Start Fresh Expressions with Affinity Groups
Some of the most productive Fresh Expressions of church are being started among affinity groups. Christ followers who are biking enthusiasts will start a group that bikes about 10 miles, stops for a meal and worship and then bikes back to the starting point. The authenticity, fellowship and group building is awesome and gives way to sharing faith, praying for one other and coming together for community service. One biking group in east Atlanta offers Sunday morning worship on extended bike rides for people who have biked for long distances together for the weekend. Other affinity groups that are starting Fresh Expressions of church include sowing groups, cooking classes, travel groups, RV campsites, walkers, kayakers, food pantry recipients and even zip-line enthusiasts! All of these are taking the church to where people are in the 21st century. This is what the early church did as well as John Wesley; and the Salvation Army has always practiced this model. Go where the people are because the church is not a building, it is a movement of God's people sharing God's grace and hope with people everywhere!
Recently I met with Rev. Richard Rybka in Springfield, Alabama. He is the pastor of a 20 member church in a very rural community. This small church in starting a Fresh Expression of church at an ATV Park. Dozens of people come to this park every weekend to ride ATVs, stay in the park's lodge, enjoy campfires and just hang out. The owner is a Christ-follower too so he welcomed the church to start a Fresh Expression of church there.
They just kicked off the ministry with a marriage retreat at the ATV Park Lodge. Seven couples attended: 3 from the church and 4 that they are mentoring in having a Christ-centered marriage. The weekend included discussions about their marriages, Bible study & mentoring by the older couples, shared meals, trust walks for the couples, leisure activities and concluded with Holy Communion on Sunday morning. The couples have covenanted to meet occasionally in the future to encourage and pray for one another.
What do you enjoy doing in your leisure time? That's a good place where God can use you to start a Fresh Expression of church in your community. Gather some friends and read Ken Carter's book on Fresh Expressions together. Keep it simple, plan a strategy, promote it among your associates and start sharing your faith in Christ. May God bless your leisure time and your work for the Kingdom!