What is Pioneer Ministry? At one of our Annual Parish Meetings this year, someone asked me to explain what the ‘pioneer’ bit in my title is. It was one of those moments where someone asks a great question and you really wish you had an equally great and simple answer! That’s because Pioneer Ministry in the Church of England is a relatively recent thing; it’s always adapting and evolving, and can also be very specific to the individual Pioneer Minister. But it was a great question to ask! So, I thought I’d give it the thought it deserved and put together a little article about what Pioneer Ministry is in the Church of England, and what shape it has taken for me over the last few years. A 2004 report called ‘Mission Shaped Church’, identified certain ministers as ‘pioneers’ in that they were working in ways that sought to connect more missionally with their cultural contexts and which enabled new forms of worship and Christian community to develop. Since then, the Church of England has identified others who have the potential to be doing ministry in this way. At some point during the discernment and training process for ministry these people can go to a Panel and have that vocation tested and be officially designated as ‘Pioneer Ministers’. The early definition of a Pioneer Minister was that the main focus of their ministry would be outside of the church with the intention of creating a new Christian community. But, as I say, things have developed since then, and it’s now recognised that there is a wide spectrum of pioneer ministry within the Church of England. This spectrum has varying degrees of ‘cultural distance’ from church, and goes something like this: • On one end of the spectrum, the closest ‘cultural distance’, you would find a replicator – a church-planter - who takes an existing model of church, and simply reproduces it it in another area. 8

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