‘Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.’
In this passage, we see the gifts of leadership working together; the prophets and teachers praying and listening for God, alert for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and the Apostle, sent out by God’s Spirit and the Church to take the message of Jesus Christ into new places.
While often displaying innovation, curiosity, and a restlessness to know what’s beyond the next curve in the road (literal or metaphorical), the apostle is not a maverick acting on their own, but remains in unity and relationship with the Church, and is accountable to it. They have a pioneering spirit, often taking them out of the familiar and into the unknown. It’s a word in fairly common usage in our denomination today, and indicates those who will break new ground. While this may mean going to new places and into different cultures, either overseas or close to home, they often think differently and see the world differently to others in the church, and will spot opportunities in unlikely places. Those with this gift are often found to be innovators of new processes, strategies, structures, and engaged in cultural change as well as church planters and overseas mission partners.
For over 90 per cent of the population of Scotland the Christian faith and message is unknown, and church is an alien environment. We need apostles within the Church of Scotland to find new ways to engage people, to build bridges between church and community, and to go out from our existing congregations to form new, contextual worshipping communities amongst those who are currently beyond our reach.
David McCarthy, former Fresh Expressions Development Worker for the Church of Scotland, reflects more deeply on the role here…
To explore this further, the following resources might be of help.
Church Mission Society https://churchmissionsociety.org/
CMS have been training for ‘mission at the edges’ for many years, and are one of the leading agencies for training in pioneering in the UK.
CMS developed the Pioneering Spectrum, Pioneer mission is…a spectrum – CMS Pioneer Mission Leadership Training (churchmissionsociety.org)
Fresh Expressions Fresh Expressions – Enabling Mission Shaped Networks
The Church of Scotland is one of the denominational partners of Fresh Expressions, who specialise in the formation of new contextual ‘fresh expressions of church’. Now working through a ‘network of networks’ they offer inspiration, training, and community to those involved in this type of mission.
Their network of FX Associates may provide a community for those engaged in this type of ministry.
The Facebook Group ‘Pioneering Scotland’ is an ecumenical network of those involved in pioneering mission in Scotland.
Cairn Movement The Pioneer Course
Hosted in Scotland, the Forge Pioneer Course is a spiritual formation and training process for those who sense that God might be leading them into creating new expressions of church. Through a combination of mentoring huddles, training weekend, in context experience and individual learning and reflection, our aim is to prepare people to launch into what God is calling them to do.
5Q 5Q Central
A hub of resources for Activating Potential, Pursuing Maturity and Sparking Collaboration. In their suite of APEST resources, you’ll find these thoughts on How To Disciple An Immature Apostle
The following books may be helpful.
Being Church, Doing Life by Michael Moynagh, contains over 170 examples of fresh expressions of church, unpacking the principles at work in them.
Reproducing Church by George Lings explores the concept that the basic nature of church is reproductive, and the implications that has if we accept that.
How to Pioneer (even if you haven’t a Clue), by Dave Male is a practical guide to pioneering ministry.
Seeing Afresh, by David McCarthy is a look at the fresh expressions movement in Scotland, drawing on Scottish case studies.