Finding spirituality through community: Lay Pioneer Andrea Campanale on what the new Lay Pioneer pathway is all about

We spoke to Tutor in Mission and Pioneer Ministry, Andrea Campanale about the new Lay Pioneer training pathway and what students can expect from this inspiring new mission-orientated lay ministry course.

“I’m the first licensed lay pioneer in the Southwark diocese Southwark after I became licensed in November 2021.

This year, we’re really excited to be expanding the Lay Pioneer pathway beyond Southwark, bringing in a whole new group of Lay Pioneers.

Lay Pioneering is similar to Lay ministry, except there is a stronger focus on mission, on-the-ground project organisational skills, and how we can go about meeting people where they are in their spiritual experience.

We’re going to be focusing a lot on what our Lay Pioneers are bringing with them into the pathway. Whether you’ve got a project you’ve been dreaming about or perhaps you’ve already got up and running, but you need support and insight to bring it to fruition, this pathway’s going to help you.

Together, we’re going to be generating ideas and solutions to questions like:

  • What’s your idea and how are you going to communicate that to others?
  • How are you going to build a team where you’re going to get your resources from?
  • How are you going to measure success?

This course will hopefully give people a sense of what are the things that they are going to need to do. Who are they going to need to connect with? What are the kinds of skills that are necessary in order to get those kinds of new projects or fresh expressions of Church off the ground?

An example of a Lay Pioneer project; a local skate park

So it might be that you’re working on an estate and you’re conscious of the fact that there are young people hanging around after school. And you’re thinking, “Well, what is it that would engage those young people? How do we start conversations about big life questions?” And so you might think about a skateboarding park, for example.

Then it becomes about thinking…

  • How would you go about communicating your idea? (e.g. liaising with the council)
  • Where would the resources come from? (e.g. fundraising)
  • Who might your potential partners be that you could approach?
  • How would you get the community on side for your idea?

And then, it’s about reflecting on what is it that you set out to achieve in the first place.

  • Are you actually achieving what you set out to with the project that you then create?
  • How you going to measure success?
  • How many young people are going to engage with that facility?
  • What are the opportunities for building relationships with the young people using that facility?

And then how do you build relationships that mean you can have meaningful conversations around big life questions; conversations that might then lead to something more intentionally Christian?

Identifying spirituality and connecting with people through it

Once the project is set up, you might want to ask yourself, “What is the spirituality of the skatepark?” There’s a state that you get into when you’re really absorbed in what you’re doing – in this case it could be your tricks or whatever – called flow.

So then we might ask, how does that flow work? How is that sense of being in the moment relate to faith? Is that something a bit like the spirit, where God meets us? Could this “something” be where we meet our deepest needs encountering the spiritual or the divine?

A lot of the issues people have with the Church today is it doesn’t feel relevant or that it connects with them. A Lay Pioneer approach is about asking how we culturally see where there are opportunities to bring in those encounters. Because these opportunities then enable us to open up conversations where we can bring in that spiritual dimension.

It’s about meeting people where they are. Rather than expecting people to come to church, it’s us saying “What is it that you love? What is it that you enjoy?” And then exploring whether there’s a spiritual dimension to that.

Who will the Lay Pioneer pathway appeal to?

The Lay Pioneer pathway is training for people who, typically, have already done some project organising in the past and who’ve been around church for a while.

Nobody comes as a blank sheet; we all have experiences and we all have things that we’ve done in the past. It’s not just about what I teach; it’s about us learning from one another.

We’re creating a learning environment where there’s mutual peer to peer support, where we can learn from one another as we study this subject together. I’ve been pioneering since 2005 and there’s always something new to learn.

Whatever your motivation might be, this pathway is ideal for anyone looking for an opportunity to explore an end goal that relates to community outreach and mission, in one shape or another.

If that’s the case, you can enter into this pathway and come out the other side with a with a plan, as a Lay Pioneer.”

Check out the course page for the Lay Pioneer training pathway and find out whether this course sounds like the right fit for you. Interested in studying this us? Find out what lay ministry training is like first-hand by attending an open-day style Taster Event.