Global Conversations on Discipleship: Fresh Expressions in Switzerland
By Mighty Rasing
In this episode, host Mighty Rasing, Director of Central Conference Relationships for Discipleship Ministries, chats with Rev. Matthias Fankhauser, who is a Fresh Expressions coach and trainer in Switzerland, which is part of the Central and Southern Europe Central Conference. Matthias shares how The United Methodist Church plants new faith communities using a new model called Fresh Expressions.
Engaging People in a Post-Christian Society
Matthias Fankhauser explains that about seventy percent of the people in Europe are unchurched. The Fresh Expressions movement, which originated in the United Kingdom, is a model of engaging with people who are not familiar with the church and its message.
Fresh Expression Churches in Switzerland
Fresh Expressions is a different way of doing church, where the church tries to reach people, build community with them, and do projects together. It does not look like a traditional Sunday church meeting; the people involved in these communities find common interests that bring them together regularly.
Matthias shared two examples of Fresh Expressions: one brings together people through archery and meditative practice; the other one brings together people—some of them atheists—through art. As the community does these things together, the people engage in deeper conversations about life and faith.
It takes time, but relationships are the key to building these communities.
Recruiting and Supporting Pioneers
The Fresh Expressions project started about fifteen years ago. The church designated 500,000 Swiss francs (about USD 500,000) to fund new expressions of church. They then called for ideas for engaging people and building faith communities. They recruited pioneers. The church considered the Fresh Expression communities as local churches and grouped them within a district in Switzerland.
There are a number of similarities between a startup and the Fresh Expression communities in Switzerland. The founders or pioneers tended to be laypeople who held other jobs while also establishing their Fresh Expression projects.
The United Methodist Church in Switzerland, through Rev. Matthias Fankhauser and Rev. Chris Forster, provide support through mentoring, team-building, and finances.
‘Unlearning’ Church and Going Where the People Are
The Fresh Expression projects led The United Methodist Church in Switzerland to experiment and do things differently, but the projects are also enabling the church to recapture the strategy of John Wesley to go where the people are.
For Additional Information:
Fresh Expressions website: https://emk-schweiz.ch/action/gemeindeentwicklung/kirche-anders-leben/
E-mail: [email protected]
Matthias Fankhauser’s book, Different Church: Fresh Expressions for Methodists and Other Brave Christians: https://www.amazon.de/Kirche-anders-Expressions-Methodisten-Christen/dp/3752833866
Matthias’ Email: [email protected]
Mighty Rasing is the Director of Central Conference Relationships at Discipleship Ministries.