Sunday, January 22, 2017

writing in 2016

Writing is essential to my role as teacher and academic. Writing allows me to place ideas in the public domain. It is one thing to develop ideas in front of students and over the water cooler at work. It is quite another to discipline these into a coherent whole. Writing invites me to be accountable, exposes my ideas to review, comment and feedback. It is a discipline, one I have worked on cultivating over the past few years.

So as the 2016 year ticks over, it is always interesting to reflect on progress. During 2016, I had five things published, including one book and four printed articles. Each had a unique journey, which in itself says something about my location and how I work.

The book – Built for Change: A Practical Theology of Innovation and Collaboration – began with a book proposal, which was accepted by the publisher in August 2015. I really wanted to write a book about change based on real stories of real people. My location is Australia and New Zealand and I was delighted to find an Australasian publisher, allowing me to reflect theologically on local stories. The writing happened over the final months of 2015 and into early 2016. This period also included shifting countries. The move both helped my writing, giving me different perspectives, but also hindered, with the reality of shifting. The complete manuscript was submitted in February 2016 and various editorial drafts bounced back and forth until release in late May 2016.

Since then it has gained 7 reviews, including from two Moderators, a Director of Mission for a not-for-profit agency and two academic lecturers. All have been very complimentary.

The four articles were all “industry” related. I had two short articles published in SPANZ, the quarterly publication of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand.

It takes a church to raise a minister. SPANZ, 65 (Summer), page 18.

A theology of strategic planning? Yeah right! SPANZ, 67 (Spring) page 18.

I had a further piece published in Candour, an online publication of the the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand. This was a requested piece, to write something theological about rejuvenation and the church.

Rejuvenation in the Church: some theological notes. Candour, March 2016

In describing them as “industry” related, I am making a distinction between writing for my academic peers and writing for key “industry” stakeholders, which in my case involve ministers and church leaders. “Industry writing” requires taking theological ideas I am wrestling with, but trying to explain them directly, without footnotes and reference to all the background. The writing needs to be differently structured, to capture and maintain interest.

As the year ending, I had a further article published in Refresh: Journal of Contemplative Spirituality.

Mission possible: Becoming intercultural by becoming children, Refresh: Journal of Contemplative Spirituality 17 (2) Summer 2016, 42-44

This was an unexpected surprise, a piece of writing that had begun life as a graduation sermon and then a spoken presentation in Auckland, which I summarised on my blog. The editor of Refresh spotted the piece and a few months later, sent me a lightly edited copy, noting how it fitted the upcoming theme of the journal and asking if they could publish it. So a very easy “writing” birth, because of the interplay between speaking, blogging and a good editor! It is yet another “industry” publication, but emerging as a result of various speaking opportunities.

During 2016, I also continued to write monthly film reviews, which at 500 words a pop, amount to 11 published pieces totaling 5,500 words. These appear in Touchstone magazine and I am then allowed to place them at a later date on my blog.

In 2016, I also had a book chapter accepted for a book on religion and U2 with Bloomsbury. This involved responding to a call for papers with a 300 word chapter proposal in January. This is a much more “academic” piece of writing. My proposal was accepted in March and I supplied a complete draft of around 8,500 words in mid-December. It has bounced back with editorial comment and all going well, will be published later in 2017.

So looking back over the 2016 year, one book, four “industry” publications and eleven film reviews means 16 pieces of work totalling some 63,000 published words across the year. The “industry” focus, along with the demands of writing a book, have meant I have not had as much opportunity to write academically.

I have however, over the 2016 year, worked up three complete-draft journal articles, which I hope to submit to various journals in the coming months. Plus I have a book chapter to write as a result of a paper I presented (The complexity of being woven together: A microhistory of Talua Ministry Training Centre) at Woven Together: Christianity and the Pacific conference, which was subsequently accepted by the conference organisors. I have also been asked to deliver two keynote addresses at Wondering about God together in late April, which the conference organisers have already asked me to prepare for publication.

Once those I done, well …

Posted by steve at 06:11 PM | Comments (0)

Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas greetings from KCML

fullsizerender3 I write to offer you Christmas greetings from KCML. Thanks for your support, encouragement, advocacy and input over the 2016 year.

