BTW, Pernell has lots of tattoos, too, you just can't seem them under his long sleeved shirt on the Hillside Church website. Before Hillside Pernell was the Pastor of a Café Church run under the auspices of the Salvation Army. His way of describing that experience at the Vital Church Planting Conference a few years ago was influential on my own sense of vision for Café Messiah--however there are lots of other examples of this sort of Fresh Expression I have also encountered in the last six or seven years of really paying attention to Missional Church.
A fresh expression is a form of church for our changing culture established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church.That definition is a good place to start. note the emphasis of being a benefit to people who are not yet members of any church. It's not just that we cannot assume any kind of previous church experience of theological/biblical literacy; we in fact must orient ourselves to expect the exact opposite. That means tossing much of how we do things out of the window for the sake of going after these wandering sheep.
- It will come into being through principles of listening, service, incarnational mission and making disciples.
- It will have the potential to become a mature expression of church shaped by the gospel and the enduring marks of the church and for its cultural context.
There are such things as wild sheep, you know. They are notoriously difficult to hunt because they occupy high ground, well defended by the sheer difficulty of approach. What I need is a partner to help me climb those cliffs. In fact, I hope to find someone that can climb higher and faster than I can!
So, I'm developing proposals on multiple fronts. I have some meetings this week, and I'm praying that they will bear rich fruit. I am also putting the word out that I am looking for a pioneer minister with gifts for hospitality and this sort of Fresh Expressions ministry. I can't promise any pay initially, but I'm hoping to create a business model for the space that will generate enough income to pay this person (and, indeed, I think this is quite reasonable considering the low overhead of operating out of a church building that is already paid for, insured, and heated).
If your are reading this in 2013 and you know anybody, or consider yourself to be led by the Spirit in this way, give me a shout out through the usual means: phone/e-mail/twitter/facebook/blog-comments/google+ etc.! I'm not a hard guy to reach!