The Mission Shaped Church Report was published in 2004 and approved by General Synod in that year. It made strong recommendations for the recognition of pioneers and their identification, training and support in both ordained and lay ministry. Implementation of these recommendations has been swift and very positive and we give further details here.
ORDAINED PIONEER MINISTRY
The Church of England has adopted the language of pioneer ministry for starting and sustaining fresh expression of church. The Ministry Division of the Church of England Working Group on pioneer ministry produced guidelines for the new designation of Ordained Pioneer Ministry (OPM). In 2006 the House of Bishops approved these new Ordained_Pioneer_Ministers_Guidelines to encourage vocations to pioneer ministry as a recognised focus of ordained ministry. There are a growing number of candidates who have been accepted for this pathway and who are now in training and beginning to serve their title posts as pioneers. A variety of new training pathways have been and continue to be developed to support these OPMs. By early 2010, less than five years on, some 110 had been accepted and were on their pioneering way. Candidates continue to come forward. Dave Male has been appointed to nationally oversee all aspects of this pathway from selection to training and development.
LAY PIONEER MINISTRY
However, the Mission Shaped Church report also made strong recommendations for lay pioneers as well as ordained. And the same Ministry Division Working Group had parallel guidelines published and approved by 2007. (encouraging_lay_pioneer_ministry) We would strongly encourage any interested in pioneer ministry in any denomination to read them and we hope be encouraged by them to pursue their calling.
In many ways this development is even more exciting and significant. Experience in pioneering into our very varied and challenging mission context today is showing that the overwhelming need is for thousands of lay led teams to pioneer the planting of all sorts fresh expressions of church.
Further the Church Army Research Unit results have confirmed that this trend is strong. Of hundreds of fresh expressions of church planted, over 50% are lay led and some 42% are led by lay people with no formal recognition or training (the now termed “lay lay”).
It is ACPI’s hope that increasingly, when we do deploy (and sometimes pay) ordained pioneers, it will be to initiate a breakthrough into a particular sub-culture with a view to then overseeing the release of a movement of fresh expressions appropriate to that context… all of which will be led by lay pioneers.
Building on all this, we know of at least one area where an “order of lay pioneers” is being explored and this will help to take this sort of movement forward.
This is the core vision that is needed and this is the overall strategic framework within which we believe the twin guidelines on ordained and lay pioneer ministry should be viewed and plans developed.