School of Pioneers – London Diocese

Church Mission Society and London Diocese have joined forces to launch a new school to identify and train lay pioneer leaders.

The Centre for Church Planting and Growth and Church Mission Society are to jointly launch a ground-breaking new venture that will identify and train new pioneer leaders to birth “new churches, for new people in new places” across London.

In 2017 the electoral roll figures for London showed a 13 per cent increase in church membership since 2012, bucking the national trend and demonstrating a clear demand for church growth. The School of Pioneers, which has the backing of the Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Sarah Mullally, will for the first time allow Diocese of London to offer formal training to lay pioneers and testifies to the growing importance of ‘pioneering’ in the Church’s strategy to reach a generation who have grown up in a post-Christian culture.

The School of Pioneers, which comes under the auspices of the Centre for Church Planting and Growth, is aimed at lay people in London, both those currently involved in pioneering, or identified as pioneers within the diocese. The school will offer pioneers the chance to understand their vocation, and gain the expertise, experience and understanding to help them launch and lead fresh expressions of church including missional communities, community projects and entrepreneurships, across the diocese.

The Rt Rev Ric Thorpe, Bishop of Islington and leader of the Centre for Church Planting and Growth, commented: “I am excited by the potential of our partnership with CMS. We are working to encourage a culture of pioneering through church plants, fresh expressions and missional communities throughout the diocese and through the School of Pioneers, we will be able to train and commission lay people to lead new forms of church in new places for new people.

Jonny Baker, director of mission education at CMS, said: “The London School of Pioneers is part of our growing network of training hubs for lay pioneers that we are developing in partnership with dioceses around the country which began with the St Cedd Centre for Pioneer Mission in the Diocese of Chelmsford. They are the result of nine years of sustained success and continued growth of the Pioneer Mission Leadership Training programme that CMS has pioneered from its base in Oxford.” 

Baker continued: “The Church of England now wants a more accessible version of this training based in their own diverse contexts, in order to train and equip their lay people for pioneering mission. The hubs form part of a rapidly expanding network of pioneers across the UK that is changing the ecclesial landscape and influencing the development of pioneer training in other parts of the world.”

Lay pioneers will learn as ‘apprentices’ through reflective practice on practical pioneering initiatives, which for previous pioneers have included using classic cars, boxing, music and the arts, to reach out to those living on the margins and to many for whom church is an anathema. Students will receive training on mission spirituality, contextual mission and entrepreneurship, and their application in practical situations.

Modules offered

The course will be run on six weekends throughout 2019 (a full-day Saturday and half-day Sunday). It is non-residential, based in locations across the Diocese of London.

19-20 Jan: Pioneer mission
 9-10 Mar: Theological reflection
11-12 May: Mission spirituality
6-7 July: Mission leadership
21-22 Sep: Mission entrepreneurship
16-17 Nov: Mission ecclesiology

 To find out more about the School of Pioneers please email pioneer@london.anglican.org for more information.