Top Tips for Pioneers and Practitioners …..
If you’ve got to this point, you’ve probably already done a whole load of listening and leg work. The typical FX journey starts when a pioneering person really gets to know an area or group of people, and begins to see how they can do Kingdom work in a new way in that place. They’ll realise they have an idea and some resources to share the Gospel in new, accessible and relevant ways to folk that may not be engaging with other church models – and they’ll have identified (through listening, serving, praying and often loitering alongside others!) a way to do that.
Here at FX HQ we are all fired up about supporting pioneers at this stage. It’s an exciting but often scary time – and overcoming obstacles can sometimes feel like it takes all the energy away from pioneering something new. Here’s our top 5 tips for surviving the early stages and creating the right environment for a FX to grow.
- Be intentional and be faithful.
If FX were the world of business (which its not, but bear with us…) we might begin with the question – ‘What are we in the business of?’ As Fresh Expressions of church, we are in the ‘business’ of creating new and accessible ways for people to connect with deeper truths, to explore and be curious, to encounter something of God and to begin to see how this affects their own lives.
Therefore, at the heart of all we do we need to keep this intention. Through reflection, ritual, prayer with others or a mix of other prayerful practices –if Pioneers keep at their root a connection to the intention and a faithful pursuit of this, well everything else is kept in perspective!
- Don’t be alone.
The pioneering road can be a lonely one. There will be barriers and doubters, possible personal and financial implications, dark nights of the soul and moments where the sun breaks through. In all this – you will need support for the journey.
This support can come from many sources – family, friends, the community, local churches, mentors and coaches, ‘gate-keepers’ within the inherited church, FEASTs… wherever you find it, nurture and accept it. It can really help to find a fellow Pioneer – someone who has trodden the road before you and can share the load. We have loads of ways of offering support and company on the pioneering road here at FX HQ, don’t be a stranger….
- Be honest.
With yourself, with others, with God.
Look honestly at what resources you have and what you are prepared to give up in order to give more time to developing a FX (and trust us, it’ll take you time!) Its about beginning with what you’ve got, being realistic but hopeful. And remembering that other folk have different skills and resources that can add to the vision too. Sometimes small is really beautiful – and if you have only got capacity for small steps, then take them faithfully and honestly, one at a time!
- Be authentic and accessible.
These two go hand-in-hand. Be transparently true to who you are and what you have, and people will relate to and engage with that. You know better than anyone how your own faith journey has brought you to this point, you know what you can offer and what your hopeful imagination for this emerging FX is. Don’t hide this – it is real and its part of the unique position that you are in to serve and love your community.
- Be light on your feet.
When a hope or idea has been nurtured and prayerfully developed over (sometimes many) years, it can be hard to be light-handed. It can feel like only you have the whole picture, and you know the best way ahead. We hate to break this to you, but….!
The best FXs are the ones which are responsive, adapt organically and are open to the movement of the Holy Spirit amongst different people – not just the pioneer. Sometimes the faithful option is to dig you heels in, another time will be the time to let go or let things take another path. Be light on your feet, remembering the intention behind it all. Believing that God is already ahead of you, be trusting of the things you never saw coming.
So, there’s our top tips for surviving the early FX stages. We know there is a wealth of wisdom and experience out there – so if you can add to this list, please add your thoughts and comments to build up our pioneer community.