Carolyn Kinsman, 11/10/2017
Research Unit > Publications 


Fresh expressions of Church reports
Seven Sacred Spaces
Snapshots - Stories From the Edge
Modality and sodality thinking
Encounters on the Edge

Fresh expressions of Church reports

The following reports were published in November 2016, and are the culmination of four years’ research into fxC in the Church of England. They provide a broad insight into how fresh expressions of Church develop, who attends them and how they can be sustained. Click the covers or titles to download PDFs of each.

The Day of Small Things - by George Lings

A large-scale analysis of over 1100 fxC surveyed across 21 dioceses of the Church of England, this project provides vast and rich data on missional and ecclesial characteristics of fresh expressions of Church.

Encountering the Day of Small
Encountering the Day of Small Things - by George Lings

A 36-page summary version of The Day of Small Things.

Who's there? - by Claire Dalpra and John Vivian

This compares responses on church background from 2000 attenders of Anglican fxC with 500 attenders of inherited Sunday congregations.

Sustaining Young Churches - by Andy Wier

This pilot study qualitatively examines how 12 case study fxCs have approached the challenge of sustainability, a vital question for church growth.

What happens after research? - by Elspeth McGann

Is all this research useful? This report examines how 10 dioceses in the Church of England reacted to and practically utilised the investigations of Church Army's Research Unit into fxC.

Seeing the bigger picture

A four-page leaflet summarising the above reports.


Seven Sacred Spaces (BRF)Seven Sacred Spaces

Seven Sacred Spaces, by former Director of Research Canon Dr George Lings, was previously available as issue 43 of Encounters on the Edge in 2009, then as an updated colour booklet from Church Army. These are now both out of print, but a full length, more definitive, edition of Seven Sacred Spaces was published by BRF in 2020. It can be ordered here.

"Too often people’s understanding of and engagement with ‘church’ is reduced to corporate worship, when it is so much more. In Seven Sacred Spaces: Portals to deeper community life in Christ, George Lings identifies seven characteristic elements in Christian communities through the ages, which when held in balance enable a richer expression of discipleship, mission and community."


Snapshots - Stories From the Edge

Snapshots - Stories From the Edge was a free downloadable bulletin, in PDF form, which was released two or three times a year in 2014 and 2015. Each issue was written by George Lings and told the story of a particular fresh expression of Church, or explored the thinking within the relatively young discipline of creating fresh expressions of Church.

Click on each title to download the issue.


Modality and sodality thinking

During the last ten years, the terms modality and sodality have emerged as helpful frameworks to understand the function of two different kinds of structure that appear to play a part in biblical, historical and contemporary mission. These terms were introduced into mission thinking in 1973 by Ralph D Winter as a way of celebrating both the particular gifts and calling of mission communities (such as Church Army), as well as the gifts and calling of local church structures (parish, deanery and diocese) in mission. It is vital that both structures understand and appreciate the other so as to work together in a complementary fashion.

Click on the titles below to download two relevant PDF articles.

Why modality and sodality thinking is vital to understand future church by George Lings

The Two Structures of God's Redemptive Mission by Ralph D Winter (hosted by the Frontier Mission Fellowship website)

Encounters on the Edge

Encounters bookshelf - smallEncounters on the Edge was a series of quarterly booklets from Church Army's Research Unit, exploring the wide range of church plants and fresh expressions to come out of the Anglican Church in recent years. It ran from 1999 to 2012, reaching a total of 56 issues.

The majority of the issues were based on case studies (most in the UK, but some international), reflecting on good practice, and including strategic and theological commentary. Other issues covered generic subjects related to fresh expressions of Church.

Issues by theme

Alternative worship 12 Monastic 2953
Anglo-Catholic 1116 Multiple congregations 835
Arts and church 25 Network church 7194153
Café church 33, 34, 45 New towns 52
Cell church 3, 20, 28 New housing estates 23
Church planting 2, 6, 15 Older people 40
Community 114a 14b 14c, 37, 38, 51 Recovering addicts 17
Council estates 18 Reproducing churches 48
Ecclesiology (what is church?) 5 Rural 27284245
Ecology 26 School-based church 55
Exile (post-Christendom) 13 Simpler church 32
Evaluating fresh expressions of Church 50 Spare-time leadership 54
Grafts 10a 10b 10c Strategies for discernment in mission 30
HTB plants (Holy Trinity Brompton) 15 Students 49
Larger churches 47 Sweaty Church 56
Lay leaders 9a 9b 9c Sustainability 54
Leading fresh expressions of Church 36 Under 5s 31
Learning disabilities 44 Urban 14a 14b 14c39
Messy Church 46 Weekday church 11
Modal/sodal 53 Workplace church 24
Mission-shaped Church report 22 Youth church 124213648


Issues in order of release

Click here to see a list of all 56 issues in order of release, including download links.