Forming communities of faith that are uniquely inward, upward, ofward, and outward
When a fresh expression arrives at the forming church stage of the Fresh Expressions Journey, the community begins to find a rhythm, new people come to follow Jesus, and love for neighbor becomes the paradigm. Although these communities may not look like a traditional church, they embody the core nature of the church: a people who share life together with Christ at the center.
This way of doing church is deeply contextual—forming from the relationships, lifestyles, and shared passions of those involved, which creates the potential for each one to look vastly different from the other. Some fresh expressions meet weekly, while others might find that gathering less often works best for them. Some meet outdoors to do activities together, while others gather over a meal in a restaurant or someone’s home.
As the rhythm of a fresh expression solidifies, the members create their own traditions, practices, and structures. Spirituality can be incorporated through anything: Bible studies, serving the greater community, prayer, exploring nature, sharing Jesus stories, and so much more.
Being mostly composed of those outside the traditional church, there may be hesitation to engage in typical Christian spiritual practices right away. But, it can be introduced in less intimidating ways:
Rather than prayers… start with meditation or a moment of reflection.
Rather than playing worship music… make art or share secular songs that carry special meanings.
Rather than a Bible study… ask open ended questions that might lead to deeper discussions.
Christian ideas can even be introduced in something as simple as asking “What do you think a wise teacher, like Jesus, would say in that situation?” The Christians in the room will share their faith journey and beliefs alongside others. When members feel heard, accepted, and loved as they explore these big ideas, openness to hearing the Gospel will grow and they will respond.
At this stage in the Fresh Expressions Journey, communities truly become a church in every way. Members begin to feel a sense of unity, and the desire to care for one another deepens and multiplies. They do life together. The unifying elements are curiosity, love, and motivation toward Christ and Christ-likeness.
A fresh expression of church possesses the marks of any other church; its core way of being is inward (one), upward (holy), ofward (catholic), and outward (apostolic).