Hi! I’m new here so before I jump in, let me introduce myself! My name is Taylor Adams, I am the CBAC Summer Intern. I was blessed to have worked with CBAC a previous summer and I am so happy to be back on board with CBAC this summer! In May of 2018 I graduated from Crandall U & Acadia Divinity College as part of the first graduating class of the Crandall-Acadia BTh Partnership, and I am now working on a Masters. Back in May, church leaders across Atlantic Canada gathered together to learn about Fresh Expressions and how a relational and contextual ministry model can help us join God in our neighborhood.
A little bit of background: Fresh Expressions are a gathering of people that goes beyond the walls of a church, it is bringing church out. Fresh Expressions encourages the body of believers to become the priesthood of believers. The aim is to reach those who are the “nones” (those who would say they have no religious affiliation) and the “dones” (those who are done with the religion(s) they’ve been a part of before) and to go to where they are.
The lessons and model of Fresh Expression calls us to ask the question with a humble, and prayerful spirit: As our society changes how can the Church respond to remain relevant? Although we as a CBAC family are continuing to ask questions about what Fresh Expressions looks likes in our context, below are some ways that the lessons found within Fresh Expression can help shape our youth ministry.
How A Fresh Expression Can Help Your Youth Grow
1) Fresh Expressions Teaches and Challenges Students
Challenges Students to:
Listen to God’s voice & Discern
Listening to and Connect with Those Outside of the Church
The first step of Fresh Expressions is to listen: it is about listening to the community, what is needed, where can a Fresh Expression help.
Practical Application: think about how you can challenge your students to think about and listen to their community. Challenge your students to look for the needs in their schools, community, and even within their church or family setting. Challenge them to listen for God’s prompting to make change in their context.
2) Fresh Expression Creates a Space for Discipleship
Real Responsibility = Building Trust and Leadership Skills
Creates a Space to Identify and Work on God Given Gifts and Talents
Builds Relationships Between You/Your Leaders and Students: a space for discipleship
Part of Fresh Expressions is identifying pioneers, supporters, and permission givers. You can use the lessons from Fresh Expressions to identify how God has gifted each of the students, which skills, talents, and gifts the students have and which they may need to work on. Discipleship is not only good for the students themselves, but it teaches them how to mentor/disciple people in the future, perhaps within the Fresh Expression group.
Practical Application: identify the leaders and the encouragers within your group. Challenge them to work together and give your students tangible responsibilities that fit their God given gifts, talents, and personalities. For example, ask a ‘pioneer’ to lead a game or get the encouragers to gather before youth group and get them to pray for the evening ahead.
3) Fresh Expression Teaches Scripture Practically and Re-imagines Evangelism
Both Scripture and Evangelism become Practical and Tangible for Students
Living out “Go out and make disciples”
Actively serving and living in a way that reflects the teachings of scripture
The Youth become the Priesthood of Believers.
“Evangelism” becomes about living out scripture and then teaching scripture specifically comes when the people and the Fresh Expression is ready for that
Practical Application: use this Biblical model as an underlying theme and driving force in your Bible study time. Ask your students questions and challenge them to think about what these Bible messages would practically look like in their lives.
4) Fresh Expressions Makes Space for the Unsure and the Questioning
The “nones” and the “dones” are the focus of a Fresh Expression, but this also creates a space for the unsure or the questioning.
Using the Fresh Expressions model, you can challenge your students to go outside of their comfort zones, to talk to and invite their friends and classmates to events, youth night, or it can challenge them to go into their community and speak to those who aren’t being reached. Ask your students to think about where they could do this.
Starting a Fresh Expression is not the only way to implement these ideas and models. Fresh Expressions is all about revisiting “church” and reimagining how we do things. Perhaps in your context you don’t need a Fresh Expression, but you can still get your students involved in planning, organizing, and helping with events and weekly meetings. I encourage you to think about how you can challenge your students, how you can make a space for them to grow and take on real responsibility, how you and others in your church can disciple them, how you can make a space for the questioning and the unsure, and how you can be teaching and challenging your students to practically live out the teachings of scripture.
Want to know More about Fresh Expressions?
CBAC had the pleasure of hosting two Fresh Expression Vision Days on May 7th and 9th . If you’re interested in learning more about Fresh Expressions or how to start one in your local context, here are some resources:
Fresh Expressions – How to start https://freshexpressionsus.org/howtostart
eBook “Deep Roots and Wild Branches” By Michael Beck
Fresh Expression Stories:
Look at the hashtag #1neighbourhood
May we find fresh ways to join God in our neighbourhoods