Pioneers are everyday, ordinary people who have a heart for God and a heart for people. These are people who experiment with new ways of being church with new people in new places. Often, these people keep asking themselves the question, “Isn’t there another way to do church with those who are outside the traditional church?” Maybe they have noticed people or situations that have been neglected by the church, and they think, “I should do something about that!” And they do.
The use of the term “pioneer” by Fresh Expressions is inspired by the image of Hebrews 12:1-2, which encourages followers of Jesus to look to him as “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Pioneers exhibit key signs of their partnering work with the Holy Spirit. Key tendencies to look for in a pioneer are:
- The tendency to be natural connectors
- The tendency to be natural entrepreneurs
- The tendency to be action-oriented
- The tendency to be risk-takers
- The tendency to be idea people
According to Fresh Expressions trainer Craig Williams, “a pioneer is someone who maintains a balance of friendships both in and out of church. They exemplify what Paul writes in II Corinthians 5:18 ‘All this has been the work of God. He has reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has enlisted us in this ministry of reconciliation.’
Pioneers can be introverts or extroverts, they can be young or old, they can be pastors or laypeople. But what all Fresh Expression Pioneers have in common is that they are willing to follow God’s Spirit into their hobbies, their neighborhoods, or the needs of their community and foster contagious goodness and spiritual community right there.