Show Notes

Does your ministry feel insignificant? Churches large and small have struggled with a decline in attendance since pandemic restrictions were lifted. But scripture teaches us not to despise small beginnings. In this episode, Dr. Chris Backert, North American Director of Fresh Expressions returns to discuss the opportunities that lay ahead for churches and church leaders when they embrace small beginnings.

Fresh Expressions is a worldwide movement of everyday missionaries who want to see churches thrive in the places we live, eat, work and play by leveraging the creativity and endurance of the inherited church. To learn a simple five-phase process for starting a new expression of church go to

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Interview Summary

As Christian communities worldwide navigate significant shifts and transformations, Dr. Christopher Backert’s perspectives on these changes are invaluable. “It’s such a work of the Holy Spirit that is very doable. You just hear so many stories of people putting the principles of Fresh Expressions into practice,” remarks Dr. Backert, emphasizing the practicality and impact of innovative church models. This discussion focuses on how churches can evolve and thrive amidst cultural shifts and changing societal landscapes. Dr. Backert, serving as the Senior Director of Fresh Expressions North America, brings extensive experience in church planting and community development, placing him at the forefront of the ongoing transformations in faith communities.

The Evolution of Fresh Expressions

“I think it’s a work of the Holy Spirit that is very doable.” This reflection from Dr. Backert encapsulates the transformative journey of Fresh Expressions since its inception in 2007. Witnessing its impact across different cultural contexts in North America, Dr. Backert underscores the adaptability and resilience of faith communities in the face of modern challenges. This evolution speaks volumes about the dynamic nature of faith practices and their ability to respond to changing cultural landscapes.

The Spirit’s Movement in Diverse Forms

Dr. Backert emphasizes the pivotal role of the Holy Spirit in guiding the evolution of church practices. “Fresh Expressions gives language to what the Holy Spirit is already doing,” he notes, highlighting the diversity and dynamism in modern church forms. This perspective sheds light on the myriad ways the church is adapting, evolving, and flourishing in various contexts, driven by a deeper spiritual guidance.

Responding to Changing Times

The rapid changes in church dynamics, particularly accelerated by the pandemic, highlight the necessity for adaptation and innovation in church models and practices. “The world around us has changed dramatically, particularly over these last few years,” observes Dr. Backert. His insights into these changes underscore the need for fresh approaches in church leadership and community engagement, marking a critical period of reevaluation and transformation for churches worldwide.

Global Perspectives and Future Directions

In discussing the influence of global trends on the church in North America, Dr. Backert provides valuable predictions for the future direction of the Fresh Expressions movement. “The future of the church in North America is the global church,” he asserts, emphasizing the need for a broader, more inclusive perspective in faith leadership and community building. This global outlook challenges churches to think beyond their immediate contexts and embrace more diverse, inclusive practices.

Organizational Changes and New Initiatives

Recent organizational changes within Fresh Expressions, including new leadership roles and strategic focuses, signal a new phase of growth and adaptation. “We’re just entering a different season,” Dr. Backert states, outlining the future trajectory of the movement. These changes reflect a commitment to evolving with the times, ensuring that the church remains relevant, responsive, and resonant with the needs of modern believers.


As Dr. Backert leads Fresh Expressions into new territories and confronts the challenges of a post-pandemic world, his vision for the church is clear: to adapt and innovate while staying true to the core values of the Christian faith. His leadership is not just about adapting to change but about harnessing it to fulfill the timeless mission of the church. “We need to embrace along with the rest of the church this new place that we’re in,” he concludes, calling on believers to actively participate in the evolution of their faith communities.

Reflection Questions

  1. How can your local church community innovate to meet contemporary challenges?
  2. What role does leadership play in guiding a church through significant change?
  3. How can church communities balance innovation with the preservation of traditional values?
  4. What does Dr. Backert’s vision suggest about the future of faith communities in North America?
  5. How can individual believers contribute to the growth and adaptation of their faith communities?
  6. How can we learn from global church trends to enhance our local faith communities?
  7. What role does the Holy Spirit play in guiding new forms of church today?
  8. How can churches respond effectively to cultural and societal changes around them?
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