Pioneer Ministry


There has been a number of research projects concerning the work of pioneers. This page gives some details of the results.

Survey of Ordained Pioneer Ministers, October 2016 

The results of this survey need to be seen as provisional pointers to what we are learning about the training, deployment and support of OPMs.



Fresh Expressions across Leicestershire

Building on the research already completed in 2012, and using the same questionnaire the Church Army Research Unit developed, since January 2015 until July 2016 we have collected data from all fresh expressions running up until the end of December 2014. This contains an update of all the fresh expressions of Church from 2012 to December 2014.

Calling Far and Wide Project: Pioneer Ministry. June 2015

The Calling Far & Wide project is formed of a mix of qualitative and quantitative studies, conducted via a series of interviews, focus groups, surveys and diaries by a team from King’s College London. To date, groups of pioneer and HE Chaplain ministers have taken part in the research. Data on incumbent ministers was also collected as part of a previous project. In November 2014, a sample 93 clergy identified as being pioneers were invited to take part in a survey. Willing participants were also invited to take part in a subsequent seven-day diary study. This report is based on survey data collected from 24 pioneers in November 2014; 16 subsequently took part in the diary study during November and December 2014.

The report comments that ‘ On the whole, pioneers felt that they were fulfilling their calling. They reported being called to enact their role in newer and creative ways with the aim of being more inclusive in the wider community and to act as a bridge between the traditional church and the communities / people outside the church:

Pioneers report very clear and strong callings to pioneer ministry

88% of the pioneers agreed that “My sense of call is as strong as it was when I was first ordained”

Pioneers also have personalities traits highly suited to pioneer ministry, reporting to generally prefer seeking novel experiences and proactive entrepreneurship

For example, 92% of the pioneers agreed that being “Open to new experiences, complex” applied to them and 67% of the pioneers agreed that they liked being “a champion for new ideas, even against others’ opposition”


Calling Far and Wide Project: Pioneers Survey. June 2015

The Calling Far and Wide (CFW) project is a collection of studies aiming to examine the activities and experiences of clergy engaged in ministry within Higher Education chaplaincy and Pioneering. This research builds on existing research projects that made a comparative study of incumbents in 2013: The Patterns of Priestly Practice (3P) project. The wider CFW project also seeks to better understand incumbents’ experiences of administration within their roles, which has been identified by both the 3P project and the Experience of Ministry Surveys in 2011 and 2013 as an issue of significance in the life of clergy.

The CFW project is formed of a mix of qualitative and quantitative studies that has been conducted via a series of interviews, focus groups, surveys and diaries. The theme of the research that links the studies is the examination of ‘ministry on the edge’, either in terms of role or in terms of activity. The research has been carried out by a team from King’s College London,

Survey data were collected from 24 Pioneers across November 2014; 16 subsequently went on to take part in the diary study during November and December.

The report commented that ‘Pioneers begin the day feeling generally optimistic and positive about themselves, they engage in activities during the day mainly out of autonomous motivation, and they frequently experience that they are fulfilling their calling.’

A report on the experience of Pioneers, Nov 2010

Between March 2008 and June 2010, seven focus groups of pioneers met across England to

discuss the challenges and opportunities in pioneering fresh expressions of church. Sixty four

practitioners were involved, working in a variety of contexts, including those in cities, towns

and rural areas, developing fresh expressions of church with a diverse range of people and from

a variety of social and economic backgrounds. The criteria for practitioners chosen for this included their proven ability to a start a fresh expression of church. Participants could be lay or ordained, paid or voluntary and were from a range of denominations, however the majority were Anglican.

The report is available at

Church Army Research Unit research on Fresh Expressions

As part of the Church of England's Church Growth Research Programme, Church Army's Research Unit has undertaken extensive research into fresh expressions of Church and their impact and growth.