every organisation, institution, business has to negotiate change. the rapid changes in the wider culture and perhaps especially in technology in the last 30 years make it feel as though change is the new constant. i happen to quite like change and newness but i realise not everyone does. it can certainly generate anxiety and fear in good measure. and in many places there is a very real sense of pressure. the new environment seems to call for flexibility, adaptability and improvisation. however when the pressure is on there is always the opposite instinct at play - defence of what already is, the status quo, at all costs and resistance to change.
in the next few days the church of england governing body general synod is receiving several reports. they were published a couple of weeks ago - on discipleship, simplification, resourcing the future and resourcing ministerial education. they have a focus on mission, growth and investing better in those at the margins which in itself is encouraging (though i realise 'growth' is a complicated word that has had a backlash from those who see it tied to measures of success and effectivenes making the church sound like a business). the church of england is full of surprises! i realise a blog post about some church reports might not sound that interesting but in their own way they are putting before the church questions about the inevitable incoming future and whether the church of england will act on the basis of courage or fear. without question she has to change!
i won't go through all the reports here but the one of most interest to me personally and the pioneer leadership training at cms is the resourcing ministerial education one which stresses the need to train people for adaptibility and flexibility for the future. it is also the most far reaching in its proposals. in my view by far the most interesting and long overdue proposal is to rapidly develop lay ministries and increase numbers and to that end developing a stream of funding for lay ministry training especially to resource the future. this will be funding training in a similar way to ordinands. my own take on the various streams that have brought challenge and renewal at the edges of the church in the last thirty years is that they have been largely lay led - in many cases unpaid, untrained and not licensed as well! the majority of pioneers training at cms are in this category. this is genuinely exciting news. it will be for ministry that is licensed but at cms last year we admitted 8 people as lay workers in the church of england which we can do because we are a religious community of the church - i am one myself. i'm slightly pinching myself on this as it's as though we have set something up that has anticipated this future. if this goes through it looks as though people in the church of england could train with us to pioneer and get fees paid for.
there is also recognition that training that is on the job or in-context produces good results and they are trying to encourage development of more pathways like this that are within reach of people who are training whilst working which is a good model and will generate innovation especially if the matched funding proposed is agreed to. this is causing great anxiety amongst providers of residential training who will no doubt be on the defensive at synod. both have their place and as far as i can see a mixed economy of provision is envisaged but for pioneers, on the job training is both recommended and the only way i would ever be interested in training pioneers. it's also so much better value - i know people hate discussions around money but money is a real issue in pretty much every diocese. there will be opportunity for innovation here for colleges who have almost exclusively focused on training ordinands because that is where the money has been. the proposal on money is that there will be a standard grant allocation that a diocese will decide how to spend on approved providers.
the report proposes increasing ordination numbers especially younger and i hope that pioneer numbers will get back on the up - we'll see. dioceses will have more say about the training pathways. they want to review and streamline selection process, presumably for pioneers too so it is done in a year. individuals pathways for training will be more flexible. they are proposing tough limits on age by making dioceses pay for over 50s. there will be money available for leadership development beyond the first phase of training.
in other words it's proposing something of a sea change. i think it's exciting, challenging, and hopeful. it's not without its problems and more work needs to be done. for example i think the critique of business approaches and language is welcome. i liked linda woodhead's challenge in the church times and on tv to not collapse the church into a congregational paradigm or a clerical paradigm but to retain a vision of church in society and public life. decisions won't be made on details - i think it will be a discussion and then voting to give permission for the reports to be taken forward. the key issue for me is imagination. i have in my mind arbuckle's phrase 'culture eats strategies for breakfast' and hope that the culture of the church doesn't eat these up but has the imagination to see ahead. don't be afraid synod!
well it's a month to christmas which means the season of advent is almost here, that time of expectation and waiting. proost has a new resource we who still wait - this is put together by four artists. chris goan, ian adams, steve broadway and si smith have brought their collective creative wisdom together to shape a wonderful book. it's a book to follow the season with photos, a reflection and a poem each day. download it as a pdf - more info is here.
of course if you subscribe which is a bargain you can log in and download anything for a year!
don't forget there is a proost us site as well.
