Pioneering: State of affairs

The impact of pioneering on social cohesion and religious development

What is the state of affairs of the pioneering spots that have been started by the Protestant Church? This report (PDF) gives an impression. This state of affairs is not about the numbers. Instead we will focus on what pioneering means concretely in the lives of people. We have done research into social relations and religious development of visitors of pioneering spots.

Early 2020 there are 147 pioneering spots which have started or are in preparation. There are on average 52 people closely involved (once per month or more) in a pioneering spot, of whom about half already was active in a church. In total are now over 19.000 people involved in a pioneering spot.

Research into the impact of pioneering

In preparation of this report there was a research conducted in 2019 among people who are actively involved in a pioneering spot. In total 42 people were interviewed from 12 different places. What is the effect of pioneering spots on the lives of people?

What are the words used when people think of their pioneering spot? This wordcloud gives an impression.

Recognasible Christian

The Christian identity of the pioneering spots is undeniable. It is not always clear from the beginning, but when the respondents get more involved in the spot the role of the Christian faith is clear. What stands out is that, without asking for it, 17 people speak about the open
identity of the spots.

The prevailing view is that in all spots people get in touch with the Christian faith. But not all commit themselves fully to it.


The central question of this research was: what impact do pioneering spots have on social cohesion and the religious development of those involved.

The conclusions are:

  • This research shows that pioneering spots are able to reach people who are not or not anymore in contact with a ‘regular’ church. Therefore they meet the goal of reaching non-practising members of the church and churchless people.
  • Most of the participants in this research have had something to do with a church, no matter how small, at some point in their biography. Apparently it is more difficult to attract people who have never had a relation to the Christian tradition; the exception on this rule if formed by participants with a Muslim background.
  • The pioneering spots mean a lot to the people who were interviewed, both for their sense of social belonging as for their religious development. There really is religious development and new and deeper relations are formed.
  • The theological diversity of the pioneering spot is large. That can be seen for example in the extent to which they are aimed at bringing the gospel to
  • non-Christians. If a pioneering spot doesn’t believe in the last stages of the pioneering journey, it would be good to discuss this. If desired, more support can be given to reach these last stages of the pioneering journey, in a way that is fitting for that spot.
  • The Christian profile usually is clearly visible at the pioneering spot, but at the same time they think it’s important for the participants to feel freedom and room to choose their own way.

Here (PDF) you can download the complete report ‘Pioneering: State of Affairs’