we're looking for someone to join our team at cms for a 2 day a week role doing academic admin. details are here. give me a shout if you want any more info.
i was excited to get an email about the launch of one retreat for two reasons. firstly it's a new venture being launched by susie, my sister in law that she has been dreaming of for a while now. and secondly because she came to a missional entrepreneurship week last april to work on the idea and develop it. it's impressive that one year later it is now launching. that is what the missional entrepreneurship week is all about - helping make ideas tangible.
we have a week coming up in april from april 11-16. fill this in if you'd like to book. there are still some places available.
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...
i had so many things going on last week that it was hard to keep up and it was certainly impossible to find time to blog about them. so in the spirit of catch up i'll try and mention them a week later. what is weird about this of course is that i do find time to snap a photo on a phone and say something via twitter or instagram so some of you may think i have already blogged about it but i haven't!
anyway first up is that pioneering spirituality is out - hooray! it's edited by me and cathy ross and has fourteen chapters exploring aspects of pioneering spirituality. pioneering sounds active but as philip mounstephen points out in the foreword we too readily polarise what should be held together.
It is only a true pioneering spirituality that will eve drive us out to where God actually calls his whole church to be, on the margins, in the unknown place of greatest need. But if it is true that there can be no true pioneering without pioneering spirituality, then it is surely also true that there is no true Christian spirituality that is not itself missional and pioneering. We tend to unhelpfully polarise what should rather be held together. Too often we caricature 'spirituality' as introspective, personal and static, while 'mission' and 'pioneering' are necessarily extrovert, relational and dynamic. And yet, as the chapters of this book so helpfully demonstrate, that is surely a false dichotomy. Spirituality is of course outgoing and relational and mission is certainly a matter for the reflective heart.
as with the pioneer gift there is a mix of well known writers (such as steve bevans and michael mitton), those in our wider team around what we are doing and learning at cms pioneer training, and i am so proud to say five chapters are from pioneer students - mainly those on the MA that we lead. i don't know of other colleges and courses publishing student reflecting in this way - i hope they are out there. our experience is that we are learning as much through our students as we do from anyone else (pete ward did that for me when i studied an MA back in 2000 and i was invited to contribute a chapter to mass culture which was my first venture into publishing). the book has come from the conversations day we held around this theme last year with chapters from presenters at that along with some others - it's one way we hope to push the conversation out wider. i am really excited about it. if you get a copy we'd love to know what you think and if you see any reviews do let me know. if you are writing reviews anywhere give me a shout and i'll ask the publishers to send you a review copy.
five years in to the CMS pioneer training we commissioned an evaluation. you can download and read the report here. if you want the short version the summary and recommendations are on pages 1-2. it's a very positive report which i am so encouraged by and we are now reflecting on how to take the recommendations forward. if you ever wonder why i blog less these days it's because i have been involved in this start up of pioneer training which i am happy to say is well and truly started and up and running. i'd love to hear any reflections or feedback on this so do give me a shout.
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...
delighted to see such a positive review of the pioneer gift in the international bulletin of missionary research
i liked the image of a pawn (though didn't want to think about how many pawns get sacrificed in a game of chess!) that the reviewer concludes with
The pioneer is like a pawn (both words are derived from the same Latin root) on a chessboard. The pawn is the weakest of all the pieces in the game, but it has one crucial role: typically, it moves first. The work of the Holy Spirit is often set afoot by the least likely persons. Baker and Ross and the other contributors to this book have given us a gift that will inspire other pioneers to initiate much-needed mission efforts at such a time as this.
