What is a 'pioneer'?
Pioneers are those who work primarily in 'fresh expression' churches – contextual and missional churches which take a variety of shapes and forms. Pioneers aim to create church for and with people, groups and networks who have no contact with any existing church.
In 2004 the Church of England published the report Mission-Shaped Church (pdf download), which – recognising changes in churches and culture – officially encouraged missionary forms of church established mainly for people who might not normally venture into a traditional church building. Recommendation 11 of the report called for the identification, selection and training of pioneers, and added that 'patterns of training should be appropriate to the skills, gifting and experiences of those being trained'.
Ordained Pioneer Ministry
Ordained Pioneer Ministry (OPM) is designed for individuals who are clear that their vocation is to serve and guide the whole Church in developing fresh expressions of church. For more details on Ordained Pioneer Ministry see the Guidelines (pdf download) on the C of E website.
Becoming a Pioneer Ordinand
The process for becoming a Pioneer Ordinand in the Church of England is exactly the same as for the standard Ordination track, except that in addition to a Bishops’ Advisory Panel you are also required to attend a separate Pioneer Panel (Word doc download) who will help to discern your pioneering potential.
Pioneer training at Ridley
Pioneer training at Ridley Hall is overseen by Michael Volland. Before joining the staff at Ridley Michael served as an Ordained Pioneer Minister (OPM) in Gloucester and Durham Dioceses. He taught pioneering at Cranmer Hall in Durham and has written two books on pioneering including Fresh! An Introduction to Fresh Expressions of Church and Pioneer Ministry (SCM Press, 2012).
At Ridley we work carefully with our OPM students, helping them to deepen their sense of call to grow churches with those who are not yet disciples and to equip them spiritually and practically for this crucial task. We are also committed to working with ordinands who don’t have an official ‘pioneer’ designation but who expect to serve God in pioneering contexts, doing new things in new ways. With the active support of their sending bishop and DDO ordinands without an official pioneer designation are able to join the pioneer cohort for the weekly teaching and learning session. Pioneer training at Ridley draws in students from around the Cambridge Theological Federation and the pioneer cohort can potentially include ordinands from Ridley, Westcott, ERMC and Westminster.
Pioneer training is currently focused on a Friday morning session at Ridley Hall and combines both academic excellence and practical experience. Students gather between 9am–12pm each week in term time. The first hour and a half takes the form of guided input from the staff and visitors. After a coffee break students take turns to give a presentation and participate in a group discussion on an aspect of pioneering. The module draws on a range of key pioneering literature with close guidance from staff. The pioneer syllabus includes subject areas such as godly character, entrepreneurship, starting and developing a fresh expression of church, cultural hermeneutics, vision, leadership, the theology of fresh expressions, and ecclesiology.
In recent years the work with pioneers in Cambridge has been developed in collaboration with the Centre for Pioneer Learning (CPL), which has a national role in supporting, networking and resourcing pioneers and helping the national church to think through how it supports and encourages pioneers. Michael Volland works with the Centre, and Nicky Redsell is the Centre’s Director. The work of the Centre includes conferences, consultation, and training and mentoring.
For more on CPL see http://www.centreforpioneerlearning.org.uk
Find out more
If you would like to know more about training for Ordained Pioneer Ministry at Ridley Hall please contact Michael Volland.