Ek-centric ecclesiology: innovation, agency and the holding of tradition | Clare Watkins [ANVIL vol 35 issue 3]

“And let us consider how we provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some…”

Heb.10:24–25 [NRSV]

Introduction: the motivation for this article

By Clare Watkins

In this article I aim to offer some reflections as an ecclesiologist – and a Catholic one, at that – on some of the aspects of what mission might look like in our own context: post-Christendom, secular, plural Britain.

In particular I want to reflect ecclesiologically in relation to some practices and thinking of particular importance to readers of Anvil: pioneer mission and the work of fresh expressions. In doing this, I hope that we can begin to address some vexed and recurrent tensions around the practices of pioneer mission and its often implicit ecclesiology, and their relation to those of the received, structural expressions of church (“inherited church”), which have dominated the landscape in Britain and across western Europe in modern times.

In doing this I am acutely aware of my own limitations as an “academic” – albeit one thoroughly committed to the practices of Christian life. I am, truthfully, somewhat in awe of pioneer work, in its variety of forms. This is not my world. My own sense of a “mission call” is to what I think of as “the intellectual apostolate” – and this very often feels, even to me, a little ridiculous, indulgent and unhelpfully rarefied in the face of extraordinarily powerful real-life stories of mission and solidarity with the people of the world. Yet my heart is there; and if this odd calling of intellectual apostolate means anything at all, it must surely find a way of serving the “front line” work of mission. It is on this front line that we discover the particularly important place of pioneer work. My own interest in this contemporary and particularly contextual mission is twofold: first because of the way it seems to embody a theology of solidarity and care for “the world”, the margins, for “ordinary life”, which has always been my ecclesiological concern, even as a systematic theologian; but also because of the way that, when I see this (for me) intellectual faith commitment lived out by people braver, stronger and freer than I am, I am conscious of those practices calling ecclesiology to rethink in some crucial ways.

The present article is based on a talk I gave at Church Mission Society’s Pioneer Conversations Day in March 2019. The description of the day included the following:

Within pioneering and Fresh Expressions the question of the nature of church and its relation to mission is a hot topic; one that is both contested theologically but also one which matters in the everyday-life of Christian ministry and mission. Questions like “is this church?”, “when does this become church?” and “can we have church-free Christianity?” are currently being asked in a huge variety of contexts and situations.

What strikes me here is that the direction of interrogation seems to be very much from established ecclesiology to the pioneer missions or fresh expressions. In what follows, I want to suggest that we might also need to allow pioneer work to question ecclesiological assumptions. Indeed, perhaps what is really called for is a questioning conversation around all these experiences and disciplines in order better to serve the living of Christian faith – life in the Spirit – in today’s contexts.

Where I am coming from

If this article is to offer some kind of facilitation of this questioning conversation, my own position needs to be clear. As I say, I come to the subject as something of an outsider – albeit an admiring one. I feel this “outsiderness” on two counts, both of which are significant for what follows. First of all, I am simply an academic; but I’m also something of an outsider because I’m a Roman Catholic. I’m aware, of course, that there have been Roman Catholic contributors to these conversations before – notably Gerald Arbuckle. [1] But I would suggest that even looking at his contributions in the mix of others in this context, it is clear that there is something distinctively “Protestant” – Reformed, Methodist, Anglican – about the ways in which pioneering and fresh expressions have taken off. There is something of a parallel that might be identified within the Catholic tradition: for example, the “new movements” [2] and the growing (largely north American) programmes for renewal, such as “Divine Renovation”. [3] Further back still, I have often thought that the mendicant orders of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were precisely pioneering in the ways in which that term is used in our context today. [4] However, these Catholic movements – both historically and in their contemporary expressions – are ecclesiologically different from what I think I am seeing in fresh expressions and pioneer mission/ministry in some important ways. As a Roman Catholic the idea of setting up another “church”, or even congregation, alongside the local Eucharistic community that is structurally united with the bishops and, ultimately with Rome, is distinctly odd. There might be prayer groups, Bible study groups, outreach of various kinds; but the sacramental and sacramentally structured heart of Catholic ecclesiology does not lend itself to the language, practice or implicit theology of “new church”. It’s just not how our ecclesiology works, as the new movements in the Catholic Church demonstrate.

I’m not here to convert anyone to that way of doing things; indeed, by the end of this short paper I think I may need to revisit these ecclesiological assumptions of mine and challenge my own confessional starting position. However, I do think that this faith of my own concerning church, and the tradition that informs it, gives me a particular perspective on the questions surrounding the kinds of contemporary mission that pioneering and fresh expressions embody. Yes, it is a critical perspective; but it is also one that bears its own gifts into today’s conversations.