For KCML it has been year of growth. Some highlights include
• The shift of Malcolm Gordon to Dunedin and the blessing of KCML corridors filled with creativity and music
• Six graduating interns from 4 different cultures
• A block course in Wellington for the first time ever
• Four new babies born to the ministry intern cohort
• The first ever Local Ordained Ministry resourcing conference
• A hard-working Faculty who have published 3 books and 2 resources, all engaged with aspects of the church in mission and ministry
• The Christianity and Cultures in Asia lecture series
• A significant increase in funding from Presbyterian Development Society in support of New Mission Seedlings
• The approval of the Thornton Blair Christian Education Research Fellow to guide the development of life-learning
• Two online learning experiments to explore being national in our training
• Partnerships in Alpine and Otago and Southland Presbyteries in establishing New Mission Seedlings.

It has also been a year of challenges. These include
• A new team still learning how to pace ourselves
• A number of our graduating interns as yet unplaced
• The ongoing challenge of living out the bicultural and intercultural commitments of the PCANZ

A recent lectionary Psalm speaks to our highlights and our challenges. In Psalm 67, the Psalmist is full of praise, for God’s face shines. It is an echo of the blessing of Numbers 6:24-26, a God of blessing, protection and grace. For the Psalmist, this blessing applies not to Israel but to all the nations. The potential internal and exclusive focus of Israel is re-shaped by this universal love of God. It is this God that we affirm at KCML and as a church look to celebrate this Christmas.

Thanks for your partnership with us. We’re better together.

May you and yours experience the shining face of grace this Christmas,
 
Steve Taylor

Posted by steve at 04:18 PM

Saturday, December 17, 2016

a moderators re-view of Built for change

builtforchange Here is the 8th review of my book, Built for Change. This one is by Rev Sue Ellis, the current Moderator of the Uniting Church of South Australia. It’s also the first review from the South Australian church community where many of the practical stories in Built for Change took place. So it’s an important authenticity check.

I really liked the way Steve Taylor addressed the changing dimensions of church life in this interesting volume. As a ministry agent involved with growing the church into its new era of life for today’s world, he has picked up the duality of change that goes outward into church life and community and the change that needs to journey inwardly challenging my own beliefs and practices both individually and corporately.

Steve explores some Pauline descriptors of models for change. We need to apply different models for different situations. I identified with his descriptors of at times bring a builder or a servant; a gardener or a parent; a resource manager or fool. I could remember how change I had engaged in had me preferring one of these roles. Living in South Australia, I had seen some of the journeys he described in the Uniting Church. Hence, I was on familiar ground.

The book is well grounded in practical application, but it does need some navigating. Beginning at the end was an initial challenge. I used the book for my ‘breakfast read’ – intentionally digesting its offering for each day. It is a volume I will keep for ready reference, as I believe strongly in the need for creative innovation within western churches.

“Built for Change” by Rev Dr Steve Taylor is available in Australia through MediaCom Education Inc. or New Zealand through Angelwingsresources@gmail.com. Review 1 here. Review 2 here. Review 3 here. Review 4 is here. Review 5 is here. Review 6 is here. Review 7 by Darren Cronshaw is here.

Posted by steve at 04:28 PM

Friday, December 16, 2016

Seeing Silence: Interdisciplinary perspectives symposium

Friday 7:30 pm, March 17, until 1 pm, Saturday, March 18, 2017.
Venue: Otago University

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Call for papers: Silence: A Novel (Picador Modern Classics) is a historical novel. Written by Shusako Endo (1923-1999), one of Japan’s foremost novelists, the book offers an absorbing, albeit bleak, meditation on the inability of the seventeenth century Jesuit mission to establish religious change on Japanese soil. It allows us to explore the possibilities and pitfalls when conversion seems fruitless.

The book is currently being made into a movie, directed by Martin Scorsese. Due for New Zealand release on February 17, it stars Andrew Garfield and Liam Neeson. Scorsese considers his movie-making an act of prayer, writing “I wanted to be a priest. My whole life has been movies and religion. That’s it. Nothing else” (Detweiler and Taylor 2003: 155).

This symposium welcomes a wide range of disciplinary perspectives on the themes of Silence. Contributors could focus on Silence as film, the history of 17th century Japan, the diversity of indigenous Japanese responses to Christianity and Empire, Jesuit approaches to mission, the ethics and limits of conversion, cross-cultural interactions, the writing of Endo, the missiological and theological challenges presented when faith suffers.

