It’s a question that we as the UK Core Team have been repeatedly asking ourselves and the Holy Spirit. Why does Pioneer exist? Why are we still here, nearly forty years on from when we first started, brimming with hope and expectation for all that God was about to do? Inevitably, with a name like Pioneer, we’ve found ourselves wondering, are we still pioneering? Is that truly who we are? And are we still needed?
Now more than ever, with the recent loss of Gerald Coates and Christine Noble, we want to be certain that we are still fulfilling a call of God upon us as a network. We believe it was God who breathed us into existence when Gerald founded Pioneer back in 1984. And we feel certain that God still has a purpose for this movement. We believe the Spirit wants to move through the vehicle of our network to make an impact here in the UK and in nations around the world.
Looking back at the history of the “new church movements” such as our own, you could be forgiven for thinking that we were all about changing the church. There was a lot of excitement about breaking free from religious traditions and embracing what we saw as a more authentic experience of New Testament Christianity. So much of what was championed by the likes of Gerald and Anona Coates and John and Christine Noble in Pioneer, alongside many other great “restorationists,” has made a lasting impact on the church of today, right across the denominational spectrum.
But surely the goal was never to change the church for the sake of it, just so that we could enjoy it more. The church’s commission is to make disciples of all nations as we live together in the power of the Spirit with Jesus as our King. We know that one day this world will be made new and all of creation will live in complete harmony with our God of perfect love. But, for now, we know He has sent us into a world that is still broken. The God who sent himself to us in Jesus, now sends us in the power of his Spirit. He sends us to all who do not know him; to those who have never experienced his love. He sends us that they might be reconciled; that through the gospel of Jesus and his kingdom, they might discover their identity as sons and daughters of God.
Pioneer is not a church community. It is a relational network that seeks to serve autonomous local churches. But if local churches exist primarily for the gospel, then that must also be true of Pioneer. If we want to fulfil our commission as God’s people to make disciples of all nations, then we must fill the world with Spirit-empowered, disciple-making communities! And so, as we have asked ourselves and the Holy Spirit why on earth we still exist, we have arrived at the following answer:
“Pioneer exists to take the gospel into new places and spaces.”
We are a relational network that connects, inspires, and equips churches to make spirit-filled disciples and see kingdom transformation in creative and innovative ways across geography and generations. We are not here to simply support and maintain that which already is. We are here to help each other to reach new people and plant new churches. And the truth is, despite all the challenges we’ve all faced over the past couple of years, God is still doing some pretty amazing things though his church. We believe that God is still calling and sending his church to embody the gospel of Jesus and his kingdom in the midst of a broken and hurting world. And we believe that He is still calling us as Pioneer to play our part in serving God’s church; to play our part in serving you as you take the gospel into new spaces and places.