From Fresh Expressions to Multiplication Movements


In the Past 10 Years, Particularly here in the UK, but increasingly across Europe and the Western World…we are seeing the proliferation of New Forms of Church

Pre 2001, The Word ‘Church‘ would have only conjured up images (even among ‘christians’) of church buildings with steeples, sunday morning (or evening for the trendy) services, priests in robes or pastors in suits or californian laid back jeans and casual shirt on a platform or at the altar, tithes and offerings and an already ‘initiated’ congregation of ‘song singsters and sermon listeners and rota fillers- a bit of childrens work- a bit of youth work- and a great deal of ushering or wardening- plus monthly rota’d projects to the poor- if we’re lucky’

But since the ground breaking ‘Mission-Shaped Church Report‘ of 2004 that ‘released widespread permission’ to ‘do church differently’ first amongst the Anglicans and Methodists…then by other denominations…starting with the oldest…and slowly adopted by some of the newer ones…Fresh Expressions are emerging literally all over the place…

For those who don’t know what that means…

There are now…

Cafe Churches

House Churches

Skater Churches

Goth Churches

Missional Communities

Messy Churches

Organic Churches

Houses of Prayer

Youth Churches

Pub Churches

And any other way of adding a word before ‘Church’

Church is no longer bound by a ‘dedicated religious building‘…

Church is no longer restricted to a ‘worship service’

Church is no longer shackled to a particular day of the week (Sunday) and can meet on any day and anywhere, with anyone…

A group of 9 people can form a community (‘missional community or simple church or organic church’) that ‘does life together’…shares food, prays together, listens to God, reads the Bible together and they can be called ‘Church’ (well, almost…there are still some restrictions spoken or unspoken…)

As far as we’ve come through New Forms/Fresh Expressions of church…there is a way to go to progress From Fresh Expressions to Multiplication Movements…

In my last Article I suggested that our New Forms (wineskins) are not New or Radical Enough…here’s some reasons why…


1. BAPTIZERS (only for the initiated- clergy/laity divide)- All Disciples Making Disciples hasn’t taken root yet…many eyebrows are still raised around the question of ‘Who is allowed to Baptise new disciples?’ (even though Matt 28:18-20 says- Make Disciples- by going, training/teaching obedience to all Jesus’ instructions and baptising- if all disciples can’t baptise other disciples- then no-one but ordained priests can make disciples)

2. LORD’S SUPPER– (clergy/laity divide)…maybe if it is called the Lord’s Supper or Breaking Bread…anyone can facilitate this? But if it’s called ‘Communion’…well…there might be trouble if ‘non-ordained’ people administer this…In my mind…it’s Lord’s Supper anyway…Jesus shared a real meal in an everyday setting with his close student/apprentice friends…Jesus was a genius when it comes to movement…he knew his disciples would eat regularly (as all humans must do) so he gave them a way of remembering him through a common everyday occurance- eating a meal together! ‘As often as you do this…remember me!’

3. ORDAINED LEADERS– (clergy/laity divide) There are still maybe some restrictions…the Priesthood of all Believers hasn’t completely taken hold yet- most Fresh Expressions have to have a ‘licensed or ordained leader or pioneer’ assigned to them…(if only ‘ordained’ leaders can start a fresh expression- or those formally approved- that usually means someone who has gone through all the hurdles and on excessive training including some kind of ordination process whether that’s for vicars, pastors or even pioneer ministers/missioners- then we are still only in addition territory not multiplication territory)

4. TRAINING DISCIPLES AND LEADERS- (clergy/laity divide). The way we train those who are going to lead a church, plant a church or start a Fresh Expression of church or Missional Community is still way to long, drawn out, academic…and restrictive! Is it possible for an ordinary non-ordined christian to be equipped to start a church where they live, work or play in one weekend and go out and do it? Is it possible for a one day old believer to gather their friends and family and stat a church in their home on day 2? If not, why not

5. PAID TO START A CHURCH– (cleargy/laity divide)…although in one sense…paid pioneer ministers/missioners seems like a step forward (for example, before 911 the only way you could be recognised as an official leader in the Anglican church – was through ordination to become a vicar/priest who is put in charge of a Parish and a Parish Church- now you can be ordained a Pioneer Missioner who forms a Fresh Expression of Church and/or Receives a Bishops Mission Order with license to Plant New Communities without having to be posted to a Parish boundary)…the message this still sends out is…those who start churches are those who are given special permission/license to do so…and are paid to do so…it then raises the question of…’if such-and-such is paid to plant a community of 15 people…why shouldn’t I be paid when I start a community in my home, work or leisure’

