Following the “Mission-shaped Church” report released by the General Synod of the Church of England earlier this year, a one-day conference - the 10th National Anglican Church Planting Conference - will be held on 23rd June. Yesterday, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams gave a keynote address for the event on the theme of a 'fresh expression of the church'.
Dr Williams reminded the church at General Synod that it stands at a “Kairos moment, poised for serious growth and renewal, and the challenge for everyone is to grow together in faith and in eagerness to learn about and spread the good news of the Gospel.”
Finding a new way of doing church has been a hot topic since the release of the “Mission-shaped Church” report. Generally, the Church of England congregations as well as other churches and Christian ministers welcomed the brand new ideas. It was approved by the 20th National Christian Resources Exhibition (CRE) held in early May, when more than 350 charities, missions and church suppliers gathered under the theme “Future Church”. For this June 23 conference, around 300 delegates are expected to gather at St Barnabas Church in Kensington, London.
Instead of explaining the theory of “Mission-shaped Church”, the conference will focus entirely on the practical implications and the challenge of developing a mixed economy approach that positively encourages the creation of fresh expressions of church. For instance, five stories representing fresh expressions of the church will be addressed.
The seminars will enable practitioners to think about doing mission-shaped church in their locality. They can also inspire theologians to explore the reasons why the church should be mission-shaped, and develop strategies to implement Mission-shaped Church’s recommendations in dioceses.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has been showing his full support for the report, and this has in turn brought the backing of the Church Army, Church Mission Society (CMS), Anglican Church Planting Initiatives and the Mission and Public Affairs Division of the Church of England who will jointly sponsor the conference.
Director of the Church Army’s Research Unit, The Sheffield Center, Rev. George Lings marked the success of the Mission-shaped Church Report, “We have an Archbishop who openly makes the fostering of fresh expressions of church one of his two highest priorities. At the same time, shorter and more flexible legal processes governing the creation of churches are being proposed and the Mission-shaped Church report has become a bestseller.”
Lings became one of the activists of the “Mission-shaped church” report after years of research on the Church from which he found that 40% of adults in England and Wales have left the church in their lifetime, and that finding back these missing pews is one of the keys to saving declining churches.
Bob Hopkins of Anglican Church Planting Initiatives was delighted with what has been achieved so far, “We are celebrating the fact that this is our 10th National Church Planting Conference since they started, and the second at which a new Archbishop has shared his missionary vision in the keynote address.”