Pioneer ministries and fresh expressions of church


Friday 30 September 2011

Doug Gay on Emerging and Inherited Church relationships

Doug Gay has some helpful observations about the tensions experienced between 'emerging' or fresh expressions of church and more inherited churches:

'Institutions at their most healthy will ideally maintain a suppleness and an openness to ongoing reform.  For many of us, our experience of institutional church is more commonly of a tightly policed conservatism whose resistance to change requires that reformers need to add volume and momentum to their criticism if they are to be heard.  In relational terms, this can lead to a recklessness and arrogance on the part of critics who are pained by the resistance to their voices, matched by a stubborn defensiveness on the part of those who are being critiqued, who are wounded by the assault on what they hold dear. Some of the ongoing resistance to 'emerging church' can be traced to the pains inherent in this process, as hard-working and faithful practitioners within a range of churches feel undermined and condemned by criticisms of their way of being church.  There is, of course, no easy way through this, but there is a gospel requirement that those provoking and negotiating change seek to be aware of how much 'charity' there is in their words and actions'.

Re-mixing The Church (Towards an Emerging Ecclesiology), p.17

Monday 27 June 2011

Breakout Gathering for Pioneers, September 21-23, 2011

We're also very excited about the forthcoming Breakout Gathering for Pioneers which is the third such event designed to support all those who are involved as practitioners in pioneer ministry. It will be at High Leigh Conference Centre (Hoddesdon) from 21-23 September. We're expecting that most of the VentureFX pioneers will be there – indeed at least one of them will be helping to lead it. Ric Stott will be leading a session on creative arts, and I will also be leading a session about effective ways of working with permission-givers in our structures. The major input will come from Jonny Baker and Graham Cray, with other sessions including:

Juliet Gilpin (Urban Expressions) – discipleship
Ian Adams (author, Cave Refectory Road) - new monasticism
Andy Freeman (24/7 prayer) – prayer
Debbie Forman (pioneer minister) - worship
Bishop Paul Bayes – working with permission givers

The 24/7 prayer people will create a prayer room for us during the gathering, and there will also be plenty of opportunity for breakout groups for general conversation and sharing together, and there will be stimulating and reflective worship. It just seems like an amazing collection of people and activities which I am sure will be a tremendously rich resource for any of us who are involved in fresh ways of being church and who sometimes feel that we need a bit more support and time spent in the company of others who ‘get’ what we do.

The cost is fairly modest - £110 for a standard room and £135 for an ensuite room. Perhaps those who have responsibility for your support and well-being would recognise the worth of an opportunity like this and may be able to pay some, if not all of the cost of being there. More information and a booking form is available on the Breakout website, and it would be great if you could think about registering, and doing so as soon as possible, so we know how many to plan for. If you are a Methodist and do decide to go, it would be really helpful if you could send me a quick email to let me know, so that I am aware of who will be going from the Methodist network. And, most importantly – please pass this on to others who you think ought to hear about it.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Bishop Graham Cray to address VentureFX meeting at Methodist Conference

We’re very excited about the forthcoming meeting being hosted by the Fresh Expressions Team and VentureFX on the evening of Tuesday 5 July at the time of the Methodist Conference in Southport.  It’s going to be an interesting location – the Wayfarers Arcade, off Lord Street – and Bishop Graham Cray, leader of the Fresh Expressions Team will be giving a keynote talk on the theme, ‘Church Lite or Deep Church?’ – discipleship and fresh expressions of church.  There couldn’t be a more relevant topic, nor a more challenging speaker.  There’ll also be a chance to hear directly what some pioneer ministers are getting up to, and to see some clips from the brand new Fresh Expressions DVD.  Stephen Lindridge and I will be there to host and we expect it to be a great evening.  Please pass the invitation on – especially to anyone going to conference or living in the vicinity of Southport.

Monday 4 April 2011

Blogging with Bart

Bart Woodhouse, the VentureFX pioneer in The Bridge housing development near Dartford, has begun a blog reflecting on some of the issues he is encountering in engaging with young adults about matters of life and faith.

Read what Bart has to say about the place of apologetics in his most recent post.

Wednesday 9 March 2011

What is Jon Curtis (VentureFX Exeter) doing for Lent?

The Seven Weeks look like this… The number represents what I’ll be doing that week!

 1. No money will be spent. This will probably involve hitch-hiking, working in exchange for goods, and bin-diving.

2. No technology will be used. I was born in 1982, so if it didn’t exist then, I can’t use it! No iPhone, no computer, no internet, and so on. I am going to write a lot of postcards, and hope that you will write to me too!

3. Purchases only from Independent Traders. Exeter was considered by an independent body to be the worst “clone town” in the UK, based on the number of High Street stores not part of a chain (there was 1 independent). I will only be buying from indies for everything, and all products will be independently produced also!

