I led a workshop on Saturday at the Sheffield Diocesan Development day where I explored life cycle and Fresh Expressions. The framework that I used for this was the fantasy cycle that Kester pointed me to in his book. I warmed to it because it doesn't end up in global domination but ends in a death wish, and as I've reflected further on it as it has enabled me to process some of my experiences over seven years with Sanctus1.
The cycle goes like this (btw it's not very cyclical...):
Anticipation - Dream - Frustration - Nightmare - Death Wish.
This is not the only cycle, but a helpful one and a key moment within this cycle is when it gets broken and how it gets broken. I'm convinced, that in some contexts it cannot be broken if the church is genuinely contextual and in other contexts the possibly of breaking the cycle is very possible.
So I thought that I'd write five posts over the coming week or two about the Fantasy Cycle in relation to Fresh Expressions of Church.
I think that there is the danger that we front load with anticipation in Fresh Expressions and this front loading can create problems. Typically a person, if training to be an OPM, will do 2 or 3 years theological training before they actually start something. This is all time in anticipation, they're dreaming about what will be, what will happen...anticipating. At the same time a person like me, or a parish priest, PCC, Bishop etc is dreaming up possibilities - anticipating what will be and what could happen - anticipating...
One obvious problem with this is that immediately when the pioneer comes they are in a gold-fish bowl of their own expectancy and the expectancies of the Church and Diocese. I was fortunate when I was employed to experiment in the city centre of Manchester, there was no MSC, no FX and no expectations! Just realistic hopes.
If the community is indigenous then this anticipation is part of the formation of the church, the anticipation happens in the birthing community rather than in a way that is somewhat detached from the context. If anticipation is part of the cycle then I think that it should be done in context, it is a time of dreaming in community of working out the possibilities but above it is about trying to live that anticipated dream. I think that when you start to live the anticipated dream the dream starts to happen, and when the dream has been anticipated it is all the more dreamy!
That takes us nicely onto dream...but that's a post for later this week.