I was on the Wesley Heritage Tour in 2016 when I first experienced the full weight of responsibility I now feel for the Church of Jesus Christ. The understanding of church decline in the West was nothing new. I’d seen the statistics. I had experienced dwindling worship attendance first-hand. When I stood in 1000+ year old churches and cathedrals, when I visited the New Room, the epicenter of Wesleys’ work and Pill where a 20 something Francis Asbury left home for America, never to return, something shifted in me. Who are the Wesley’s and Asbury’s of our day willing to do whatever it takes? To go outside the walls of the church to connect people to Jesus?
The Methodist movement was that, a movement, adaptive and contextualized to the people and places it reached. I totally get the desire for comfort and predictability but that is not the place the Holy Spirit does his best work. This is exactly what the Wesley’s moved away from in this movement as they took the gospel out of the consecrated pulpits of the Anglican church.
I have 16 and 20 year-old daughters and I wonder what kind of church we are handing them and if it is sustainable in its current form. I know too many people in my own life and in the lives of friends and brothers and sisters that think the church is irrelevant, has nothing for them, would not welcome them or simply don’t have schedules that make church a possibility.
I know I would be willing to forfeit many of the things I love and find comfortable about what I call church so that others might know a living and saving relationship with God. “My” music, “my” liturgy, “my” preaching style, “my” schedule, “my” style of worship. You get the picture. Who are those people for you? How far are you willing to go? Archbishop William Temple put it something like this, ‘the church is the only organization that exists for people that are not yet part of it.’
We do this exercise called “What is Church” at FX Vision Days around tables. We provide a list of all of the things we associate with church in its current forms in the West and ask for people to circle the things that make church, church. It is an eye-opening experience. Do you have to have a choir? Is music necessary? Do you have to have a preacher for it to be church? I know some of what I’m saying will make folks uncomfortable. For others it will resonate deeply. FX of church are new forms of church primarily for people not yet a part of any church. They seek to form church outside of the walls and within the patterns and places of life so many people in our communities are living. FX is not an outreach program, a mission project, a church revitalization project, or Bible study. FX recaptures the spirit of the Acts 2 church and forms a new community of faith for people without one for whatever reason.
Want to know more about FX? Bring a team to a Vision Day, do a book study, or schedule a Local Church Workshop. If you have questions or want to know more follow Fresh Expressions North Georgia on Facebook, check out the FX page on the conference website at https://www.ngumc.org/freshexpressions or contact me at email@example.com.
Rev. Heather Jallad, North Georgia’s FX Cultivator