it was great to read a first review of pioneer practice from russ bravo at inspire. he says
Pioneer Practice manages to both provide inspiration and motivation for the pioneer, while being hugely pragmatic and realistic about the cost, the struggle and the challenge of doing things differently. Full of wisdom, deep questions and electrifying examples of what God can do when people who don’t fit the established order get stuck into changing things.
i also wrote up one of the 'electrifying examples' from the book for an article for inspire too - church for people who want to punch stuff
the latest issue of anvil journal is up on mission and shame. it is edited by andrea campanale who has explored and researched shame herself in relation to faith (and life) out of her pioneering. it's a really terrific issue with strong articles from people who have researched and written on shame digging deep alongside reflecting on practice. you can read online or download a pdf,
you get those jokes about the good news and the bad news. this post is one of those in relation to unlocked - the photo exhibition we are planning in ealing.
the good news is we have managed to raise over three thousand pounds towards the total of 5.5k. one member of the photo group secured two thousand pounds sponsorship from fujifilm which is amazing!
the bad news is that ealing council have not yet backed the project. this is slightly exasperating as to become a crowdfunding project they have to approve it so you jump through quite a few hoops. so you assume this means they have decided they will back it to some degree. but apparently this may not be the case. we still wait to see... and meantime we have to go ahead and arrange people to do the installation and printing so have given ourselves a deadline of the end of july which will be make or break. we have also applied to a couple of other local foundations/trusts too. but again not sure we will hear in time. so it's squeaky bum time for sure.
so send a prayer up for us! and if you want to back a local photography project of course we'd love you to - you can do so through the crowdfunding page. money will only get taken at the end if we reach our target. it's weird for me because this is not my usual thing so i have not raised for arts projects n this way.
it was good fun to do and was amazing that the reading for the day is a passage about going to the other side of the lake which has been one i have thought about for a couple of years in relation to pioneering mission. thank you to all the people who contributed - photography, videos, poetry, music, prayers. it was a combined effort from lots of pioneers.
quite often pioneering gets set up as an out there practice beyond the current ways of doing things (and sometimes it is). however in the church, research shows that most new things that are started have a relationship with and most likely come out of an existing parish church. i really loved reading the case study of janice hamilton's pioneering in a rural parish. she began with a process of praying and listening and out of that noticed somewhere she felt stirred to connect with but that the church did not engage with. then through that seeing she has built a community hub in partnership with others taking an asset based approach and she started a new community of disciples in that space. it's quite something what she has done but equally it is simply an ordinary rural parish so any church could do the same - pray, notice, experiment, build partnerships with the local community and make something happen.
janice trained with us at cms pioneer mission leadership training in oxford - it is a particular joy when you see how a former student is flourishing but it's also lovely to see them put into practice what we have talked about! it's a great example of pioneer practice - though not one i included in the book. and of course i then learn from the practice they develop.
it's the time of year to sign up for training that starts in september. janice is an ordained pioneer who trained with us. if you are selected for ordination why not come and train with us at cms! the majority of our students are independent and not getting ordained so we cater for both. the main thing is that if if you are interested in mission and pioneering why not do some training? you can see from janice's story the benefit that gives alongside practice. we offer training at all levels which are in common awards through durham university - certificate, diploma, degree, masters, and dth (through roehampton) and you can of course simply audit modules which means to attend without being registered with durham university.
we have an open day on monday - there are two zooms - one in the morning and one in the evening. we had hoped to be on site in the day but have rearranged given the govt guidelines change this week. do sign upo. if that doesn't work get in touch if you want to talk about training. i can honestly say i have seen how encouraging and transforming training has been for people like janice. she has completed her part now in that role and heads to start a new cycle of practice in cheltenham. go well!
i am running a zoom workshop on 8 july 7:30pm for 2 hours on getting started in relation to pioneer practice. place are limited to 25 so we can see one another and discuss your ideas and practice. i will be joined by two pioneers who feature in the book and know all about the challenges of building something from an idea to becoming tangible in the world. they are andy freeman and kim brown. tickets are only £10 or there is an option to get it with the book that will save you something on the regular price. i haven't pushed it before the book launch as the images looked similar and i didn't want to confuse anyone!!!