4. I will be Carbon Neutral. Tough one this! Obviously I won’t drive, catch a bus etc, but the aim is to exist on things that have not travelled either! I will be visiting my parents this week too, on my bike!

5. Voluntary employment. Every day, I will give my working day to an organisation that needs volunteers. This situation will increase massively given the recent cuts made by the government. I hope for a busy week!

6. Veganism. I will not eat a single ingredient that has anything to do with an animal. I value the farming community a lot, but there are too many people in the world to all eat animal products. This will have to be addressed at some point in the future. I will be feeding my friends a full 3 course meal as part of this task!

7. Monasticism. Essentially I will be living as if in a Monastery! Up before dawn, no eating during daylight hours. Prayer 3 times a day, a vow of silence, plus a Pilgrimage to a distant chapel! 
So, there we are! Each week will feature a challenge, and everything will be recorded here, and will be filmed. I’d also like to encourage you to give things up, but also get onboard with certain things that I need help with!




If you have any ideas, you can e-mail me at  I’m on twitter @joncutups where I’ll be undoubtedly griping, and if you could forward this to anyone who might be interested, that’d be great!




Thursday 3 March 2011

Salvation Today and CMS Pioneer Training

Who says that 'salvation' and 'being saved' are unfamiliar concepts in contemporary culture?  Yesterday outside Oxford railway station I snapped these two posters.

Maybe they are concepts which are in more common use than we think and somehow we need to re-invest them with Gospel significance?

Incidentally, I was in Oxford to attend the open day introducing the new Pioneer Mission Leadership Training course which Jonny Baker and Church Mission Society have developed.  It strikes me as being absolutely spot on in what it promises to deliver in training people for various kinds of pioneer ministry.  I think there is much to learn from CMS as we think about equipping the increasing number of people engaging in pioneer mission within Methodism.

Wednesday 23 February 2011

Dave Saunders, VentureFX pioneer in Inverness writes ...

Have you been used up? Beaten down with your crazy dreams of a church that could be..? Questioned about your faith because you're not content with just sitting in a meeting?  Do you ever feel like you just don't fit for some reason? You know that Jesus is very real but something isn't right! How did you ever come to the place where you're bored, frustrated and given up church?

When we are willing to admit that we have these questions we just might be at the start of an adventurous, risky and fulfilling life. Following Jesus in the journey of God's mission to change our world. The church is changing and it's starting with you. Join in the conversation that's been happening since Jesus uttered the words "GO and make disciples of all nations." Maybe we think too often that we have found Jesus and forget that life is about following him. So he leads us to new and exciting places (maybe sometimes dangerous) Its not that you "found Jesus" but you're FINDING Jesus!

You might be suprised when you will find the Saviour of the world in the most compromising positions. After all he did that when he was leading the very first disciples. How many times did he break the religious rules to ensure the downtroden and hurting needs were met. Would we be willing to stand by the prostitute on the corner of the street and learn her story?

I was in the field opposite my house a while ago playing football with anyone that was up for it and there was a lad who was fairly disturbed and being ignored by everyone because previous to me being there, he had been in a fight. I spoke to him only to find out he wasn't the one that had the fight but he had jumped in to protect his mate from being hurt if not killed. Somehow he managed to be cut deep on his hand, the blood was all over his white coat and trousers. As we are talking, and he's telling me how he saved his friend's life by pulling the attacker off and fighting him back till the attacker gave up, his arm gestures are flicking blood on me!

So as he's telling me about how he had to protect his friend, “My friends are my only family,” he said. I’m looking at him soaked in blood and think he must be in pain. I looked him in the eyes and saw a pain that cuts deeper than the flesh, I knew that there was something else bothering him. So I ask him, “What’s up mate?” A long pause and he replied with frustration and hurt in his voice “He never said thank you for jumping in for me and saving my life”.

There and then my heart broke and I thanked Christ for jumping in for me and sharing His blood to save me.

You see .....Christ?

Monday 31 January 2011

New project in Exeter

The latest VentureFX project started in December and is located in Exeter. Jon Curtis is the VentureFX pioneer who has been appointed to lead the project. Jon is from Exeter and is already well known among many of the young adults in the city.  He belongs to a Methodist Church in Exeter and has been involved with numerous fresh ways of being church as well as having an interest in football, supporting homeless people, youth work, social action and global justice, and punk rock music.  He plays with punk band 'The Cut Ups' and has recently toured Europe with the band. He has a close association with The Cavern, a live music venue and bar in the city centre, and has spent a long time promoting live music in Exeter.  Jon will be drawing on all his experience and networks of young adults as he seeks over the coming months to create a fresh expression of church to which they can relate.

You can see Jon and The Cut Ups in action here