i have uploaded some photos from the missional entrepreneurship week in devon into a set here
it was as ever a fantastic week. this is the fourth one we have run and it just gets better and better. this is largely due to the amazing effort that cms pioneer shannon hopkins from matryoshka haus puts into it along with the wonderful hosting at pickwell manor. this year there were a whole load of sheets on tables and other things that have been specifically designed for the week. people come with an idea and it gets developed through the week. there is a team of people who work with those on the course through the week to help develop the ideas and the final morning it all culminates in presentations or pitches. this is our very own dragons den - this year there were fifteen offers of support from the dragons plus resources from others in the room - amazing!
whilst there it was great to read a tweet from heather cracknell who came last year to develop her idea of a social enterprise cafe which launched last week - so some of the ideas definitely have legs!
miriam goodacre was there having won the greenbelt dragons den competition and she has kept a video diary through the week. the last one is yet to go up but you can see that on cms facebook page.
due to demand we have added in two weeks next year so the next one is the week of 19-24 april 2015 and then there'll be another in november. there will be more places in april as a lot of the ones in november will be filled by cms pioneer students so book early if you want to get a place.
grace this saturday is a meal with friends - yes it is a meal so don't eat first if you are coming! i have loved the times over the last few years when there has been a table down the middle of the church space at st marys and commnion has been shared in a meal. do come along if you can. i have particularly pleased that steve summers will be curating - his book on friendship is one of the best bits of contemporary thinking about church (as a community of friends) that i have read. so simple, so practical (his book is far from simple mind as it was a phd thesis). really looking forward to it…
it seems slightly crazy to be thinking about next september already having just got under way with tons of fantastic new pioneer students at cms but we have an open day ecah term and this one's is next tuesday november 4. do come along if you'd like to find out what we are up to - andy has blogged about it here .
thanks to sally for the first review of the pioneer gift which she suggests is both innovative and important with plenty of theology. she actually goes through each chapter so if you want a map to let you see how the book flows and the themes explored it's a good place to look.
in many ways i think the wave of creativity that has happened in the last 25-30 years in the church began in youth ministry, with youth ministers aware that the gap between youth culture(s) and church was a huge chasm. youth ministers began to look at cross cultural mission for clues as to how you might take a different approach. emerging church, alt worship, fresh expressions, pioneer ministry all followed on in due course. all that by way of saying that it seems great that richard passmore and jo dolby have dreamed up three days in the year to explore pioneering youth ministry. under the heading the table, the first is on oct 13 in bristol. cms are a partner and i'll be there and then at the pioneering spirituality day the next day! you can book here.
inhabit is a new gathering/conference in the uk. it has a life in the usa with a focus on community and neighbourhood transformation. i know tim sorens well who is involved and a great guy. i'm also delighted that several cms pioneer students are taking part who are doing wonderful things in their neighbourhoods - berni, kim, sue. and shannon who leads our missional entrepreneurship module is there as is the amazing sue (butler). so whilst it may be something of an unknown it should be good! click on the link above for details and you can book here. for me i am speaking at a cms event in cheltenham on the saturday and it clashes with a ReSource weekend in london... maybe i'll make it on the friday?
i am looking forward to october 14 when we have a day at cms on pioneering spirituality. this follows on from the day we had last year. that was so good we ended up producing the pioneer gift. there are several speakers and workshop leaders. i am particularly chuffed that steve bevans will be with us as he is one of my heroes... the idea of the day is to push out conversation and thinking about pioneering mission about which we are learning lots and have lots more questions. i hope too that we will simultaneously begin to pull together some resources around pioneering spirituality. we'll keep you posted.
this year's resource weekends are up - a great way to learn by visiting a place and seeing what people are up to in pioneering mission. these stand alone or even better do all three - a great way to learn about mission and also a good taster for the pioneer training at cms. the first one is moot in london and is in october so book soon!
i feel like i still live by a school year! the beginning of september is the new year... don't know if you are the same? i hope you have had a good summer anyway. so a few posts about the year ahead and especially in relation to some training and things you could connect with.
first up we will be starting a new year of pioneer mission leadership training in a few weeks. this will be the fifth year. it's a challenging one because we are switching accrediting universities to durham and will have a new dilpoma and ma and still have students in the current university. these build on what we have done before but the ma is completely redesigned and i think it's an exciting mix of mission, theology, leadership, reading culture and so on. but it's a bit late to sign up now! however a lot of people audit modules and you may want to have a look around and join in something. i think we are set for our biggest intake so far which is exciting. this is of course a biased view but if you are into pioneering in mission do look at training with cms - what is unique about us is that we are solely focused around pioneering and that cms as a mission comnmunity is such a great place to locate it!
