A way forward for selecting and training pioneers (Jonny Baker)

Monday, 23 November, 2009

Jonny BakerJonny Baker seeks a way forward for selecting and training pioneers in an extract from his blog.

as a result of the recommendations of the church of england report mission-shaped church two changes were introduced around leadership. one was that a new criteria for selection around mission was introduced (phew - how was that not there before?!). and secondly a new designation for ordination was introduced - ordained pioneer ministry. this was to recognise that the current challenges in the church and encouragement for newness would require different kinds of leadership. the pastor/teacher sort of leader is probably the one that has been recognised the most with people trained to lead parish churches. but starting something from nothing, reaching new communities, developing new projects, working beyond the edges of the church and so on is something that requires a different kind of person and gift/skill set. pioneer is the term that has been settled on. it's been in place 3 or 4 years now and colleges and regional courses have got in the mix to varying degrees offering training to ordained pioneers. there is currently a review of how that is going. i think it's not news to say that it has been mixed - institutions that have been geared to training parish priests for years and years have not found it easy to rethink how training might work for pioneers. and there is also a challenge around recruiting and recognising this sort of a person/potential. it's early days of course and it's amazing that an institution that has as much history and weight as the church of england has adapted so quickly.

i guess you can see where i am leading with all this. cms has been involved for 200 years or so training pioneers in mission (who in years gone by have helped birth two thirds of what is now the anglican communion! and in recent years are connected with lots of indigenous mission movements round the world). so we have been speaking with ministry division of the church of england about the possibility of getting involved in the mix of training pioneers. this has been met with great enthusiasm - so much so that i confess i have been completely amazed. they are now working with us to help us become a normative pathway for training ordained pioneers along with other colleges and courses. and yes yours truly has the lead at the cms end on this. it's a big task ahead and i am both daunted and excited at the prospect.

the training for pioneers will actually not be solely focused on ordained pioneers which i personally think is really healthy. we train people in mission anyway and have pieces like resource in place that we will use as modules of the training. so ordained pioneers will be in the mix with other mission leaders.

the training we do will be totally geared to pioneering in mission with creativity and imagination and will be shaped with and by pioneers rather than pioneering as an add on to existing training for being a parish priest

the other piece that is pretty interesting is selection. again we are working with ministry division to see how we can work with them to develop processes of selection. we already have good and thorough processes for selecting people in mission so adding the pioneer selection in the mix is part of the new challenge and then integrating how that works with the church of england. because we are an ecclesial community with a visiting bishop it means we can engage in this in new ways we think/hope/expect!

lots to be worked out, huge challenges ahead, plenty of change and opportunity. i can't give you the exact shape of the training, a curriculum, a prospectus or even a full process yet. i don't want to nail it down too quickly as i think we need to be as creative and imaginative as possible at this stage. but i can promise that the training we do will be totally geared to pioneering in mission with creativity and imagination and will be shaped with and by pioneers rather than pioneering as an add on to existing training for being a parish priest (priest plus as it's been called in certain circles). if you have thoughts, ideas, interest, wisdom, connections let me know. if you are a pioneer or thinking of doing that be a guinea pig with us!

About the author: 

Jonny Baker works for CMS developing pioneer leadership training – watch this space.

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