Papers of 20 minutes in length are sought. The deadline for 250 word abstracts is Friday 20th January, 2017. Enquiries and abstracts to Kevin Ward kevin@knoxcentre.ac.nz. Presenters will informed on 31 January, 2017. Papers will be streamed if needed.

Programme (draft):

Friday evening March 17 – Special viewing of Silence and conference meal.

Saturday morning March 18
9-9:45 am Panel discussion: Asian history, film studies, history, missiology (tbc)
9:45 – 10:45 am Papers

Morning tea

11:15 am – 12:15 pm Papers
12:15 -1 pm Concluding comments

The symposium has been timetabled with a view to presenters watching the film after release on February 17 and having time to develop papers for the symposium.

This event is a programme of the Christianity and Cultures in Asia series, sponsored by Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, the Otago University Department of Theology and Religion, and Presbyterian Research Centre.

Posted by steve at 02:07 PM

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Presbytery partnerships

Presbytery partnerships are one of five key directions in the KCML strategic plan.

Presbytery partnerships: KCML wish to establish teaching partnerships with each Presbytery. Each will be individualised, given the unique needs of each Presbytery. They will include shared commitments and timelines around the location of New Mission Seedlings and teaching sites for the National Learning Diploma. This move will help KCML be national, forming intentional training relationships with Presbyteries

In the first half of 2016, Presbytery partnerships involved connection. As Principal, I was invited to speak at six of the seven Presbyteries. I spoke at Alpine Presbytery and two Otago events in April, Central ministers in May, Northern Council and Kaimai Ministers in June, Pacific Island Synod in July. This gave me an opportunity to introduce myself as the new Principal. I also used this time to test pieces of the KCML strategic plan. In particular, this involved sharing about innovation and mission and then hearing the questions and being part of conversation about how this landed.

In the second half of 2016, Presbytery partnerships involved explanation. Once the KCML Strategic plan was approved by Council of Assembly in June, I wrote to each Presbytery. I briefly explained the plan and I asked if I could visit their Council to share the plan and to ask how a partnership could be formally adopted.

The aim is clarity with each Presbytery

  • how together – KCML and Presbytery – to identify training needs and shape a five year plan for training
  • how to strategically discern and work together on planting of New Mission Seedlings

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Over the last five months, I have had responses and been able to engage five of the seven Presbytery Councils. My last visit for this 2016 year was this week, when I spent over two hours with Pacific Island Synod. These face to face visits are important step in developing these partnerships. Each Presbytery is unique, and so each visit has been unique. The questions are always different. Different parts of the plan excite different Presbyteries. The pace of developing a partnership will be different for each Presbytery. That is good, because KCML can’t do everything at once. It also means we can run experiments and learn as we go.

Theological Colleges are not ivory towers who (theoretically) know best. Rather, we are shared partners with the church in seeking the mission of God. At the heart of Presbytery partnerships is a desire to practise shared discernment in mission and training.

Posted by steve at 04:31 PM

Friday, December 09, 2016

Coming to our Senses: the spirituality of wine national tour

Coming to our Senses: KCML and partners events in February 2017.

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Do wine and faith have anything to do with each other? What is the place of wine and wine-making in the Christian tradition? Jesus told parables about wine and vineyards and used wine at weddings and the Last Supper to demonstrate his message. Yet is wine anything more than a symbolic item within Christian spirituality? As New Zealand continues to grow in stature as a producer of quality wines and wine becomes a stronger cultural feature, is it time to awake to the senses: to gather around the table, and reclaim this gift of creation?

Annual KCML Public Lecture – Coming to our senses with author and researcher, Dr. Gisela Kreglinger. This public lecture addresses the interface between Christian faith and everyday life practices. It is part of an initiative of the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, of the Presbyterian Church. 2017′s lecture will tackle a matter that many Presbyterians historically viewed with suspicion. (The lecture in Dunedin is a stand alone event. In Auckland and Wellington the lecture is combined with a tasting).

Dunedin: Tuesday 7th February, 5:15 -6 pm. Free, Cameron Hall, KCML, 6 Arden Street, Opoho.
Auckland: Monday 13th February, 5:45-8 pm. $30 book through Eventfinda, Maclaurin Chapel
Wellington: Friday 17th February, 5:45-7:45 pm, St Johns in the City. $20 Door sales (tbc).

