next week i am in germany taking part in w@nder, a gathering of pioneers in hannover - looking forward to it...
i am very happy that we have a day at cms in oxford with mark scandrette who has been a friend for years. i love what he has been up to in mission in san fransisco, his writing and the creativity and imagination and challenge he brings to pretty much everything he does. I first connected with him in the early years of discussing emerging church.
live free is on january 9th where mark will lead a workshop day exploring mission in very practical ways such as how do can you deal with your money and time in such a way as to be free to do what god has called you to. i think/hope it will be a blend of his thinking in the two books free and practicing the way of jesus – both of which are really good.
discordant is a new venture, a creative zine or journal with a DIY ethos inviting contributions from anyone engaging with christianity and culture. it's part of the proost family. the idea is to participate so go and take a look and get involved. the first theme is wonder and you have until february to contribute. there is an example here you can download for free which also has a sampler of 6 tracks free too. love it!
we have an open day next tuesday for the cms pioneer training. i find it's round about now people suddenly think about september onwards and maybe doing something new including some training. if that's you then come along and find out about the pioneer training.
the options are to do a module (or more), a certificate, diploma or masters through durham university with us. our usp is pioneering mission and mission that is contextual i.e. takes seriously what that means and looks like in the community and culture you are in. all of that is wonderful but the real benefit we have found from what people feedback is learning with others who are creative and exploring mission at or beyond the edges of the church. there is so much benefit from the friendships and journeying together. see the flyer here and do email the address on there to let us know if you are coming.
ok that is not the most exciting blog post title so well done if you got beyond the title! but last night i spoke at a deanery synod in bournmouth on the theme of reimagining the church which is part of the focus of winchester diocese. for those not in the church of england a deanery is an area grouping of churches. at one level deanery synod neither sounds nor is the most exciting event on the planet. but what was both interesting and surprising last night was that the group planning strategy for the deanery presented a paper on their vision for the future which was fully supported bar one abstention for one quarter of the posts in the deanery (4 out of 16) being focused on pioneering in mission. this has a way to go before formally becoming policy with money allocated and so on. but imagine if every deanery in the country were able to imagine its mission and ministry in this way - it would significantly change the landscape. further the vision for these posts was not for all ordained either - the pioneering posts in particular may be lay or ordained.
mission shaped church is now over a decade old but on page 136 of that report is a section entitled the strategic role of deaneries which suggests that one of the best ways to recalibrate towards mission especially in the nitty gritty of the allocation of resources for mission is to think and plan in terms of deaneries. so it's great to see this actually happening (i realise it has elsewhere in some cases too - i have been impressed with the way bath and wells diocese have created pioneer posts through organising team or deanery ministry). there is so little will and imagination in many places towards the reallocation of resources for pioneering mission so this made a refreshing change and i hope it's indicative of the way the church as a whole might think to shift it's focus. would it be too much to ask that a quarter of funded posts in the church were outward focused in mission?
it amazes me that the artists connected to proost keep on producing wonderful resources. have a read of this latest proost update to tell you about easter resources old and new.
i have been using ian adams 40 temptations resource during lent and he has now written a similar resource to use in the easter season focusing on the resurrection stories and dreaming of a better world - i plan to use it each day for 40 days - there are 40 reflections. it's called peace be with you. this is what ian says about it...
Peace be with you draws on themes and phrases from the stories told in the gospels about the resurrection of Jesus. From the time of their first telling those stories have been seen as invitations to allow the resurrection to reshape the way that life could be lived by reader and hearer. Peace be with you looks again at those invitations, and imagines them as gifts for us now, opening up the possibility of something new.
If you happen to be reading this in the Easter season, after the toughness of Lent, the space they offer may be welcome. But these invitations also come with a provocative edge. Can we find the courage to live in the spirit of resurrection when everything seems to gravitate towards death and destruction?
holy week is a great chance to reflect on the story of christ's journey to jerusalem and passion and andy freeman has published a collection of reflections to use during that week - meeting the gardener
nice to see the first review of pioneering spirituality - thank you sally rush for both reading and reviewing it! she says that it is a book to help pioneers reflect, and that its scope is wider than many previous texts of its kind which is good to hear.
last year i also had a chapter in mission on the road to emmaus which sally also reviews here and selects as her book of the year
eighteen months ago i was recognised by the church of england as a lay pioneer. this morning i am going to be licensed as such by the bishop of willesden. the way the church of england works in relation to those who are in leadership is a two step process.
