such as emerging church. These communities were seen first in the late 1980s. In worship they use a variety of media to explore Christian faith and discipleship, with a style of offering participants space and options. A small community core prepares for, or curates, these. Their history is one of connecting well with disenchanted Christians, but now they also have links to new monasticism and attract spiritual seekers.

Base ecclesial community (msc) - This model, originating from South America in the 1950s, is led by local lay people, with a focus to connect church and life and tackle its inequalities. It has only been tried in a few English locations and we know none that have continued. Its excellent values continue to attract interest.

Café church (msc) is a catch-all term for a range of levels of engagement. At its trivial end, the introduction of serving coffee has been known to be cited. More seriously, it picks up the proliferation of cafés in society as safe gathering places. Characteristic are locations set out with tables, drinks and sometimes food. Conversation predominates over presentation; being or becoming community over providing worship. Discussion is more apt than lecture. People are freer to come and go. Sometimes an optional further venue is used, at which another style may occur such as alternative worship.

Cell church (msc) can occur as standalone, or in parallel to an existing congregation. Arriving in the UK in 1995 from the Far East, classically lay-led groups of people meet in a home, share their lives to grow as disciples and seek to bring outsiders into this quality of relationships. The leaders of the different cells also meet with one another and a person who supervises and supports them. Difficulties have been to invite newcomers to such an exposed environment and to grow further leaders to begin new groups as old ones expand.

Child-focused church - This label was invented by the Fresh Expressions team after 2004, noticing the beginning of groups based around the primary school age group. The content is such that both parents and children can engage, and the style is such that the children may move around. Locations can be in schools, halls or churches. They are one type of fresh expression of Church linked to a stage of life. They are differentiated from Messy Church by no distinct craft and family meal stage.

Church based on under 5s -  As with child-focused church, this term was coined post-2004 and is based around the pre-school age group, but embraces parents, grandparents and carers. The best examples are educationally aware and take the spirituality of the child seriously.

Clusters - Severally called clusters, mid-sized communities or mission-shaped communities, this model combines a majority proportion identity, of those involved with a 20-50 sized group, and membership of a larger church which is at best complementary, but may be secondary to this. Each CLU is seen as church in its own right and is born out of a shared specific mission focus. They may meet weekly or fortnightly, with a monthly larger gathering or celebration.

Community development plant (msc) - These grow, sometimes by accident, from forms of Christian social engagement, most commonly in deprived areas and among communities with high proportions of the non-churched. At best, they discern and discover, with local people, what would be suitable forms of worship and they search for indigenous leadership.

Intentional community - These, by their high demands and vocational processes, are still very rare. Often there is some overlap with new monasticism. Classically there will be a shared purse as part of a shared rule, and there may be a joint household or a row of adjacent ones. Usually they will be involved in the social issues of their context.

Messy Church - The prototype began in 2004 and within ten years has seen 3000 more registered worldwide. Its values are Christ-centred church, for all ages, drawing on human instincts for hospitality, creativity and celebration. Its popularity has led to unwise unthinking copying, and splendid creative adaptation. BRF, its sponsors, have taken a light touch to this but wish it were well understood.

Midweek church (msc) - By definition this is a midweek congregation as part of an existing church and their building. At best, it has its own sense of identity, humour, membership, pastoral structures and ownership by those who attend. They are often begun to try to reach a group that the existing church congregation(s) does not engage with, either by age or day of availability.

Multiple Sunday congregation (msc) is similar to midweek church but on a Sunday. At best it has its own identity, membership and ownership by those who attend. Often the point of diversity that led to its start is the need to provide a weekly different style of worship, not least its music, rather than run a monthly rota of different approaches which alienates one group every week.

Network church (msc) is begun to connect with people and contacts that are not defined by a geographic or parochial area, but by coherent patterns within a shared life, whether derived from work, school, a common interest, or a stage of life, or even among people who gather for a common purpose e.g. outreach to a specific group. If a possible network is too diffuse and transient, such as clubbers, it has been hard if not impossible to form community, and chaplaincy models are more suitable.