Wine tasting, light food and reflections – The Spirituality of wine with Dr. Gisela Kreglinger. In a unique blend of talk and tasting, participants will sample wines, learn about the Biblical history and spiritual significance of wine, and explore whether wine can be taken seriously as part of a recovery of the senses in Christian spirituality. (The tasting in Dunedin is a stand alone event. In Auckland and Wellington the tasting is combined with the lecture).

Dunedin: Tuesday 7th February, 6:15 -7:45 pm. $20 door sales, Hewitson Library, 6 Arden Street, Opoho.
Auckland: Monday 13th February, 5:45-8 pm. $30 book through Eventfinda), Maclaurin Chapel
Wellington: Friday 17th February, 5:45-7:45 pm, St Johns in the City, $20 Door sales (tbc).

Workshop – Creation and Holistic Christian Living with Dr. Gisela Kreglinger. When God blessed creation and declared it good, what were the implications for Christian discipleship? This workshop will explore practical implications for cultivating everyday gifts of creation. It will engage theologians of creation, including Jurgen Moltmann, Wendell Berry and Richard Bauckham and pay particular attention to the ways that the Christian doctrine of creation shapes everyday practices and builds stronger communities.

Dunedin: Wednesday 8th February, 10-12:30 pm, $20 at door, Frank Nicol Room, 6 Arden Street, Opoho.
Auckland: Monday 13th February, 10-12:30 pm. $20 at door, Carey Baptist College, 473 Great South Road.
Wellington: Friday 17th February, 10-12:30 pm. $20 Door sales, St Johns in the City.

Enquiries: principal@knoxcentre.ac.nz

Who is Dr Gisela Kreglinger? Gisela Kreglinger grew up on a family-owned winery in Franconia, Germany where her family has been crafting wine for many generations. She holds a Ph.D. in Theology from St Andrews University and in her recent book, The Spirituality of Wine (2016), Gisela has woven together her passions for Christian spirituality and the created gift of wine. Gisela has offered lectures, talks and tasting in restaurants, vineyards, churches and seminaries in the USA and the UK.

“Food, and perhaps even more so wine, has always been a powerful instrument of mediation between humanity and the divine. Gisela Kreglinger offers a fascinating and in-depth exploration of the intricate relationship between wine and Christian spirituality.” – Carolo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food movement.

“In Kreglinger’s hand’s wine becomes a key to a spirituality that rejects false dualisms of matter and spirit and inspires the healing of the earth on the way to God’s new creation of all things.” – Richard Bauckham, Professor Emeritus, University of St Andrews.

Posted by steve at 02:28 PM

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Arrival: an (Advent) film review

ticket-1543115-640x480 Monthly I write a film review for Touchstone (the New Zealand Methodist magazine). Stretching back to 2005, some 120 plus films later, here is the review for December 2016.

Arrival
A film review by Rev Dr Steve Taylor

“If you could see your whole life laid out in front of you, would you change things?”
Dr Louise Banks

Western culture tends to think in straight lines. We imagine a linear future getting brighter. Arrival invites us to think in circles and examine the consequences.

We begin with Dr Louise Banks (Amy Adams), grieving the death of her teenage daughter, Hannah. We end before the beginning, in the tender love within which Hannah is formed. The plot’s circular nature makes sense given the internal linguistic developments.

Banks is a gifted linguist. She is asked by the US military to establish communication with twelve alien spaceships that have suddenly arrived and positioned themselves around the globe. Taking a risk and drawing from the mathematical insights of fellow scientist, Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), Banks begins to realize the aliens communicate in a circular form. It is a way of thinking that can only be grasped when the end of the sentence is understood before the beginning. The discovery enables Banks to not only avert a global conflict, but also make sense of her personal life. Hence the circular and philosophical logic of her question: “If you could see your whole life laid out in front of you, would you change things?”

The result is a plot that sustains both emotion connection and intellectual curiosity. A strong emotional narrative is generated, first in the joy shared between Banks and her growing daughter, second in the grief as Hannah succumbs to cancer. The alien presence and the resulting linguistic puzzle, offers a pleasing set of interlocking intellectual plot-circles.

