To create new Christian communities with the people we’re trying to reach amongst predominantly young people, young adults and young families.
- Build relationships that are non judgemental and create community where love is the key
- Empower people to be involved in creating Christian community for themselves and others
- Be open to the Spirit and true to the Word
- Play a positive part in God’s wider church
- Love one another
- Encourage and bring out the best in each other, mentoring one another
- Care, listen, forgive and support one another
- Be bold and use our God given gifts
- Gently challenge what is wrong by speaking the truth in love
Discerning God’s call to pioneer
What has God been doing in your life so far? What might prepare you for pioneering? Where is God leading?
Forming a team
Team work means you can form a new mission community that others can later join, we spent 6 months both training and forming such a mini community but initially thought it would only take 6 weeks!
All new projects need solid support, leaders need support – for me support came from several people, each with expertise in different areas or people who could pastorally care for me. When working in complex contexts, I’m not sure the traditional model of one curate, one priest as mentor is enough; we probably need others to bring additional insights and possibility thinking.
Build a coalition of partner’s i.e. local churches, national partners, denomination or wider church network. We have liaison meetings 2 or 3 times per year to share good news, share vision and listen to partners concerns and ideas. Resolve conflict through open and honest communication. This enables good communication. I also visit partners 1 to 1.
Sorted has a Bishops Mission Order. Whilst this is an Anglican invention, B.M.O principles of partnership, recognition of a new churches identity & a process of becoming an interdependent church within a wider family of churches are applicable to any denomination or network of churches.
Sorted works as a series of stages –
- meet young people in school and form a relationship
- form a big activity session with young people including sharing faith
- form a small group for young people to ask questions and to provoke faith exploration and discussion of discipleship
- worship service so young people can go deeper with God.
Relationships and faith tend to go deeper as we develop different stages so those with little or no church background can form trust in an interactive community and become more open to the gospel.
Reading the context
Listen and learn from both ‘professional practitioners’ within the context i.e. for sorted it was school chaplain, teachers, youth services, police and social workers and listen/learn from people you are trying to reach. Keep asking- what is the gospel and how do we do church ‘with’ these people?
Keep a focused vision and values and a clear aim of what you’re trying to achieve but be flexible as to how you get there. Just as a satnav has to re-route, be prepared to re-route sometimes in order to reach your destination.
Loving and serving
Jesus the first pioneer of the Church, told his followers to go out to people, find people of peace and stay with them. Explore ways to put Jesus’ strategy of relational evangelism into action so that our evangelism is incarnational, allowing the gospel message to be relevant to the people within the receiving local culture. Naked churches pioneered this way are likely to grow up with the DNA of Jesus in their bones and yet be dressed with the clothes of their own culture.
As relationships are being built with newly reached people, it’s important to prayerfully think how we build community, especially as most of are unlikely to have a Christian faith. How might a new community be formed that serves the needs of the newly reached people?
The new community can become a place where the gospel is both spoken and/or expressed through the quality of relationships being built.
Good relationships and increased ownership by the newly reached people will eventually cause new leaders to emerge. Forming small groups enables relationships to go deeper, ownership to increase and can be great place to explore discipleship. Small groups can be fruitful places to explore various ways discipleship can be modelled, explored and developed.
Needs to be ‘total discipleship’ so that discipleship can happen at different times in the week through different activities. People may learn discipleship before professing faith and discipleship is a venture/process not an event.
Start small with unchurched people, develop one thing at a time but keep moving towards worship that includes teaching, prayer, sacred space and sacraments.
If we are to pioneer a new church which will develop disciples and teams, then ownership is so vital to making this happen. A pioneer has to both lead and yet enable ownership from day 1 of the mission venture by involving new people at every stage of the journey, learning to organise and operate ‘with’ them and not just ‘for’ them.
Learn as you go
Part of the ownership, is learning together as we journey together! Learning as you go is one of the most important things we can do together as we take both our positive and negative experiences to God, asking for his help build on positives and learn through negatives, praying for the best ways to move things forward.
Too many pioneers leave a church and things start to go downhill. If the new church is unprepared, if the change is too fast or there is inadequate leadership coming in, then things will go wrong. At Sorted, we’ve done it gradually, prepared the congregation and yet still had some problems to work through in a difficult context because it demands highly relational leadership. Perhaps the pioneer will leave to reproduce the new church elsewhere?
If you’ve learnt how to do it once, God could well call you to do it again so that more people discover Gods love. Re- production brings the blessing of knowing what to do second time round but the challenge of staying contextual, not falling into the trap of cloning. Re-producing whilst developing the first church at the same time can seem like entering a whole new world.
We seek to be contextual in our use of sacraments so that new Christians can go deeper with God and the new church can develop a sacramental life.
The key to sustainability surely lies in the ability of the new church to raise up leaders from within. Here we explore ways that this can happen in a pioneering context.