Church in Life

Innovation, Mission, and Ecclesiology

Edited by Michael Moynagh

Church in Life


  • ISBN: 9781532649882
  • Pages: 460
  • Publication Date: 3/28/2018
  • Retail Price: $49.00
Web Price: $39.20
Web Price: $39.20

Church in Life

Innovation, Mission, and Ecclesiology

Edited by Michael Moynagh



  • ISBN: 9781532649882
  • Pages: 460
  • Publication Date: 3/28/2018
  • Retail Price: $49.00
Web Price: $39.20


Church in Life breaks fresh ground by proposing a new framework for thinking about innovation in the church, by arguing that starting new ecclesial communities should be at the centre of the church’s life and thought, and by offering new theology and methodologies for church planting. Church planters will find in it the theoretical and practical resources for a radical missional ecclesiology, while theologians will find a nuanced reworking of the purpose and nature of the church.

Endorsements & Reviews-

“I love the framework for innovation that Mike uses here. It’s a really exciting way to come at mission and pioneering, and a welcome voice in a church that can so often be risk averse. There’s a lot of energy in an approach that is fuelled by imagination, possibility and hope rather than anxiety. As a result of seeing the material I invited Mike to teach pioneers at CMS and they found it energising for their pioneering practice.”

—Jonny Baker, Director of Mission Education, Church Mission Society, Oxford, UK

“The church, like the Triune God, must give itself away. This is perhaps the central thesis in Michael Moynagh’s exciting and provocative book, and this is the reason why new ecclesial communities need to be cultivated with creativity, imagination and entrepreneurship. It’s not about the church. It’s about God’s dream for the world. That’s why a real church, like the generous God it serves, needs to be rooted in real life. When you read this book, you will think differently about the church, and perhaps even do church differently as well.”

—Stephen B. Bevans, SVD, Louis J. Luzbetak, SVD Professor of Mission and Culture, Catholic Theological Union, USA

“Michael Moynagh has become a voice of inspiration and encouragement for many priests and pastors who are part of the Missional Movement − in the UK but also far beyond its boundaries. He is appreciated for his perceptive analyses of the church’s dilemmas, his broad knowledge of the social sciences, his fresh, imaginative way of reading Scripture, and his positive, practical advice to congregations. Add to this his passion for mission and his deep commitment to the Gospel and you can see why many people are blessed by his writings. In Church in Life we see all of this and more. This book is a must read for everyone interested in missional churches.”

—Coenie Burger, Director of Communitas: Centre for Continuing Ministry Development and Research, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

“The fresh expressions movement has been criticized for a lack of theological depth. Michael Moynagh’s Church in Life represents by far the most significant move to date to address that deficiency. Particularly welcome is his enthusiasm for the church itself as a gift of God to the world. I look forward to the prospect that the book will provoke a genuinely theological discussion about the church and the nature of its mission.”

—Revd Dr Andrew Davison, Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge, UK, and co-author of For the Parish (2010)

“Michael Moynagh’s new book is a key contribution to the debate about the ecclesiology and practice of fresh expressions of church – and it also has much to teach those of us immersed in inherited church life and thinking. I found myself pausing on almost every page, scribbling down quotable quotes and brilliantly concise ways of explaining complex ideas . . . In reflecting on the gift that emergent ecclesial communities are, he gives us a model of worship emerging from the church’s missional and relational nature that can benefit the whole church.”

—Revd Mark Earey, The Queen’s Foundation, Birmingham, member of the Church of England Liturgical Commission and chair of the Group for Renewal of Worship, UK

Church in Life is a rich and ambitious project of theological reflection on new ecclesial communities and the theological currents flowing around them. Comprehensive enough to anchor a whole curriculum for pioneer ministry, it is, by turns, both irenic and provocative; translating and interpreting innovative practice for mainline churches, while also challenging them to the kind of adaptive learning that will support innovation. A timely, significant and constructive contribution to contemporary missiological and ecclesiological thinking, which deserves to be widely read and engaged.