at the book launch for pioneer practice when he was interviewed, jon birch said his favourite quote in the book was from ann-marie wilson (see above). she is an incredible pioneer. i remember when i first met her and she said her vision was to campaign to eradicate fgm from 28 countries in africa and i thought - wow that is a big vision and challenge. she subsequently has pursued that vision and path with incredible courage and determination and set up the charity 28toomany. she is part of a conversation in the book about change where we discuss how you create the change you want to see and culture change is a big part of that challenge - i loved that conversation. ann-marie has a book just out telling her story called overcoming: my fight against fgm. and there is a launch on facebook live this friday with a video and then space for questions.
this is the first in a series of blog posts on pioneer practice. how it will unfold i have no idea! i hope they will be a sort of oblique link to the book without re-presenting the material in it too directly. but i will explore some of the ideas and themes.
on friday i went to the cinema in socially distanced fashion, mask wearing and all that. it was a sensual delight. i was so moved by the film that i couldn't tell if it was because i hadn't been so long or that the film was really good! it certainly was a great feel good factor movie which was great to experience. we went to see dream horse which came out last year. it's a tale set in a depressed village in the welsh valleys and is the true story of jan vokes who organised a community syndicate to buy a racehorse that they named dream alliance who was broken in on the allotment and went on to win the welsh grand national.
but here's the thing - it's a wonderful story of pioneer practice. it may be that my head is just too full of themes of the book at the moment so i am seeing it everywhere but bear with me. the big themes i explore in the book are BE YOU, SEE, BUILD, and CHANGE and they are all at play in the film. btw warning - plot spoilers so watch the film and come back!
jan works at the local co-op and helps at the local community social club. having some experience of animals before through competing with dogs and pigeons she has the crazy idea of getting a mare who could give birth to a racehorse. it's a ridiculous idea - it's incredibly expensive if you go the usual route. but she SEEs a possibility. for me pioneer practice is a gift of sight. others don't see it but she can. she also sees that what is needed is hope and something to live for - it's not about the money. this adventure could be just what the depressed community need. in fact it's just what she needs.
once you see something you have to work out how to make it happen or BUILD it. it doesn't seem like it would stack up but crucially she does the maths - gets a spreadsheet and works out how many people she needs to pay £10 a week over a few years and puts her and brian's retirement find on the line so they can get started right way. she then persuades the most unlikely local community pub goers to join in the adventure. there are of course various important things about training a racehorse and when the time comes they find the best trainer and persuade him. pioneer practice is this work as well as the vision - it's making the idea have legs through a spreadsheet, building a team, navigating curve balls, finding a way when there is no way. it's also fascinating to hink that this is a built from somewhere that writes itself off and others assume is hopeless. but jan sees the assets in herself, in howard davies who is local and knows a thing or two about racehorses and in the community everyone else writes off. and then slowly it grows - the first race and so on. like every pioneer project i know they hit the desert on several occasions where it seems like the whole thing will collapse but they stay true in spite of some doubters and pull through.
there is a lovely scene where jan talks to dream and says that before he came along she was never able to be herself she was always her dad's daughter, her husband's wife and so on but never herself. but since dream came along she is jan. the adventure with dream has enabled her to find herself and come home to who she is. BE YOU is right at the heart of pioneer practice. it's always tempting to think we need to be like someone else who we think of as entrepreneurial but actually things always go best when we are able to be ourselves. this is in some ways all of our quest. and jan is quirky, lovable, and at her best when she is being herself.