New monastic community - These draw inspiration from a variety of monastic traditions (e.g. Celtic, Benedictine, Franciscan). Their focus is on sustaining intentional community, patterns of prayer, hospitality and engaging with mission. This leads to the distillation of a rule of life and involves a vocational process and making some form of vows for members to join.43 More often the instincts for this are combined into another type of fresh expressions of Church, rather than existing on its own.

Older people’s church - These are more than providing communion services in old people’s homes. To qualify as a fresh expression of Church there needs to be evidence of pastoral contact, engagement with ongoing discipleship and encouragement to older people to exercise ministries in their own right. Their worship is varied depending on context, from the familiar Book of Common Prayer to what is appreciated by the boomer generation.

School-based church (msc) - This further type of stage-of-life church are those fresh expressions of Church that not only meet in a school but which are for the school, in that they engage with the pupils, teachers and parents, and are part of the life of the school. The time of meeting will more easily be at the end of the school day or week, rather than at the weekend.

Seeker (msc) - It is accurate, in hindsight, to call this an instinct to present the Christian faith in an attractive way to the willing newcomer, more than a whole way of being church. We have found no examples where this is the sole identity of a fresh expression of Church, not least because it is too resource hungry. However, a number of fresh expressions of Church draw on its approach and resources that originated in Chicago.

Special interest group - This is our invented term for a variety of fresh expressions of Church based around a specific subculture. Examples are wide: the arts, goths, workplace, LGBT groups, recovering addicts, and those with learning difficulties. The fresh expression of Church engages with their interests and needs, and aims to be a Christian worshipping community born out of the subculture it is based in and in mission to it.

Traditional church plant (msc) - These have occurred since the 1970s and were started to provide a focus of worship and community in areas of large parishes with discernible areas at a distance from the parish church. From the 1980s they became more known, and that era saw them occur much more frequently. Some crossed parish boundaries which prompted investigation by the wider Church. They were often similar in style to the congregation that sent them, being led by authorised ministers and meeting on a Sunday, but some tended to greater informality and the use of secular venues, while others took over existing buildings and formed relationships with the existing congregations there. They continue to be a distinct part of the fresh expressions of Church picture, including plans to begin them in other cities and town centres, but till now are more likely found in the southern region of England.

New traditional service (msc) - These began realising that, in the midst of change, a significant group in society still valued the old, and it was just as mission-shaped and legitimate to provide for them. These are new congregations, not all meeting on a Sunday, with traditional worship held in churches, not secular venues, and forming community.

Youth church (msc) - At best these will be by youth for youth, believing that the missions factor here is not age, but cultural change and identity. Equally, they will not be mainly trendy church for Christian young people, but churches that grow out of making connections with non-churched young people. Some are now finding it is necessary to reproduce yet another but connected expression, which is a related church for young adults as they outgrow their teenage years.

2. Dynamics differentiating mission resources available to fresh expressions of Church

Pioneer - An assessment of what a church is currently doing could reveal age or cultural gaps in its cover, or geographical areas from which few if any people come to church. As such, a weakness would have been identified, and an awareness of little to build from. To respond would be to pioneer, to be the first to address this need. Thus what begins would feel more like starting from scratch.

Progression - By contrast, an assessment might reveal the possibility of being able to build upon existing good foundations laid by the church. These could be existing good relationships (for example, with a school, or mothers and toddlers group) or previous initiatives in the community that the church has been involved with (e.g. a debt counselling service, a holiday club or Alpha course). Thus what would follow would be to make progress from what already existed.

Both are equally valid but have very different characteristics and need different approaches.

3. Kinds of support to fresh expressions of Church

Graft - This botanical allusion refers to when the fresh expression of Church crossed a parish boundary, by agreement, to assist another church, but the incomers were numerically the smaller player in the resultant church, although very significant in bringing new life.

