Pioneer Leadership Training

OK Ifigured it’s about time to give anyone interested an update of where i have got to with developing pioneer ministry training. a bit of back story may be in order…

I’ve spent 8 years with CMS trying to encourage mission in the uk especially in relation to the wider cultural changes. This has involved connecting with people, sharing stories, catalysing new projects, developing training, working at the centre and the edge and drinking a lot of good coffee… there’s a lot of challenge still but i think it’s fair to say that the environment has changed. Mission is so much more on the agenda of the church with at least permission for a whole lot of newness. I summarised that journey here.

Taking stock on that process at CMS we were invited by the church of england to help them reflect on how to train pioneer leaders (the term pioneer is one that is in vogue recognising the need for leaders who are able to start something from nothing in new situations and contexts – like all language it has something that works and something that doesn’t). So i was asked to develop this from within CMS.

The upshot is we are using a foundation degree in ministry through oxford brookes university in partnership with some others. It is 16 modules which we are spreading over 3 years. The idea (as strongly recommended by the C of E in mission shaped church but seemingly ignored by lots of bishops and training officers up and down the country) is that training should be on the job for pioneers and not residential. And that the training will be alongside what they are pioneering. It’s assessed by a portfolio that demonstrates learned gifts and competencies as opposed to a route that is assessed by academic essays (though you can use those in your portfoilo).

The curriculum probably has a lot of what you might expect. there are also some new creative aspects – in particular we have a stream we are calling sink or swim with three modules in creative teams involved in mission projects, entrepreneurial start ups and cross cultural experiences. What i think cms will bring that is unique is the following:

a) It will all be through the lens of mission. The language around what training pioneers have received in a lot of places is ‘priest plus’ – i.e. need to teach them the usual stuff and then add pioneering on. We are all about the pioneering mission part.

b) Global will be in the mix – it’s in CMS dna.

c) Lots of practitioners will be involved in the delivery. This was something i learned and repected from the guys at forge. It won’t be dogmatically the case because of course there are lots of people with loads to teach who are not practitioners and i don’t want to set up some false dichotomy. But it’s more about the emphasis.

d) A new imagination

e) It’s out of a community of mission leaders so will connect pioneers in with other pioneers to network and share learning and practice.

Initially we are piloting this with a few people from this coming september. If you are interested in that contact me. We have a day on july 14 to meet with people interested. We’ll then launch more fully from sept 2011. As it grows we expect to be able to add in other options – e.g. top up to BA or do an MA. Why accreditation? to be honest these days people want it and expect it so we’ve gone that route. At one level i couldn’t care less but at another it provides a rigour and discipline.

I have done two newsletter updates which you can download – newsletter1 ; newsletter2newsletter3. They spell it out a bit more. I also have a business plan particularly trying to spell out the money flows – we are looking for development funding in particular. i won’t bore you all with the details of that here.

I’m excited about it. We have by no means got all the answers and plan to learn as we go. But i think this will be a creative offering on the mission/theological education map that is unlike anything else currently on offer. In my view if you are a pioneer it’s a no brainer if you are within striking distance of oxford – train with us! It is for anyone interested in mission leadership training. Ordained pioneers can use this pathway for training though you will have to no doubt work hard to persuade bishops and training officers to trust a new route. Ordained pioneers will also do some stuff in partnership with other ordinands. Ican spell out details of that. But this is not something that is just about ordained leaders. They will simply be in the mix which in our view is healthy formation.

We will also be able to offer any of the modules to anyone interested in buying into that particular thing – e.g. missional entrepreneurship.

Jonny works for the Church Mission Society developing and supporting mission and new ways of being church in the emerging culture in the UK. This involves encouraging, networking, connecting and training pioneer mission leaders. He is a member of Grace and a partner in new media company proost.