—Revd Dr Doug Gay, Principal of Trinity College, University of Glasgow, UK

“Michael Moynagh has made a major contribution to missiological research. Drawing on recent contributions from outside theology, notably theoretical developments in the social and managerial sciences, he presents the ecclesial entrepreneur – an individual or team who embrace change and experimentation, who focus on the church’s end-users and solving their problems, and who innovate and introduce profound change from the bottom-up rather than top-down. Moynagh shows how the church needs to become more like a Spirit-filled tech start-up to fulfil its redemptive role in the world!”

—Andrew Godley, Head of Leadership, Organisation and Behaviour, Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship, University of Reading, UK

“Michael Moynagh’s new magnum opus, Church in Life, reworks ecclesiology, using the remarkable insights derived from the ‘fresh expressions’ movement. Drawing on remarkably diverse sources, its comprehensive research enables Moynagh to define and explicate the language of both doctrine and practice of the church. His analysis is rooted in actual practice, and documents the theological significance of emergent expressions of the missional church. What otherwise might remain a cliche (i.e. ‘innovation’) becomes here a fruitful, even ‘fresh’ field of inquiry. The outcome of the project is a range of trajectories which invite further work.”

—Darrell Guder, Professor of Missional and Ecumenical Theology Emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminary, USA

Church in Life is an evocative title that expresses succinctly the ecclesial and therefore missional nature of Christian life. Michael Moynagh brings us up to date on a fresh missional move of God through innovative churches which are fresh expressions of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. In so doing he informs and inspires us to live into and out of the missional identity of all of our churches.”

—Ross Hastings, Sangwoo Youtong Chee Associate Professor of Theology, Regent College, Vancouver, Canada

“In recent years the experience around fresh expressions of church in the Church of England has given much inspiration for the transformational processes in our German churches . . . Michael Moynagh’s new book, Church in Life, is a valid masterpiece of theology. It’s a deep-rooted and audacious ecclesiology as an exercise in local theologizing . . . As a Roman Catholic theologian I could accompany Michael Moynagh on his audacious path and be challenged by the implications for the theology of my church. Facing these provocations challenges us to enter a further dialogue that opens new ways of re-thinking the tradition and re-formulating an ecclesiology that corresponds to the signs of the times. I am really thankful for the great inspiration of this masterpiece of ecumenical ecclesiology. It is a milestone even for a new experiential approach to theology.”

—Dr Christian Hennecke, author and theologian, Head of the Pastoral Department, Diocese of Hildesheim, Germany

“When you see a new movie called ‘Die hard 8’, you might think: ‘I know that story. I should not expect anything new.’ This is not the case with Michael Moynagh’s latest book. While he takes up some main themes from Church for Every Context, he goes deeper, with even more courage to question traditional approaches to church life. Inspired by the coming of God’s kingdom and innovation theory, Michael Moynagh pleads for many (small) new ecclesial communities that bring God’s future to the present, and give away (really give away) church as communal life with Jesus to as many people in as many contexts as possible. This self-giving of the church echoes the Eucharist: breaking the bread and sharing it with those gathered. This general approach does not remain abstract: the consequences for discipleship, leadership, practices, etc. become more and more practical. Watching this ‘movie’, I learned a lot about a hopeful vision for the future church.”

—Michael Herbst, Director of the Research Institute for Evangelism and Church Development, University of Greifswald, Germany

“In this ground-breaking sequel to Church for Every Context, Michael Moynagh weaves together a wealth of insight from fresh expressions practice and thinking to argue for a new approach. He moves past the church-planting model toward an approach to local church mission that discerns, recognizes and empowers the new, living, innovative and self-giving communities which the Holy Spirit is already bringing forth. Highly recommended for practitioners, missiologists and theologians alike.”

