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Mission-shaped ministry training helps church start with a SPLAT

Who would have thought a training course would help give birth to a South Wales church called SPLAT?

Who would have thought a training course would help give birth to a South Wales church called SPLAT?

What happened next? Participants in Fresh Expressions’ mission-shaped ministry courses faced the question in a survey which looked to find out if msm had made a difference in their lives and ministry.
 
Since first launched, 75 msm courses have taken place from Plymouth to Inverness and Belfast to Norwich. A further 11 will start in the autumn, including Edinburgh, Wolverhampton, Gloucester and Chelmsford (a full list of courses can be found at freshexpressions.org.uk/missionshapedministry).
 
By September 2012, more than 2,600 people will have participated in msm in the UK, making the course a major contributor to lay and ordained ministry training.
 
Internationally, there have been seven msms – in Canada (2), Australia (2), United States (1), Barbados (1) and Germany (1), and one has now been arranged for New Zealand.
 
An initial report, for courses running from 2007 to 2010, revealed that msm has marked profound change for more than 90% of those taking part. Respondents said the course produced at least one of the following six outcomes, with msm helping:

  • 26% start a fresh expression of church
  • 32% develop a fresh expression of church
  • 58% apply its principles to their present church
  • 20% clarify a call to pioneer ministry
  • 66% grow in their own Christian discipleship/ ministry
  • 38% grow in their oversight or support of a fresh expression of church

More than half of fresh expressions of church (54%) started by msm participants in the three-year period are specifically reaching children or children and their parents. The figure includes Messy Churches.
 
Those fresh expressions already in existence but developed by those attending msm include those for children and parents/guardians (13%); children (8%); youth (13%); Messy Church (26%), adults (23%), all ages (17%).   
 
Andrew Roberts, Director of Training for Fresh Expressions and a co-author of Fresh! – An Introduction to Fresh Expressions of Church and Pioneer Ministry, said, "The outcome data confirms the impression gained from many participants on completing msm that their learning journey has helped them significantly with their next steps in pioneering mission-shaped ministry."
 
The course inspired Melanie Prince, a team vicar in the Vale of Glamorgan, to start a monthly Messy Church called SPLAT (see photo above): "I did msm South Wales in 2009-2010. It was timely for us to do it as Llantwit Major Benefice where we have nine churches, three clergy and three Readers! It gave us the kick start to do things, providing a reason to stop delaying and get on with it.
 
"We started a Messy Church fairly early on in the course. This happened because the churchwardens came and said, 'We used to have a thriving church with families. How do we get families back in again?' Their approach coincided with us having started msm and it meant we had some ideas to pull on.

"In a new atmosphere of optimism, I started the Messy Church at St James, Wick, which I ran for its first 18 months before handing it over. SPLAT continues to flourish and monthly all-age worship in church now attracts a good number of people as well. The fresh expression has been successful in itself but it has also had an impact on the main church."

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