2004’s Mission Shaped Church Report identified the need for a new type of minister, a Pioneer able to enable new missional forms of church for a changing culture.
Since then many of Fresh Expressions denominational partners have sought to develop Pioneer Ministry in their streams, both in a lay and ordained capacity.
Who exactly are Pioneers?
Interestingly this word can mean different things to people. As a result many people are still unsure about the whole Pioneer endeavour. However, at it’s root pioneering is a concept which connects strongly with a Christian view of mission.
The term pioneer is used four times in the New Testament and each time applied to Jesus only. The Greek word archegos translated as pioneer primarily signifies someone who takes a lead in, provides the first occasion of anything or leads into a new space.
“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Heb 12:2
Dave Male has definied a Pioneer as “people called by God who are the first to see and creatively respond to the Holy Spirit’s initiatives with those outside the church; gathering others around them as they seek to establish new contextual Christian community.”
The Methodist Church’s helpfully set out a Pioneer’s role as:
- The main focus of their ministry. It’s not a marginal or minor activity for them.
- Most of the person’s time is spent with those outside the Church
- There is an intention to create a new ecclesial community. It may not always happen but this is the aim.
Pioneering in the Methodist Church
If you want to explore Pioneering in the Methodist Church you need to connect with Methodist Pioneering Pathways. Building on the successful VentureFX initiative, the Methodist Church has created a pathway within the Discipleship and Learning Network which aims to support and resource pioneers. It is a framework of support for pioneers – lay or ordained, part time or full time, paid or unpaid.
There is also a wonderful new report that’s been released called Methodism’s Hidden Harvest which sets out how pioneer ministry has grown and been shaped in Methodism.
Pioneering in the Salvation Army
Pioneer ministry in the Salvation Army is all about discovering new ways of being church. Andrew Vertigan plays a central part in the Fresh Expressions movement but also looks after pioneering in the Salvation Army and supports both Pioneer Leaders and Pioneer Advocates in the movement.
Pioneering in the Church of England
You can be acknowledged and trained as Pioneer either in a lay or ordained capacity, working with the Pioneer Panel to think about your vocation. The Church of England sees different types of pioneers as:
Fresh start Pioneers. These are classic pioneering types who start new things, love firsts, and enjoy working from a blank canvas.
Parish based Pioneers. These pioneers want to work from a parish base but from there develop fresh expressions of church in a mixed economy way expanding the growth and reach of the local church .
Ed Oldsworth-Peter is the National Pioneer Development Adviser. You can find out more about Church of England Pioneer Ministry at their website.
Pioneering in the Church of Scotland
The Church of Scotland website makes it clear that “If we are to fulfil the church’s mission in sharing the gospel, we need to be a people who are prepared to incarnate the gospel in the many and various expressions of contemporary culture.”
Part of this vision is preparing people to serve in Pioneer Ministries. You can find out much more here.
Pioneering in the Baptist Church
The Baptist Church proudly boast that your church was probably planted by a pioneer. They embrace pioneer ministry as part of the roots of the movement and part of it’s future.
There is training and partnership available to help pioneers and pioneering. Check out their website for more.
Pioneering in the United Reformed Church
The URC is one of our wonderful denominational partners and developing their thinking and practice in Fresh Expressions. Read all about Janet Sutton, the first officially recognised Pioneer Minister in the URC and here work.