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Kingdom business the ordinary way: a Fresh Expression in Haydock

Avril Chisnall, founder of the TANGO community project at St Mark’s, Haydock, explains how a fresh expression of church has become part of what they do ...

Avril Chisnall, founder of the TANGO community project at St Mark’s, Haydock, explains how a fresh expression of church has become part of what they do

“When we first started TANGO (Together As Neighbours Giving Out) 12 years ago, it was quite a difficult thing to know how we were going to bring God into it – especially when volunteers joined us from the community.

“However, we always offered everyone an invitation to come and reflect on why we were there as part of the project, and then we finished with a prayer. Eventually people began to trust us more and started to join in different ways.

“We now do have a cell group in TANGO and that’s OK for those who genuinely want to go forward in their faith, but we’ve also got lots of people in our teams who are sort of ‘iffy’ about God.

“We know he’s in their lives but they’ve not acknowledged it themselves. So how do we get them to move on?

“Thankfully, I think people now realise that church isn’t doing it to them but church is here as part of the community – and church is not a building they have to go to. Instead people actually make the church – us and them together.

“I’ve been a member of the Anglican Church for many years and love it, but I feel very frustrated that the Church is stuck in the way it sees how things should be done.

“Many churches are seeing their numbers dwindle but are still not prepared to change their ways. They might introduce some new songs and various creative ways of doing things, but it’s still very much traditional church and won’t reach the people we live among.

“I appreciate that it’s scary for church people and leaders to support a fresh expression because it’s risky, but ‘kingdom values’ are the important things.

“If TANGO goes on for another 12 years that’ll be down to God – and the investment we’ve put into the people’s lives for them to want to carry on doing kingdom business in an ordinary way.

“I’d also say that lay people are so important to this type of fresh expression. It’s important to risk letting those who are not ordained take the lead and do what God’s asked them to do.”

TANGO Co-ordinator Christine Kay adds: “In the past we’ve done lots of things which we’ve been brave to do, but we’ve been even braver to stop them when they’ve not been working.

“Now we have started something called TANGO on a Sunday? because lots of people find Sunday a very long and lonely day. It takes place in our café where we have a chat over a cuppa about some of life’s big issues.

“We’re not really sure how it’s going to pan out but I feel that God is asking us to do this and we’ll see what happens …”

(This story first appeared on the Fresh Expressions website
Pictured above: Avril Chisnall and Christine Kay

Fresh Expressions training

If you are thinking and praying about starting or sustaining a fresh expression, Fresh Expressions training will help you along the way. It is focused on three key resources:

  • vision days – a fun and interactive way to explore new ways of being church and how to form them
  • mission-shaped intro (msi) – a six-session freely-downloadable course exploring mission-shaped thinking in more detail
  • mission-shaped ministry (msm) – a one-year part-time course

Facts and figures

Vision days taking place in spring 2013 include Kingston-on-Thames (16 February), Woolwich (2 March) and Croydon (23 March).

Around 75,000 people in the UK and around the world have taken part in the introductory msi course.

Since msm launched in 2007, some 70 courses have taken place across the UK involving more than 3,000 participants.

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