What’s the problem? If everyone is paid to start such simple communities…we will never get to multiplication movements…as there is not enough money to go round….and people will only plant these churches if they get paid to do so…

Who should ‘get paid’ then? Firstly, I would say…no-one! We tend to pay those who have jumped through our academic or religious hoops prior to them even being tested in whether they can do the things Jesus taught us to do (drive out demons, preach the gospel to the poor, make disciples baptising them, form communities and so on). Secondly, ‘getting paid’ is an oxymoron…its too transactional for my liking…’If I’m paid this…then I will do this…if I’m not paid this…then I won’t do that…’ It also a temptation towards complacency and laziness…’I’m already getting paid…so I don’t need to do much…I’ve got a golden ticket’

But in terms of…should anyone be supported financially?  I would say, YES!

If we want to progress from Fresh Expressions to Multiplication Movements of Fresh Expressions (Newforms Tribes)…we need to start supporting ‘MOVEMENT PLANTERS(those who catalyze 4 Generation Multiplication Movements of at least 100 churches//fresh expressions/missional communities amongst unchurched people groups and then don’t rest on their laurels but go on to new people groups or places to do the same until there is NoPlaceLeft where Christ is not Named)

Above are 5 Barriers to Multiplication…if we don’t ‘give permission’ for an Army of Ordinary People to be able to do these things as Jesus commanded us to do; ‘Go, Make Disciples’…aamongst good soil (reproducing 30x, 60x, 100x that which was sown) we are allowing

 ”man made traditions that make to no effect the word of God’

This is not just a high church barrier. It’s not just an Anglican barrier. It’s even more so in Pentecostal traditions where the anointed man or woman of God is the only one(s) who can baptise, preach with power, and anointed to lead (‘don’t touch the Lord’s anointed)

In Charismatic circles it’s the Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Teacher or Pastors, Elders, Deacons who can do these things (administer Lord’s Supper, Baptise new Believers, Lead or Plant Churches)

In 3rd Wave/New Church Movements it’s often the Senior Pastor, Staff Team and Appointed Elders/Small Group Leaders who can do some of these things

But what about your ‘bog standard’ common person!? 😉

Are all allowed, encouraged, released to ‘start a church’ (where they live, work, place- wherever life happens?)

Are all empowered to go, make disciples, baptising them?

Are all sharing Lord’s Supper as often as they meet in communities to share their food with joy and great generosity

If Fresh Expressions and New Forms of Church just become a new way of ordaining the special to do church differently (in maybe a slightly more trendy way for those who went to church in the past, or those who are bored of the Sunday service…or even to babysit new christians whilst the pioneers or already mature christian communities do all the work…we’ve not gone far enough!)

In Britain the 1990’s heralded a decade of ‘Church Planting‘ that most denominations embraced with high expectations and large goals

Towards the end of this process and around the turn of the century into the 2000’s the question changed from 

How many churches each denomination should plant?’


‘What is church?’

Trying to plant 1000 baptist churches, URC’s, or whatever the denomination and number was…failed to achieve the goals because we didn’t need more of the same (parking lots, pews, pastors, priests, passive consumers)

What was needed was a complete rethinking of the wineskin

So the decade of the noughties (2000’s) was all about releasing new forms

But we are mid way through another decade (2010’s)…and the message to the West (to UK, Europe, Australisia, America and so forth) is MULTIPLICATION (sometimes referred to as Church Planting Movements, Disciple Multiplication Movements, CPM, DMM, T4T, DBS and so on)


However…whereas in Asia, Africa, South America (mostly still ‘Modern’ cultures- as opposed to ‘Post Modern’)…the conversation hasn’t necessarily centred around ‘what is church’…but more around Luke 10 Principles, Fervent Prayer, Abundant Gospel Sowing, and 2 Tim 2:2 Principles of 4th Generation Disciple Making…