(you can simply read the first sentence of each of these steps below but if you are interested what on earth that means i have tried to explain further below each.)
step 1 - you are admitted into an order of ministry (order simply means category).
in the canons (rubric) of the church of england the order i was admitted to is 'lay worker - for those interested canon E7'. this is different to lay reader which most people seem to think is the only category available - in my view it is a broader description of ministry and includes evangelism so suits lay pioneers better than the category of reader. to be admitted in this way you have to demonstrate that you meet certain criteria. the criteria we use are in this document here which has been approved for use by the ministry council of the church of england and shows what is a good direction of travel in my view - recognising some core dispositions but then subsets for various types of ministries such as pioneer rather than a one size fits all. (i actually helped write the pioneer subset!) what is curious about this document is that hardly anyone seems to be using it - they still seem to be using an older approach but i am guessing that will gradually change. the recognition is like a kite mark of training and quality i guess that is able to be trusted across the church. the way the church of england is governed is episcopal which means that a bishop is trusted to oversee procedures - so to be admitted a bishop needs to approve and admit you. this is where i think it gets interesting. cms has become a religious community of the church (which i blogged about here) so rather than being a parachurch agency it is in and of itself a church (mission) community. as such we have a bishop who is linked as a visitor to cms - so we are able to admit people as lay pioneers through cms rather than through a diocese. in my case this makes perfect sense - my identity and calling in the church is mission focused and the majority of what i do by way of leadership is done through cms of which i am an enthusiastic member. the order (category) is a national one so once admitted you don't need to go through the process again if you move to another diocese for example. i apologise if this a bit technical but i have studied it to try and open a way for lay pioneers to be recognised in the church in a way that makes sense and this is the best use (legitimate hack) of the codes i could find.
step 2 - you are licensed for a particular local role/ministry
licensing is the way the church entrusts ministry to people who have admitted to an order. this is how it works for vicars - they get admitted to the order of priest (step 1) and then a license for a particular parish or whatever. so i am being given a license to be a lay pioneer with grace at st marys ealing (as a member of cms) by my local bishop. what does this mean? to be honest it won't change much - i think i may be able to do a few different things such as bury the dead. but i have been leading, preaching, as a member of grace and st marys ealing for about 20 years. like many churches a lot of ministry (rightly) flourishes and continues without being licensed. in my mind the license is simply affirming what i already do and bring - nothing more. but what i bring and do is strongly tied up with who i am and my own sense of calling. it is the recognition of the word pioneer that has made me think this is worth doing because it is affirming a ministry that is not simply pastoral with those in the church but affirms the gift of seeing and building things beyond the edge of where the church currently is. the main part of what i do as a leader in the church actually is through cms in the pioneer training i lead but the licensing system in the church is such that i think it would be too complicated to license someone for a role that is essentially a national one. the church of england still imagines ministry quite geographically i think. that's not a complaint - just explaining why the license is linked with local stuff in ealing rather than everything i am involved in.
so there you go! all that to say i am being licensed as a lay pioneer in the church of england this morning and if you've read this far i hope that sentence makes more sense.
research into new things in the church over the last decade shows that at least half of the new expressions of church have been started and led by untrained and unrecognised and unlicensed leaders - looking back i think 95% of alternative worship grew that way. all that is great in my view! so in doing this i am not for a moment thinking the church needs to license things before they should happen. i quite like it the other way round actually - it's a way of affirming something that has emerged rather than controlling it. but for me part of the reason is that the church nationally is trying to work out what lay pioneers are and how to encourage and recognise them in a way that makes sense. so we have done that through cms and this is simply showing how that can that work with the way a diocese tends to operate around ministry (i.e. a precedent of sorts). we have admitted 12 lay pioneers through cms so far and intend to keep that rolling over the next decade. i hope where cms pioneers land in a diocese that will be welcomed by bishops as a gift to the church rather than a threat, and that lay pioneers who are members of cms are both trustworthy, faithful and hopefully dangerous (in a good or prophetic way) because they are called beyond the current edge of the church in mission.
i also want to stress that this does not mean the way we operate in grace will change or the way i am in grace. the church tends to imagine leadership in one or two people. grace has a very distributed model of leadership which i like so i will carry on in the community there exactly as before. (it would actually make sense to license grace as a whole but i don't think the church of england quite thinks that way!)
i met with dave and tim, the guys behind nomad podcast to chat about all things pioneering. it's up as the latest nomad podcast here - pioneering and the gift of not fitting in. it runs for an hour or so...
at the recent new parish conference in birmingham, lou davis was painting throughout and created this birmingham trinity, an improvisation on rublev of course and she says this about it...