—Kirsteen Kim, Professor of Theology and World Christianity, Fuller Theological Seminary, USA

Church in Life takes Michael Moynagh’s work on fresh expressions to new levels. His thinking about innovation is key for churches that know they need to do something differently but don’t know how to approach it. His theology of self-donation may just help you make sense of what the Holy Spirit is doing in the church today. This book will challenge and stretch you as you seek to discern where God is leading us. It is ideal for those at the ‘coal face’ but also should be required reading for those making policy for the future of the church.”

—Revd Canon Dave Male, National Advisor for Pioneer Development, UK

“If you are dissatisfied with the status quo in the church’s ability to connect with those far from Christ and maintain cultural relevance, this is the book for you. Theologically reasoned and practically illustrated, Church in Life is your roadmap to innovation and re-imagining of the local church. A fascinating book.”

—Craig Ott, Professor of Mission and Intercultural Studies, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, USA

“Given the challenges facing Christian mission in the West, there is an urgent need for the church to innovate. New Christian communities are crucial in this search for renewal. In this excellent study, based on a great number of case studies and packed with relevant theological and entrepreneurial theory, Michael Moynagh provides a wealth of up-to-date resources for missionary pioneers. For reflective practitioners and students of mission who seek to understand and improve their practice, this book is a welcome tool. I warmly recommend it.”

—Stefan Paas, J.H. Bavinck Professor of Missiology and Intercultural Theology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and Professor of Missiology at Theologische Universiteit Kampen, Holland

“In this lucid, searching and wise book, Michael Moynagh opens up some substantially new and nuanced ways of understanding the nature, purpose and identity of the church in today’s world . . . What Moynagh’s book perceptively articulates is that the new needs the old; that ‘blending’ the contemporary with the traditional needs skill; and that the younger expressions of church life will need to mature if they are to be vessels of wisdom for our future. This is a careful and critical book that requires consideration and composure from all who seek to shape the future church.”

—The Very Rev’d Professor Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, UK

Church for Life offers a practical theology of innovation. It weaves stories, Scripture and simple practices into a rich theological tapestry. It offers hope for the post-Christendom church, integrating the theological conviction that God is making all things new with an impressive array of practical stories and contemporary research. I’ll be recommending it to funders, denominational leaders and pioneers in our New Mission Seedlings.”

—Steve Taylor, Principal, Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, Dunedin, NZ

“The future of the church depends on it generating new forms and fresh expressions: the topic could not be more important. Michael Moynagh has spent years reflecting on new ecclesial communities, and his writing is both theoretically rich and fully accessible. Will these initiatives succeed? Read the book and decide!”

—David Voas, Professor of Social Science, University College London, UK

“Michael Moynagh has done it again! Building on his foundational work, A Church for Every Context, he goes on to create a framework for innovation in the church . . . This is a work that will bring hope and inspiration to the innovative church leaders who understand that God is up to something brand new in the world today. Moynagh does not depreciate the traditional church but instead builds bridges between inherited and new expressions of church. Once again, Moynagh shows his deep roots in theology along with an understanding of the hard, practical, on-the-ground work of starting new ecclesial communities . . . This book is both a work of theology and a very practical guidebook for leaders with a new vision for being church in a particular context.”

—Vera Karn White, Coordinator for 1001 New Worshiping Communities, Presbyterian Church, USA

“Nothing had made sense of the way we had planted churches on inner-city housing estates or grown our community engagement ministries until I read this book. Its mix of theory, practice and theology has gifted us with the confidence we need to accelerate what we are already doing and take even more risks for the growth of the Kingdom of God in our part of North London.”

—Revd Preb. John M. Wood MBE, Vicar of St Ann’s, Tottenham, London, UK, Director ‘Hope in Tottenham’


Michael Moynagh


The Rev’d Dr Michael Moynagh is based at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford and is widely recognized as the leading theologian of the theory and practice of ‘fresh expressions of church’. He is author or lead author of almost 20 books, including Church for Every Context’ (SCM, 2012), which has established itself as a core textbook on new forms of church. He has an international ministry of speaking and consulting on new types of Christian community.

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