Releasing the Pioneers

My church has this week decided to take dramatic and costly risks with a major new initiative to reach out to those with no experience of church, especially young adults.

The Pioneering Ministries scheme – agreed by the British Methodist Conference – will see the establishment of new Christian communities and congregations in a variety of locations from city centre and suburban areas to more rural settings.

There will initially be twenty new projects, with the first beginning as early as possible in 2009. Each project will be designed to serve the spiritual and practical needs of those who have previously had little or no experience of Church.

Although it’s hoped the projects will eventually become independent, the scheme will involve a major investment of Church resources and funds, with an initial setup cost of more than £4.3m.

Revd Graham Horsley, Secretary for Evangelism and Church Planting, says: ‘This is clearly a risky strategy, but sometimes the Church is called to take risks. In saying “yes” to pioneer ministries the Church is sacrificing control for the sake of creativity. Rather than setting the agenda for evangelism and mission centrally, Pioneer Ministers will be free to discern the shape of their mission in their particular context. What grows may not look like a traditional “church” but will enable young adults to worship God and be equipped as disciples.’

The Church will seek to recruit as Pioneer Ministers lay and ordained people who demonstrate vision, motivation and the ability to inspire others. They will be offered support and training and will be able to build new, viable independent Christian congregations rooted in the Methodist tradition.

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