The landscape of the church is changing and we are faced with a culture that has, “less knowledge of the faith,” with each successive generation. Through a dynamic presentation full of startling statistics to General Synod 2010 on Monday, June 7, members were encouraged to consider new approaches to the environments they minister in.
Rev. Canon Nick Brotherwood, Team Leader of Fresh Expressions — an organization that seeks to encourage more mission-shaped churches across the country, challenged General Synod members in his presentation to take stock of the changing dynamics and cultures of church today and work against the, “one size fits all approach.”
According to statistics on the Canadian religious scene, in 2001, individuals who identified themselves as “on the fringe of religion”, “closed to religion”, or “non-church” made up over 66% of the population.
“This was 10 years ago,” said Brotherwood. “The culture of church is increasingly a foreign land for people.”
Changing times means changing the approach.
Not to say that churches should be “out with the old and in with the new,” Brotherwood’s approach involves traditional expressions of the church working alongside, “fresh or fresh-er” ministries that reach out to people who have never before been able to relate to a traditional church.
Examples of “Fresh Expression”-type churches include “Faith, Friends and Froth,” a ministry run by the Parish of St. James and St. Brendan in Port Colborne, Diocese of Niagara. This “Church on Tap” reaches out to people who seek a connection to their spirituality, but not necessarily to formalized religion. Attendees participate in discussions on their faith and beliefs in a more relaxed setting, not worrying about whether they are following proper rituals or rites.
The Jeremiah Project is another example of a creative initiative being planted at St. Anne’s Church, Gladstone, Diocese of Toronto. The project is self-described as an “urban new-monastic” community that hopes by inviting people to try intentional community that stronger relationships can be built between neighbours among the city of Toronto.
Brotherwood cautions that Fresh Expression events aren’t for everyone. His approach isn’t one of a “one-size fit’s all church” but rather to encourage the development of “Fresh Expressions” of church, alongside more tradition expressions.
Over 350 delegates and special guests have come from coast to coast to coast across Canada for this nine-day event, which takes place each triennium. Further details and highlights are available online at www.anglican.ca.
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