What results from that…is that people who haven’t had much ‘western’ experience of church…simply read the Bible and do what it says…pray into the night, or prayer walk are led through Dreams and by the Spirit directly to new Person of Peace/Houses of Peace to form new communities wherever they encounter spiritually hungry people with a large social circle…and new churches start and multiply as a result

In EUROPE…a post-modern/post-christendom setting, the Movemental principles will be the same as Asia/Third World/Developing World… (Searching for Circles of Peace/Persons of Peace and Forming Communities with their people and them becoming the leaders…doing Lord’s Supper together and baptising their tribes)…but the wineskins/forms that emerge will be extremely diverse…

This Article Suggests the Marrying of the Fresh Expressions/New Forms of the 2000’s with the Multiplication Principles that are finally arriving in the West through Mission Agencies and Thinkers in the 2010’s…

But for that to happen…the Martin Luther rediscovery of Priesthood of All Believers will have to move from theory to practice…and ‘leaders’ would need to become ‘reproducers’ not just ‘producers’ and ’empowerers’ not ’emperors with power’ and ‘priests with a small ‘p’ not Priests with a capital ‘P’ and ‘equippers’ as opposed to ‘show stoppers’

What then does this mean in practice…

Instead of just ‘ordaining’ a Pioneer Missioner to start a ‘Cafe Church’ in Costa that takes over the cafe in closing hours and has already christians meeting there and inviting their ‘non churched friends’…(a Gen 0 church- as all the people are already christians who have moved from one setting to another)


If the above happens…everyone of those people who meet in that cafe could be trained and equipped to also start ‘fresh expressions’ of church in their home, work, leisure…these new resulting churches would be Gen 1 churches (the believers would invite their prechristian friends to form new communities from scratch)

The new communities that now meet in homes, workplaces, leisure spaces would train the new people in their groups to start their discipling communities (this would form Gen 2 churches)

Now we are on a roll towards 4th Generation Groups, Churches, Communities (4 Gen- refers to 2 Tim 2:2- Paul-Timothy-Faithful-Others)

So now you can see why the man made tradition barriers to multiplication of Fresh Expressions/New Forms/Urban Expressions/Eden Teams/Alpha/Soul Survivor/24-7 Prayer+Boiler/Youth Churches mentioned above need to be removed…

If only ‘Special People’ can start churches/fresh expressions the rapid multiplication of disciples and churches evident in New Testament (Acts 6:1,7, Acts 9:36 KJV, Acts 19:10) will not happen

If only ‘Special People’ can baptise…the rapid multiplication of disciples evident in NewTestament  (Acts 6:1,7, Matthew 28:18-20, John 4:2, 1 Corinthians 1:14)

What’s the MAIN THING hindering Fresh Expressions becoming Fresh Multiplication Movements? 

THE CLERGY/LAITY DIVIDE (the ruling over the ordinary saints by the official priests/pastors)

HOWEVER…before 1950…the idea that leaders and ordinary saints in denominational churches would be ‘allowed’ to speak in tongues, heal the sick, play worship music on electric guitars, dress in casual clothing, meet for small groups in homes would have been unthinkable…

In Britain (at least)..this is now common place amongst pretty much all denominations and churches

Before 2011…the practice of planting officially recognised churches in cafes, pubs, skate parks, nightclubs was perhaps inconceivable by most denominations, even new churches….but the Anglicans and Methodists led the way in permission giving and resourcing and providing the platform and infrastructure for this to gain widespread momentum

WHO WILL LEAD THE WAY IN SMASHING THIS RELIGIOUS IDOL (nicolaitian), A TRADITION OF MEN, THAT MAKES TO NO EFFECT THE WORD OF GOD CONCERNING MULTIPLICATION AND MAKING DISCIPLES (not just outside of the denominations/system but actually from within too in much the same way that the Charismatic Renewal did!?)

[This Article is an Extract from Peter J Farmer’s Forthcoming Book: TRIBAL MISSION]


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeremy April 27, 2015 at 8:39 am

Hi Peter. I got to this post from a link in your latest post on prayer births disciple making movements.

I have been so very encouraged!

Thank you so much. What you write here is confirming so much of what I have been discerning over the years.

Bless you brother!



admin April 27, 2015 at 9:00 am

Hi Jeremy,

I’m greatly encouraged that you are encouraged! And thus confirms that the Spirit is indeed speaking to the Church…let’s keep in step with what He is doing and wanting to do in this generation…


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