Pioneer Team Leader

An exciting opportunity has arisen in the Peterborough Methodist Circuit, where we require a Pioneer Team Leader for a fixed three year contract on a part-time basis. This will ideally suit a person who is able to work flexibly in order to meet the needs of evening work and the occasional Saturday and / or Sunday. The salary being offered is £20k pro-rata’d, which will include pro-rata’d entitlement to 28 days holiday.

Applicants need to have empathy with and a preparedness to work with the ethos of the Methodist Church and its partners involved in this appointment.

The post holder will be experienced in working with teams of people, examining ways of creating a new ecclesial community in deprived areas. By building on relationships built up over the past five years, identify the needs of the fledging group and community and identify forms of worship that enable Church to be established, creating a greater community understanding of God’s love for them and for this ecclesial group to be ready to come under the pastoral oversight of a Methodist Presbyter within three years.

This post requires a person with experience in delivering mission based projects, communication skills and a willingness to help churches to become self-sufficient in mission and creating disciples. Experience in managing projects to fixed time scales and the ability to share and listen to ideas that lead to change management and better process are essential.

The post holder will work within the remit of the Steering Group who are responsible to the Circuit Meeting and Circuit Leadership Team to further the ongoing mission work in one of the UK’s most deprived areas, building a worshipping community that is starting to show the first signs of being a worshipping community. The post will be supported by a number of lay people and the post holder must be a team player ensuring that the project remains owned by the Circuit.

Applicants must be prepared to undertake an enhanced DBS Check if appointed to the post and have a successful outcome as required by the Methodist Church in its Child Protection Policy. There is an occupational requirement for the post holder to be a practising Christian in accordance with the Equality Act 2010: Part 1, Schedule 9. 

Pioneer Minister

We seek a Christian pioneer minister to develop the Faith and Arts Community Experience project.  The post is based in the Michaelhouse Centre and will build on the varied programme of the arts to explore the relationship between the arts and faith, and to build a Fresh Expression of Church.

This is a part time post, 18 hours a week, open to lay or ordained women or men.  The minister will work within a team in the Michaelhouse Centre as part of the wider ministry of the parish of Great St Mary’s the University Church.  The salary is £26,000 pro rata.


Parish Mission Enabler

This post is for a new member of staff to make a positive contribution to God’s mission and ministry at All Saints, Wellington and St Catherine’s, Eyton by building the capacity for evangelism and disciple making within the churches, and by sharing the gospel in the local communities.

Initially they will take time to understand the context of the community and get to know people within the churches.  They will build on this by working with others to develop plans to reach out to specific sectors of the community.  They will take the lead in training and equipping members of the church in mission and evangelism.

We are looking for someone with a living and mature Christian faith who has a track record in fruitful evangelism and in training others in evangelism. 

Hours: 40 hours per week, including weekend and evening working

Salary: £24,000 per annum.  If housing is required, it may be possible to arrange this in lieu of part of salary

Applications close: 3rd July

“Can I be a Pioneer if I am also an Evangelical?” A starter for ten….

Every now and then at Fresh Expressions (FX) HQ we notice a ripple of conversation out there in the ether – and, incorrigibly curious folk that we are – we can’t help but seek the source. So when the virtual jungle drums beat out “Are the evangelical tradition and pioneer identity compatible…?” recently, well – you know what we’re like. So, we tracked down Ray Driscoll, a Pioneer, ordinand and missional muser who wrote a blog that got tongues wagging and asked him to let us be part of the conversation. Here are some of Ray’s thoughts and questions about theological integrity, identity and faithfulness in different forms – lots of our favourite topics, and we would LOVE to hear your responses and comments….

Ray writes:

“Pioneers are defined as those “called by God who are the first to see and creatively respond to the Holy Spirit's initiatives with those outside the church; gathering others around them as they seek to establish new contextual Christian community”. [1]  Moreover, we follow Christ as “the pioneer and perfecter of faith” [2].  Christ’s pioneering is multi-faceted; he pioneered a new way of relating to God, he pioneered a new way of being with others and he pioneered a new humanity. Pioneering is rooted in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Missional at heart and located far from the established church, Pioneers obsess about new things. We are perceptive and observant, reading culture; always looking for an edge to begin to work with. We believe that God is always at work in culture before we arrive. If we listen and wait long enough, we will hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and join with the ongoing work.

The theologian Stephen Bevans surveys six models of mission and the theology behind them[3], and it seems to me that pioneering sits closely aligned to two of these – the anthropological and the transcendental model.

The anthropological model is one in which the practitioner looks to culture to identify the gospel which is already present and at work. They then point to God, already present and at work. The gospel and culture form a partnership, and God works in and through human experience.

The transcendental model is closely related. Assuming that God is implicitly at work in human experience; the discovery of individual subjectivity is the beginning of the journey towards God. Less about learning doctrine, theology is a process in which we grapple with our own existence and the existence of God in tandem. This approach has much to offer us in the post-modern world in which individuals are “spiritual but not religious”.

