Northern Mission Centre

The Northern Mission Centre was launched on 25th July 2019 and is a new collaboration between God for All and Church Mission Society (CMS). We run a number of creative and innovative learning events to help people reimagine ministry and mission, serving Cumbria, the whole of the North of England and Southern Scotland. We are pioneering at heart supporting both Time Honoured and Fresh Expressions of church, to reach deeper into the communities they serve. 

Our current flagship course is The Certificated Pioneer Mission course which started in September 2020 with a cohort of eighteen students from across the north of England and Scotland. The certificate designed and awarded by CMS provides a foundation for pioneering mission. It is designed to be the sort of training that we might conceive of as street university education. We like the idea of ‘street’ because it indicates it relates to a place, a context, to a community, to life on the road, to the real world, to somewhere where mission is being grounded. Everyone who does the certificate will be in a community that they care about and want to help make good through joining in with God’s mission in that place. We like ‘university’ because it takes seriously the importance of learning. There is a wealth of wisdom, ideas, experiences and reflections, and indeed a long line of those who have gone before who can shed insight on the challenges of pioneering mission which we draw on. ‘University’ also points to there being a community of learners – learners not being on their own. In the CMS certificate there is so much to be learned through the friendships and community that grows with other learners. The relationship between ‘street’ and ‘university’ crucially underlines that the model of learning is about the relationship between practice and reflection or action and reflection. 

It’s a diverse and creative learning group and the 2020/21 cohort includes those in lay and ordain ministry, full time, part time, and extra time, paid, underpaid, unpaid and self-funding through to missional enterprise. Current students include: youth workers, children’s ministers, retirees and those pioneering whilst holding down jobs or managing family commitments. Current projects include Fresh Expressions of church with young people, Messy church in schools, art projects, creative journaling, meditation groups and social action projects to name a few. 

Why train with the Northern Centre?

As a partnership between God for All and the Church Mission Society, we are able to offer an authentically northern pioneer approach embedded in practice.

With over 112 fresh expressions in Cumbria, we are widely recognised as leading the way in innovative mission and pioneer practice.

Penrith is strategically positioned to be accessible to the majority of the population in the North of England and South of Scotland.

There are six weekend modules which run bi-monthly with small groups running in-between. This year we ran the modules outlined below, but we are also exploring modules in Rural Ministry or Pioneer Spirituality depending on the cohort. (Dates given below are provisional).

Sept 25/26th 2021 – Pioneering Mission

There are many ways to come at mission but we use John Taylor’s description of mission as an adventure of the imagination to unpack mission in today’s world. There will be a mix of exploring contextual mission and theology to grasp some of its themes; a look at mission that crosses cultures; and a consideration of pioneering mission practice in our own situations and contexts and how to develop a strategic approach to discern what God is doing and to join in. The particular gift that the pioneer brings will be explored in the light of this mission.

Nov 27/28th 2021  – Doing Theology / Reflective Practice in Context

This module introduces the idea of theology as a quest and a practice, a verb rather than a noun, something engaged in by pioneers in their context. It will introduce some ways of doing theological reflection that we hope will help develop the pioneer as a local theologian in their community. It also pays particular attention to culture with an introduction to skills in understanding and analysing context, and integrating theology with pioneering practice.

Jan 29/30th 2022 – Church In Mission

We are in an odd situation where it seems possible to talk about the church and mission as though they are separate entities. What would church be like if it was missionary by nature (the Catholic phrase from Vatican ii), if church and mission were not so separated, if church was mission shaped? This module will explore the nature of the church in mission, particularly looking at the theory and practices surrounding mission shaped church or Fresh Expressions. And it will look at local examples of creating new church communities as case studies for how this is working out on the ground.

March 26/27th 2022 – Reading The Bible

This module will take an overview of the bible story as a story of mission. It will take a particular look at the mission of Jesus and the early church in Luke-Acts. And we will consider reading the bible – both by way of practice i.e. how do we read the bible ourselves and in our communities?; and by way of understanding – i.e. how do we read the bible to make sense of it?

May 21/22nd 2021 – Missional Leadership

This module will explore different approaches to leadership, including the 12 leadership strengths needed for effective change and the importance of collaborative leadership. It will draw on Nazareth Manifesto as we explore how leadership needs to move from something done “to” or “for” people to something done “with” people and offer theological reflection on being in the middle.

July 9/10th 2021 – Missional Entrepreneurship

The module focuses on innovation through social and missional enterprise. Its focus is on how to innovate in a gap/space to create something from nothing to make that dream/idea viable. It includes working on real projects through the weekend finishing off with a dragons den style pitch. Sessions explore social and missional enterprise – what it is, where it’s come from and how it sits with a theology of mission; developing the big idea; foundations for business – mission vision and values; resources, team and monetary models; communication; measuring impact.

The cost of the course is £300 for those in Cumbria and £600 for those out of county. A bursary is available to help students who may not be able to afford the fees. 

Meet some of the CMS Students

“I liked this approach to training as its an apprenticeship style model with creative and written assessments for each module and therefore it appealed to my style of learning. Plus I could fit the monthly teaching time into my busy schedule. I have really appreciated taking time out to focus on what I need to know about mission and the fact that I meet with other like-minded people is very encouraging and supportive.” Belinda, pioneering ‘Women without walls’ student on the pilot year of the CMS hub in Chelmsford Diocese.

“CMS is a place where ‘abnormal’ is the norm. The CMs pioneer training team exists to encourage and build up those who see new or unique ways of doing mission and living out the love of Jesus. As a student at CMS , I feel strongly that I’m where God wants me to be.My natural talents are being fostered and I’m challenged to think way outside the box.” Bryce, initiator of the Hope station at Frome Market and leader of Live Lounge, student on the Foundation degree course in Oxford.


As well as the Certificate, The Northern Mission Centre we will also be running a number of creative learning days and reworking our highly rated #FXCUMBRIA event that usually gathers over 100 people to explore Fresh Expressions of Church from across the region. The best way to keep in touch with these events is via the FXCUMBRIA facebook page or Diocese of Carlisle ENews which you can sign up for here.

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