Dreamers who do (Jonny Baker)

Tuesday, 19 July, 2011

Jonny BakerJonny Baker looks for the dreamers who do.

I am really looking forward to being at the Break Out Pioneer Gathering in September. I confess I missed it last year because my life was in chaos getting ready to start our brand new CMS pioneer training course. And, as ever with these things, I was chasing my tail.

But, 12 months down the line, we have had a fantastic first year with pioneers, learning loads about how to support them and develop training that is really equipping them for practical pioneer ministry in a variety of contexts. I have personally been challenged and inspired myself in all sorts of ways; it's been a mutual learning.

One of the many things that has been exciting with our community of students - and something about which I hadn't expected to find quite such an emphasis - is the amount we have talked about imagination and I would say prophetic imagination. This has been so strong that I have started to think what we might have on our hands is a community of prophets.

In saying that, I am hesitant to use the word prophet as - depending on the circles you move in - it can have some ‘baggage’ and would you take anyone seriously who said they were a prophet?! But at CMS we have been really thinking hard about Jesus the prophet and prophetic mission - in fact this whole notion is stirring us up quite considerably.

We need people who operate out of a prophetic imagination to call us into an alternative future

At a time when there is so much challenge and change in the church and culture, we most definitely need people who see and call us to live differently, who operate out of a prophetic imagination to call us into an alternative future. So, as a speaker at Break Out, expect me to be musing on imagination and prophets. And try not to think too hard about what tends to happen to prophets.

John Taylor calls mission 'an adventure of the imagination', which I absolutely love as everything that exists that is new must have been imagined first. It seems such an underrated gift. One of the phrases I came across recently for those who bring newness in this way was 'Dreamers who do', which I love as well. And if I'm going to talk about this, I guess I'd better have some poems, movies, ritual, music and photography to connect beyond just the rational or logical parts of our souls and minds and hearts.

There have been a couple of pieces of research recently into the experience of pioneers and pioneers in training. One from the Church of England’s Ministry Division and one by Beth Keith on behalf of Fresh Expressions. Both are excellent and sobering at the same time. Beth's was conducted through a series of small group gatherings of pioneers round the country. The information has then been collated into a series of themes raising a number of points and offering some recommendations.

So I'll also try and connect into some of those challenges and themes - though in many ways I suspect they are telling us what we already know! But it's nice to have some research to confirm your hunches. See you in September?

About the author: 

Jonny Baker is part of the pioneer mission leadership team for CMS.

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