Pioneer ministries and fresh expressions of church


Friday 14 September 2012

Rhythm of Life

Click below to see the VFX rhythm of life in a slightly different format!

Rhythm of Life

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Ric Stott talks about pioneer ministry

Ric Stott is a VentureFX pioneer in Sheffield using creative arts to explore spirituality and faith.  Here he talks about his call to pioneer ministry:

Friday 30 March 2012

The Holy Spirit prevents mission!

The mission of God’s people is always prevented by the Holy Spirit. No, that isn’t as heretical as it at first sounds!  It’s a reminder that the way we use and understand words changes over time.  To our ears the word ‘prevent’ often has a negative meaning, suggesting that something is stopped or hindered. We might say, ‘I was prevented from reaching my destination,’ for example.  But the root meaning is ‘to come before,’ from the Latin venire meaning ‘to come’ with the prefix prae meaning ‘before’.  This was surely what was in John Wesley’s mind when he spoke of the prevenience of God’s grace: it is grace that ‘prevents’ us, or goes before us.  That is a distinctively Methodist emphasis which is especially helpful and relevant in our approach to mission today.

It resonates well with the missiological thinking which underlies much of our approach to contextual and cross-cultural mission today.  Maybe John Taylor’s comment that the missionary task of Christians and the Church means ‘finding out what God is doing and trying to do it with him’,[1] is a more recent re-statement of Wesley’s emphasis on prevenient grace.  When Sue Hope says, ‘Learning how to interpret the Spirit, spotting the footprints of God in the earthiness of the ordinary life of a local community and following them into the unknown is at the heart of true mission,’[2] perhaps she is articulating something similar to Wesley for our contemporary context.

Is the movement of our mission to bring Christ to community or culture, or is to bring our community and culture to Christ? A proper understanding of prevenient grace suggests that neither model is adequate.  A true grasp of the prevenient grace of God and the prevenient activity of the Holy Spirit, will remind us that God is already present in the culture and the community where we intend to engage in mission.  It is a mission which has already begun, because the Spirit has preceded and ‘prevented’ us. So mission is essentially a task of immersing ourselves in and becoming embedded in a culture or community in which God himself is already a willing and long-term participant. It is a necessary consequence of the doctrine of incarnation.  Our mission is, as I heard Neil Richardson express it recently,  ‘the bodying forth, in word and action, of God’s will for the world’.  Perhaps Peter made one of the earliest discoveries of the importance to Christian mission of a proper understanding of prevenient grace when he found that the Holy Spirit was already active in the hearts of Gentiles (Acts 10).

Our task in pioneer mission and ministry is certainly to be innovative.  It is to find creative ways of sharing the gospel in a culture that has largely lost sight of many of the traditional landmarks of the Christian story.  It is to reimagine what being an authentic disciple of Jesus might mean in our community and to dream of what church could become in our context.  But it is God who is the real innovator  - the groundbreaker, the missionary, the planter.  The God of mission whose Spirit preveniently works in individuals and communities to create in them an awareness of God’s loving purposes even before they know it, is the true pioneer missioner.  And Jesus, the Word made flesh, already immersed in the lives of those people and places, is both the ‘pioneer’ and the ‘finisher’ of faith and mission.

[1] John V Taylor, The Go-between God,  SCM Press, 1972, p.55
[2] Cited by Linda Barley, Christian Roots, Contemporary Spirituality, Church House, 2006, p.viii

Friday 16 March 2012

VentureFX report concludes it is something of which the Methodist Church can be justly proud

The VentureFX scheme was recently reviewed in the third year of its life.  The project review report is available to be viewed or downloaded here.  The report was planned by the VentureFX project management group for the purposes of learning from the recent progress of the project.  The report and recommendations will be utilised as one particular input to consider the project learning overall and any future adjustments, and the report itself is not an agreed or official statement of the Methodist Church.

VentureFX pioneer in Milton Keynes on pioneering

Rob Winn is one of the most recent VentureFX pioneers to begin work.  Based in Milton Keynes he is in the exploratory stages, prayerfully discerning what God is doing and reflecting on what mission to young adults in that city may look like.  Here he talks to VentureFX coordinator Ian Bell about his views on pioneering ministry.