thanks to bishop steven croft for posting his address in germany reflecting on nine lessons learned around a mixed economy church. it depends where you are but i still think there is a way to go on point viii a principled and careful loosening of the structures but we have certainly come a long way. (ht: kim for the tip off)
i can't quite believe it but it's the end of the fifth year of the cms pioneer mission leadership training. five years ago we launched a pilot year with students doing a foundation degree and since then have added in various other things - certificate, diploma, ma, pathway for pioneer ordinands, and admitting people as lay workers in the church of england. we have had loads of people do modules with us who are not dong a university award - which works really well. this year we have had to transition to a new university which has had its own challenges but it's been a great year with an amazing group of new students. it was wonderful to celebrate on tuesday with students who were graduating, getting ordained as pioneers, completing their modules with us, and those being admitted as lay workers. i absolutely love what i do and i think that the gift that pioneers bring is much needed and hope that we help encourage it and those entrusted with the gift.
we're now into that time of year where people are signing up for next year (i.e. september). if you are pioneering in mission or wanting to in any way come and join us. do a module, do a diploma, do an ma… give me a shout.
george lings and ali dorey have just published a report on pioneers who are ordained and how they might be supported in in initial training post. this has come out of a gathering of pioneers and their training supervisors in the context. i admit this might sound a bit niche so i realise you might take persuading but it is fantastic. the research these guys have produced continues to be so helpful and insightful. i am so thankful for what they are doing. if you are someone who is in training as an OPM download and read it, if you are a DDO read it, if you are someone who is a training incumbent read it, if you are a bishop read it, if you work with fresh expressions read it, if you are a missioner in a diocese read it. you might think this is all good common sense but trust me this sense is not currently common in the wider church. although the church of england has had 30 years or so of new forms of church bubbling up around its edges and ten years of officially saying it wants this mixed economy, and about 8 years of creating the designation of ordained pioneers as a much needed gift in the church there are huge challenges. there is anxiety, fear, lack of understanding, a risk averse culture, a culture of hierarchy and control etc etc - i won't spell these challenges out though i meet them almost every week with people training with us or who get in contact but this is certainly an invaluable piece of research laced with practical wisdom. i have actually just agreed to be an external supervisor for an ordained pioneer and we will definitely be talking this through.
thank you george and ali!
milestones keep coming on the cms pioneer training. this week’s was having the first MA dissertation handed in – congrats kim! it is now 5 years since we launched - five years has whizzed by! i am looking forward to this year’s end of year celebration where we will celebrate 4 people graduating, 4 people completing (they have done a series of modules or years with us but not accredited), 8 people finishing (they have finished attending all modules but yet to hand in final work), 5 people getting ordained, 5 people being admitted as lay pioneers into cms and thereby the church of england. info here if you want to come along
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!
More is up for negotiation than we might at first think, and unless we cultivate innovation we risk getting stuck and ultimately extinct. In every group there are always those who see the world differently and dream of new possibilities. They need to be celebrated and encouraged to dream their dreams. They do not need taming and sapping by a tired culture of risk-averse pastors, desperately claiming against all the evidence that fluency in their archaic practice is essential for ministry in the 21st Century. If in their pursuit of Jesus’ vision for his bride and kingdom your dreamers are perpetually scrutinised by defensive guardians of the status quo who perceive them as a threat, the chances are they won’t be around for long.
i was blown away when I read the first issue of a new journal missio africanus this morning. it's available free online as a download and the articles are so interesting. and don't think it's only relevant if you are african or working with africans. it will spark your imagination about mission regardless. there are so many interesting explorations going on around theology, post colonialism, migration, leadership, who jesus is. these are questions every church should be reflecting on to move beyond their own cultural ways of doing and being. harvey kwiyani is the editor. he has become a good friend in the last year and has joined in teaching at CMS on the pioneer course. anyway download and have a read…
if you follow the blog you'll know i enthuse regularly about the missional entrepreneurship course that has grown out the pioneer training we are running at cms. lots of people opt into this particular module which stands alone well. due to popularity we ran a second week - sadly i couldn't be there but sounds like it was a great week. i love the way that people come with an idea that can just be a thought they've had that's been percolating that can get worked on in the week and before you know it can then be made to happen. here's one of the ideas people brought this last time...
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.
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