Arrival is directed by Canadian, Denis Villeneuve, three-times a winner of the Genie Award for Best Direction. The film is an adaptation of Tony Chang’s Story of Your Life. Chang, American born of Chinese descent, has written fifteen short stories, gaining a string of literary awards (including four each of the prestigious Nebula, Hugo and Locus Awards).

As we approach Christmas, it is interesting to lay Arrival alongside the Christian understandings of a baby in whom is God. In other words, the arrival of mystery comes not in alien technology spread around the globe but in the vulnerability of a baby born in a particular Jewish stable.

Unraveling this mysterious communication from another place is not the domain of gifted linguists. Rather, it is for those who let the children come. The Christian God of Christmas speaks not in complex linguistic forms, but in baby babble. It brings to mind the words of the twentieth century’s most famous theologian Karl Barth. When asked to sum his whole life’s theology in one sentence, his reply was more circular than linear. “Jesus loves me, this I know.” It is a response in which complexity and mystery are enfolded in love. Such is the understanding of revelation present in the Christmas “arrival.”

Rev Dr Steve Taylor is Principal of Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, Dunedin. He is the author of Built for change (Mediacom: 2016) and The Out of Bounds Church? (Zondervan: 2005) and writes widely in areas of theology and popular culture, including regularly at www.emergentkiwi.org.nz.

Posted by steve at 06:54 PM

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Research: Praying in crisis and the implications for chaplains

tear on cheek Our research data on how churches respond to crisis got a second airing today, at the Chaplaincy in Aotearoa New Zealand conference. (The abstract of our paper is below.) It was good to co-present with research collaborator Lynne Taylor and we were grateful to the conference presenters for giving us the space. It is the second presentation in the space of a few weeks, having presented at the Resourcing Ministers day to around 120 Presbyterian ministers as part of General Assembly 2016 in November.

The data set we are working with includes over 8,800 words of description regarding how over 150 churches prayed on the Sunday after the Paris tragedy. It means there is a lot we could talk about! Today, with a different audience, the presentation took on a different life. As part of the presentation, we also offered a takeaway resource, 8 examples of different ways that churches had prayed in crisis, including a brief commentary from Lynne and I as co-authors.

Being chaplains, and being a smaller group, the questions and matters of engagement were very different.

  • First, the complexity of us. There was affirmation of the theological reflection we had done in terms of noting the complexity of praying “forgive us our sins”; “deliver us from evil.” There is a need to think carefully about who is the “us” as we come in lament and intercession.
  • Second, from the field of mental health chaplaincy, the importance of being sensitive to the re-living of trauma. Particular care needs to be taken in the use of images, given the power of the visual to trigger past pain. So the affirmation of those examples that used the auditory, rather than the visual, in providing ways for people to pray in crisis.
  • Third, the importance of prayers for others including prayers not only for victims, but also for perpetrators of crime. This again, from a mental health chaplain, noting the importance of ensuring prayer was real and engaged the complexity of life.
  • Fourth, the difficulty of praying for crisis in religious communities that lack a tradition, and thus a set of established and well-worn resources.
  • Fifth, the enormous value of this type of research, in helping those who minister, to reflect on what they pray. This is a different, yet very life-giving type of research, that celebrates ministry and encourages the seeking of best practice.

Having now aired the data twice, in two different settings, and had the affirmation of the relevance and importance of the data, it is definitely time to seek an avenue for publication. But after Lynne has finished her PhD!

Praying in crisis: the implications for chaplains from an empirical study of how local churches respond to global events

Steve Taylor and Lynne Taylor

Chaplains often find themselves as a Christian presence in the midst of crisis. This can present a particular set of challenges regarding how to speak of the nature of God and humanity in tragedy. How to think of faith in the midst of unexpected suffering? What resources might Christian ministry draw upon?

One common resource is that of prayer. Given lex orandi, lex credendi (the rule of praying is the rule of believing) such prayers – or lack thereof – can be examined as the articulation of a living practical theology.

In the week following Sunday, 15 November, 2015, empirical research was conducted into how local churches pray. An invitation to participate in an online survey was sent to pastoral leaders in two New Zealand denominations: Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Baptist Churches of New Zealand. An invitation to participate was also posted on social media. The date was significant because on Friday, 13 November, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks occurred in Paris. At the same time, a number of other tragedies occurred, including bombings in Beirut and Baghdad.