The central question and a planned response

So: I am an awestruck outsider, who loves what pioneering is about and has some critical observations to share. Central to these observations is the sense I have that, in just about everything I read around fresh expressions and pioneering, there is an ongoing tension concerning the relationship between the pioneering practices and the established or institutional practices of “inherited” [5] church – whether presented as parish, or circuit, or ordained ministry or whatever. Questions – theological, political and even economic – seem to buzz around how these “received” practices of church might best relate to the more “in the world”, free, imaginative and novel expressions typical of pioneering. One of the well-trodden arguments that reflects this tension is that around whether a fresh expression is properly a church or not. We’ve seen fierce arguments about that over the last decade or so [6] – though perhaps it is an argument that is somewhat dying down now as more deeply reflective talk of mixed economy, “blended church” and “mixed ecology” has properly complexified the debates and enabled shifts in relationship between pioneer and received forms of church. [7] The language and practice of difference and diversity within church life seems to be winning the day.

For all this, I don’t think these questions and tensions have entirely gone away or been resolved (even supposing that they should be – of which more in what follows). Recently this debate has been presented anew in Andrew Dunlop’s book, [8] which offers a penetrating theological account of his own experience of facilitating a contextual, fresh expressions community in which the jumping-off point theologically is precisely “What elements are needed to create an authentic church?” [9] It is from the challenge around “authentic church” that Dunlop is able to develop a Christocentric account of fresh expressions of church, as contextual and new churches, which places the cross, God’s gratuitous work of atonement and reconciliation in Christ at the centre. “Church” as interpreted in these terms, as the central event of God’s saving encounter with people at the point of our own nothingness, becomes determinative.

Beyond “Is this really church?”

This is powerful stuff – and genuinely helpful. However, here, as invariably in accounts of fresh expressions and pioneer accounts of church, there remains the question: who interprets, recognises, authorises such “events” or encounters? If Dunlop is able to see in his small contextual community signs of such encounters with God’s grace, and, what’s more, indicators of the creedal marks of unity, holiness, catholicity and apostolicity, [10] what enables him to be able to see this, and what makes others (like me) question such claims? And, above all, how is ecclesial authenticity in such an endlessly contestable set of positions to be recognised beyond those for whom it is experientially “true”? (Who may, of course, be wrong, given the nature of human experience and sin.) It may be time for a shift away from these stark questions of church – what makes something really church? Can you have a church-less Christianity? – that have been so much rehearsed and, even, exhausted, in favour of giving attention to the fundamental or underlying and often implicitly ecclesiological positions that pioneer practice and language embodies, and which inform the kind of contestation I have hinted at in referring to my reading of Andrew Dunlop. The question is not so much “Is this really church?” but rather, “What kind of sense of ‘church’ might be being construed here?” And what demands does it make on our ecclesiology and ecclesial tradition?

This was, in fact, a part of my learning in the theological action research work done with Messy Church, Croydon. [11] Working with this group of committed, remarkable leaders, rooted in an evangelical tradition and a passionate desire to “make disciples” in their own contexts as stay-at-home parents, I began to have my own ecclesiological assumptions questioned. The practice-group’s shared learning and insight focused on ideas of “not-yet-church” (drawing on the natural theology of Act 17), “church-lite” and the “shallow end of church” – not so as to minimise or dumb down what was occurring in their fresh expressions practice, but rather to speak authentically of its particular ecclesiality. What they were seeing in their own “successful” Messy Church was not what they had planned, hoped for and even, in faith, expected; but it was, nonetheless, a clear working of the Spirit, to them at least. (And here we can see raised again the question as to the authorisation of such a seeing, such a discernment.) In fact, this realisation was inescapable to all involved, challenging us to speak ecclesially of what was going on in practice, while needing to make sense of what kind of “churchiness” – which involved a vast majority of non-believing attenders – this could possibly be. The triggering for me was to remember my own tradition’s understanding of the “soft” or highly permeable boundaries of church – the nature of the church as a reality stretched beyond itself to embrace the catechumen, the seeker, the person of goodwill. To ask “Is this church?” is already to assume too rigidly defined a “thing” is being intended by the term. At the end of that Messy Church project I felt that the question of “Is this church?” was probably not that important. It was, even from my ecclesiologist’s point of view, increasingly the least helpful question to ask. Nonetheless, the instinct behind that question – here and in much of the pioneer and fresh expressions literature, both affirming and critical – is important. It recognises that there is something going on here about the relation of “in-the-world” mission practices to the received, structural church – what, in my tradition, we would refer to as ecclesia ad extra and ecclesia ad intra. There is a tension here that simply will not go away, for all the institutional attempts to colonise and routinise pioneering mission and lay outreach more generally (largely in the Church of England, it seems to me, through its funding mechanisms).

