Snapshots - Stories From the Edge


Snapshots - Stories From the Edge is a free downloadable booklet, in PDF form, which is released three times a year. Each issue tells the story of a particular fresh expression of Church or explores the thinking within the relatively young discipline of creating fresh expressions of Church. As with our previous publication, Encounters on the Edge, we want to give thoughtful accounts of what happens when people follow Jesus, discern God's call and start a further Christian community for people outside the current churches.

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Issue 5 (June 2015) - Good practice in deploying and working with pioneer curates

In 2014, a pioneers conference called Who let the dogs out? was held at Wydale Hall, the York diocesan retreat house. It was attended by a small group of Ordained Pioneer Curates and their Training Incumbents. The conferences explored with both parties what they thought was most helpful, both in their particular contexts but also more widely. A number of key points were identified, including that the conference should be written up and shared with others, in order to help the Church of England move towards best practice and to reflect on the current experiences of Pioneer Curates and Training Incumbents. It led to the writing of this issue of Snapshots by Ali Dorey and George Lings, in consultation with the other members of the conference planning group, Bob and Mary Hopkins, Gavin Wakefield and Liz Williams.We hope that it will help the Church of England (and possibly other denominations) to enable good pioneer ministry to continue and grow.

You can download Snapshots issue 5 here.

Issue 4 (May 2015) - Welcoming the black sheep

The fourth issue of Snapshots from Church Army's Research Unit examines The Order of the Black Sheep (TOBS) in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. This fresh expression of Church, with its rock music and “heavy metal” roots, provides a safe haven for those who feel they don’t fit in traditional church or refuse to “dress up” to attend it. Traditional churches in the past have struggled to accommodate people with a heavy metal, gothic, biker or skater dress code. Author George Lings says: “When I visited, this young church impressed me. It shows depth in tackling issues, you sense ready acceptance by its community, and it exhibits freshness of approach while respecting historic values. Many people feel like a black sheep from time to time – now there’s even a church for them.”

You can download Snapshots issue 4 here.

Issue 3 (December 2014) - Church plants and fresh expressions of Church – how do these terms best relate?

Author George Lings takes a break from looking at case studies, and instead examines the relationship between "church planting" and "fresh expressions of Church". He argues the case that "church planting" is a subset of "fresh expressions of Church" rather than the other way round, and that an interpersonal way of describing church is better than a horticultural one (thinking of churches as people rather than plant life). George says: "I am convinced that how we casually talk about things, especially if this uses images, is of great significance; it profoundly affects how we think about them. What we think then affects the value we place on them, and even the resources we invest in them."

You can download Snapshots issue 3 here.

Issue 2 (June 2014) - Surprises in a normal setting

This second issue of Snapshots looks at Fun-Key Church in Richmond, North Yorkshire. The congregation of St Mary's Church, Richmond, values traditional church music but is predominantly elderly. Yet alongside their weekly Sunday services, Fun-Key Church is a monthly congregation that works for young and old, adults and children, with worship aided by craft, music, activities, prayer and fun. It has added around 35 per cent more attenders to their church. Author George Lings says: "We noted the energy, creativity and good sense in its lay leaders. We thought it a story worth making better known, because something like it could be started by many churches."

You can download Surprises in a normal setting here.

Issue 1 (January 2014) - Holy Ground

Written by George Lings, this debut issue of Snapshots examines a community called Holy Ground that meets in Exeter Cathedral once a month. George visited Holy Ground and found a group of Christians wanting to connect with life, using alternative worship, café church styles and extended meditation within one overall gathering. What can we learn from their story? Can cathedrals and larger churches do fresh expressions of Church too? Could monthly church be a good way forward? Could something similar happen elsewhere?

You can download Holy Ground here.