The bishop is the C of E’s head church planter – and leads a movement called Fresh Expressions, which consolidates the evangelism efforts of several UK denominations into a united front that majors on mission. Sure, the challenges are formidable and the reality, sobering - but Bishop Cray sees signs of vibrancy and new life in several places. Be inspired by the bishop’s zeal and deep commitment to engage in Christ’s mission for the world.
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The decline in the Church of England has “significantly halted,” according to Bishop Cray – as fireweeds begin to bloom in the form of Christian festivals like Soul Survivor, emerging Fresh Expressions congregations, and the appearance of ‘Street Pastors,’ who go to where the need is. What do Christian leaders need to do to catch this wave of the Spirit? Here Bp. Cray explains the C of E’s emphasis on church planting – and the importance of discernment. Here are my notes:
They’re clergy who fan out on Friday and Saturday nights working with authorities while their supporters stay in church to pray (9p to 4a?!?) as they help everyone from binge drinkers to robbery victims. And they’re having a real impact – how is your church meeting the community’s dire needs?
The Attractional Model is Dead
We can no longer expect people to show up at our place, so we’ve got to go to them. The core of the Fresh Expressions model is tending to this mission – which begins with listening, service, and paying close attention to context.
Ordained Pioneer Ministers
They’re not full-fledged ordained clergy – but the C of E’s entrepreneurs – who pay attention to where the Spirit is moving, then get on board with it. It’s bringing younger ministers into the fold.
About Bishop Graham Cray
Graham Cray is the Archbishops’ Missioner and Leader of the Fresh Expressions Team. He is married to Jackie and they have two daughters, Catherine and Sarah. He was consecrated in March 2001 when he became the Bishop of Maidstone and the Bishop for Mission in the Diocese of Canterbury. Before this, he was Principal of Ridley Hall, Cambridge, a Church of England theological college, after fourteen years as vicar of St Michael-le-Belfrey, York, where he worked with and then succeeded the late Canon David Watson. His special concerns are the engagement of the Gospel with contemporary culture, youth ministry and the theology of renewal. He has been chairman of the Greenbelt Festival and is currently chairman of the Soul Survivor Trust. He chaired the working party which wrote the Mission Shaped Church report on church planting and fresh expressions of church – you can see it here.
Sponsors I Mentioned
Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest Episcopal Seminary in the U.S., forming men and women for leadership in the church. In addition to the MDiv, Anglican Studies and DMin degrees are their Masters of Arts degrees with a fous on Theological Studies, Christian Formation, Religion & Culture, and Biblical Interpretation. Check them out at vts.edu.