Sociologically this is a tension that has been often described in terms of the tension between the prophetic and the priestly. This language resonates with much of what I read from pioneer literature, and I’ll say a little bit more about that later on. In fact, I want to suggest it might be a distinctly unhelpful – possibly even unchristian – way of describing the difficulty or the tension that we’re up against. What I want to do first, however, is to reframe the questioning of this tension by looking at two particular language clusters that come up for me when I read the literature around pioneering and fresh expressions. One of these is to do with change and agency, and the other concerns the question of tradition and innovation. After exploring these two themes, albeit briefly, I will then move to propose an understanding of church as ek-centric, drawing on my own confessional ecclesiological tradition, and theological action research, in a way that holds the tensions between pioneer and institutional as proper, and opens up ways for its being more mutually enriching than simply problematic.

Pioneering: innovation, change and the question of agency

My suggestion is that there are fundamental assumptions about what is new, transformative and “fresh” in much of the pioneer and fresh expressions literature that require deeper ecclesiological attention. Furthermore, these assumptions bear an implicit (and explicit) valorisation of change that begs, for the systematic theologian, a crucial question as to who is/ are the agent(s) of such change.

The emphasis on change and newness is basic to pioneering and fresh expressions and reflects the way in which these movements are born out of a proper dissatisfaction with the way things are, and the ways that the structurally configured churches have often failed to truly bring people to Christ in our contexts. This “holy discontent” (as Michael Moynagh refers to it) [12] is well identified by Jonny Baker in his essay “Future Present”, for example. [13] What results is a newness and freshness born of a highly pneumatological reading of Christian life and mission, and a thorough-going commitment to the missio Dei understanding of God’s mission already active in the world, and the Christian disciple – and in a particular way, the pioneer – as the one who responds to this divine activity. So:

Pioneers are people called by God who are the first to see and creatively respond to the Holy Spirit’s initiatives with those outside the church; gathering others around them as they seek to establish new contextual Christian community. [14]

And:

Believing that God is already at work in the world, Fresh Expressions reimagine how the Body of Christ can live and work in diverse and changing contexts.… A Fresh Expression is fresh! New, original, pioneering, innovative, different… you get the idea. A FX is not a re-brand or update to an existing model – it is a NEW thing that has developed because of a particular culture or context. [15]

Theologically this all makes perfect sense. The foundations of church on the missio Dei, with its implied subordination of church to the work of the Spirit in the world, powerfully resonates across the different Christian traditions, including my own. However, as is often the way, the really knotty ecclesiological problems come to light when we ask “How does this get lived out in practice?”

For example, I have just made reference to Jonny Baker’s essay “Future Present”. In this he offers not only an account of dissatisfaction as a proper starting place for pioneer work, but also a simple process by which to begin to respond to this satisfaction:

1. Get some people together;

2. Pick something you want to see changed and imagine a different future;

3. Design the present on the basis of that future to make the future present. [16]

Throughout the same short and inspiring piece, much is made of the language of imagining and dreaming, with the explicit link being made between this kind of activity and prophetic vocation:

It’s what the prophets did. They grieved for the way the world was broken…Then they imagined a different future through their poetry and art… [17]

Indeed, the language of “creativity”, “dreaming” and “imagination” seems to feature rather a lot in fresh expressions and pioneer mission, and is reflected in those definitions that each areas give of themselves quoted above. Contributing to the same conversations, Nicola Slee robustly states: “I want to insist on the urgency of dreaming as an imaginative work to which Christians are called…” [18] and contributors to that conversation of 2018 frequently have recourse to similar language – and consistently relate it to the “prophetic”.

I find this emphasis on human creativity and openness to new ways compelling, both as a person and as a theologian. However, it does raise some difficult questions for me. The first of these concerns the nature of the “prophetic”. It is interesting to note that the majority of what is written in Scripture about prophets (as distinct from by them – although there is overlap) concerns the tricky question of true and false prophets and how you might distinguish between them. There is not the space to go into this in detail here – except to say that the problem seems to have persisted into the earliest Christian communities and beyond, as demonstrated by 1 John 4:3 and 1 Cor. 12:3, and by the Montanist “heresy” of the second century. The point is that not everyone who says they are a prophet, or even believes themselves so to be, or really looks like a prophet, actually is. The identity of the “true” prophet is actually rather tricky to determine, and requires some kind of discernment. As well as the idea that one mark of authenticity is that what the prophet says comes true, there is also, and interestingly, the idea that they should not contradict what has previously been established by another proven authentic prophet.