racing is of course an elite rich person's sport. so to pioneer a racehorse from an allotment into that world meets challenges from the powers that be. but jan and the syndicate do enough to navigate that world. CHANGE is the last theme in pioneer practice - how will this practice make a better world. you assume that with a racehorse making some money would be the goal but it''s not about that and when offers come they are turned down, that distraction s resisted. the change is about hope, about being able to dream. it's kind of cheesy but i loved the way that at all the races the group would be shouting 'come on dream!', a sort of prophecy spoken to themselves where they had lost the memory of dreaming. the change is about community - there are wonderful scenes of the syndicate in the bus on the way to races, including all sorts of characters, and then the local community who get on board with dream too. there is a momemt late on in the film where jan has doubts but the community carry the vision and her - she has passed it on so well. after winning the welsh grand national the victory parade with the whole village singing bread of heaven is just a delight. you might say it's also a parable of the kingdom of god - the kingdom of god is like a horse called dream raised on an allotment!
the last thing i thought was terrific about it as an example of pioneer practice is that jan is not a professional community worker or pioneer minister, not trained. she is someone in the local community who simply sees a possibility and then makes something happen out of that seeing using the resources that are at hand. that sets in motion an adventure that brings hope to a struggling depressed community and she comes alive in the process.
BE YOU | SEE | BUILD | CHANGE - these are the big themes of pioneer practice.
come on dream!
i am part of a local photography group. as a group we have planned an exhibition as part of BEAT 2021. given all the uncertainties due to covid we had been exploring outdoor options for exhibiting and through a series of connections have ended up with ealing police station agreeing we can use the front of their building as a canvas for our next exhibition! it is huge so will have quite an impact. the exhibition is called ‘UNLOCKED – looking back, looking forward’ and is a reflection on the strange times we find ourselves in, the things we have noticed over the past year and our hopes for the future.
of course it is going to be more costly to pull off so we are in the process of raising funds for it. on contacting ealing council they now have their own crowdfunding page for community initiatives and projects and steered us in that direction. as part of that they will consider backing a project but like to see a group raising funds and demonstrating commitment themselves. so whilst we hadn't anticipated it this means we have ended up with a local crowdfunding page for unlocked. if you'd like to support the group then you can pledge here. we are 10% of the way there at the time of writing this post.
next saturday's grace is a walk and talk - it starts at 2:30pm and will end up with a drink in richmond outside. do join us - there will be some reflections en route but having met online for so long it will be nice to see people in person. i assume there isn't a breakdown in relations between ealing and richmond - i.e. the flyer is meant to say meditation! anyway details on the grace website
welcome to the world olivia wren baker b. june 2 2021. there were some very excited big sisters. it was a joy to be called in the middle of the night to look after flo and thea while olivia was born. she is granddaughter no 3. joy! there are a few photos here
i am so pleased to be able to tell you that pioneer practice is now available to buy here. it's taken a while to get the web site up and running but it is there now and looks great and hopefully is simple enough to use... and we can ship anywhere. it's only £13 for almost 200 pages full colour which we hope you'll agree is pretty good value. you have to pay via paypal at the oment though that will take cards - we are adding in another card payment option too.
the web site is home of a new partnership between myself, jon birch and joel baker - GETsidetracked. we've even applied for a registered trademark which i have never done before. i love how this came about as a result of running the webinar series on creativity earlier this year. pioneer practice is our first project. here's an image of the site - cool eh?!
i was interviewed recently by david cotterill for the V12 podcast. it was good fun and the topic we were talking about was worship and the adventure of making that in creative ways that relate to the culture(s) of those outside of the church. you can find it on whatever your preferred podcast podcast app is - but here's a link on google or here's one on spotify
i got an email this week from someone asking me about how you navigate the liturgy and rubrics of your denomination or church in relation to pioneering with groups who won't relate easily to that - i sent a link to this interview as an answer. it made me realise that whilst some of us who were involved in alternative worship back in the day - navigating the contours of faith in the postmodern turn, these questions are still very pertinent and new to others. in some ways worship has been backgrounded or at least put layter in the mission process but it is still an essential component to explore. hope this helps if that is your question.
