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A new school is being established to identify and train pioneer leaders for the Church of England in London.
The term pioneer was coined to define someone who may not be church staff but was passionate about Christian mission through creative means.
The School of Pioneers is a joint initiative of The Centre for Church Planting and Growth and Church Mission Society and aims to lead to "new churches, for new people in new places" across London.
It's been sparked by a surprise rise in church attendance in the capital.
The latest electoral roll figures for 2017 show a 13% growth in church membership in London since 2012 which bucks a national trend of declining numbers.
The School of Pioneers, which has the backing of the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, will offer formal training to lay people and hopes to reach a generation who have grown up in a post-Christian culture.
The school will offer pioneers the chance to understand their vocation and gain the expertise, experience and understanding to help them launch and lead fresh expressions of church, including missional communities, community projects and entrepreneurships across the diocese.
The Rt Revd Ric Thorpe, Bishop of Islington and leader of the Centre for Church Planting and Growth, commented:
"I am excited by the potential of our partnership with CMS. We are working to encourage a culture of pioneering through church plants, fresh expressions and missional communities throughout the diocese
and through the School of Pioneers, we will be able to train and commission lay people to lead new forms of church in new places for new people."
Jonny Baker, Director of Mission Education at CMS, said:
"The London School of Pioneers is part of our growing network of training hubs for lay pioneers that we are developing in partnership with dioceses around the country which began with the St Cedd Centre for Pioneer Mission in the Diocese of Chelmsford. They are the result of nine years of sustained success and continued growth of the Pioneer Mission Leadership Training programme that CMS has pioneered from its base in Oxford."
Lay pioneers will learn as 'apprentices' through reflective practice on practical pioneering initiatives, which include using classic cars, boxing, music and the arts to reach out to
those living on the margins and to many for whom church is an alien thing. Students will receive training on mission spirituality, contextual mission and entrepreneurship, and their application in practical situations.
The course will be run on six weekends throughout 2019 from January to November.
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