10 years of pioneers

CMS celebrates 10th anniversary of pioneer mission training programme with highest ever student intake

Church Mission Society this week celebrates the 10th anniversary of its ground-breaking pioneer training programme that has seen over 500 students trained so far, ranging from pioneer newbies with little previous experience studying for certificate and diploma qualifications, to more experienced leaders completing postgraduate degree courses and preparing for ordination as pioneer ministers in the Church of England.

From humble beginnings on 28 September 2010, when nine students travelled to Oxford to embark on the first Pioneer Mission Leadership Training course, the pioneer leadership programme has grown to include training hubs in the dioceses of London, Chelmsford, Carlisle and Bath & Wells, as well as Oxford where CMS is based. Further afield an international training hub exists in South Korea and an additional UK training hub is due to open in St Albans in January 2021.

Colourful space with long table and filled with people - at a party (pre-Covid)
Candid Beer was launched as a social enterprise in Stafford

Research shows that when they finish their course, the majority of pioneer students go on to innovate new initiatives or add increased imagination to existing mission programmes.

Jo Howie, co-owner and creator of Sacred Bean, a coffee roasting business that actively involves ex-offenders and recovering addicts in Derby, took the Make Good missional entrepreneurship module, which is designed to help pioneer leaders plan and pitch new ideas, and then develop them through to fruition.

Jo recalled, “The teaching really helped us move forward” and found what she learned invaluable.

With her husband Darren, Jo now works as a pioneer missioner for the Methodist Church in Derby. As well as overseeing a growing business, Sacred Bean provides Jo and Darren opportunities to share their faith with members of the local community.

Man in clerical collar chats ringside in front of red punchbags
Dave Harrigan launched the Good Shepherd Boxing community in Romford

Over the years pioneer mission leaders who trained with CMS have birthed a wide variety of imaginative mission initiatives such as Clean for Good, an ethical cleaning company, The Henna and Hat Lady, a shop selling outfits for steampunks, and a craft beer business, as well as special initiatives aimed at people recovering from addiction, new housing developments and people working in youth and children’s ministry.

Graduates of the Pioneer Mission Leadership Training programme such as Adam Gompertz who runs REVS, a ministry for classic car enthusiasts, and Dave Harrigan, who set up a community boxing club, have been inspired to start and develop innovative approaches to mission that engage people who would never normally visit a church or come into contact with Christians.

coffee beans in a grinder
Sacred Bean coffee business has created a buzz

Every year scores of pioneer leaders are equipped and supported by CMS to take creative approaches to mission that can reach people who traditionally have existed outside the orbit of the Church.

In 2020, despite the uncertainty and disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, a record 92 students enrolled to study in this year’s Pioneer Mission Leadership Training programme, including the highest ever intake on the MA degree course and the largest intake of ordinands yet.

Map showing pioneer hub locations
CMS pioneer training is spreading across the country

Jonny Baker, director of mission education at CMS, said, “It’s great to be celebrating 10 years of the Pioneer Mission Leadership Training programme. CMS has become a home for pioneers and we feel honoured that so many pioneers have chosen to study with CMS and we’re also encouraged that many more people are now recognising their call to be pioneers and reach out into their communities to make a difference.”

Baker continued, “Our vision is to see new communities of disciples of Jesus grow where they have not been before, especially in places the church struggles to reach on its own. And to see initiatives begun that bring good to local communities. Our passion has always been to develop pioneering mission on the ground and training is a brilliant way to enable that and develop a community of practice around it.”

Published 28 September 2020
Europe, Middle East and North Africa

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