Mission-Shaped Church: A Critical Commentary and Analysis


Affirming Catholics are faced with an extremely stark choice when considering the implications of Mission-Shaped Church.  As its Sacramental focus is ill defined, there must be a temptation to leave fresh expressions in the hands of those of a more Evangelical stance.  The alternative approach is for Affirming Catholics to make every effort to provide fresh expressions with a spiritual and physical route from outposts of witness to a fully Sacramental life within the Church.

In spite of its external optimism, Mission-Shaped Church is strangely conservative and unadventurous.  Its defence of the principle of geographical Episcopal authority is politically understandable but if we are to take Mission and Sacrament seriously then it may be necessary either to create more provinces or expand diocese so that Bishops can act sectorally rather than geographically.  As generalists have failed within the traditional parochial system there is no better guarantee that they will succeed in establishing fresh expressions of church.  A Sectoral solution may, incidentally, mitigate other problems of over sight which currently plague the Church.

Affirming Catholics should read the Report sympathetically and seek to give some theological and Sacramental balance to what is a somewhat sentimental enterprise.  If promoted rigorously, fresh expressions could lead to more dynamic ecumenical enterprise and the extension of the Sacramental Christianity into parts of our community from which it has long been absent.  We might also, through emphasising the leadership of women, the primacy of social justice and the priority of love over judgement give the Church new life and new hope and help it more nearly to resemble its founder, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Kevin Carey
December 2005

In Part One the text of Mission-Shaped Church (Church House Publishing 2004) is analysed sequentially with accompanying commentary. Major points are noted but will be discussed in Part Two.

Part One is divided identically with the Report itself, each heading taking the number and name of the Report's Chapters. Numbers in brackets after quotations refer to page numbers in the Report.


Please select a section:

  1. 1.0 Forward & Introduction
  2. 1.1 Changing Contexts
  3. 1.2 The Story Since Breaking New Ground
  4. 1.3 What is Church Planting and Why Does it Matter?
  5. 1.4 Fresh Expressions of Church
  6. 1.5 Theology for a Mission Church
  7. 1.6 Some Methodologies For A Missionary Church
  8. 1.7 An Enabling Framework For A Missionary Church
  9. 2.1 The Apostolic Church
  10. 2.2 Materialism, Consumerism and Corporatism
  11. 2.3 Perception
  12. 2.4 Raw Definitions of Apostolicity
  13. 2.5 Shape and Church
  14. 2.6 Sacramentality
  15. 2.7 The Ecology of the Church