Pioneer Leaders Conference 2013

I have just returned from the Pioneer Leaders Conference. So many highlights:

  • Fantastic Worship. Even found myself enjoying that folk music track; though I preferred the Harlem Shuffle
  • Mixed-up delivery: interviews, bible-teaching, testimonies, poetry, group exercises …
  • Strong sense of God’s presence prophetically and for healing.
  • The culture of honour: so many different people leading sessions, young and old, men and women, black and white, given space …
  • The focus on evangelism, mission and church planting, with an emphasis on social and economic transformation of local communities.
  • Stories of remarkable sacrifice and long-term commitment to service.
  • The focus on kingdom above denominational and ministry brands.
  • Value placed on theological literacy. Nice to know that I don’t have to be in an Anglican Church to hear preachers quote from the Church Fathers.
  • An emphasis on discipleship, ministry and mission in the life-place (in business, education, the arts, local politics): ‘Church on Sunday is the gym that trains us for life on Monday’.
  • A strong international presence.

There is general recognition that a few years ago Pioneer (one of the networks birthed by the New Churches movement of the 1970s under the leadership of Gerald Coates) looked like it had run its course. Miraculously it has been given new life (under the leadership of Billy and Caroline Kennedy, of New Community, Southampton).

Not only that, it finds itself in an extraordinary position of favour with the Methodist Church. Like so many mainstream denominations, the Methodists are seeing steady decline and, with the prospect of hundreds of buildings being closed to worship, a remarkable partnership with Pioneer has emerged. Pioneer have been invited to plant new congregations into old Methodist buildings across the country. You can see what’s going on in a Youtube video from Pioneer Network UK.

It was a privilege to be with this remarkable people.



Leave a Reply