“So they proclaimed this message and spread it throughout their towns…” Nehemiah 8:15
While some congregations have a desire to develop church planting and some Presbyteries have identified specific areas as vital to be present in our witness, often assistance is needed in identifying suitable individuals to initiate this work. To that end, we are launching a new pathway for individuals in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland who feel called to this specific kind of missional endeavour.
Pioneers are those who go first, pave the way and initiate connection with those outside the church to engage them with both the gospel and Christian community. We are praying for those who would carry a vision for this kind of mission work across this island to be identified and equipped in order to “proclaim this message and spread it throughout [our] towns.”
The Council for Mission in Ireland wishes to identify and release those who can be involved in the sphere of evangelistic outreach or church planting. We are seeking suitable pioneer evangelists and church planters to serve in this way as called workers who are assessed, apprenticed and accountable by the church. Following training for such service, these ‘Mission Pioneers’ may receive a call to a defined area of service to enable the development of new congregations or fresh mission activity in areas lacking strong Christian witness.
Mission Pioneers may serve in various settings across Ireland under the auspices of either a congregation, presbytery or CMI to assist with church planting or other outreach work. The process for an individual seeking to be a mission pioneer is outlined below.
Stage 1: Application
To be considered to work under the Council for Mission in Ireland in the capacity of missional auxiliary ministry, the following is necessary:
- A completed application form;
- 3 references; including from a candidate’s minister on behalf of Kirk Session
- Endorsement by presbytery.
Two deadlines are set each year (28 February and 31 August) to enable assessment to be completed in time for apprenticeship to commence in either the following September or January.
Stage 2: Assessment
In order for a candidate to be approved to serve in this capacity, the following is necessary:
- Initial discussion with applicant to assess experience and discuss process.
- Assessed placement / apprenticeship in a planting or pioneering setting.
- A written reflection on a book or lecture focused on mission.
- Formal interview with representatives from CMI to include verbal presentation, set questions and a case study test to assess team dynamics.
- Name agreed by the Council for Mission in Ireland.
To become a ‘called worker’, candidates must be communicant members of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and be in sympathy with its theological positions; have a sense of vocation under the call of God to the special service of Jesus Christ and his Church; and be approved in respect of character, ability, health and education by the Council for Mission in Ireland.
Stage 3: Apprenticeship
As part of the assessment, each candidate will be placed in a church-planting apprenticeship within a ‘hub congregation’ or pioneer mission project identified by CMI. Apprenticeships will last for an agreed time period of up to 6 months and may happen in a part-time capacity with a minimum of 10 hours involvement each week to be combined with continued employment or ongoing training. A report from the supervising minister is required on completion.
Stage 4: Training (Ongoing)
To better equip candidates, each Mission Pioneer will be required to undertake suitable training, which may include specific modules run in collaboration with the Institute for Ministry at Union College in areas such as preaching, pastoral care, cultural engagement etc. Be-spoke training in church planting and missional practice may also be offered by CMI or signposted to other credible training programmes. There is an expectation that ongoing training is an essential requirement of this ongoing role.
Stage 5: Deployment
On completion of application, assessment, apprenticeship and initial bespoke training, CMI will give final approval on candidates to become part of a pool ready to be appointed to local work as opportunities arise. When such opportunities become available, a call may be issued to a Mission Pioneer by the Council for Mission in Ireland, sustained and presented by the relevant Presbyteries in order to be placed in a local work identified in collaboration with a presbytery or congregation.
Each Mission Pioneer would work under the oversight of a Kirk Session and the guidance of a supervising minister, while benefitting from ongoing support from the Council for Mission in Ireland. Each role will be jointly-funded by CMI and local funds for an initial 5-year period. The salary scale will be initially placed at Band B4 with CMI part-funding up to 3 posts at any one time. Beyond the initial 5-years, additional support could be sought through a CMI mission grant to supplement any finance within a developing church plant. Consideration may also need to be given to an allowance for housing in some cases where the pioneer work requires relocation.
Stage 6: Ongoing Support
Each Mission Pioneer will also be offered additional accompaniment and support through CMI, such as:
- Church Planters Network: A network of accompaniment for those currently and actively involved in leading church planting initiatives within PCI. It offers pastoral accompaniment and strategic input through peer learning and training input.
- Coaching or mentoring: An experienced and wise mentor who can walk offer support, guidance and prayer support will be assigned to each Mission Pioneer.
As any new work develops, Mission Pioneers may apply to enter a flexible pathway to ordained ministry along the way. It is also possible that they could be released to develop a new pioneering work elsewhere, handing an already established church plant over to an ordained minister to lead towards maturity.