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Session 6:Church Growth: Church Planting, Fresh Expressions and Mixed Economy of Church


By the end of this session you should be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of some of the differences and similarities between traditional church, fresh expressions, church plants and a mixed economy model of church.

  • Evaluate and critically engage with these models of church, and relate them to your local context.


Begin with a time of prayer asking God to teach you new things about the mission to which we are all called and the part God wants you to play in this.

What is a 'Fresh Expression?'

Click on the buttons below to read the articles.



A basic definition of a Fresh Expression of church could be: “A fresh expression is a new way of being church that seeks to reach people who are not reached by more traditional, inherited models of church.”

Pioneer ministry is a key part of the Fresh Expression movement. Pioneer ministry is space created within the structures of the church to support and enable those who are called to minister largely outside of the structures of the church.

Image by Sarah Noltner

What is Church Planting?

Basically church planting is where a new christian community is established in a new context. This often takes the form of a geographical plant (establishing a new congregation within a new physical location) or a cultural plant (establishing a new congregation within a new cultural or sub-cultural group). There is some cross over with the Fresh Expression movement, particularly in relation to new cultural plants.

A relatively new development in church planting is the “resource church”. The concept being that a new church is planted into a city or other geographical area with the express purpose of growing and then resourcing other churches in their area. A significant driving force in this movement is the Church Revitalisation Trust (, an offshoot of Holy Trinity Brompton, whose mission is to plant 100 resource churches in towns and cities across the nation.


You can read more about resource church by reading the pdf file the Resources Section at the bottom of this page.

Activity 1

What issues can you see arising out of the fresh expressions and church planting movements?

Are there any fresh expressions or church plants in your local area?

What are the similarities and differences between any Fresh Expressions or church plants and more “traditional” models of church in your local area?

Image by Sushobhan Badhai

If there is a resource church in your local area, in what ways does it resource the more “traditional” church communities in your local area?

Rejection of traditional church or mixed economy?

Watch the videos and (without reading the paragraph below!) note down what you think is the major difference between these church activities and Fresh Expressions of church?

A true Fresh Expression is not closely afflicted with an existing, inherited form of congregation.


The initiatives and activities in the above videos all have strong links to existing, inherited church communities.


The freedom of the true Fresh Expression can be both a strength and a significant weakness.


Embracing a more “mixed economy” model of church can be a significant strength to a local church community.

The mixed economy model of church was championed by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. You can watch one of Rowan William’s addresses to a Fresh Expressions conference in the video. In this talk Archbishop Rowan explored the concept of Fresh Expressions in relation to inherited models of church, and how variety is the future of the church. Does embracing the “mixed economy” model of church at a local level involve launching new activities, or is it more about viewing the life of the church outside of Sunday morning worship as “being church”?

Image by Phil Coffman

Activity 2

What opportunities are there in your local context for your church to express the life of the church in a relatively “fresh” way?

What does your church community already do outside of your regular worship?

Where does your church community make room for “intimate” relationship building between small groups of christians, and where do you enjoy the “big event” elements of the life of a worshipping community?

Growing Faith in Your Context

At the study day you will have been (re-)introduced to Growing Faith. Below are some ideas for helping you to think about Growing Faith ministry in your context, that perhaps may lead to familiar models of ministry, or may be more-akin to fresh expressions of church.

Watch the short video with some principles behind fruitful ministries with children and young people here.

Now download and look through the conversation cards here. These designed to stimulate reflective thought with others in your context. Produced by the Diocese of Bath and Wells, they are perfect for a youth and children's team, a PCC or perhaps an action group looking to start and/or develop a culture of placing children, young people and families at the heart of the ministry and mission of the church.

Spotlight on Doctrine

One of the great opportunities presented in Fresh Expressions of church and within new church plants is the opportunity to start a church community with a “blank slate”. If you had opportunity to start a new Christian community, free from pressures to do things the way that they have “always” been done… what practices and beliefs would you ensure were a part of the worshipping life of your “fresh” church? What doctrines would form the core beliefs of your “fresh” church community?

Spotlight on Spirituality


In what ways do you express your faith on a daily or weekly basis?

Are these spiritual practices inherited from other Christians or totally fresh expressions of faith which are unique to you?


What has been the most significant thing you have learned from this session?  What has been the most challenging thing? LLM(R) students only: please post some of your thoughts in the Forum here


Blessed are you, Lord our God, for you love all of your creation. May we not become so caught up in matters of the Church that we fail to act on matters of mission. May we always be seeking ways to reflect your love to the world as Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.  Amen

Something Practical To Do

What groups are there in your church that are similar to the ones in Sheffield?  Do you have anything that could be classed as a Fresh Expression of Church?

Share some of what you have found on the discussion board in the Forum here for CMM students

or here for LLM(R) students.


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