Welcome to the Starfish network!
The Starfish network is the official name for the learning community of pioneers who have studied at CMS. It’s not an alumni network because you are member when you start, and not when you finish.
We want you to feel encouraged, equipped and supported as pioneers at whatever stage you are in your pioneering journey. But this is about us looking out for, and resourcing, one another. If you’ve got ideas on how to do that, brilliant! Just get some others together and get started. If you’d like any help or support, then do get in touch.
The idea comes from the book The Starfish and the Spider. A starfish network has no head: if you cut one of the legs off, the whole survives and grows a new limb.
We want our network of pioneers to be self-sustaining, responsive to our needs in our different contexts and willing to try stuff out that might not work. I am here to support and facilitate, but it’s success or failure ultimately rests with you, and how much you’re willing to invest to see yourself and your fellow pioneers go from strength to strength in their calling to start new things for the kingdom of God!
I love the story of the person standing on the beach surrounded by starfish. They start to throw them back into the sea one at time. They feel overwhelmed and wonder if what they’re doing is making any difference at all. Yet for each starfish that makes it back into the water, they’ve made all the difference in the world.
I think it’s good for us as pioneers to be constantly reminded of this narrative. I know in my own work in Kingston and among spiritual seekers, I often feel completely overwhelmed by the need I see around me, and totally inadequate in how to meet it. However, I remain faithful to what God has called me to, even if it is just for the one or two, and trust that each encounter is significant. After all, Jesus is the one who specialises in multiplication.
The five ‘legs’
As a helpful reminder of what the Starfish network is all about, I see each of the five points, or legs, as relating to a different activity. They are:
- Centralised touching points
Information on annual gatherings for pioneers put on by CMS and other networks including a retreat, conversations day, Fresh Expressions conference, Breakout.
- Regional groups/interest groups
You might like to set up a group for pioneers in your region or get together others who are engaged in mission to a particular people group, for example.
- Mentoring/skills exchange
I would love to see us mentoring one another and offering specific skills if someone in the network is lacking help in a particular area. I’ve found I’ve learnt as much from being a mentor, as I hope those I’ve been seeking to support have gained from me.
- Sharing resources
A place to share resources that we’ve found useful or materials we’ve created ourselves.
- Disseminating best practice
As well as sharing what’s working for us within the network, we want to tell our stories more widely so that others can learn and be inspired by our practice.
Rhythm of Life
We have decided to develop a light touch rhythm of life for the Starfish Network. We kicked this off with a pioneer prayer by George Lings (below). However, we’d also like to inspire our pioneers to come up with their own pioneer prayers. So far we have had contributions from Susan Blore and Andy Meek.
Jesus, you are the pioneer and perfecter of our faith
Lead us to where we have never gone before
But where you are already at work.
Transform us to become more and more like you
And find you in people and places we had never thought to find you;
Until we see you face to face
And you are all in all.
ANVIL journal of theology and mission
Volume 39 issue 1 is out now, exploring Indigenous theologies including Aboriginal, Māori, Yorùbá, First Nations and more.