So You Want To Run A Cafechurch

Ask a Fresh Expressioneer a Question

It’s summer holidays here in Australia, so I’m going to take a break from telling my apologia pro vita sua, and talk about a new project I’m thinking of investing my summer in, in the absence of paid work over January, and the impossibility of doing anything about that fact while the entire world is at the beach.

The back story to this is that I have been involved in an emerging / Fresh Expression church for eleven and a half years now, first as a member, then as part of the leadership team, and finally as the main leader for the last five or six years. I hope it isn’t arrogant to think that I might have some useful, or at least interesting, reflections from this experience.

I’m not entirely sure what shape this project will take – probably a book, possibly the basis for some sort of short course? Probably not a poem, an opera, or a piece of interpretive dance,.

I guess part of my aim in writing this is to try to see what people would like to know about? It’s hard to know where to start – my experience of church has been so very different to most people’s over the last decade or so, and my relationship with more traditional modalities is sometimes fraught: one of our definitions of Cafechurch is “church by the unchurched.”

I’ll have to base what I write on my own experience, which is really all I have to share – my experience, and my reflections. Perhaps the best format might be a kind of how-to guide, but at a reasonably high level of abstraction? Outlining the situation, the questions I ask myself, some approaches that I think are useful, or at least promising, some theological questions that someone wanting to do something like Cafechurch might do well to consider. That sort of thing.

Some topics I’m thinking of covering are:

  • The situation in post-modern, post-Christendom Australia.
  • Church as transformative community.
  • What “preaching the gospel” means in our context.
  • Lean entrepeneurship – what it is, how I think it relates.
  • What is church for, exactly?
  • Spirituality and evangelism.
  • The value, and cost, of authenticity.
  • Staying in the room with difference.
  • The Big Questions

I’d love to know what people think. If you were planning on starting up a Fresh Expressions group, what would you like to know? If you were going to ask one question of someone who had been doing it for a while, what would it be?

By Alister Pate

I'm a minister in the Uniting Church in Australia, with two congregations: one in Northcote / Chalice, which now includes Cafechurch Melbourne, and one up the road in Reservoir, confusingly known as Preston High Street. I am

5 replies on “Ask a Fresh Expressioneer a Question”

I say interpretive dance or “illustrated novel”. By the way, I think such a book would be a great read. Do it! I dare you.

I love this kind of musing in high level abstraction. I offer you 2 hours of time over coffee at any stage if you want a like minded global thinking punching bag or sounding board to act as stimulant, cheer squad or straight bat.

Brilliant idea Al! Initial musings and questions from much UK/limited Aussie experience as follows –
1. In what ways is it helpful/essential to “stop starting with church”?
2. Transitioning after first formative leader departs.
3. Question of sustainability …..
4. Helpful or not to be linked to a denomination?
5. Training leaders
There are many other issues of course, but will leave it at that for time being. As with other friends, would love to chat over coffee sometime in 2014! Let me know …. and all the best with this. David @ Scots’ Church

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