Fresh Expressions of Church

Over 3,000 of these new forms of church now exist in almost every denomination and tradition in the UK.


A Fresh Expression of Church is a form of church for our changing culture, established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church.

They come into being through the principles of listening, service and mission and making disciples and will have the potential to become a mature expression of church shaped by the gospel and the enduring marks of the church and for its cultural context.

The flow diagrame to the left shows a usual pathway for growing these new forms of church. Fresh Expressions of Church are reaching both adults and children in a great variety of ways and therefore all hold these four characteristics in common:

  • Serve those outside Church
  • Listen to people and enter their culture
  • Make discipleship a priority
  • Form Church

Refresh your community

Refresh your community gives more information about how you could start a Fresh Expression of Church.

Copies of the book 'Refresh: A Not-So-New Guide to Being Church and Doing Life' by Michael Moynagh and Rob Peabody are available on request from the mission department.

Fresh Expressions research from the Church Army

In 2014 George Lings from the Church Army conducted research into our Fresh Expressions of Church. He discovered that:

  • Fresh Expressions of Church make up 14% of worshipping communities in this diocese (national average is 9.5%) - which has offset the decline of church attendance in Ely (2006-2012)
  • The most popular forms of Fresh Expressions of Church are Cafe Church (35%) and Messy Church (27%)
  • Fresh Expressions of Church exist in a variety of contexts and serve both adults and children.
  • Most of our Fresh Expressions of Church are in villages and rural settings (71%) and represent a variety of church traditions.
  • The numbers of people engaged in discipleship across the diocese has increased due to Fresh Expressions of Church with 87 % of our Fresh Expressions of Church actively engaged in discipleship, mainly through 1-1 encounters.

The full report can be found here.

Therefore to be effective, Fresh Expressions of Church need to be missional and intentional to promote growth and are 'church ' in themselves rather than a stepping stone into mainstream church.

Useful websites

Fresh Expressions of Church are growing

  • Fresh Expressions of Church are playing a significant part in the growth of this diocese and we anticipate they will continue to do so.
  • This is partly because we find that they work as well in a rural area as in an urban one and cross different theological traditions.
  • We are therefore investing in supporting existing Fresh Expressions of Church and seeking to develop new ones by offering seed corn funding through Local Mission Project funding, interpreting national thinking and research and by offering consultancy. We support and promote the Mission Shaped Ministry course as a key pathway with its focus on empowering the laity.
  • Whilst, as a Mission team, we are excited by many forms of Fresh Expressions of Church and creative new 'waves ' of Church that we see being explored and modelled within Ely Diocese, we continue to value and support a rejuvenated inherited or traditional model of church. Our aim is to develop a healthy mixed economy of church where all Christian communities are fully alive and flourishing.
  • Working from where we are with our existing groupings (eg Mothers ' Union, Toddler groups, community groups) we want to help churches to be reinvigorated and so become mission focused and outward looking. This will happen by creating pathways so that groups can move on to form community, and then in turn to form church.
  • We believe and see evidence that if a Fresh Expression of Church can be initiated, then it is the most effective mission tool. By inviting people to be part of a new community it engages, invites commitment and imagination whilst offering a flexible model of Christian community.

Support, Training & Events

  • For more information on courses available to support your Mission Shaped Ministry or Fresh Expressions of Church ideas - please contact us at