The ecclesial reality of fresh expressions: ''doing church differently'' in the Liverpool district of the Methodist church

Dutton, Christine Margaret (2017). The ecclesial reality of fresh expressions: ''doing church differently'' in the Liverpool district of the Methodist church. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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In the light of the Mission-Shaped Church report (2004) and the foundation of the joint Anglican/Methodist Fresh Expressions Initiative (2005), churches were encouraged to seek ‘fresh expressions of church for our changing culture, established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church’. The ecclesial reality of four case studies of new forms of worshipping communities across Methodist Churches in the Liverpool District was examined and analysed in relation to the official statements of the Methodist Church and the Fresh Expressions Initiative, questioning the rhetoric of “church for the unchurched”.

Operating at the interface of ethnography and ecclesiology, this thesis employed ethnographic and negotiated research methods in order to establish why, in an age of declining church attendance, people are choosing to join groups that are doing church differently. From the evidence, I draw out characteristics of hospitality, participation and flexibility indicative of a grassroots experience of church.

The thesis discovered, through detailed ethnographic research the ecclesial reality of these new Methodist groups, and presents previously unpublished evidence from grassroots participants. In listening to the voices of participants and their experience the research challenges the narrow understanding of a ‘Mission-Shaped Church’ and considers whether the ecclesial reality of the grassroots groups in this study bring a broader and more nuanced understanding of new ecclesial realities to the Methodist Church and the Fresh Expressions Initiative.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Department of Theology and Religion
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology


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