some time in the next few weeks the pioneer gift will hit the shelves which i am excited about. the book is a series of reflections on the pioneer gift. i wrote the first chapter reflecting on what pioneering is and what the nature of that gift might be. the book arose from a day we hosted at cms last autumn and the things presented were so good that we thought we should pursue publishing them. i'm happy to say that canterbury press also tought it was a good idea. on the day i video interviewed 5 of the people presenting and to celebrate the launch of the book we will be adding one a week to the cms pioneer blog and they'll be located on vimeo. first up is doug gay who has started a new remix of the church in glasgow. wisdom as ever from doug...
we had an amazing day last tuesday at the first graduation celebration of cms pioneers. four years ago we had an open day. somehow from that day a pilot group was born that began the cms pioneer training course in september 2010. i have extremely fond memories of those early weeks as we began to discover just what kind of adventure we had got ourselves into. i’m not sure any of us knew exactly what was ahead or indeed the challenge of the journey. in the four years we have run a foundation degree, a certificate, added in an m.a., and gained approval from the church of england to let us train pioneer ordinands in a partnership with ripon college cuddesdon. in that time over 80 people have done something with us by way of a module or more. and about half have done something more substantial (several modules, a university award etc.).
it is the most rewarding work i have been involved in for my entire life. more than anything i have loved the gift that is the pioneers - dreamers who do - those who follow christ’s call in mission to see and build beyond business as usual with imagination and courage. it was incredibly exciting to get to a point of celebrating our first graduation.
we gave those finishing an object to takeaway that would symbolise the journey, a unique piece of art created by sculptor iain cotton - it’s a stone landscape in which a new unique journey has been hewn to make a way where there is no way. making a way in rock is tough but the path also looks like a letter or script and I love what iain has done by playing with this notion of a new language that is found in the journey. he describes it on his write up as a speaking in tongues, a language of the spirit (which of course was a language given so people could understand in their own tongue).
thank you to everyone who has shared the journey and supported it in any way, encouraged me through the blog or in conversation. we have an amazing team, cms is a great community to host it, and i am so inspired by and grateful to all those who come and train with us. we are proud of everything they have achieved and indeed the gift of who they are.
at last night's labyrinth at grace chris read dreamed up the idea of music out of the ground - at various points headphones were there to stop and listen. ipods (in plastic bags) were buried in the ground with a track set to loop. in fact all the ipods were playing variations on the same track - cello, guitar, vocal, spoken word. they were from a forthcoming ep that chris and harry baker are putting together of contemplative poetry/soulful music combinations - watch out for it on proost later this summer. anyway it's about time for a worship trick - so this is no 52 series 4. steve has a photo set here
the design of the labyrinth is the one at ealing common by mark wallinger
excited about a new resource on proost this month - it's a collection of prayers from russ parker on the theme of wild spirit. russ led the pilgrimage to ireland i went on recently and we've known each other for probably 25 years now. this is typical russ - raw, direct, impassioned, creative and infused with longing and a wildness of the spirit... a must and ideal for pentecost of course. here's the latest proost news as well.
it was good to meet some presbyterians from the usa this week including darrell guder who has written on missional church for many years and been involved in american missiology and gospel and culture networks. i actually met a similar group about a year ago sharing stories of what we are up to and how to cultivate mission at and beyond the edges of the church. there are now around 200 new church communities or mission projects under the bold vision of 1001 new communities in 10 years. roger dermody is one of the drivers behind it and was in the group.
it was lovely to meet erin dunigan and hear about not church, a community exploring faith and spirituality but seemingly started at the request of seekers and athiests. in trying to find it i googled 'not church' and found there are several communities out there who can be found under the identifier of not church!
it was also good to hear yeseterday of a new initiatiove starting in nottingham - the sunday service - a club night at rock city. sounds like the good old days of alt worship...
thanks for visiting my blog. i realise it's a bit old school to expect you to actually come to my world, but subscribe to the feed or select the relevant presences from the middle column and hopefully i'll come to your world and tweet or whatever to save you the hassle of coming back :-)
there are five broad areas of content - click on the buttons below to delve deeper. or below is a list of all the categories i have posted under.
hope it all makes sense. do say hi either here or where our digital presences collide, send me an e-mail, leave a comment...
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.