Finding a way of describing what an expression is has been a journey in itself. “It’s like an orchard…” we said, “why have one big tree when we could have several that bear fruit?”. Then we’d be asked if that meant we were going to plant ten new churches? Open community centres? Repurpose existing churches? Send missionaries? The answer is yes. All of the above.
It isn’t about trying to define the unknown. It’s not about getting our ‘brand’ on as many different buildings, or duplicating what God has blessed us with already, it’s about expressions of all shapes and sizes with culture and flavour as the common factor.
This is where Coca-Cola comes in. Coca-Cola are famous for their unique taste—many have tried to imitate but you know when something isn’t ‘the real thing’. There’s bottles and cans of all shapes and sizes but you know what the taste is going to be… Every expression of One Church may be different from the next but look inside and it will be our flavour, our taste and our culture.
What’s really exciting now is that what was sketched on a whiteboard in 2010 has begun to take shape. Doors are opening and we are prayerfully moving ahead with several new expressions.
We’ve mapped out a 6-phase pathway as we consider all potential expressions:
1 Open Door—what’s the opportunity?
2 Consider—is this opportunity for us?
3 Discuss—what could it look like?
4 Plan—what’s our strategy to launch?
5 Team—gather the people needed.
6 Send—the expression is launched.
On Monday 10 September 2012 we got to phase 6 of our first new expression, One Tots at Kingsway was launched! This is a different shape and size but if you head there you’ll see it’s still us. They had 26 kids on launch day, and interest has grown ever since. Who knows what future doors this will open?!
Meanwhile we’ve spent the last year working with another church. We’re at phase 4/5 here and in January 2013 it will re-launch as One Church Bristol.
That’s not all! A small church in Cam approached us, and asked us to consider taking it on as their Pastor is due to retire. Different shape and size to One Tots, and Bristol, but we’ve agreed to go ahead and there’ll soon be a One Church Cam in 2013—we’re at phase 4 here.
Lastly… following the success of our community day a city councillor from Podsmead has asked if we’d begin some work in a community centre there.
There’s a blank page with our name at the top so it’s an exciting opportunity for us to do something significant in our city. We’re at phase 2/3 here but the council are keen for us to move quickly through the phases.
For more on the vision of One Church we recommend you listen to the message from Sunday 16 September which can be found here.