I wonder if the underlying premise of a Pioneer Minster is someone who is given the freedom to become incarnational in the unchurched culture they find themselves in?
It seems to me that in my role as a pioneer I am given the space and time to learn at a much deeper level the needs and responses that present with in today’s society that if you are running a church there simply just is not the time to do. As it has already been Identified in the fresh expressions literature that 360º listening is key to any act of mission, but how much can one really achieve unless one emerges oneself into the culture, which means letting go of the side of the boat !
Or maybe this is the call of all ministers but what we have created as ‘church’ no longer allows us to do this effectively? Or maybe this is the role of a few, who will leave and then come back and allow the boat to steer in new directions? So should pioneers work with ministers who are within the inherited traditions or should they be setting up culturally relevant churches for those that respond to the gospel?
Although Vincent Donovan’s works are left wide open to these very questions he does posse the question very well, that the work of the missionary (Pioneer) is to preach the Gospel but more importantly than that is to then leave “He or she is there to enable people, if they wish it, to learn about and understand the basic Christian message, the Good News, to baptise those who then ask for baptism, to bring them up to their first Eucharist – and then to GO! It was for these new Christians to work out their own life as church. ‘
John Bowen states that it is a sad fact that Donovan’s methods of inculturation will probably die out, but I believe that this is exactly the point that the methods are exactly that in-culture and therefore as that culture moves and changes as all cultures do the methods employed will also have to change the questions will have to be revisited “What is the Gospel? What does the Church look like? What are the greatest needs of the people? How do we find God?