In my previous blog I mentioned Lindsey who’s working with me for five weeks as part of her course at Moorlands Bible College. I don’t know what the rest of her colleagues are doing, but I suspect Lindsey’s Friday in Lincoln might have been slightly different from the experiences of many of them.
We headed ever more northwards, going from a BRF trustees’ meeting at the office in Abingdon up to my parents’ in Boston for the night, then onwards and upwards to Lincoln, where Fresh Expressions was hosting a day for 465 delegates called ‘Changing the Landscape’. We set up a stand about Messy Church (yes, yes, of course with some messy things to do) and prepared to enjoy the day. And what fun it was. Messy Church is so much part of Fresh Expressions and owes the movement so much that we fitted beautifully into the larger context that encompasses all sorts of expressions of church. It was a real flagship event with plenty of movers and shakers (where does that expression come from?) from the different denominations.
Bishop Graham Cray was the benevolent host. Archbishop Rowan Williams spoke inspiringly about Fresh Expressions growing to maturity and about what church is: you can hear his talk on the Fresh Expressions website podcast. All these talks are definitely worth a listen, especially if you’re pondering the ‘what next?’ question. Martyn Atkins talked about what we need for the exotic to become the indigenous: a mentality of sacrifice and proper ownership; a better method of recognising God’s call to ministry; taking seriously the people who support Fresh Expressions at a regional level; connection; consideration of what we resource or what we continue to resource to support mission; and trusting the Holy Spirit. Stephen Lindridge spoke about FEASTs – Fresh Expressions Area Strategy Teams – into which we hope our regional coordinators will fit seamlessly. And Pete Atkins and others told their inspiring stories.
So as all these inspiring people and more friends and champions of Messy Church wandered past our Messy stand, Lindsey was able to meet and greet some of the heroes and heroines of the Church. Perhaps the highlight was having her photo taken with our very accommodating and kind archbishop: now there’s something for the end-of-placement project. Yes, Fresh Expressions is far far bigger than Messy Church, but it was exciting to be part of the day and to feel that all our Messy Churches are valued and recognised by these leaders and doorkeepers as part of the bigger picture of the way that the Holy Spirit is moving in our world today.