The icon is said to represent the Trinity, the three angels being those who visited Abraham. As I walked round Birmingham, I had a sense of being a guest there, at one moment isolated, then next welcomed by the city. I felt as Abraham did, being invited to take a place at the fourth side of the table and commune with God in that context, a welcome wariness. There are bits and pieces of Birmingham in the picture, probably some actual dirt from the streets – as we took texture rubbings from the pavements and walls, and in the repeating patterns. You may recognise the circles as the pattern on the Selfridges building which dominates that part of the city, reflected everywhere in windows and street furniture. Then just round the corner is a bit that’s frightening at night – as overheard by one of our artists.
I kept to a palette of greys, with the occasional point of bright colour, as we had observed in the city itself. It’s deliberately half realist, half abstract, because that’s a style I’ve been reaching for as an artist, it’s something I appreciate in others work and want to reproduce myself. The realism gives you a hook to understand it and the abstraction sets you free. I want to create a balance between the two.
i love that...
at the same conference tim watson wrote some liturgy and poetry on the theme of new parish neighbourhood which you can download here - if you look online realise it is two pages. the first is a poem and the second a call and response liturgy called nobody crosses the road.
i am making these a worship trick - remember those?!
i have just realised that i have not blogged about this - oops - though i did put it on the pioneer web site. we have had two fabulous days the last two years exploring what we are learning about pioneering mission. out of the first day we published the pioneer gift. and out of the second we are publishing a book (due oct 30) pioneering spirituality. so they have proved very fertile environments for creative thinking so far.
one of the areas that has been exciting and grown way more than we expected has been missional entrepreneurship, a special module that we run, out of which people are starting new enterprises and working up mission ideas into tangible projects. there's been quite a buzz about it and still is. but there are also lots of questions around money, mission, transformation, entrepreneurship and so on. so we have made the focus of this year's day missional entrepreneurship: pioneering a new economic imagination with a host of speakers and workshops. you can see details here and book here. it's only two weeks away on november 3 at cms in oxford - sorry for the short notice!
i am particularly pleased that eve poole is going to be joining us and presenting her thoughts on pioneering mission in the environment of today's capitalism with its toxic assumptions. I heard her speak at greenbelt where she was excellent. then there are a host of other stories, workshops and presentations. hope you can join us...
Give Me A Drink is a series of sketches or reflections around the possibility of mission as the healing of all things. It is offered as a resource for all who find themselves transfixed or intrigued by the tradition of Jesus, as we seek to work out how the idea of mission in his name and in his spirit might be rediscovered and offered as a gift to the world. Give Me A Drink is for individuals and for groups, for communities and for churches, for those undertaking new projects and for those in long-established settings. It is of course not a definitive statement on mission, and I hope that readers will find themselves considering what they might add in to the conversation
one of the things i really like about ian's writing is language. he carefully selects words and phrases that make what might be jargon make sense so it has a depth but is expressed in simple ways. it is interspersed with his photos. great for reflection, for group discussion. i think it would look good on a series of postcards!
lighting beacons is a set of daily prayers and liturgy - short simple creative. you can download a pdf of it free from proost - yes that's right it's free. or you can visit this web site online and click on the day and time you are on and read there. i have just downloaded it myself and am yet to give it a whirl (that is if you can whirl liturgy?!).
thank you tim watson (who is becoming one of the most prolific emerging liturgists i think…), dot woods and josh walker for this gift.
if you want a physical copy you can order a paperback at cost price here.
so this is a worship trick - 59 in series 4 i think….
july is the last grace of the year (yes we still seem to live in a rhythm of the year as though we are at school) - a bbq and discussion of the rule of benedict. come and join us...
we have an open day next week on tuesday for the cms pioneer training - it's not too late to book in and come and have a look at what we are doing. we offer a series of modules and university awards (through durham university) - certificate, diploma, MA. they are all focused through the lens of mission. this last year we have had around 50 new people sign up and do at least a module with us and about 20 who have signed up for something substantial (a university award). it's designed for on the job training - our teaching days are tuesdays.
do you have to be a pioneer? and indeed what is a pioneer? we are focused around people who want to do something mission focused, usually seeing something beyond the edge of business as usual in the church. but having said that it is a metaphor that is ambiguous and can be opened up in many ways. so if you are into mission but not sure about being 'a pioneer' that's fine - come along!
it was great to get an email from tallskinnykiwi and catch up with his wanderings - now across europe. he has written a really brilliant reflection being human being present. he says he is interested in chasing down the stories behind the stories of what has and is happening in mission. in doing so he unearths something from max warren in 1958 - max warren was a cms general secretary so great to see a pice of cms treasure being dug up with some nice prophetic challenge in it...
