Doylestown (PA) Mennonite Church (DMC) started an experiment some years ago by looking “out there.” We assembled a team to explore, ask questions, and identify God’s work that DMC could support. The team began to see fertile soil within us, that God was doing work here within our own souls. We began to see that being missional was our own calling and not something to be hired out.
A major shift happened for me in how I viewed my faith journey. I realized that my faith is to be an integral piece that is a common thread in all the boxes of my life: home, work, church, and play. Jesus is present in all my boxes, encouraging, convicting, and transforming. I began to look for ways to bring these boxes together.
I began inviting people from my different boxes to gather for coffee, football games on TV, and meals. Risk & vulnerability are present when you have your work friends and neighbors meet your church friends. Risk & vulnerability are present when you begin to share your thoughts, dreams, failures, and struggles. I John 1:5-10 invites us to walk in the light, to live an authentic life, to experience forgiveness, and to have fellowship with one another.
Two examples of fellowship that intentionally cross the boundaries of our boxes at DMC are disc golf and knotting comforters.
Lois and Freida Myers have for some time gathered folks from various boxes in their lives to create some interesting mixes of people to knot comforters. We know that when you put people together, fellowship and connection will develop.
My own story with disc golf began by doing something that I enjoy and inviting others to join me. The fun begins by expanding the group to include random strangers, friends from church and work, and friends of friends. I am a self-proclaimed disc golf evangelist, trying to convert those who don’t play to become those who do play. The Missional Experiment that DMC took on challenged me to invite anyone who would listen to join me in playing disc golf.
I created by own vision of this mission in my life. “Build community among a diverse group of people, to create space for trusting relationships to grow and where ministry to one another happens.” My vision became a “fresh expression.”
Fresh Expression is what happens when we move from a missional outlook to a more intentional gathering of listening, loving, and caring. A Fresh Expression is where we experience God and have connection or fellowship with one another: a church, but not one that looks like the traditional church. Fresh Expressions come about by following a passion, building trusting relationships, sharing ourselves authentically, and sharing our faith journey.
Fresh Expression is a movement; it is a thing. It is in dog parks, restaurants, Tattoo parlors, yoga studios, disc golf courses, and living rooms. Fresh Expressions are birthed out of the traditional church, are supported and encouraged by the traditional church, and not surprisingly, are revitalizing the traditional church. Fresh Expressions become a new distinct entity and are not intended to be a new church growth scheme building the church’s roster. The Fresh Expression is church.