Who is the course for?

How did you get here today? A seemingly ordinary question. Yet, when someone asked it during a CMS pioneer training session, it kicked off an extraordinary conversation.

At this point, the course itself had only been going for a few weeks. Yet one of our pilot students, Andrea from London, described how she was already bored with travelling the same route to Oxford. So that morning, she had tried a different way.

She was not alone. Pretty much everyone else said the same thing; they had turned off their GPS or changed their routes. Just to explore. Just to see what happens when you don’t pick the most straightforward path.

And in a sense, that is what pioneering mission is about. You may know the direction you wish to go, but you would like to get there in a more creative way. You want to listen and learn and experiment. You want to put away the map and chart a different course. Because for you, the journey is just as important as the destination.

This is the pioneer call. And it can be a real gift to the church and to our world.

Yet, pioneering is a gift that is often misunderstood.

We know this from years – make that centuries – of experience. Church Mission Society people today come from a long line of pioneers who refused to settle for the status quo. People like William Wilberforce, John Venn and others who worked together to abolish the slave trade, to fight for the rights of oppressed people at home and to share Jesus with the world.

Sure, today they are considered heroes but in their day, lots of people thought they were… well, “freakishly enthusiastic”.

In other words, they didn’t exactly fit in.

Today, we know from listening to our students that pioneering is an adventure, but it can be a lonely one. Which is a shame because pioneering shouldn’t be done alone. One reason why students like our course so much is because of the community that’s created – this is a place where you do fit in!