Over 150 survey responses were received. In the midst of global tragedy, how had the church prayed? What might be learnt from these moments of lex orandi, lex credendi? This paper will address these questions. It will outline the resources used and the theologies at work. Particular attention will be paid to the curating of “word-less space”, given the widespread use of non-verbal elements in the data. The implications for those who pray in tragedy will be considered, with particular attention to the ministry of chaplaincy.

Posted by steve at 05:59 PM

Monday, November 21, 2016

Festival participation: ethnographic research

Ethics approval from Flinders University gained on 17 November 2016 for

Festival participation: Engagement of church and community in light of secularisation thesis

The Project:

To interview participants at the Bothwell Spin and Fibre Festival (BSFF), Tasmania. Members of the Uniting Church began this bi-annual community festival and continue to be active participants, including a blessing of the fleece liturgy, the providing of wool for festival participants to craft during the Festival and the holding of a Church service on Sunday as the Festival concludes. The festival has grown over the years, attracting international attention. It is considered a success both by the community and by the church.

This project will explore the meanings attached to this event. It will consider a set of ecclesial foci: Why is the church involved, in particular in the gift of liturgy and craft? What specific theologies shape their involvement? Have those theologies changed over time?

It will consider a set of community foci: What does the community think of the involvement of the church? How do they respond to the gifts being offered? What meanings are attached? How do these two foci connect with theorising regarding the secularisation thesis, which predicts that in modern society, religious participation will decline and religious institutions will weaken.

Significance:

There is widespread literature noting the decline of religious participation and institutions in Western society. This is loosely organised around a secularising thesis, which is generally posited to be more advanced in modernity, and thus by implication in urban areas. The BSFF is a rural event.

A festival is a fluid event, interleaving together a range of interests, behind which lie a range of narratives. Research of the BSFF can be theorised in relation to the secularisation thesis, given it is located in a rural context and runs as a festival.

Charles Taylor (A Secular Age, 2007) argues that in a secular age, festivals will be conducted in ways that eliminate the tension between the demands of everyday life and hopes of eternal benefit, most commonly by dropping the expectations of eternity and instead framing ultimate purpose as this worldly. Paul Heelas (Spiritualities of Life: New Age Romanticism and Consumptive Capitalism, 2008) argues for the rise of spirituality practised not by discipline, nor by ecstatic experience but through the practices of everyday life. This resonates with the work of Taylor and provides a framework by which to analyse the data.

This research will test the secularisation thesis in regard to the narratives constructed around the participation of the church. Why might the church might be involved? Does their involvement, and in particular their focus on craft, promote a spirituality that is this-worldly? How do participants understand their involvement and the involvement of the church?

The research thus has implications for understanding the motivations behind the general social benefits attributed to festivals. It provides understanding of how the church positions itself within a community and how community participate in such events.

Posted by steve at 09:39 AM

Saturday, November 19, 2016

KCML speech at General Assembly

As a member of National staff, I am offered 5 minutes to visit General Assembly and speak about KCML. I wanted to look forward, put some concrete numbers out there and in doing so, note our dependence on God. Here is what I said to GA 2016 on Thursday.

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E te Motoreta, tena koutou katoa. Tena koutou e nga tarikete. No reira, tena koutou katoa. Two years ago, in Auckland, I stood before General Assembly as Keynote speaker.

toki In thanking me, then Moderator, Andrew Norton, gave me this Maori toki. (Be careful what they give you, Rod Wilson, visiting speaker at GA 2016). Andrew noted that even though I was then serving “across the ditch”, in Australia, that New Zealand remained my home. So this gift, this toki, was a sign of friendship. I stand before you at this General Assembly, in the surprise of God, as Principal of KCML; grateful for the friendships that have emerged and for the friendships that are yet to emerge.

I thank those who partner with KCML. In the last financial year

  • The national church contributed 22% of our income
  • Synod Otago Southland contributed 19%
  • Local churches who partner in intern placements contributed 18%
  • Presbyterian Development Society contributed 6%
  • The taonga of interest on investments from previous generations contributed 31%

I thank Leadership Sub-Committee, National Assessment Workgroup, Presbytery Candidate Committees; Council of Assembly and the KCML team.

