Pioneer Ministry in New Housing Areas is a a Grove booklet in the Evangelism series. Written by two Baptist ministers from their experience, it is applicable for Christians from all traditions. It has been written in close association with the Churches Group for New Housing Areas of Churches Together in England.

Penny Marsh is now Mission Enabler for Kent Thameside, South Eastern Baptist Association, and Alison Boulton is Regional Minister, South of England Baptist Associaition and West of England Baptist Association Pioneer Mission Enabler. The subtitle of the booklet is ‘Personal Reflections and a Practical Guide’ – which is just what it is, both for pioneer minsiters in their own ministry and for regional ministers in their work of setting up appointments.

The book begins with a an overview of the new housing agenda and quotes research in to the value of having a pioneer minister when trying to create community. The underlying mission principles are listed, including an incarnational approach, being a ‘blessing to the community’ and being open to not having an agenda. Practical steps for establishing such a ministry are included next for those ministers and priests already in post wondering how to plan for a new pioneer ministry when a development is built.

Practical Steps for Pioneer Ministers is a section drawing on the personal experience of Penny in Royal Docks, London, and Ali in Swindon, as well as a number of other pioneer ministers they are in contact with and their own research undertaken. This includes a list of Do’s and Don’ts as well as further issues to consider.  

Revd Simon Taylor, the Moderator of the Churches Group for New Housing Areas, commends the book saying: ‘The CTE Group for New Housing Areas warmly welcomes the publication of Pioneer Ministry in New Housing Areas and is pleased to encourage those working with new communities to make extensive use of it. Penny March and Ali Boulton write out of their creative experience and their passion for effective and strategic mission. The book gives much practical advice on setting up a pioneer ministry in the context of a new housing area and many ideas for appropriate mission, making it an invaluable tool for those wondering how to do church in a newly built community’.

Revd Chris Ruddle is County Ecumenical officer for Kent and says: ‘For those considering church planting in new housing areas this booklet is a must! It brings together helpful insights for both pioneer ministers and those with strategic oversight. I’ve bought ten copies for my area. I don’t  know how we managed without the insights of this marvellous, practical guide to planting missional communities into brand new areas’.

Fr James Cassidy is a Parish Priest in Milton Keynes and Ecumenical Officer for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Northampton and says, ‘New housing areas come in all sorts of sizes, from small developments to complete towns. Regardless of size the location is in at least one Catholic parish. The priest, and the local community have to cope. The booklet, ‘Pioneer Ministry in  New Housing Areas’ from Grove booklets presents a good starting point for reflection. It is written by two Baptist ministers who have worked in such areas. Grove booklets are not a natural resource for Catholics: they come from an evangelical Church of England group.This should not put people off, the booklet has a solid theological base, but it will challenge Catholics as to their understanding of community and mission in this particular situation.  The book does not directly address the question of collaboration between the Churches – it presumes it. This begs several questions for Catholics: how should we co-operate? what should we do together? what about the Mass?  All must be answered, but the answers should flow from the situation, not be imposed from outside. The key is to be involved with any new development from as early as possible. It is relationships which will make things happen, being with people, sharing their story, not imposing our own’. 

Jim Currin, former CTE staff member and previous secretary to the Churches Group for New Housing Areas says, ‘This book is perfect for both regional minister and pioneer minister alike – bringing together a host of resources, advice and ideas to engage with the challenge of starting a fresh ministry in a new housing area. I’d recommend it to everyone interested in the important topic’.

The book is available from in print and PDF versions – access the direct link.