Runner - This term, taken from the propagating habit of strawberry plants, normally means the fresh expression of Church started within the parish of its sending church and has strong existing supportive links with that church.

Seed - This is based on a horticultural analogy by which small seeds can be blown on the wind some distance to start a new plant. It means the situation when people are sent out, and in that sense with support, but they usually have to move area and house to begin a new work elsewhere, with permission, but largely on their own.

Transplant - This is another botanical picture conveying a similar dynamic to graft, but with the important difference of the incomers being the major players and clearly taking the lead. This category has been widened by us out of our experience, for we found that nowadays transplants also go into existing churches, but as a parallel congregation, not with a view to making an overall new one. They also make use of empty church buildings and secular venues.

All four types of support are equally valid and each contains strengths and challenges.

4. Two groups in the UK mission field

Both of the following terms are explained more in Mission-shaped Church, pages 36-41. Since then a few further factors have become clearer. There are of course other groups, like those of other faiths and other classifications such as theist and atheist.

De-churched - We mean a person who has had some previous meaningful contact with a church congregation but currently does not. This group is further significantly divided into those open to return to church as they know it or those not open to do so. Evidence from Tearfund research since Mission-shaped Church indicates the closed group is the far larger one. The term de-churched is not meaningfully applied to, nor necessarily includes, those who have only been attenders at occasional offices or used the building for a civic or secular purpose. Neither does it indicate whether a person has Christian belief. Our team is becoming more aware of what may be termed the de-churched believer. All in this group may or may not call themselves Christian in either a cultural or spiritual sense.

Non-churched - We mean a person who has had no meaningful contact with a church community and its corporate life. The decline in church attendance, paucity of children in Sunday schools, the diminishing content of Christianity in schools, and its marginalisation in some media, all mean that the non-churched are the growing proportion of the population. They are also the majority of its younger segments. It is also the case that those closed to coming to church as they understand it massively outweigh those open to try. Among this group it would be rare that they call themselves Christian, or even religious, but they might well be open to spirituality.

5. Three elements contributing to maturity and responsibility in fresh expressions of Church

Self-financing - All healthy fresh expressions of Church should take responsibility for how they are financed. Only occasionally will this mean them financing a full time stipendiary minister of their own, but it could mean negotiating an appropriate diocesan parish share, bearing in mind they deal with a large proportion of newcomers and, as has been said, ‘The last part of a person to be converted is their wallet.’ For fresh expressions of Church planted within a parish context, 'self-financing' instincts include having visible accounts, keeping costs low, being led by self-supporting leaders and encouraging a culture of regular giving (even if modest to begin with). The key is that a fresh expression should not be overly dependent on its sending church for financial resource, and whatever degree of dependency exists should be financially visible.

Self-governing - All healthy fresh expressions of Church should be able to take responsibility for their own strategic decisions within the overall governance structures of the parish church. Self-governing does not necessarily or usually mean the fresh expression will be utterly independent of its parent church. 'Self-governing' instincts include growing a stable leadership team (that can survive the departure of a founding leader or a change of incumbent), planning for the longer-term and gaining representation on appropriate church councils e.g. PCC or deanery synod.

Self-reproducing - All healthy expressions of Church, fresh or inherited, should include the potential for reproduction. More than growth of the fresh expression of Church by addition ('producing' more Christians), 'self-reproducing' instincts go further to seek developments in nurturing further leaders or multiplying ministry gifts, seeing the fruit of holiness in members’ lives, fostering vocations, establishing new mission projects, and in time planting further fresh expressions of Church.

6. Various legal designations for churches and fresh expressions of Church

Bishop’s Mission Order (BMO) - Mission-shaped Church requested that a form of legislation be passed that enabled a bishop to approve a mission plan desirable to the diocese that crossed existing ecclesial parish boundaries, but which other local clergy might not favour, despite consultation. It was thought that an episcopal church should not be held back by concerns that were parochial, in the negative sense of that word. The BMO has been used and found valuable. However, our team received comments on how complex achieving one still is, and that unless the diocesan bishop is in favour, the chances of securing one are slim.

