Ali Dorey, Fresh Expressions Director of Training: Since 2007, the mission shaped ministry course has been inspiring, encouraging and challenging people to really engage in the mission of God.
For mission shaped ministry in its classic form, people will turn up from their local churches or fresh expressions of church to meet together, to share stories, and to learn more about the mission of God.
Debora Marschner, former msm student: I found that the msm course was really not just enriching me in terms of theology but also in terms of my own faith, my own ideas about mission and what we are about as a church – and the discussions with other people were really helpful and useful to find out from different contexts and different settings what people could do, what is possible and that there's no limits to explore where God is at work in our churches and outside our churches.
Ali Dorey: The one thing the mission shaped ministry course does really well is it helps people to reflect on what they're finding out about the mission of God as they put it into practice in their context.
mission shaped ministry is a year-long course, which may sound like a big time commitment to you but if mission is really important to you, this course will guarantee that you spend quality time with other people exploring the mission of God and finding out how to join in.
Jonathan Dowman, Pioneer Development Worker, Diocese of Leicester: msm flexi is a way of delivering the mission shaped ministry material but in a small group in a particular context of a group of maybe half a dozen, or a dozen people, where - rather than have a front-led, sort of didactic teacher-led input - actually we sit round a meal table and explore the material together. Rather than having a folder and going away and maybe referring to it in time when you start a fresh expression of church, we actually gather, eat, share the material together with the assumption that the group that are sitting around the table will be actually putting it into practice the next day or the next week.
Those who would benefit from msm flexi would be either those churches where they've got half a dozen or so people, so you've got a small team who are already aware of fresh expressions and already would like to start something but aren't quite sure what it is going to be yet, but they've already made [some] of the journey into being a community who wants to start and they've got some people in mind already who would be leading and shaping that community. Or it's for those communities for whom they are unlikely to be drawn into a city centre or the centre of a diocese or a location because it's too far for them to travel or they're not able to travel. So instead of expecting them to come to something centrally based we might actually go to them.
Simon Goddard, Regional Baptist Minister: I've been involved in msm classic for a couple of years now in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk and was impressed with the content. I knew there were some people I was in contact with across the country, through my Baptist networks, that were some distance from established venues for mission shaped ministry courses. I was inspired to see whether offering an online version of msm in the UK was possible. And it started from there, and has developed from there, and found the proper online space and the resources to enable that to happen.
The way that we have organised it is that it's run for groups up and down the country so a group of people, say up to five people from a church or from a group of churches, will sit in their lounge or perhaps in a room in the church – a place with internet access. And they will access that virtual meeting space online where the teacher will be teaching live and they will be asked by the tutor to discuss amongst themselves answers to some of the questions and how it applies in their context and are able to respond and ask their own questions in that virtual space so in many ways it's very similar to the established course.
msm online is ideal I think for those churches in rural places which are perhaps some distance from the established course centres but also I think msm online, using that virtual meeting space, enables perhaps the msm content to reach a demographic that hasn't perhaps necessarily been reached before – perhaps a younger demographic, people who are much more familiar with the online space and are comfortable in that.
Debora Marschner: For the coming year I've been asked to teach on the course and I'm really excited about that – even though it's a bit daunting as well! But to be able to share some of that experience and some of that expertise but again to learn from the participants and their settings and together realise that we are already doing lots of good stuff and to have confirmed really that God wants us and calls us and equips us for what we need to do.
Ali Dorey: I often meet people who feel that if we just try harder and work more, everything will be OK. mission shaped ministry gives us a chance to stop, to reflect, to really listen to God and to each other; to discern where God is at work and how he is calling us to join in. This is a good investment!