A true pioneer

Claire Reetz, one of the Diocesan Missioners for the Gen2 Project, is currently studying for a diploma in Theology, Ministry and Mission at Church Mission Society in Oxford, as part of their Pioneer Mission Leadership Training course. Claire recently did an interview for CMS’s Pioneer blog, and we liked it so much we thought we’d print it here.

Claire, what drew you into pioneering mission?

As a children and families worker, I have a real passion for journeying with young people and families as they learn more about Jesus. I work in a diverse group of rural churches with a heart for children’s ministry, who recognise that we need to be outward facing and serving communities. This simply cannot happen from within the church walls only! Mission for me is discerning and serving God. It is about joining in, listening and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Pioneering mission offers me this and so much more.

You are studying for a diploma in Theology, Ministry and Mission at Church Mission Society in Oxford, as part of their Pioneer Mission Leadership Training. Can you tell us more about this?

The Gen2 Project encourages parishes to pass the baton of faith on to our children and young people. Part of this scheme is an opportunity to undertake further study. When I was considering how this would look for me, I knew I really wanted a place that could help me explore ways of doing things differently, ways to engage with people and a way of reaching beyond the church walls. When I came to a CMS open day, I knew that I had found it. When I saw the phrase “fitting in is over-rated” I felt like they were talking my language! CMS know that Jesus is for everyone, not just for people in church on a Sunday morning, and this is what I base my ministry on.

Claire leading communion at the Little Sprouts Toddler Group

Your role is the Children and Families Worker across the Tove Benefice. Can you say a bit about the churches in the benefice and the families you work with? What does an average day in your role look like or is there no such thing?

I am sure any Children and Families Worker will tell you that there are no two days that are the same! My benefice is made up of churches in a large market town, a large village and three small villages. I get to work and worship alongside a huge variety of people, and I learn from them all in different ways. I love being around people, learning their stories and listening to what faith means in their lives. Pioneering mission is perfect for this!

Working with children has always brought me so much joy, and I am blessed to serve in two primary schools each week. I lead collective worship, do lunch time groups, teach RE and work with smaller groups of children on projects. I run two pre-school groups where we worship and learn in our own version of church, and I am involved in leading our all-age services which happens across the benefice each week.

How did you get involved in Messy Church and how it is going?

Messy Church is both a challenging and rewarding part of my work. I joined a fantastic team of volunteers who had been running it for a while and were doing it really well. Since then, I have spent time reflecting on its purpose. As a Pioneer, I am always looking for new ways of doing things and new opportunities! Messy Church involves food, games and craft activities, which are all time-consuming things to create! One of my favourite sayings is “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing” – and the main thing is Jesus. The crafts and food are lovely but it is the welcome and the message of each session which are really important. I would far rather a child went home knowing more about Jesus than with a complicated craft that took hours to design! We welcome new families into church for the first time at these events so we are focused on making them special and memorable, but for the right reasons.

You are heading into your third term with CMS. How has the Pioneer course been for you so far?

The course so far has made me step back from the everyday and really reflect on my context in a new way. It has made me look at what is working well and feel proud of it, as well as giving me opportunities to think about how I can move forward in new and exciting ways. A huge part of this is meeting people who are both very similar and very different to me. Learning with others and sharing what other people are doing is really refreshing. It is amazing what ideas I come home with after a Monday in Oxford! The course leaders are really interested to find out what I am doing and how I connect with others to develop my practice.

The learning style here is very different to what I am used to. The course has challenged us to reflect on what we think, where we stand and how we can use our learning in our own contexts. It develops different learning styles and offers opportunities to take our learning in a way that is relevant to us. It is fantastic to be learning about things that I can take straight home with me and use in my own ministry.

How can people pray for you?

Please pray for the families in my benefice – that they may be open to a relationship with Jesus and that they feel his love for them. Please pray that children and families’ ministry continues to be a priority in our parishes, and that they welcome new changes and opportunities. Finally, please pray for all children, youth and families workers – that they may be strengthened while working in a vital part of God’s mission.

With thanks to Church Mission Society for granting permission to print this interview. Read more at pioneer.churchmissionsociety.org.

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