None of this is to say that pioneer work and fresh expressions are not prophetic; it is simply to raise an important and perduring, and authentically faith-full question: how do we know it is prophetic? Which is to say, how do we know that this work is actually about bearing God’s living Word, rather than the thoughts, ideas, opinions of people? These thoughts, ideas and opinions may well be good, helpful – graced, even; but this does not, at least according to Scripture, make them necessarily “prophetic” in the proper sense of being God’s own Word spoken through God’s chosen prophet. The prophetic, and the prophet, is always something to be discerned. The question is not only by whom, but how?

This questioning of the language of the prophetic and its implied connections with imaginings and dreamings and creativity raises the question of agency. The prophet, as powerfully illustrated by the reluctance of the likes of Amos and Jeremiah, is driven to prophesy despite their own desire to act differently, precisely because the divine agency of the Word with which they are entrusted overpowers them. When we speak of authentic change in the church we need always to remember this, and to remember its corollary: that change towards God is always dependent on the Holy Spirit as the primary agent of change to which we are called to respond in faithful submission – even, sometimes, against our better judgement. For the Christian, the triune God is the only authentic agent of change in the church and in the world.

Such a statement has some highly significant implications. In particular, it suggests that it is not so much (or even) our imagining or dreaming that is the place to work from for God-wards change of church, but rather a radical openness to the Spirit – who “blows where he wills”, and often does things rather differently from how we might imagine! There is here an appropriate debate to be had around the cooperation of human creativity and imagining with the Spirit, to be sure; and it is a conversation I would like this paper to open up. But prior to it, the possibility (some would say inevitability) of my or your “imaginings” being distorted by sin needs to be recognised. I may well have a beautiful, Godly, even “good” idea of my own, which others may find powerful, moving, inspiring; but these things alone do not make it of God – prophetic. Once again, we are faced with the complex necessity of discernment.

What place tradition?

It is this question of discernment – of God’s work in the world, and of my response to it – that brings me to my second area of questioning observation: this concerns the place of “tradition” for fresh expressions and pioneering.

Here I am using the term “tradition” quite loosely to refer both to the “inherited” structures, life and practice of the Christian church, and the articulated and received traditions of teaching, spirituality and liturgy. Tradition refers, in all these cases, to that which has been handed on, what has been received. The language of the prophetic, the new, the fresh suggests at the very least a tension with tradition understood in this way, and might even suggest a breach with it, or a “radical freedom” in regard to it. In practice it is this tension (and occasional breach) that, I suggest, has lain at the heart of “inherited church” unease about fresh expressions and pioneering. For example, in what might be a rather vivid, even extreme example, Mike Riddell reports a contextual church’s use of pies and beer in a (quasi-) Eucharistic ritual that was judged contextually appropriate but, clearly, in any material sense, in considerable rupture from both the biblical and continuous Christian liturgical tradition. [19]

I don’t think this kind of expression of “radical freedom” from tradition is typical of pioneer or fresh expressions mission. Indeed, the “new monasticism”, and the evident interest in spirituality that is recurrently glimpsed in these new ways of church and mission, often draw on traditions of one kind or another. Whether this turning to spiritual traditions of the past as “resources” is really in keeping with the fundamental idea of living tradition (Benedictine monasticism is a continuous and presently lived reality after all, as are the traditions of St Francis of Assisi, Ignatius Loyola etc.) is another matter we might want to discuss. My own anxiety that there persists a rather postmodern, eclectic and often strangely individualist interpretation of these great traditions is hard to set aside. What appears to be the case is that for much of the embodying of the fresh, new and pioneering, “tradition” is at worst a part of the very system that cries out for radical change, and at best an interesting set of resources that can be considered, selected from and adapted for present use. Again, the question for me is: on what grounds is such a selection and the consequent adaptation of tradition made? And by whom, on whose behalf, discerned by what lights?

