Pimp My Church

David Male has put an interesting overview of his book Church Unplugged on Share.  He makes an interesting contrast between Fresh Expressions of church and Pimp My Ride from MTV.  Please have a read of the article.

My worry sometimes with all that is happening under the banner of fresh expressions of church/church planting is the danger that it can be simultaneously spectacular and superficial. I am by nature an optimist, but I worry we are too easily entranced by what seems to be spectacular. Often people tell me about some amazing church plant that now has 300 people within a year, but then when you start to ask some hard questions of how many of those are truly unchurched people who are now becoming disciples of Jesus the answers look far less convincing. The growth, I am afraid, is often the success of the marketplace, attracting Christians from other churches and the de-churched back.

Do Fresh Expressions run the risk of moving the passengers on the ship from cabin to cabin rather than inviting more people to get on board and come for the ride?

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5 Responses

  1. Hmm. If they are doing that [attracting people from one cabin to their new cabin] then that begs the question why did they leave the old cabin? Or is the assumption that there are people who just trawl round and round each new thing that comes along? In which case it would be good for the leader to discern that and gently bring it up? Each FX has to have a goal of discipling people in the same way as ‘traditional’ church surely?

    Is the point of FX is to do something, offer something, to appeal to those who – for whatever reasons- aren’t drawn into the more usual/regular forms of church? If so, it would be unfortunate to get clogged up with those who aren’t those people as it would end up changing the character of the new thing. Leaders have to be pretty clear about what they’re there to do I think.

  2. Have they even left the old cabin? Are some people happily moving around consuming?

  3. Well first of all this is a problem that any new church plant has to struggle with, regardless of its flavour.

    I think the guy is making a genuine point in that there is potential for hype and complacency born of ignorance when people believe that a growing church is necessarily a church that is reaching out and generally engaging with and serving its wider community. And there’s a further point that follows from this, that success is not about the numbers (or type, actually) of people you attract, its about what you do with the people you’ve got.

    But i don’t think it necessarily follows that its always a bad thing when a new church attracts people from other churches and especially people who are currently disillusioned by their previous experience of christian community. If (big if) this new community is able to better disciple and inspire the people involved to actually make a positive impact on the people around them, surely that’s a good thing?

    Kim, i totally agree with your first point about what a friend of mine calls “spiritual gypsies”. If people are turning up looking for a buzz and to be in with the cool thing, rather than hoping to contribute then that is something that needs to be addressed in a discipleshippy type of a way.

    But i think its a bad idea to differentiate people into ‘the right sort’ and ‘the wrong sort’ I do think leaders have to be clear about what they are there to do, and i think what they are there to do is to serve whoever turns up, regardless of whether they are the people they were expecting or hoping for. Easier said than done, mind.

  4. I agree Linus. I guess what could be frustrating is if the people who are moving around do so at the point at which they are expected to become involved, so they are just spectators or critiquers of church rather than followers of Jesus.

    It also brought to mind a few situations round where I live lately where vicars have wanted to take out the pews for various reasons and the congregations have been really supportive but then folks who don’t even go to the church have joined and got on the electoral roll to stop the plan moving forward.

  5. […] recently blogged concerns about Fresh Expressions moving people from one form of church to another rather than […]

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