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Fresh Expressions of Church – Rural examples and links

A unique and comprehensive listing of virtually all examples of Fresh Expressions of Church in rural contexts - where published information exists. Also included are specific resources related to rural 'fresh expressions' and evaluation of some of the generic material & approaches.



FX_logoFresh expressions of church are by no means limited to suburban or urban locations, although there are considerably fewer rural examples. However the Fresh Expressions website does contain quite a few specific examples of rural Fresh Expressions of church, as well as more general material related to fresh expressions of church in rural situations.

Links to much of the examples on the Fresh Expressions website are found below, alongside a few links to articles from Country Way that highlight rural fresh expressions of church.
The Arthur Rank Centre is not responsible for the contents or futher links contained in any of the material on the Fresh Expressions website.

In the Library of Rural Good Practice elsewhere on the ARC website, you find a detailed case study, with additional information, related to Mission Shaped Ministry courses run in largely rural situations. In addition there is more information about the development of dedicated rural resources for future Mission Shaped Ministry programmes. Find these here.

At the foot of this page, you can download "Getting Fresh in the Country", some reflections on rural fresh expressions of church from Capt. Gordon Banks, the Church Army's rural representative. You can also download a summary of some thoughts on rural fresh expressions of church from Revd Anna Normal-Walker, Diocesan Missioner for Exeter Diocese.

Specific Examples of Rural Fresh Expressions

1stsunday@5 - Trefforest, South Wales: (URC monthly cafe church with a difference)

Alive & Kicking - Kinver, Staffordshire: (Fresh Expression of church for high-school age youngsters in a large village)

The ARK - Newmains, Scotland: (Different 'expressions' for children, young people & adults)

Ashburton Methodist Church – Devon: (The results of a Mission-Shaped Ministry course)

Breakfast@9 - Canford Magna, Dorset: (Breakfast club & developing new Christian community)
You can download an article from Country Way here.

Buckshaw Village Church - Buckshaw, Lancashire: (ecumenical church-plant in new-build community)

cafelite_01Cafe Lite - Droxford, Hampshire: (Monthly, self-funding cafe service in the village hall - linked to other mission openings)
An article about this initiative was published in Issue 62 of Country Way

boot_fair_churchCar Boot Fair Church - Icklesham, E Sussex: (taking church to car boot sales in the summer)www.freshexpressions.org.uk/stories/bootfairchurch

 Cook@ Chapel- Hanslope Methodist Chapel, Buckinghamshire: (Reaching young people widely in the village through cooking & food)
You can see a video about this at http://www.freshexpressions.org.uk/stories/cookatchapel/feb14
Katharine Crowsley - pioneer leader of Cook@ Chapel - is seeking to develop this ministry and is offering a consultancy to help others set up Cook@ Church for themselves. You can find more about this here.

mark_at_cranbrookCornerstone Church - Cranbrook, Devon: (Brand new Christian presence in a new-build community)

Cottenham Community Centre & Coffee Shop - Cottenham, Cambridgeshire: (Numerous missional dev elopments focused on the Community Centre)

Cringleford Community Project - Norwich: (Pioneering work in a new build housing estate)

Easton Methodist Church – Portland, Dorset: (Cafe Church)

Eden - Horsham Deanery, West Sussex: (Combined youth service for 20 largely rural, village churches)

cringleford_picnicEssence – Histon, Cambridgeshire: (Open-ended weekday group for non/de-churched)

Feltwell Chapel – Norfolk: (Non-traditional Sunday missional church community)

Fenland Community Church - March, Cambridgeshire: (a community of learning-disabled & their carers)

Food for Thought - Winterslow, Wiltshire: (New church in the village hall)

freedom_cafeFREEdom Cafe - Seaton, Devon: (Seaside ecumenical community in church hall)

Fun-Key Church, Hudswell - North Yorkshire: (all age, community-focused rural gathering)

Gainsborough Methodist Church - Lincolnshire: (Cafe church in a market town)

Garage Praise - Church Stretton, Shropshire: (Youth & Families house group)

Gateways - Berwickshire: (monthly, farm-based largely-youth community)

Geochurche - Derbyshire Peak District: (combining outdoor activities & geocaching of worship components)www.freshexpressions.org.uk/stories/geochurche

Grafted - Newcastleton, Scottish Borders: ("Giving Hope to Those Without Hope" work with those suffering dependency & substance abuse)

Heathfield Cafechurch - East Sussex: (Ecumenical project on Costa Coffee on the High Street)
www.freshexpressions.org.uk/stories/heathfieldcafechurch/nov13 (video)

Heyford Chapel – Oxfordshire: (New Christian community in rural housing estate)

Little_Fishes_imageLittle Fishes - Oldbury, Wiltshire: (Developing parent & toddler group for isolated communities)http://content.yudu.com/Library/A1u2f9/CountryWayIssue58/resources/20.htm
You can download an article from Country Way here.