Michael Moynagh’s reflections on innovation and tradition serve us well here:

Innovation happens when God’s future begins to re-form the present. The result is not the obliteration of tradition. It is the transformation of tradition. The kingdom gives history new life. If you like, innovation fertilizes the tradition, while tradition is the soil in which innovation grows. [20]

Here there appears to be a balanced and nuanced sense of the relation of tradition to pioneering; and I have no significant disagreement with it – except, perhaps, that I would see “innovation” as tradition awaiting authorising discernment, and “tradition” as the fertile soil (soil and fertiliser) for its health and growth. Once again, as with the questions of agency and change, the problem is not with the meaning, but with the questions around practice it raises. How, exactly, does this happen? How is “tradition”, in all its complexity, structure, language and historical conceptuality, enabled to enrich innovation exactly? In answering these questions we will face, on the ground, questions of power, authority, eclecticism, expertise, knowledge, grace – and sin. We will face, in short, the Christian call to discernment.

It is here that we can return to the original ecclesiological question that this paper has named but also sought to come at “slant” – that of the relation of fresh expressions/pioneering to “inherited” church. Repeatedly in my questioning of what I understand of these movements, I have returned to the need for discernment – of God’s will and agency, of our response to it in faith and obedience, of the grace-and-sin of our imaginings, and of our contextual living connection and continuity with Christian tradition. I want to suggest that at least one of the key ways in which “tradition” – in all its lived and historic complexity – is “held” is precisely in the structured, historical and continuous life of the traditioned, handed-on and handing-on church. If this is true, it allows us to read the relation of pioneer work to that of “inherited” church in some more interesting and, I think, fruitful ways. If pioneering and fresh expressions are all about being deeply “in the world” so as to discern God’s mission there and the Christian response to that, then there is a proper and living dependency on that received form of church that holds the tradition and which thus makes discernment possible. At the same time, this structured, traditioned reality of church depends on the pioneer as the one who enables the “progress” of that tradition (it is after all a living tradition) in the contemporary life of the church, at the same time developing the dynamic cooperation with the Holy Spirit that is the powerful place out of which ongoing tradition is, itself, forged. The second Vatican Council (Dei Verbum 8) puts it like this:

This tradition which comes from the Apostles develops in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. (5) For there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down. This happens through the contemplation and study made by believers, who treasure these things in their hearts (see Luke, 2:19, 51) through a penetrating understanding of the spiritual realities which they experience, and through the preaching of those who have received through Episcopal succession the sure gift of truth. For as the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her.

Such a position as I am suggesting here has some immediate implications, for both tradition-holding church and pioneer ecclesial expressions. In particular it raises the questions of what sort of relationships – structural, scholarly, personal – would be necessary to best enable, on an everyday level, the kind of mutually dependent work of discernment envisaged here. Related to this, a second question is raised as to how pioneers’ formation, training and ongoing development does and might enable the kind of practices of discernment that are necessary to this understanding. To be sure, this is also very much a question urgent for all Christians, especially those in mission and ministry of whatever kind; but it seems to me that there is a particular charism emerging for pioneering to which such gifts and practices of discernment would be integral.

I am encouraged in this assertion by reflection on my on theological action research work with the Action Research Church and Society team between 2006 and 2011. [21] As I now think back on that work, and write up the specifically theological learning from that work, I am struck as to how mission and context appear in the practices in two distinct ways. First of all, that research, with over 12 different church groups involved in “outreach”, seemed to make clear that effective mission and evangelisation was extremely difficult for established ecclesial, and especially hierarchical/ clerical, structures, and was far better served by more entrepreneurial lay-led, “in the world” groups. This will of course come as no surprise to pioneers! At the same time, it also could be seen that the most sustainable and effective of these more entrepreneurial groups intentionally founded their work on both traditional spiritual/liturgical practice and thinking from the longer, inherited traditions. [22]

For example, the lay-led London Jesuit Volunteers built around communities of discernment, Scripture reading and prayer, to equip people to volunteer and work in areas of deprivation and marginalisation. Supported by a Jesuit community, the tutoring in this ancient spirituality of Ignatian discernment enabled genuinely fresh, and genuinely continuous and traditioned ways of being church to flourish. In a rather different way, the tradition of Catholic social teaching – a normative, ecclesial and authoritative “tradition” – enabled the drawing together of Christians and people of other faiths and none into a theologically reflective and creative work of social justice and care, in the development agency CAFOD. Yes, in both cases the tradition was evolving and finding new contextual expression; but, to add to Moynagh’s account above, it was absolutely clear, too, that the contemporary nurture of these “fresh expressions” of Christian discipleship was a kind of new flowering of a plant of tradition that had, in fact, always been alive. It is, I suggest, not our place to “transform tradition” through our own human agency, but rather to deeply embed ourselves in that living tradition that is held by inherited church, so as to be able to bear fruit in our own contextual soil.

