Rev Simon Goddard, a Baptist minister from Fresh Expressions UK, will be visiting Perth to share his experiences and knowledge in pioneering ministry and church leadership.
Simon will be a keynote speaker at two events in March: The Pioneer Ministry Gathering; and Tools for Resilient Church Leadership in Changing Contexts, which will also feature Rev Dr Adam McIntosh, the Associate Director of Mission (Pastoral Care) for the Uniting Church Queensland, and Peter Kenyon, from the Bank of IDEAS.
Brought to you by the Uniting Church WA’s Thrive Mission Committee, these events will encourage those attending to explore Pioneer Ministry, while sharing their own experiences and learning from each other.
As the name suggests, Pioneer Ministry is all about heading into new territory in Christian ministry.
We know the church is declining and that it needs to start doing things differently, and Pioneer Ministry is right in the midst of that.
Pioneer Ministry, Simon said, is people getting out there amongst the community, connecting with people, and connecting with God – who is already at work in that community.
“To contrast it between what you might call an inherited model of church, where you have your service, your preaching and invite people to come to church, this is much more about people going to a group of people or to a community, living amongst that community, making friendship, loving and serving, listening to the needs of that community, and the church growing in the midst of that community.
“It’s about contextually relevant churches emerging amongst groups of people.”
Rather than trying to convince people why they should join the church, Pioneer Ministry would see the church going to the people, to be part of the community first.
“It’s a different approach to church planting. In church planting there’s a model in mind, whereas pioneering doesn’t have a model in mind,” Simon said.
“One of the phrases in pioneering is about seeing what God is doing amongst a group of people and joining in.”
One of the benefits of taking up a Pioneer Ministry is that it is not necessarily something an ordained minister needs to lead. Simon said that all it really needs is people who are willing to get out there and try something new, and be willing to measure success in new ways.
“There are people that are particularly called to be a bit more of a risk taker, but one of the things we found in the UK is that most of the people engaged in pioneer ministry are lay people. A lot of people within our churches say ‘oh, I can do something.’
“One of the things that defines pioneering is a spirit of experimentation. Some things work and some things won’t.”
During the National Pioneer Gathering, the Thrive Mission Committee will also be launching the Godsend Australia app. Already in use in the UK, this app will be customised for an Australian audience.
The app was developed as a training and discipleship tool, both for people who are undertaking Pioneer Ministries, and those who are new to faith.
“It could be used by individuals who are starting to pioneer, to reflect on what they might do,” Simon said.
“It’s also useful for discipleship, so if people are coming to faith within a fresh expression then this helps them to work out what a fresh expression is, and what church is.”
Simon is passionate about meeting people where they’re at, and sharing his message with others wanting to do the same.
“I’m passionate about Jesus, and I want to share that with others, but I think we need to do that in a relevant way. Some of the ways that we do church doesn’t do the message that we have any justice.
“My passion is for the people that aren’t in church. If we’re going to connect with those people, and we believe the message that we have is appropriate and relevant for those people, then we need to communicate it in ways that are relevant.
“The challenge is, the people who are in church like it the way it is. We’ve got this huge missing generation of millennials.
“Unless we do things differently, the church as it is, is really challenged. I think the church as it is will change anyway, but we need to be less concerned about ourselves and more concerned about the people who aren’t in church.
“And that might mean that we need to change. We might need to do things that are unfamiliar.”
The National Pioneer Ministry Gathering will be held from Thursday 26 to Sunday 29 March, at Trinity on Hampden, Perth.
Tools for Resilient Church Leadership in Changing Contexts will be held from Sunday 29 March to Wednesday 1 April in Bunbury.
For more information on these events, contact Rev Greg Ross, Chair of the Uniting Church WA Thrive Mission Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Top image: Thanks to Pioneer Ministry, a church in Cornwall, UK, is flourishing after the building was made available to local skateboarders and surfers. A skating ramp has been installed inside the church, which attracted 200 young church-goers to its worshipping community over Easter last year.