Mission researcher sees opportunities for church in schools

A new booklet from Church Army sheds light on the potential for more school-based fresh expressions of church.

"Thirst" has been put together by George Lings, director of Church Army's research unit, The Sheffield Centre.

It tells the story of Thirst, a fresh expression based in a primary school in Romsey Town, Cambridge.

The church exists to serve primarily the school's staff and parents of students.

Thirst was founded by Sue Butler, who was surprised to find that although the school was a Church of England primary, the social and cultural gap was still too great for parents to join in with traditional forms of church.

The reports back from Thirst have been positive so far, with leaders feeling that it has made a tangible difference to the overall life of the school.

Lings says that Church of England primary schools are an "open goal" for the Church as they tend to be receptive mission contexts for pioneering fresh expressions of church.

He acknowledges, however, that there is a challenge in finding pioneering leaders with the necessary links, resources and skills to make the most of the opportunities.

The booklet raises the important question of how the wider church ensures there is good leadership succession when the initial pioneer moves on.

“Though much good mission work occurs in schools, fully-fledged school-based church is less common than we thought," says Lings.

Thirst: Go to a place neither of you have been before is number 55 in Church Army's Encounters on the Edge series and can be purchased at www.encountersontheedge.org.uk for £4