There is No Map

Pioneer: a person or group that originates or helps open up a new line of thought or activity or a new method or technical development (Miriam-Webster Dictionary) We live in a rapidly changing culture which we are having to learn to navigate.

There is no map.

There is no formula that can be memorized and copied.

And the pace of change is relentless.

Some people are wringing their hands and wondering what this all means for ministry.

Some people are rolling up their sleeves, stepping out into the changing world, and experimenting with mission in this new cultural terrain.

Through experimentation and engaging with people where they are, these leaders are discovering new ways of being the church in the world today. Not displacing people from their cultures and networks, but joining WITH them. Pioneering new forms of mission and ministry where people live and move and work.

The Key to Succeeding in this Daunting Journey

This journeying without a map can be a little daunting.

That’s why Fresh Expressions US has several Learning Communities rolling out this year. Our hope is that we can learn from one another and encourage one another along the way.

In a Learning Community:

  • Presenters offer the content and framework for participants to thoughtfully apply missional principles and postures to their context.
  • Participants connect with others who are on a similar adventure in ministry
  • Participants experience the gift of coaching for discernment and action planning

This past month, the first of 5 Learning Communities rolled out in Virginia. The conversations were a rich time of honesty, discovery, and encouragement.

The ministry contexts were varied. There was a ministry with fellow factory workers to Spanish speaking Bible and prayer gatherings, recovery groups and a Beer Church. All were seeking to live out a new form of engaging neighbors, friends, and co-workers. Some were in the process of discovering a Macedonian call (the who God is inviting them to focus on), and some were much further along the path of fresh expression development. But all shared a desire to see new forms of church emerging in this new mission age.

What People Are Say About Pioneer Learning Communities

“I’ve been saying for a number of years that the future of the Christian church depends heavily on our willingness to meet people where they are, rather than hoping they will enter our sanctuaries.”—Virginia Pioneer Learning Community Participant

“The sessions on How to Start a Fresh Expression and Listening for Mission were well described and extremely applicable to my current context.”—Virginia Pioneer Learning Community Participant

“If you get an opportunity to participate in a Pioneer Learning Community, go for it!”—Virginia Pioneer Learning Community Participant

In January, several more Learning Communities will kick off.

Each Learning Community lasts approximately 8 months and includes a front end and back end retreat with monthly coaching in between.

Find out about the locations and details of these upcoming opportunities HERE.


Shannon Kiser

Shannon serves as Director of Training, leading our team of mission strategists and trainers in the development and implementation of the Mission Shaped Ministry course through Pioneer Learning Communities. She is also a pastor on staff with Riverside Church in Sterling, VA, a Church that worships in two languages and engages in several Fresh Expressions of Church. In the last several years, Shannon has been involved with the Presbyterian Church’s New Worshiping Communities initiative, and has directed the coaching network that supports pioneer leaders. Shannon lives in Springfield, VA with her husband Patrick and teenage daughters Catherine and Suzanne.


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