Charitable trust - There are a few fresh expressions of Church that, by reason of significant outlay on staff, premises and resources, need and value accountability to a wider body. However, they find themselves without any ecclesial legal standing and without prospect of obtaining one, so they select this route.

Conventional district - This arrangement can be employed where new housing developments make it desirable for parish boundaries to be re-drawn. Or it can be where a distinct area of existing housing crosses existing boundaries but needs its own church. Then part of one or more parishes may be designated a conventional district. In a conventional district, a priest-in-charge can be appointed directly by the bishop in place of the incumbent. On change of incumbent the arrangement must be renewed, which makes it in theory a vulnerable situation.

Extra-parochial place - This denotes a geographically defined area considered to be outside any ecclesiastical or civil parish. In the 1990s, it was the only device available to give legal status to network-based churches that were wanted by the diocese. Still being construed around place, they were a kind of least worst solution, and in our study they have not been used for that purpose since the invention of the more flexible BMO.

Parishes - These normally, but not always, have one geographically bounded area that they serve and a consecrated building within it for public worship. The group of Christians who gather there are led by an episcopally authorised minister. For many centuries this has been the standard way in which local Anglican ministry has been delivered to the English nation. A few longstanding fresh expressions of Church serving significant areas of housing have become parishes.

Proprietary chapel - This device from earlier centuries is a term for a chapel that originally belonged to a private person. They are anomalies in English ecclesiastical law, having no parish area, but being able to have an Anglican clergyman licensed there. The device has been used usually by those relatively rare examples of church plants that do not enjoy harmonious relations with either the surrounding parishes or the diocese in which they find themselves.

Team district church - The creation of groups of churches, in theory to give their leaders more support, are usually called teams. The senior leader is the rector with the parish church, and team vicars then have charge of other usually smaller surrounding churches. Their team district churches will have limited local governance but be subject to the PCC of the overall church.

7. Some ministerial categories of those who lead fresh expressions of Church

Church Army Evangelists have been trained and commissioned by Church Army since 1882, and they are admitted by a Bishop into the Church of England lay office of Evangelist. They can be deployed directly by Church Army or employed by a diocese or parish. They not only do evangelism by seeking to make Christ known through words and actions, but also evoke and enable the gift of evangelism in others. In the last few years Church Army has become an acknowledged mission community, welcoming both lay and ordained evangelists.

Lay-lay is a term invented during the research. It is shorthand for those lay people discovered to be leading fresh expressions of Church, but who do not have an official church status for this (such as Reader or licensed Lay Minister), nor in the vast majority of cases do they have any diocesan training for this role.

Locally paid - Locally paid individuals are paid by individual churches or other non-diocesan sources.

NSM - Non-stipendiary ministers are ordained people who offer their time as parish priests, but without financial remuneration, whether alongside having another job or not. Like stipendiary ministers, they are deployed by agreement with the license of the bishop.

OLM - Ordained Local Ministers are similar to NSMs in that they do not receive financial remuneration. They differ from NSMs in that they are people whose local parish has put them forward for selection and training and ordination to be ‘local’ ministers in their home parish. Their calling is to return to their home parish and be a minister there, rather than to go somewhere else.

OPM - Ordained Pioneer Ministers are individuals who are clear that their vocation is to serve and guide the whole Church in the particular role of starting and developing fresh expressions of Church.
Readers are licensed lay ministers who are trained as preachers, catechists and facilitators of learning. They are encouraged to be examples to other laity as bearers and interpreters of the word of God in daily working life.

SSM - Self-supporting Minister is a term many favour over NSM, in the sense of positively affirming their own self-support as ordained people, as opposed to defining them negatively against stipendiary ministers.

Stipendiary - These clergy receive a stipend and housing such that they do not need to have other paid work and they can give their working lives to the Church.

Voluntary - Individuals who receive no financial remuneration for their role, in this case in relation to the church and the work they do.

Andrew Wooding, 02/10/2018