First, we’re not KCM. We’re KCML. We’re not the Knox Centre for Ministers (bracket national ordained). We’re Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership. So in the next years we’re piloting the national learning diploma – ways for the whole church to learn about leadership, mission, preaching, worship, being intercultural.

Second, we’re a national College, not a Dunedin college. So next year for the first time in 140 years, we’re taking the KCML Inaugural lecture on the road. In 3 cities, partnering with a local church – St Johns – in Wellington, and a chaplaincy – McLaurin Chapel – in Auckland. It’s called “Come to your senses.” Join us in February to examine a holistic Christian spirituality.

Third, in the Book of Order, Appendix D4, the role of a minister of word and Sacrament includes initiating “creative trends in the Church’s witness.” As a result KCML is partnering with Presbyteries in planting New Mission Seedlings. Just like those seedlings from New World, we want to partner with every Presbytery, to provide diverse learning spaces that nourish creative trends in mission.

Fourth, KCML has a strategic plan. Approved by Council of Assembly in June. The plan requires KCML to look forward in an intercultural, missional context; attentive to the God of Life-giving possibilities. The plan requires us to focus. So by GA 2020, we plan to

  • Establish 7 new mission seedlings in 7 Presbyteries, with local learnings shared through a National Incubator.
  • Cultivate 80 students in the National Learning Diploma, with an online platform across New Zealand
  • Provide postgraduate offerings in mission and ministry, to provide life-long learning.
  • All while sustaining our core business – providing 25 contextually agile NOMs

Two years ago in my GA 2014 keynotes I talked about mission. In Luke 10, Jesus sends. In Luke 14, Jesus includes. In Luke 19, Jesus seeks the lost. Without this God of mission, the KCML plan is stuffed. That’s our only hope and in God we trust. Thank you.

Posted by steve at 10:03 AM

Friday, November 18, 2016

A graduating benediction

I was asked to offer a final benediction as the KCML November block course finished in Friday. It was a final gathering for our Year 2 graduating interns. It was a return to placements for our Year 1 interns. It was the end of a complex blockcourse, one that was ever changing and with multiple external demands for the staff team.

A benediction: Ma te hurihuru ka rere te manu. A Maori proverb that means “With feathers the bird will fly”

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Year twos

With Spirit’s wind under your wings
Spirit’s fire in your mouth
Spirit’s warmth in your heart

Year ones

May Jesus’ feelings guide you
Jesus’ prayer sustain you
Jesus’ compassion embrace you and your family

Staff and all of us,

In order that Creators abundance may astound us
Creators diversity enliven us
Creators power make in and through us all things new

Ma te hurihuru ka rere te manu

Posted by steve at 09:45 AM

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Practising hope: gathered and scattered. Resourcing Ministers Day GA 2016

unknown-8 Ministers Day aims to resource ministers. It provides an opportunity to reconnect and be updated on best practice in ministry. This year over 140 people registered, stretching Cameron Hall to capacity. The Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership (KCML) team worked with the GA theme to offer a day focused around Practising hope: gathered and scattered.

A morning keynote explored hope gathered. Lynne and Steve Taylor introduced research on how PCANZ churches worshipped and prayed on Sunday, November 15, 2015, given the terrorist attacks on Paris. Findings from a survey of 160 churches offered insight into how to respond as church to hard stuff.

An afternoon keynote explored Hope scattered. Mark Johnston offered an understanding of Christ active in the world and the implications for practices of listening and discernment in our neighbourhoods. A panel of five ministers from local church and chaplaincy settings provided practical examples.

unknown-7 After each keynote, 8 workshop options were provided. These were led by experienced ministers from across the diversity of the PCANZ. They enabled in-depth discussion. In the morning practical resources for offering hope in the hard places of human experience were shared. In the afternoon, themes included

  • Mission amongst millenials
  • Listening and innovation
  • Young people detaching from church: The Pacific experience
  • Loving your neighbours
  • Presbyteries and innovation
  • Developing discernment in leadership
  • Listening to rural communities
  • Discerning and following Christ in suburb and city

In the 2016 year to date, KCML Faculty have produced five books or resources to resource the church. As part of the Ministers Day, these were introduced and commissioned through a laying on of hands by those gathered.

