Jonny Baker speaks to students in Evangelism Network
Jonny Baker, Mission Leadership and Communities Team leader for the Church Mission Society, and a leader at Grace, an alternative worship community based at St. Mary's Church-Ealing in London, chatted with the Southwest chapter of Episcopal Evangelism Network on March 7 about Fresh Expressions, a movement gaining interest and support in the UK. Fresh Expressions explores and creates new spaces and methods for worship within the Church of England.
Baker spoke earlier in the week at St. David’s, Austin in an event, Dreamers Who Do, about Fresh Expressions in the UK and the Emergent Church in the US as well as new models of mission. There are now more than 1,000 Church of England Fresh Expressions groups.
Baker said the trajectory for Fresh Expressions sprang out of the church renewal movement of the 1960s, which was followed by a lot of interest in youth ministry. Conversations around youth ministry and missiology led to a realization that adults “on the edge” weren’t being reached any better than the youth. As efforts for reclaiming ancient worship methods gained momentum, people began looking at not only worship practices but Church itself. That led to Fresh Expressions forming in 2004, addressing in a more organized way things that were already taking place—alternative forms of worship in alternative spaces.
“So, it was attempts of the church to catch up with things already going on,” he explained.
Baker encouraged those present to get involved in discussions around such lay-led, lay-driven ideas as Fresh Expressions, which seek to find new ways of mission. The heart of the Church, he noted, is mission, and finding ways to breathe new life into it is what movements like Fresh Expressions and the emergent church are about.
Baker has written two books, Alternative Worship and Curating Worship. His blog, which has information about Fresh Expressions, CMS, and what sort of ministries people are starting, can be found at jonnybaker.blogs.com.