Problems with "pioneering" mission

Reflections on the term "pioneer" from Germany, South Africa and the UK


  • Ben Aldous
  • Luke Larner
  • Adrian Schleifenbaum
  • Rajiv Sidhu



pioneer, imperialism, colonialism, mission, power, liberation


This paper brings together four voices in an autoethnographic manner to ask questions about power, and missionary imperialism in the birthing of new contextual churches. These narratives come from three nations, each with a history and inheritance of cultural and missiological imperialism. The narra­tives explore our own wrestling with being men in ecclesial settings, inhabiting spaces of power, while seeking to do so critically. The paper opens up a con­versation about the term “pioneer” as default language in many of the historic denominations in the UK, Germany and South Africa. It explores the use of the term and also asks how the language can be problematic. Finally, it offers the term “pilgrim” as an alternative word which we believe will be more sustainable.

Author Biographies

Ben Aldous

Principal officer for Mission and Evangelism at Churches Together in England, the national ecumenical instrument. Previously he was an Anglican Priest in Cape Town (2013–19), Durban (2010–13) and a church planter in Cambodia (2004–10). Ben is a missiologist and passionate about intercultural church. He has published widely on fresh expressions and contextual theology. He is currently writing a book for SCM Press on the missiology of Kosuke Koyama.

Luke Larner

Anglican priest and ordained pioneer minister, having served as a lay pioneer for some years before ordination. He is currently studying for a professional doctorate in Practical Theology at the University of Roehampton, researching Anglican Missional Pneumatology through action research with Anglicans involved in community organizing. Formerly a bricklayer, Luke is interested in intersectional approaches to theology which engage social class.

Adrian Schleifenbaum

Studied theology in Oberursel, Marburg, Nottingham and Heidelberg. In his dissertation, he analysed the relationship between church and civil society. Currently he lives with his family in Gießen, Germany where he works as a pastor.

Rajiv Sidhu

An Anglican deacon currently studying for a professional doctorate in Practical Theology at the University of Roehampton, researching the relationship between Christofascism and racism within the Church of England through Action Research with Anglicans who have experienced racism. Previously a teacher of geography, rising to Assistant Principal before embarking on ordination training. He continues to be passionate about issues of exclusion, geographical space, class, culture and faith.




How to Cite

Aldous, Ben, Luke Larner, Adrian Schleifenbaum, and Rajiv Sidhu. 2022. “Problems With "pioneering" Mission: Reflections on the Term ‘pioneer’ from Germany, South Africa and the UK”. Ecclesial Futures 3 (1):5-22.