Updated: May 25, 2022
Hearing those around you and tuning in to God's call
In the Fresh Expressions movement, we follow a basic rhythm of cultivating new ways of doing church. The first step in the cycle is listening. Before one begins to organize events, find participants, and disciple others, they must listen to the needs of a community and to where God is speaking.
This listening is two-fold. First is to listen to God by attuning oneself to where the Holy Spirit is leading and where God’s presence is already felt (or perhaps where it isn't). When we open our hearts and prayerfully expand the scope of where church can happen, we begin to see Jesus speaking everywhere around us. What has Jesus been saying to you lately? Have you been listening?
The second aspect of this stage is to listen to your community. We must know who we are serving and what it is that they need. Fresh Expressions is for the unchurched—those who have not and probably will not be a part of traditional expressions of church. Listening to them entails physically (or virtually) going to the places they spend their time and learning from them. Ideally, these are the places where you also spend your time.
Take walks in your neighborhood and see where families spend their time like at the park or cafes. Follow event calendars from your city or local businesses and attend them. Get to know your neighbors! Talk to the person next to you at the gym or the book store. Become a regular at your local coffee shop. There are so many ways to connect with those around you in order to see if there is potential for new kinds of spiritual communities to grow. Have you been paying attention?
Although listening is just the first stage of the Fresh Expressions journey, you should never stop listening! These steps are cumulative, so listening continues as a fresh expression of church grows beyond the initial stages. If you are interested in learning more about the FX journey or would like to begin the process with your church, check out this resource from Fresh Expressions UK: https://churchsupporthub.org/fxgreenhouse/. It includes more educational content including videos, stories, and discussion questions. This is also available in app format for Android and iPhone, just search “FX: Godsend” in your App Store.