Loughborough Methodist Circuit Messy Churches: (including a number of villages)www.freshexpressions.org.uk/stories/messychurchloughborough

Kairos - Grange Park, Northamptonshire: (Community centre developed from Local Ecumenical Partnership in urban fringe village)

marlpit_fx_imageThe Marlpit - Hellesdon, Norfolk: (community engagement in urban spillover estate)
http://freshexpressions.org.uk/stories/marlpit/sep13 (video clip)
http://freshexpressions.org.uk/news/katiemiller (personal reflection)

Men in the Pub - rural Suffolk: (engaging with men beyond the church fringes)
Download an article about this from Country Way here.

Mighty Shed - Uplyme, Dorset: (community church for young people majoring on music & creative arts)

Parish Praise - Willand, Devon: (parallel congregations in expanding rural village)
Download an article from Country Way in 2008 here.
Download a much longer article from Country Way in 2011 here.

Play & Praise - Gnosall, Staffordshire: (weekly community for under-5s)
You can download an article from Country Way here.

Quiet_Days_imageQuiet Days - North Somerset: (retreat & Hospitality days)

RE: NEW - Lode, Cambridgeshire: (Fledgling ecumenical Christian community)

Rhythm of God & The Well - Tamworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire: (two very different ways of reaching those who 'don't do church')

Ruth Project - South Stanley, Co. Durham: (Community & community-building in an ex-mining village)

Space - Mawsley, Northamptonshire: (New worshipping community in a new-build village)

fx_childrens_imageSPLAT - Wick, Glamorgan: (Monthly Village Messy Church)

Steps: missional, rural, sacramental - Oxfordshire: (Intentional, informal rural group committed to a rule of life)
You can download an article from Country Way here.

St Ives Methodist Church - Cambridgeshire: (Cafe church & influence of website)

Streetlight - Wimborne, Dorset: (community space, cafe & skate park for young people)www.freshexpressions.org.uk/stories/streetlight

St Thomas The Apostle - Groombridge, Kent: (Orthodox tradition & Cafe Eucharist)

Sunday4:6 – Devon: (Experimental gathering away from the church building)

TVTM_logoTas Valley Cell Church - Norfolk: (Variety of developments exploring connections with local parishes)http://content.yudu.com/Library/A1rodt/CountryWayIssue50/resources/24.htm
You can download an article from Country Way here.

Third Space - Histon, Cambridge: (Monthly gathering in pub as neutral ground)

Threshold Church - Lincolnshire: (multiple small community congregations)

Two articles from Country Way can be downloaded here and here.

Tolland, Somerset: (Community-owned revival of church attendance with special services)

United Media Church - Kingswood, Gloucestershire: (Exploring a range of engagement & learning for ex-churchgoers & young people)
You can download an article from Country Way here.

United Network - Clitheroe, Lancashire: (filling a gap in a market town castle!)

URC Rural Pioneer – Cullompton, Devon: (On the margins of tradition, exploring new approaches for non-churchgoers)

walking_church_03Walking Church - in London, but possible in many rural locations: (based around a walking club)
See also this blog post: http://radref.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/theogeography.html

Warham Trust - Hampshire: (Community Church in a clubhouse)

Wichenford Cafe Church - Worcestershire: (monthly community-focused rural cafe church)www.freshexpressions.org.uk/stories/wichenfordcafechurch
www.freshexpressions.org.uk/views/what-time-is-it (reflections from curate)https://riverbankscribe.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/cafe-church-in-rural-worcestershire/ (Feb 2015 blog post)

Wootton, Northamptonshire: (FX in new-build area of rural community)

Wroxham & Hoveton URC, Norfolk: (Village Messy Church & missing families!)


X-treme - Seascale, Cumbria: (Shackles Off youth project - mentoring, support, safe space & activities)

Xpressions Cafe - Chedgrave, Norfolk: (An interesting development of cafe church in a rural parish)
(Video update - Oct 2014) www.freshexpressions.org.uk/stories/xpressions/oct14
Issue 45 of "Encounters on the Edge" gives a detailed description & analysis of Xpressions Cafe:
You can find a video about Xpressions Cafe at
Discipleship & Xpressions Cafe:

 More General Fresh Expression material related to Rural

Fresh Expressions of Church in a Rural Context (by Steve Croft from 2007):
You can download the notes and a .pdf version of the slide presentation.

