Why and how to pioneer - The Ark

01 October 2021


Vincent and Wilfrid are two buses from which The Ark Bus provides alternative ways of sharing God’s love and demonstrating faith.  In her second blog, Jenny Bourne, the co-ordinator for this pioneering project, looks at the why and how the Ark works. You can read her first blog here



Our aims can be bunched into the following three areas:

We are Storytellers 

We love to talk about ice-cream and pioneering, to help inspire and encourage others to join us in this journey of discovery and wonder. Pioneering is simply the ability to see more than what currently exists, to glimpse possibilities and create new pathways and understanding. Within the Bible and throughout history, there are many people who set off in faith and obedience to God’s call, leaving the safety of their known world and facing risks to journey towards something new. Early Methodism was born of the pioneer spirit, breaking out from and challenging the authority of the established Church at the time.                                                               Pioneering; therefore, is not a new concept yet it is still a largely misunderstood and sharing a language that helps to tell that story can be challenging.

We aim to challenge that by sharing the stories and wisdom from those who have been involved with forming communities that explore spirituality and faith in varied ways. We aim to search for and discover people with pioneering tendencies in all walks of life, those people with creativity, wisdom, and vision. We encourage them to join with us and share in this journey. With them, we seek to: stir up spiritual imagination; provide a platform where it is okay to imagine other ways of being; to envision how we play a part in that. Our aim is to illuminate the presence of God in all things, in all places and with all people.

Some ways we have done this:

  • Running sessions on Zoom and in person using books about pioneering to spark discussion and thought.
  • The Living Room meets once a month via Zoom. It is a place of friendship, gathering and discussion between people who are involved in some way with different expressions of faith.
  • ‘Thoughts from the Ark’ is circulated monthly and shares stories and observations.
  • Talking to individuals and agencies about our aims and exploring how we can work alongside them.

We are Seekers and Gatherers

We aim to provide spaces of radical hospitality which enable people to gather, belong and just ‘be’ with other people. We welcome curiosity and are looking for moments where we can spend time getting to know people, develop conversation and to fully listen to stories. We love to share in the wisdom and learning from these small clusters asking where God can be seen, to share in the struggles and to ask what a community of faith looks like in each of these individual settings. Each cluster has a different feel, yet what is consistent is the sense of belonging. We believe that everyone is unique, valued and wonderfully made, our aim is that the clusters enable individuals to flourish and grow.           

There is no limit to the number or diversity of clusters that could emerge, here we will witness the ‘flavours’ of faith. We will continue to journey with these clusters whilst encouraging and celebrating emerging leadership.

Some ways we have done this:

  • Your City, Your Space was shop unit in the Galleries in Bristol. We created a space during the pandemic where people could come and be still, sit alongside people, develop conversation.
  • Hot drinks and chat out of our vans. These spaces allow the team to build connections with individuals in communities.
  • Rummaging for God. This is a weekly gathering that takes stock of the week and has a simple rhythm of reflection and conversation.

We Celebrate

We love to celebrate and launch confetti bombs of joy, hope and love into communities. We host a range of initiatives that use culturally relevant topics to engage people in conversation and just to draw attention to the fact that ‘church’ can appear in many different guises. We like to form partnerships and we work alongside established models of church, various agencies and anyone who wishes to explore life and community with us. We approach this work with a deep sense of respect for the beliefs and backgrounds of those with whom we work.  We seek for places where similarity between values can be discovered and are constantly filled with wonder at what unfolds and grows.

Some ways we have done this:

  • Working with the Galleries Management team and local schools we hosted the ‘Emerging Hope’ Easter Trail.
  • We packed 3500 Bags of Love at Easter to be distributed to schools.
  • At Christmas over 400 knitted angels and hearts that were given out to people who were struggling with isolation and restrictions.

In each place in which we work, we are sensitive to the local context and needs. We believe that God is at work within our communities and our role is to turn up, pay attention and be intentional about forming relationships. We hold the values of hospitality, inclusivity, respect and welcome fundamental to our work. We remain fully open to possibilities and committed to seeing God in all places.                                                                                                                                              

If you would like to know more, please contact: jenny.bourne@thearkbus.org.uk