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.
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.
it was great to catch up with spencer burke recently. our paths crossed back in early emerging church conversations. he is in la dreaming up a new learning community hatchery which sounds really interesting and creative. he interviewed me over skype and that is up as a podcast here - it's about 30 minutes...
we have added a second week's course on missional entrepreneurship from april 19-24 this year due to its popularity. details are here - book now as it's starting to fill up!
loved this reflection by richard rohr on who would want to be a prophet? in which he suggests prophets are on the edge of the inside combining tradition with iconoclasm and usually are trained in the system so they know how to work it...
You have to know the rules of any tradition, and you have to respect those rules enough to know why they do exist--and thus how to break them properly, for the sake of a larger and more essential value.
i got to interview steve bevans at our cms conversations day on mission spirituality and here is the first part. steve has such wisdom about mission - it's always a privilege to hear him sharing it. this is posted at the cms pioneer blog. if you want to hear more about the pioneer training come along to an open day on march 3. good news is that we have just heard that we will be publishing a follow up book to the pioneer gift on the theme of pioneering spirituality - out autumn 2015 - which will have a chapter from steve.
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!
a really positive review of the pioneer gift in last week's church times which was very encouraging describing the book as having a deep wisdom throughout seeking to hold together inherited patterns of church practice with innovation
just back from a weekend in birmingham with cms pioneers reflecting on mission and crossing cultures. it included a visit to a mosque and a ghanaian pentecostal church. it's so interesting to get these insights into life in britain. a bundle of photographs and a blog post are over at the pioneer blog here.
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 :)
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.
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 .
last year we had a wonderful day of conversations, research and reflections on pioneer mission at cms. the things presented were so interestng that we ended up publishing them as the pioneer gift (which i hope by ow you have got and read?!).
well this year's is coming up on october 14 - am particularly pleased that steve bevans is able to be with us from chicago and we have a host of other things lined up - see here for details and how to book - it's all focused on pioneering spirituality.
but it's just got better as we have now added in an evening curry with spoken word and music - making the most of gav mart and martin daws being on tour. and they will be joined for a guest appearance by none other than harry baker... looking forward to it.
this is a sign we drove by in chicago en route from the airport to ctu - no idea what it is a sgn for! i'm here speaking at a conference on mission, culture and vocation which gets started later today and i'm looking forward to. ctu is the home base for steve bevans, roger schroeder, and robert shreiter among others - they have produced amazing thinking and writing on mission over the last 30 years that has influenced me profoundly. so it's a real privilege to come and do something sharing from our own experience with pioneers at cms. it's always wonderful to meet flesh and blood heroes.
on monday and tuesday we had induction for new students starting on a certificate, diploma or m.a. so it's been quite a week so far... it was fantastic to meet people doing such interesting things and am looking forward to getting to know them. it's our biggest intake so far which is encouraging though very few pioneer ordinands in the mix (as everywhere i think). i suspect that will swing back over time.
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!
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