To help us better support Fresh Expressions in Cumbria we have created seven themes, this allows us to tailor training and support that is relevant to different FXs. A description of each theme can be found below.
Includes those working with children aged 0- 11 years, and include groups such as Messy Church, toddler groups and baby spirituality. There are also churches that have a high take up of Christenings and this provides the opportunity to form new Fresh Expression of church with families with young children who may have previously attended church for a christening.
Education & Outdoors
Education: Schools are increasingly becoming a critical central part of many local communities and as such we have seen a growth of Fresh Expressions connecting to their local primary and secondary schools, for example School Eucharist in Eskdale. Outdoors: There has also been a growth of Fresh Expressions developing in the outdoors e.g. Mountain Pilgrims and walking groups. Often schools see the opportunities to develop children and young people’s spirituality through the outdoors which sees the two (education AND outdoors) overlap.
Working primarily with young people aged 11-18 years, includes Network Youth Church, youth church initiatives and youth groups with a Fresh Expressions Focus.
As the number of stipends decrease we are exploring alternative income streams to develop mission and Fresh Expressions. These may include houses for pioneering where instead of a house for duty, a self-supporting pioneer develops work in a locality. It could also include the redevelopment of a building into a sustainable social enterprise e.g. M:Hub which has repurposed an underused chapel into a community centre and is exploring Fresh Expressions as part of this. We also recognise the rural nature of much of Cumbria and therefore there are many Fresh Expressions in small villages or that are intentionally engaging more isolated rural communities.
Being community is at the heart of all Fresh Expressions, but under this theme are groups intentionally growing and building community in order to foster and develop a Fresh Expression of church. Often this is achieved through good hospitality or by linking in with particular local groups. A good example of community building with a particular focus would be Dementia Services that include older people, their families and carers and often link in with social services Dementia support.
We are keen not to label areas negatively as often those places with higher social deprivation also have great assets in terms of a sense of community etc. This theme is related to areas that have suffered economic disinvestment, areas of low employment and higher need, it will include Fresh Expressions such as Foodshare or OpShop charity shops.
In recent years there has been a rise in people exploring more intentional ways of living, who may be interested in spirituality but not easily connect in with church. The Christian tradition has a rich heritage, and Alternative Spirituality is about linking with these people to intentionally build new forms of sustainable christian community. In a consumer driven society people often develop a pick and mix approach to spirituality. Maranatha Yoga is a good example of a way that we can connect with those people who are spirituality searching but need to do so outside of perceived organised religion, and deliberately uses concepts that they are familiar with to engage them in the Christian story.
Obviously some groups cross over more than one theme, however, due to the scale of Fresh Expressions in Cumbria it is useful for us to link Fresh Expressions under their primary focus in order to better support them. In addition to the themes above we also recognise that there are network based Fresh Expressions (several groups in a local area meeting different needs but who network together) e.g. Brough Network where they have a cafe church which is all age, two adult groups (WoW group and Dominoes) and three groups for young people.