Gleanings for ‘Unbounded Church’ from those ‘Already on the Road’

     “You Don’t Get to New Places by Following Established Tracks”  

                                                                                                               Carlo Rovelli               


One of the reasons for the ongoing and worsening lack of missional fruit from the mission activities of Australian churches is the persistence with ‘Square Wheel’ endeavours, which I have written about many times. i.e. those evangelistic activities which produced little to no fruit the last time we used them!

One way of avoiding the ‘Square Wheel’ trap is to learn from the experiences of others, those who are ‘already on the road’ ahead of us, both from the good and bad. A place where greater missional fruitfulness is being achieved is in the UK. Because of this I resolved over the last few years to investigate the new forms of church being established there. The fruit of that investigation forms the content of a document called ‘Gleaning From Those Already on the Road ‘ which can be found in the Resources section of this site.

The purpose of ‘Gleanings’ is to inform and stimulate current discussions on improving our missional fruitfulness. It particularly draws on the very comprehensive and wide-ranging research carried out by the 2013 ‘Church Army Research Unit’ in the United Kingdom in a twenty-year longitudinal study of new forms of church (aka ‘Fresh Expressions of Church’ – FxC), modified by the further analysis of the 2016 ‘Day of Small Things’ (DOST) report from the same source which extended the research to cover twenty one Anglican Dioceses.

Particular things to note about the research are-

  • Great effort was taken to produce output that is a true reflection of the results of the large-scale efforts put into establishing new (Unbounded Church-type) forms of church.
  • Results in terms of reaching the multiplicity of the church-alien cultural universes of the lost and drawing in the ‘unchurched’ and ‘de-churched’, are far greater than the standard local/parish church system has achieved, is achieving, or is likely to achieve.
  • Around 60% of attenders are either de-churched or unchurched.
  • The vast majority of new forms are seeded by communities rather than individuals or large groups.
  • This is a largely lay led movement
  • Discipling of Newcomers is intentional in 80% of the new Missional Communities (MCs).
  • Developing MC networks is vastly less expensive and, on the evidence of these in depth and long term studies, much more missionally fruitful, than traditional mission strategies.

I hope ‘Gleanings’ will help stimulate more creative and energetic thinking as we address the growing missional ‘Crisis’.

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