  • Songs for the Saints Songbook and CD , Malcolm Gordon, $30
  • The Journey of Worship DVD, Malcolm Gordon, $25
  • Live, Listen, Tell: the art of preaching, Geoff New
  • Built for change: A practical theology of innovation and collaboration in leadership today, Steve Taylor, $28.
  • Against the Odds: Murray Robertson and Spreydon, Kevin Ward, $35

It is an outstanding achievement for a Faculty of five. All are focused on resourcing the church – in worship, preaching, innovation and contextual mission. They are available from KCML administration.

Participants noted many highlights. This included being able to reflect on practice and hear from gifted colleagues. The Presbyterian Church understands ordained ministry not as a “mere collection of more or less gifted individuals.” Rather, ordained ministry is “a group with shared responsibilities … for the Church’s ‘style of life’ in the world” (Book of Order, Appendix D-4). Ministers Day resources this “shared responsibility” and in 2016 paid special attention to the “Church’s ‘style of life’ in the world.” Thanks to all who worked so hard to make the day a success.

Posted by steve at 11:04 AM

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Unique mix of biblical models, innovation tools & Australasian case studies

builtforchange Here is a 7th review of my book, Built for Change. This one is by Rev Dr Darren Cronshaw. There is a longer, 750 word version, being submitted to an academic journal, but the highlight version reads wonderfully.

Built for Change goes beyond rhetoric and explores case studies, theological reflection and reflective practice of how innovation can be collaboratively fostered. As an out-of-the-box thinker, Baptist pastor, and Uniting and now Presbyterian theological educator, Steve Taylor emphasises that innovation at its best is a collaborative team project, facilitated by systematic and careful process. The book is a model of clear writing, careful structure and practical theology from a reflective practitioner. It will be recommended reading or textbook in some units I am writing and I have personally ordered a dozen copies as presents for colleagues in theological education and mission training, so I think I can say with integrity that I count this as highly recommended.

Darren Cronshaw
- Mission Catalyst – Researcher, Baptist Union of Victoria www.buv.com.au
- Head of Research and Professor of Missional Leadership, Australian College of Ministries www.acom.edu.au
- Pastor, AuburnLife Baptist Church www.auburn.org.au
- Adjunct Professor, Swinburne Leadership Institute

“Built for Change” by Rev Dr Steve Taylor is available in Australia through MediaCom Education Inc. or New Zealand through Angelwingsresources@gmail.com. Review 1 here. Review 2 here. Review 3 here. Review 4 is here. Review 5 is here. Review 6 is here.

Posted by steve at 06:03 PM

Friday, November 11, 2016

Thornton Blair Research Fellow: Christian Education

Thornton Blair Research Fellow: Christian Education

Do you have high quality research skills, experience in the design of higher education and a passion for educational formation for Christian leadership?

Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership (KCML) is seeking a uniquely gifted person to undertake action research in education design. This will involve undertaking qualitative research among key stakeholders, designing adult education delivery mechanisms and piloting the delivery of education in Christian leadership.

The Research Fellow will deliver a project that helps KCML clarify how to provide postgraduate educational formation for Christian leadership. Specifically to
1. Publish research into re-reforming post-graduate ministry and mission practice in contemporary contexts
2. Design education material that meets both stakeholder needs and higher education accreditation frameworks
3. Develop a strategic plan for education delivery
4. Initiate pilot projects, with stakeholder feedback.

The successful applicant will have experience in Christian education, project management and the use of qualitative methodologies in social sciences. They will have demonstrable skills in theological reflection, the ability to work collaboratively with diverse stakeholders and excellent verbal and written skills, including research and writing.

It is desirable that they have experience in post-graduate accreditation in higher education and teaching in online environments.

This is envisaged as a fixed term (22 months), part-time (0.6) position. Start date is February 2017 and is subject to a final confirmation of funding. The successful applicant need not live in Dunedin, provided they can demonstrate how they might build and sustain strong working relationships with the KCML team.

KCML especially welcomes applications that will enable it to meet its commitments to being a bi-cultural and intercultural church.

Applications close 9 am, Monday, 5 now 12 December, 2016 (7 day extension due to GA and Kaikoura earthquake). They must include a CV; a letter of application addressing the essential and desirable criteria and two references.

Enquiries to Rev Dr Steve Taylor
Principal, Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership
principal@knoxcentre.ac.nz

Posted by steve at 07:22 AM