Fresh expressions and Pioneer ministry

In 2004 the Church of England initiated Fresh Expressions. From its inception the Methodist Church were partners and now Fresh Expressions works alongside a large number of Christian organisations, denominations and streams, both in the UK and overseas.

The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.

Gerald Arbuckle

A working definition for Fresh expressions is: “Fresh Expressions are new forms of church that emerge within contemporary culture and engage primarily with those who don’t ‘go to church”


Fresh Expressions was an acknowledgement and response to changing patterns of culture and worship in society. In recognition that traditional Sunday morning worship was no longer the norm for many, and that the nature of communities was changing, Fresh Expressions seeks to provide a church experience to people in different places – and in the kind of networks that more keenly reflect today's society. Whether school or cafe based, youth or alternative worship focused, or offering worship mid-week instead of weekends, Fresh Expressions helps Christianity blossom in a variety of new ways.

Over 3000 Fresh Expressions are now active around the world. Church Army Researcher George Lings calculated that in 2016, a survey of 20 dioceses showed 1109 Fresh Expressions of Church with approximately 50,000 people attending. (Fresh Expressions website Dec 2017)

Fresh Expressions is now seeking to develop as a network of networks – enabling practice and encouraging pioneering across the country.

Dr. John Sentamu spoke of his support for the Fresh Expressions initiative:

"It has been so good to see the way the Fresh Expressions initiative is encouraging individuals and groups to pioneer new ways of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with people in this country.

The rediscovery of God's mission in our time calls for risk takers to engage incarnationally in the diverse contexts of our society. They deserve all the support we can give.

In the northern province we are blessed with fresh expressions of church that display a range of creative ideas and approaches."

Fresh expressions are essentially:
Pioneers are people called by God who are the first to see and creatively respond to the Holy Spirit’s initiatives with those outside the church; gathering others around them as they seek to establish new contextual Christian community.

The term pioneer is used four times in the New Testament and each time applied to Jesus only. It also has a cruciform dimension which relates the term to victory through suffering and endurance.

The Greek word archegos translated as pioneer primarily signifies someone who takes a lead in, provides the first occasion of anything or leads into a new space. It reminds us that our pioneering is derived from the true pioneer who leads us into a new space through his death and resurrection.

At the heart of this term Pioneer is the idea of firsts and of leading into a new space for and with others. It combines well the ability to see a new future but also the skills and gifts to make the future accessible now. There is a danger of making a too tight and simplistic definition of Pioneers but our present situation requires a clear sense of what we mean by this word.

Find out more about pioneer ministry here