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Church Planting & Fresh Expressions

Church Planting & Fresh Expressions

The team at Cranmer Hall, Durham in collaboration with the Church Army's Sheffield Research Centre (led by the Revd Dr George Lings) will lead on a broad study of Fresh Expressions (church planting), whilst a team from OxCEPT (The Oxford Centre for Ecclesiology and Practical Theology) at Ripon College, Cuddesdon led by Dr Cathy Ross (Director of OxCEPT) will carry out a complementary in depth study of 20 specific church plants.

Scope of the Fresh Expression / Church Planting strand

Church planting has been a significant factor across the Church of England for several decades, but there is some debate as to what a church plant is. The definition of 'church plant' should be broad to include 'fresh expressions of church' which have emerged in the wake of the report Mission Shaped Church (MSC), issued by the Archbishops' Council in 2004. This would entail inclusion of other forms of church plants beyond traditional church plants, such as network churches and cell churches. This said, it must be recognised that a robust definition of 'church' is required, to avoid minor mission initiatives being badged as 'fresh expressions of church'. It is estimated that between 700 and 1000 'fresh expressions of church' have been started since 2004, leaving aside church plants begun before that date. This strand will also be alert to the new phenomenon of 'pioneer ministry', which has become a distinct strand of ordained ministry over the last decade.

Such an approach will include considering transplanting an existing form of church as has been done with great value by the Diocese of London and Holy Trinity Brompton among others - but it will focus in particular on a broader range fresh expressions and church planting. Accordingly, the research team will consider questions about the extent and nature of church growth generated by planting in respect of the whole breadth of Anglican fresh expressions of church.

More detail about the work undertaken by the Durham / Church Army Team and also the in-depth case studies to be undertaken by OxCEPT can be found by clicking on the tabs in the left hand panel.