Concluding observations: the interpenetration of centres and peripheries

What I am suggesting in this Catholic and ecclesiological response to pioneering is an understanding of a whole-church that holds together the peripheries of fresh expressions and pioneer ministry with the smaller, but concretely centred, traditioned church. This whole-church is without boundaries, but one that is held to its historical embodied continuity in Christ through its institutional reality. But as such the intuitional centre becomes shrunk; it is put in its place by the greater whole, as this whole struggles to participate, through careful discernment, in the missio Dei, active in the world. The institution becomes the servant of the greater whole, taking up a distinctive role of the complex work of discernment, chastening our imaginations and visions. The tension of pioneer and inherited church is not resolved, but is, I think, given new and creative meaning and mutuality. The gift – a gift of the Spirit – is to live, together, this tension in commitment to discern the way God is leading us.

Dr Clare Watkins is reader in ecclesiology and practical theology at the University of Roehampton, and director of the Theology and Action Research Network (TARN: www.theologyandactionresearch.net).

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Notes

[1] Gerald A. Arbuckle, “Conflicts in the Church: Some Mythological Reflections,” in The Pioneer Gift: Explorations in Mission, ed. Jonny Baker and Cathy Ross (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2014), 141–57.
[2] For an account of these see Massimo Faggioli, The Rising Laity: Ecclesial Movements since Vatican II (Marwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2016); and by the same author, Sorting Out Catholicism: A Brief History of the New Ecclesial Movements (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2014).
[3] James Mallon, Divine Renovation: Bringing Your Parish from Maintenance to Mission (New London, CT: Twenty Third Publications, 2014).
[4] One of the places this is vividly and accessibly described in is Simon Tugwell, Early Dominicans: Selected Writings (Classics of Western Spirituality) (New York: Paulist Press, 1982).
[5] These seems to me a problematic term; after all, all church, all faith, is necessarily “inherited”.
[6] For example, see Louise Nelstrop and Martyn Percy, eds., Evaluating Fresh Expressions: Explorations in Emerging Church (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2008); Steven Croft, ed., Mission-shaped Questions: Defining Issues for Today’s Church (London: Church House Publishing, 2008); Andrew Davison and Alison Milbank, For the Parish: A Critique of Fresh Expressions (London: SCM Press, 2010).
[7] Anna Brooker and Andrew Dunlop, Mixed-economy Mission: Collaborative Ministry for Multi-church Growth (Cambridge: Grove Books, 2019).
[8] Andrew Dunlop, Out of Nothing: A Cross-Shaped Approach to Fresh Expressions (London: SCM Press, 2018).
[9] Ibid., 47.
[10] Ibid., 67.
[11] Clare Watkins and Bridget Shepherd, “The Challenge of ‘Fresh Expressions’ to Ecclesiology: Reflections from the Practice of Messy Church,” Ecclesial Practices 1:1 (2014): 92–110.
[12] Michael Moynagh, “Innovating the Future,” in Future Present: Embodying a Better World Now, ed. Jonny Baker et al. (Sheffield: Proost Publications, 2018), 13–21. See 14.
[13] Jonny Baker, “Future Present,” in Future Present, 5–9.
[14] “Vocations to Pioneer Ministry,” The Church of England, accessed 3 October 2019, https://www.churchofengland.org/pioneering.
[15] “What is a Fresh Expression?”, Fresh Expressions, accessed 3 October 2019, http://freshexpressions.org.uk/about/what-is-a-freshexpression/
[16] Baker, “Future Present,” in Future Present, 9.
[17] Ibid., 7–8.
[18] Nicola Slee, “Re-imagining Christ as the Coming Girl: An Advent Experiment,” in Future Present, 119–32. See 119.
[19] Mike Riddell, “Bread and Wine, Beer and Pies,” in Mass Culture: Eucharist and Mission in a Post-Modern World, ed. Pete Ward (Oxford: Bible Reading Fellowship, 1999), 95–115.
[20] Moynagh, “Innovating the Future”.
[21] For an in initial outline of this work, see Helen Cameron et al., Talking About God in Practice: Theological Action Research and Practical Theology (London: SCM Press, 2010).
[22] This argument is set out more fully in Clare Watkins, Disclosing Church: Re-learning Ecclesiology from the Voices of Practice (forthcoming: Routledge, 2020), especially chapter 11.

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