But bring the evangelical tradition alongside these missional models and definitions of Pioneering – and I see a bit of a problem. The Evangelical tradition is rooted the reformation and the cry “Sola Gratia” (Grace alone).  It is by grace alone we can be saved and not by work of man. This resulted in a shift in emphasis from sacrament to word,[4] and evangelicalism emerged with the emphasis on the word alone intact. By the 20th century, Lloyd-Jones argued that within the evangelical tradition one must begin and submit only to scripture: “the evangelical distrusts reason, and particularly reason in the form of philosophy”. [5] Evangelicalism in this era has been characterised by a reluctance to see creation, ecology and social issues as Christian priorities.

The ‘scripture alone’ principle naturally influences the missional model adopted by evangelicals. Bevans calls this the translation model. The gospel has a core, coming to us wrapped in the culture from with it emerged. The practitioner unwraps the gospel from the culture and then rewraps it with the target culture. 

Evangelicalism has become more nuanced since Lloyd-Jones gave this address in the 1970s. However, Lundin highlights that whilst evangelicalism has softened to culture, there is still a failure to engage at the cutting edge. The pattern has been “for new theories to surface and circulate for a decade or more before evangelical scholars begin to appropriate them”. [6] (An example of this from my own life can be seen in ‘The Simpsons’ – rejected by evangelical friends whilst I grew up, and now used as a Youth resource!)

So, can I be an evangelical and a pioneer when the pioneer approach to creation and culture seem incompatible with evangelical theology? We operate at the forefront of cultural change and innovation, yet evangelicals situate themselves a way back from the frontline – wavering from outright denial to caution at best. As Pioneering establishes itself in the Church of England, the challenge to develop a coherent theology and methodology is on!”

Well, that’s given us something to think about! How about you? Let us know your thoughts….


Interview by Hannah Skinner

You can find Ray Driscoll's blog at​



[2] Hebrews 12:2, NIV

[3] Stephen B. Bevans, Models of Contextual Theology, 2002

[4] Louis Berkof, Systematic Theology, 607.

[5] Martin Lloyd-Jones, What is an Evangelical?, 44.

[6] Lundin, Roger, The Arts, in McDermott, Gerald R, The Oxford Handbook of Evangelical Theology, 427.

Hopeful, Painful & Honest – Rural FX Conference report

As your roving Fresh Expressions (FX) explorer, ponderer and reporter-at-large, I consider myself a fairly clued-up cookie. I’ve seen enough FXs to know that each one is different, and that context is crucial. So it was with a growing sense of sheepishness that I drove the couple of hours it took to get from my city-gal life and over the Peaks to join the FX Rural Gathering. “Crikey…” I thought as I drove further and further away from the towns and cities, “This is A LONG WAY from the city!” As I passed a church, and then a few houses, and then a lot of fields, and then a lot more fields, and then another church…. The point was brought home with every passing farm/sheep/wiggly mountain road – FX Rural is about a totally different context with very different challenges, and whilst the underlying principles may remain the same, the need for specific resourcing and space for practitioners became ever clearer. 

“These days have been a breath of fresh air” I was told as I arrived, “to be with other people who understand the rural context – who know the challenges, but are also hopeful.” And this really set the tone for my visit to the gathering, which was already in full-swing with a mix of workshops, worship and lot of space in between to engage with others and share the journey together. “I feel like the sun has broken through the clouds”, another FX gatherer told me, “these days have been gentle, reflective and intentional – we’re all here to really listen to each other. I feel excited and energised!” The sense of hope was palpable – a clear sense that more people are becoming involved in FX on the rural scene, that the ‘mixed economy church’ (i.e. the old and the new alongside each other) is flourishing, that signs of God at work through rural practitioners are abundant.

And that is great! Everyone needs hopeful spaces and encouraging times. However, giving depth to the gathering was the simultaneous acknowledgment of the lows as well as the highs – the difficulties, the sadness, the failures, and the courage required to keep going at times. “We’ve heard the pain and the hope”, one of the organisers reflected to me – “there’s been no whitewashing of the difficulties.” Courage and honesty about the times that feel hopeless, held and heard alongside stories of hope and times of celebration is a powerful thing – and these two themes wove through the gathering as clearly as the rhythms of the seasons weave through the rural context and experience. 


“People are being really open about failure and brokenness”, Bishop Chris Edmondson – who, alongside Jerry Marshall, CEO of the Arthur Rank Foundation, acted as a ‘conference companion’– reflected over a cup of tea. “Jerry and I are here to listen and reflect back the main themes of the gathering, and what we’re hearing is honesty, courage and an understanding that God will honour the willingness to take risks, even when things don’t work out as planned. There are brave people on the rural scene going into places with no vision or hope and changing things radically. They need courage to hold their nerve in the face of opposition, courage to endure, and courage to realise and accept when things need to die.” Courage, yes – but also resourcing and support, and this was equally evident at the FX rural gathering. 

Over the coming months we’ll be bringing you more views and stories from the FX rural gathering. Look out for reflections on worship in FX contexts, discipleship and how to ‘end well’ when it becomes clear that things aren’t working. But for now, I’ll leave you with words from a Rural gatherer and the promise that at FX HQ we are committed to sharing the hopeful and hopeless times with you – and will soon update details of local and regional gatherings where you can link up and share the journey with fellow pioneers and developers too:

“I’ve loved the honesty, and I’ve loved the times to listen and be heard. Sometimes my work can feel really lonely, so to be reminded that I am part of a community of people working in rural settings who feel the same has been a real blessing.”


Article by Hannah Skinner