Friday 2 March 2012

Facebook discussion of VentureFX review

Interesting discussion about the review of the VentureFX scheme on UK Methodists Facebook page and also an interesting reaction to the review report on Kim's blog

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Setting the compass

At their January Learning and Support day, the VentureFX pioneers were led in a time of prayerful reflection by Dave Saunders, pioneer in Inverness. Dave spoke of the varying challenges to be faced and of the need to be directed and guided by God. He produced a compass (pictured) which was used in our prayers and which will be kept by each pioneer in turn for a month to underline our common sense of needing God's Holy Spirit to help us navigate the uncharted territory that our mission often leads us into.

Dave led us in the following prayer which he had written and which others may find helpful to make their own:

May we know the closeness of Christ wherever we find ourselves. 
May we look to Him to be our compass in life's chaos.
May we lose our need for control.
May we epically fail and still limp on.
May we see our scars as the pioneers map.
May we see things upside-down.
May we sleep at night dreaming of possibilities.
May we wake with energy to undo what needs to be undone
May we breath the rhythm of life.

Every wave surfed, every mic sung in, every paint that dries, every street  walked, every coffee drunk and every meal eaten, MAY IT BE for Christ's gain. 


Thursday 16 February 2012

VentureFX Rhythm of Life

The VentureFX team of pioneers values being part of a shared journey of experience, reflection and understanding about mission which takes the context of never-churched people seriously.  Over the last two years this evolving community of pioneer mission within the Methodist family has been reflecting on the underlying values and rhythms which give direction to the journey.  Recently the group of pioneers has articulated this in a Rhythm of Life.  Our hope is that, in due course, others who share this or a similar journey might find this rhythm to be helpful for their journey too.

We are a pioneer mission movement of the Methodist Church. VentureFX pioneers are committed to journey together and with others as part of an evolving community of pioneer mission. Our work is with those who don’t currently connect with Christian faith or the Church. We are called to be at the edges, where Christian faith can creatively engage with contemporary culture, building the church from the outside in. We seek to invite people to be disciples of Jesus and to live out that discipleship in radical and relevant community with others.

We are committed to a rhythm of life which flows from three core values:

    Innovation - breaking new ground and planting
                         for the future

    Imagination - dreaming God’s vision for what church
                            could become

    Incarnation - immersed in our communities
                          in the name of Christ

We seek to express those values by:

Reflecting on our spiritual journey as disciples of Jesus

Observing a common day for the discipline of prayer and fasting (normally Wednesday)

Gathering together for support, encouragement and learning

Sharing in a retreat to renew our individual and common life with God

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Edinburgh dreams

Lou Davis is one of the latest VentureFX pioneers to begin working with the scheme.  She had previously been leading the C3 community in Stockport but has now moved with her husband to Edinburgh to work with networks of young adults in the city.  She describes some of her early activity:

Part of my reason for being in Edinburgh is to help people who might be new to the city to fit in and find friends. I’m beginning by being a newbie to the city and trying to make friends. I’ve been on the lookout for things that are happening in the city which are interesting, creative and joyful. Some of them I’ve been able to go along to, others I’ve not but I hope to soon! These are presented in no particular order:

Granny Greens

A weekly meet up for crafters. I’ve been along to this a couple of times and hope to make it a regular feature of my week! We’ve met in cafes or pubs and taken a project along to do, or sometimes there’s an opportunity to learn something new, and there’s a book group too. I’ve been welcomed every time I’ve been along, a very friendly bunch!

Edinburgh Cake Ladies

Apparently baking is a trend. I’m just glad that the rest of the world has caught up with what we home bakers have always known … that there’s nothing like a homemade slice of cake. Edinburgh cake ladies (and gents) meet up a few times a year to share cakey goodness with one another. I’m already planning what cake I could make to take along to their next meeting!

Out of the Blue

I went to a Christmas craft market at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall, just off Leith Walk. It was so good, I had to text my vintage and textile loving friend from Manchester to gloat Taking a look at their website, there’s loads going on there, arty stuff, music, dance. I’m sure I’ll be back soon.

Edinburgh Printmakers

Edinburgh Printmakers have a fabulous light open space with equipment for any type of art printing you can think of. I went to their open day at the end of last year and came away excited by the prospect of doing one of their courses. Members can use the studio at any time, and that’s a big incentive as signing up to a course gives you membership for a few months so you can perfect your skills.

That’s all for now but I’ve only just scratched the surface. There will be more to come!