Transforming the communities of Essex & East London through Christ’s presence

Colchester is one of the fastest growing towns in the south-east and the church is looking to respond to the opportunity and challenge the huge population influx brings. In recent times numerous small pioneer initiatives have emerged, often led by lay men and women from varying denominations. These leaders are often isolated, working outside the existing parameters of church.  The Colchester Pioneer Hub has arisen as a response to the need for these pioneers to come together for mutual support and encouragement along with the sharing of good practice.

Pioneer Hub Gatherings

The Pioneer Hub gathers at different times a year, offering a valued opportunity for networking,  prayer and to identify ongoing training and resourcing needs.

Mini Hubs

Alongside the main Hub gatherings pioneers are encouraged to participate in smaller mini-hubs, where leaders of up to three projects commit to meeting up every six-eight weeks for mutual support and accountability, sharing highs and lows, stories of what God is up to and seeking God’s presence through prayer for one another.

A pioneer initiative in Shrub End, bringing local residents together on one of the parks

Missional Accompaniment

Where helpful there is further opportunity available for missional accompaniment on a one-to one basis, drawing on the example of the early Celtic Christian anamchara (soul friend) alongside that of contemporary reflector-mentor-coach. 

 The Hub offers a number of Retreats and Quiet Days during the year across at the Annex, Assington or Hammonds Farm,  Fordham.  Each term a series of Prayer Dinners are arranged (evening meal, conversation and prayer for one another, followed by a time of quiet listening to God to seek His wisdom). There are also a couple social events organised for pioneers and their families during the year taking people out into the countryside for a relaxing and enjoyable time together.  

Ongoing training:
Theological and practical training is also offered in response to the ongoing needs of pioneers. This includes the Mission Shaped Ministry Course. MSM Course sessions include topics such as:       Mission Context; The Mission of God; Vision Values and Call; Starting something new; Listening for mission; Gospel and Culture; Team roles and behaviour; Discipleship; Growing to maturity. 

See below for more details:

Mission Shaped Ministry Course

Commencing October 5th 2019 - St John’s Church, Colchester

Description: An effective resource for those who have already begun church planting and those who are in interested in beginning, running for a number of months from Oct ’19 – July ‘20   over 6 Wednesday evenings, 3 Saturdays and 1 weekend away,( see )                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Feedback from several local pioneers who have just completed the first run of the course includes:

“The joy of being with other like-minded people, passionate about mission

“As we engage with people in our communities and put the principles we are learning into practice, we’re seeing the kingdom grow”

“Having a certificate after a year-long course gives us pioneers recognized permission/authority to do what they’re doing”                                            

For further information please contact: Janie Beales, Colchester Pioneer Hub Leader or 07970 143653  

Review of MSM Course: Nicky Sirrett  (St John’s, Colchester)

Mission can be a lonely place. It can feel like you are the only one who has ever tried this, that the challenges are greater than everyone else’s, a place where faith and doubt go hand in hand. MSM course is affirming, supporting and challenging at the same time. Its greatest strength is the participants! Meeting other pioneers who are facing the same issues and struggles is a revelation in itself; people who are at very different points along the pioneering road, who have experienced the low points and successes and share a passion for mission. 

The course itself gives great context and framework. The materials are excellent - well-structured, engaging and with a breadth and depth that benefit from further personal reflection and small group discussion. I have particularly valued the biblical basis to every   session, the range of subjects that are covered, from establishing the vision for your project, the tricky issues around building a team and coping with resistance from other Christians through the often neglected step of moving a pioneer project into maturity, or not! The range of speakers has also been fascinating with their diverse backgrounds and contexts, but all with experience of, and a heart for mission. I particularly appreciated the speakers’ abilities to put their stamp on the course materials. The course is designed for busy pioneers - meeting once a month is practical and manageable.

I believe I’ve become a more resilient pioneer, more prepared for the setbacks and more focused on what God’s plan is - not going in with fixed ideas, but ready through prayer to be patient, listening and discerning. We are also a group who have learned a shared language of the pioneer. Through this, we will continue to support each other and rejoice together in being God’s hands and voice wherever He has placed us, affirmed through the MSM course in our heart for mission.

For more information please contact Janie Beales
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