New Faith Expressions (newFX)
WHAT IS A NEW FAITH EXPRESSION (newFX)?
A New Faith Expression (newFX) is an innovative and contextual faith community that is in tune with our changing culture and is developed with people in mind who are not yet part of a church. In other words, these are new gatherings or networks that engage those who are not currently a part of a church and are new ways of expressing Christian community. The newFX isn't necessarily tied to a physical building. Instead, they will be expressions of God's love, grace, mercy, and joy.
We are looking for congregations who are ready to move beyond the status quo, willing to take risks, ready to capture a contagious faith, and more protective of their future than their past. If this might be you, then let us help you discover your next faithful step.
Please contact Rev. Dr. Bill Brown, Director of Innovative Evangelism ( ).
To help congregations take their next faithful step, we offer the following:
NEW & RENEWED CONGREGATIONAL COHORTS
The Texas Methodist Foundation conducted a study of UM Churches across the denomination and discovered about 10% are thriving, 1/3 are dying, and the remaining are in two groups: (1)Not thriving, but could be, and (2) Not thriving and moving toward the dying category.
What are Congregational Pathways?
1. New Faith Expressions Cohort - For churches who are currently thriving and are ready to launch something new, we offer New People New Places. This training will focus on fresh expressions.
2. Catalyst Initiative Cohorts: The Catalyst Initiative provides a 10-month congregational cohort process of discovery, exploration, and renewal. It empowers a church to initiate a Spirit-led vision and understanding of its community; ignite faith into action, and invigorate people to claim God’s vision for your lives and community.
3. Catalyst Prep Cohort: This 10-month cohort is for congregations not quite ready for the Catalyst Initiative. They are not yet thriving, but with the right support they could thrive. Topics that may be covered include:
a. Developing goals to build upon the strengths of your Readiness 360 report
b. Conflict management and resolution
c. Family systems theory as it applies to congregations
d. Change management
e. Models/Methods of Evangelism
4. Legacy Church Conversation Cohort: Churches of all shapes and sizes are going through challenging times. Your church may fall into this category. The once lively and vibrant building you call your church home seems more like a museum. Your church may even be wrestling with the idea of closing its doors. You may be asking yourself: What can we do? Where can we find answers? Is there any hope? This 10-month Cohort will help you have these difficult conversations, discover your current reality, and perhaps have a Pentecost moment.
New & renewed faith expression strategies
There are a variety of strategies available to launch new and renewed expressions of church, and we are committed to using whatever is helpful. However, we should remember that these are just strategies, and over time they change. Keep in mind that our buildings are merely strategies, the worship styles we offer are strategies, and the ministries we host are strategies.
1. Micro-Church Strategy - This strategy, led by either laity or clergy, can be tied to an existing, healthy congregation. It can be part of mixed ecology of what the church is currently doing as a method for church growth/revitalization. Some of the forms these may take are:
- Fresh Expressions: These new expressions of faith are most often anchored in an existing faith community, but engage people who do not (and may never) go to a traditional church, gathering in places outside the church building with people sharing a common affinity.
- House Church Strategy: This may well be the oldest strategy for church planting that exists, certainly reaching back to Asia Minor in the first century, and also to frontier America when population was very thin. House churches are typically small, limited to the number that can fit in a home or a small meeting space. These churches may begin with as few as six or seven folks, and grow to 12, or given the right space and leadership, they may grow to 50 or 60 folks.
- Intentional Communities: These are basically groups of people living together in one residence or in several residences in close proximity, in a specific missional area who are bound by a covenant with common goals and vision. These Intentional Communities gather together with the purpose of growing spiritually, following Christ, and aligning around a particular focus on social justice and acts of love, mercy, and hospitality toward others.
2. Strategic Partnerships
- Clusters: A cluster is a natural association of at least four churches gathered around a common disciple-making mission. They reflect the connectional nature of the church.
- Multi-staff Cooperative Parish: This is a configuration of a group of churches so that at least three fulltime pastors can be appointed plus have money for new ministries. One is a visionary/administrator - Lead Pastor. One does Care and Discipleship, and one is your Evangelist/Planter to reach new people.
- Mission Central Parish Model: This is a variation of a Cooperative Parish. In this configuration, a healthy, vibrant church serves as the anchor church and establishes a fulltime associate position paid for largely by the smaller churches. Up to eight churches join the renewal model. They are staffed with lay speakers, CLM, Seminary students or retired clergy with a calling to preach on Sunday mornings and who want to grow in their preaching and teaching. They will meet bi-weekly as a group with the Anchor Church pastors as a staff meeting. Goals will be established for worship, specifically leading to excellence in worship by a collaborative effort. Council meetings and additional meetings will be attended by the pastors and business facilitated by them. They will provide pastoral care, do weddings, funerals, and baptisms, and create opportunities for ministries in the various sites. Ongoing projects will be mutually supported.
- Vital Merger: These occur when two or more existing churches both agree to form a completely new faith community. The idea is to start completely fresh with both congregations selling their property and leveraging their assets and resources together to form a completely new community with a new name under the leadership of a trained planter, rather than one of the churches' former pastors.
- The “Elijah/Elisha Strategy: This strategy involves congregations who haven't borne much fruit for several years and/or who may be at the end of their natural life cycle. It requires a proactive discernment process with the District Superintendent or conference staff. The congregation may either discover a new vision and recommit to fruit- bearing ministry or respond to God's call to become an “Elijah" new church start (2 Kings 2:1-14 tells how Elijah passed on the legacy of his ministry to Elisha). Elijah churches intentionally choose either to (a) join another church and give their physical assets to the conference to reach a new group of people or (b) open their doors to a planter and launch team that takes over management of the facility to start a new congregation.
- Strategic Restart: The goal of the restart is not to replace the old version with an updated newer version of the previous church. Rather, the goal of a restart is to create a wholly different body with entirely different DNA. The church in longtime decline chooses a strategic death through giving up its resources to launch a new church in its place.
3. Churches Starting New Things
- New Worship Services
- New Worship Venues
- New Campuses
- Partner Church/Multiple "Parent" Strategy: An existing United Methodist congregation, or perhaps several churches come together as an anchoring, sponsoring, or parenting force in launching a new church.
- Multi-site Expansion Strategy: This is one church who gathers in multiple locations, that share a common vision, budget, leadership, and board. This strategy may look (at first glance) much like a Partner Church strategy where the partner church is simply very engaged. The difference here is that the new faith community meeting at the new site remains part of the original church, even as they may develop a distinct staff and ministry team system.
- Church-Within-a-Church Strategy: Existing congregations choosing to share property may find that new churches may better serve their immediate neighbors, especially when the new church specializes in a certain racial- ethnic culture and/or a certain generation or social group.
4. New Church Plants
- Classic Missionary Strategy: This strategy (sometimes known as "Parachute Drop") happens when a Cabinet sends a planter into a territory to plant a church and (1) that planter is not from that territory plus (2) there are no active partnerships in place with other United Methodist churches or institutions in the area.
- Many of the strategies used in point 3 above can also be used to start stand-alone churches.