Catching the Wave: (New monasticism & rural situations)

Changing Face of Church-planting in the Countryside:

Compass Bearings for Small Rural Churches: (Reflections at the interface of traditional & fresh)

Encounters on the Edge, from the Church Army. A number of these booklets look at specific rural Fresh Expressions of Church:
No. 27 - The Village & Fresh Expressions
No. 28 - Rural Cell Church
No. 42 - Across a Threshold (a family of rural church-plants)
No. 45 - The X-Factor Within  (rural cafe church)

Hereford Diocese has created a news page reflecting fresh expressions of church & Mission Shaped Ministry in this extremely rural area.

Lincolnshire FEAST (Fresh Expression Area Strategy Team):

Making & Growing Disciples in the Countryside - the 2nd FX Rural Conference, June 2013:
All the talks, seminars, panel discussions & workshops are available here as audio files (which can also be downloaded)www.freshexpressions.org.uk/makingandgrowing13

Resourcing Fresh Expressions & Pioneer Ministry through Churches Togther in Scarborough Deanery:

Rural Fresh Expressions:

  • examples of rural fresh expressions
  • different types of rural fresh expression
  • things to keep in mind
  • some resources

Rural Fresh Expressions - 10 Top Tips:
You can download this as a .pdf document here.

Church for People Who Don't Do Church - Methodist pioneer in rural Cornwall:

Rural Fresh Expression Pioneers:

Methodist_logo_1At the 2011 Methodist Conference, the Fresh Ways working group reported on the growth of fresh expressions of church, many of which were either 'messy church' or cafe church ventures - or those where people were meeting away from the church premises. Many of these are found in rural locations. (In the Methodist Recorder 14th July 2011.)

New for April 2013, a video of Andrew Roberts discussing Mission-Shaped (Methodist) Circuits:

From November 2013, Fresh Expressions have also started a web-based library of case studies. It is anticipated that at least some of these will be in rural contexts. You can find this developing resource here.

Fresh Expression DVD & online material related to rural

FE_DVD3_coverFresh Expressions have produced 3 DVDs containing a large range of case studies of fresh expressions of church and related mission initiatives. Quite a number of these are from rural contexts, and may prove valuable as examples, discussion-starters and catalysts. All three DVDs can be purchased from Fresh Expressions directly, but for the earlier two you can either preview the clips online for free, or download them individually for much less than the cost of the entire DVD.

(1) Stories of Church for a Changing Culture
This contains - amongst others - "Sunday 4:6" - the story of a rural church plant from Devon
Find information about this DVD online here

(2) Changing Church in Every Place
This contains a substantial feature - "A New Harvest?" - containing detailed stories from a number of rural examples, including the account of the Tas Valley Team Ministry in Norfolk led by Revd Sally Gaze (see above), the author of "Mission-Shaped & Rural"
Find information about this DVD (which contains resources for using the DVD with groups) online here

(3) Making a Difference
This contains several rural stories, including "Coffee Craft" from Clee Hill in Shropshire, "The Lounge at Costa" in the market town of Woodbridge in Suffolk and "Grafted" at Newcastleton in Northumberland.
Find information about this DVD - and recommended accompanying material - online here


Fresh Expressions Rural Round Table

This group has been created to look at the strategic development of fresh expressions of church in rural situations. Its goals are the encouragement and support of such rural fresh expressions, and coordination with already-existing rural churches in order to spread the effective reach of rural mission. It includes representatives from a variety of denominations and signifcant groups that support and promote rural mission. It has only recently started to meet together, and suggestions and input from rural church practitioners of all kinds are welcomed. It has largely absorbed the work of the Rural Churchplanters forum.

The chair of the Rural Round Table is Revd Sally Gaze - author of "Mission-Shaped & Rural", and an Anglican priest in Norwich Diocese.
Contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
The group facilitator is Pete Atkins - member of the national Fresh Expressions team and a leader from the Threshold Church, part of the Ground Level Network in rural Lincolnshire.
Contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

A number of people are seeking to explore new monasticism in a rural context, from new ecumenical intentional communities through to groups drawing inspiration from new monasticism to renew existing forms of church - through mutual discipleship and mission. The Fresh Expressions Rural Round Table can help by linking practitioners in similar contexts. Please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Find the general Fresh Expressions page on their "Round Tables" here: www.freshexpressions.org.uk/roundtables

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