we are celebrating the launch of pioneer practice with a book launch online on thursday june 10. it will be about an hour. jon and i will be there of course talking about the book with some guests who have contributed. we'd love to have a crowd to celebrate with - the book has been a lockdown journey for me at least chipping away week by week. so it has been wonderful to see it come to fruition. register here and then you'll get sent the link - it's free of course and you have to provide your own drink to raise a glass at home!
it was very exciting on friday to take delivery of pioneer practice - 89 boxes filled the lounge!! i have spent the weekend packing books into boxes to fulfil all the kickstarter orders. thank you everyone who has supported this project - your books will be on their way this week. it's printed beautifully - we worked with park communications who were great.
today i am heading down to bath to celebrate with jon birch who did the design - we'll be having a socially distanced catch up in the garden with jen and clare...
several people are asking where you can get it - the short answer is my lounge :) but seriously it will be available through getsidetracked.co with a week or so. watch this space - i will let you know when that goes live. we're getting the kickstarter ordders done and then will be landing that, lining up a book launch and a webinar series. if you can't wait contact me via email or a comment.
i was very moved when this landed - partly relief that it printed so well, but really i feel this book brings together so much of what i have worked on and reflected on together with the rest of the team i work with and with many others. this is what i am passionate about. so yes a tear did come to the eye... but a joyful satisfied tear. it's been a lockdown project chipping away over the last year in my non work days. it's now that weird moment where you want to know what people think but it's time to wait...
there is an open day on zoom on may 10 - it's not really a day - an hour and a half! come and find out about cms pioneer training that is accredited through durham university common awards. if you are a pioneer or into mission, honestly you'll love it. have a look at this page of video snippets to get a feel for what students say. now is the time to sign up if you'd like to train with us from sept 2021.
you can do modules, certificate, diploma, degree, ma, and even a dth now. the model is that you are somewhere involved in practice and the training helps you reflect on that. as well as the pioneer lens through everything, there is a route at undergraduate level that is focused on youth, children and family ministry too. you can train with us for ordination or for licensed lay ministry in the church of england or we have a route for baptist ministers too. do have a browse round the web site or give me a shout if you like.
there are a few new things to tell you about:
first up we have a new route through the ma - this is pretty exciting. see the ma page here. we have done things together with missio africanus over the years and been big fans of what they are about. through that friendship an idea has grown of a route through the ma that is focused on students in the african diaspora. it will do three modules we already have along with three new ones. you can do that ma from anywhere in the world as it will be an online pathway! yes you read that right...
the regular ma is also now being offered face to face and online. so it's suddenly a lot more accessible.
i should add that students on the different routes will interact as modules overlap etc so there will be one diverse student body. we hope to add in other diaspora focus over time too by the way.
then at undergraduate level we are running a more blended model - this means you reap the benefit of face to face which we are all missing right now but just under half the modules will be online. this also means more accessibility and less travel overall but you also can meet people in the same room (remember that?!)
next wednesday 1pm i am hosting a conversation about pioneer practice with some wonderful pioneers - see below for info
Join us next Wednesday 1-2 pm UK LIVE* right here on our fresh expressionms Facebook Page and YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCR_uSFxBT4XjGeyUZggcZSA for a conversation with:
Jonny Baker founder of Church Mission Society (CMS) pioneer training where he is director of mission education and loves all things creative. His latest venture is GETsidetracked the first project of which is the full colour book Pioneer Practice which is out this month.Anna Hembury - an experienced pioneer practitioner who's been based in Hull for 20 yearsDavid Harrigan - a pioneer who started a Fresh Expression through boxingSue Steer - a new housing pioneerAnd Ann Marie Wilson - a pioneer campaigning to end FGM in 28 countries in AfricaPractice is about how pioneering actually happens on the ground. Jonny will present practical wisdom gleaned over the last decade and collated over the last year of lockdown on themes such as soulwork, money and dealing with the powers that be. Expect a mix of findings from some new research, stories and reflections discussed with 4 guests who are are involved in a range of pioneer practice.Join us live next week and bring your questions, stories and reflections from your context
*if you can't join the conversation live then you can watch later on as the broadcast will be saved to our Facebook Page and YouTube Channel