if you're in london maybe see you there? it's also open all week at various times. a few of the guys involved are training with us at cms - wonderful to see their creativity.
i appreciate that this blog is currently something of a slow burn, such is my busy life! but a massive thank you to those of you who still patiently hop onto the flow whether via a feed, twitter, facebook or the occasional digital drop in. i hope as you look back on 2014 you have some consoling thoughts and find hope for the year ahead even if it is against the odds.
a while back i posted a tale of two bookshops in which purchased four books at the ICA bookshop. i have enthused about two of them so far - feral (my book of the year i think and george monbiot is the person i would most like to be put in charge of running the country), and exploring everything.
well the third of the four is radical imagination. i bought this because i can't resist anything about imagination - one of the most underrated and undervalued aspects of what it is to be human. but i didn't read the small print - it turns out it's a book about social research amongst activist movements. but i ended up loving it and learning a load. there is a web site related to it that aims to study, broadcast and celebrate the intelligence, passion and creativity of social movements. of course the church is a social movement (though of course it is curiously part of the establishment in places too!). this book has lots to say to those of us interested in the transformation of society especially seeking to imagine a different kind of society and world that does not have to be the way it is now, and as part of that those of us seeking to effect change in and through following in the way of jesus christ (one heck of an activist!).
the single idea that has stuck with me the most and anyone who knows me well will have been subjected to it over a meal conversation or a work discussion is prefigurative research. what the authors mean by this is to design the present on the basis of an imagined future that is not already here. in their case they are based in universities and don't like the way the academic world is configured so they imagine how the university might be and design research on the basis of that - i.e. it prefigures it rather than settling for the current status quo. brilliant eh?
so on the first day of the year what kind of world, society, economy, neighbourhood, community, business, or church do you imagine might be possible? and how can you live in the present in a way that flows from that radical imagination? i feel challenged about the training of pioneers i lead at cms - have we done enough imaginative work of what is possible out of which to design our training? we do love imagination but i am stirred up to do some more. i am sick the culture of greed in the wider powers that be and the systematic grinding down of the poor and it seems to me that here more than anywhere we need this radical kind of approach.
i also like the positive and yet honest way that haven and khasnabish talk about social movements. it's interesting to overlay this with whatever networks or movements yoiu have been or are part of such as transition towns, emerging church, pioineering mission or whatever. here's a few notes and quotes i jotted down for myself when i read it...
Take social movements seriously as fecund ecologies ripe with possibility
Movements can be alternative spaces of social reproduction, places where individuals and communities can re-create themselves and find support for doing so.
Social movements are driven by and co-create the radical imagination: shared landscapes of possibility and contestation that confront and contradict the reigning imaginaries of capital and power.... It is not something individuals have but is something networks, groups, movements do. It emerges from and guides collective doing...
Hope is important to balance struggle - fun, joy, celebration, acceptance, humour...
it reminded me just how important communities are in which conversation is happening about the world and change. three things i do that this has helped me continue to value are meet with friends over a meal most weeks one evening to linger at the table, talk, share life, dream and pray; a couple of times a year through the team i work with host a 24 hour dreaming space in which we go away and take on a theme or idea and explore it; and connect/network with others who share similar vision and passion around transformation. this is all part i guess of building infrastructures of dissent as they are described on the web site (i love that phrase - reminds me of the great mission thinker john taylor's notion of cells of dissent).
the book is also a reminder of how valuable research is. they see research as part of how movements are carried forward and propose the idea of a solidarity research strategy that opens up a commions for the imagination through community and participation. so their research involves facilitating focus groups, hosting events, and even a radical imagination festival. one of the issues for activists and i suspect a lot of us in many walks of life is that you get bogged down in the day to day task. one thing research does is pull people together to reflect and talk about what is going on with others. it opens time and spaces in a cycle of imagination, strategy and tactics. the kinds of questions researchers facilitate conversation about are
i have changed politics to pioneering in the questions above to see how it crosses over into mission. i should have said that the project is grounded in the particular - in hamilton canada - so it's not just an abstract set of ideas. it really is involved in a movement for change.
so go prefigure! hopeful new year :)
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where i come across creative ideas, liturgies, movies, music tracks, service outlines or anything that strikes me, i add them as worship tricks. i started these in april 2002 when i first began blogging and they have built up over the years so that i am now on the third series. this has proved a pretty popular feature of the blog.