Wednesday, December 15, 2004

essential missiology

I’m busy marking student assignments. This is a complex task, that reflects both on me and my abilities as a lecturer, and students, and there abilities as students.

The Gospel and post-Christian assignments have, to date, been underpinned by missiology. Not reaction, not relevance , not cool but the awareness of mission, of being a language learner.

It’s a joy to read, because they have potentially grasped their lecturer’s passion – the gospel in post-Christian culture, the emerging church, as missionary engagement with the world that God loves.

Posted by steve at 01:46 PM

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

two kayaks

As a family we have just brought 2 kayaks ready for summer holidays. This is good. When I get very busy, I tend to zone out of my family. I am physically present but mentally absent.

My advent task has been to seek to be present mentally, to listen at meal times, to stay focused on family, to craft time to do Christmas things together.

This is good. But expensive. Two kayaks!!

Posted by steve at 10:39 PM

Sunday, December 12, 2004

advent spirituality: prepare ye the way

Advent is a time to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord in our lives. The questions below (which I picked up from somewhere in my travels but can’t remember where and would be glad to track down the source) can help our inward preparation. They can be used during Advent, or perhaps over the holidays, as we start to focus on another year.

Am I content with who I am becoming?
Do my family and friends recognize the authenticity of my Christian spirituality?
Am I generous?
Do I have a quiet centre to my life?
Have I defined my unique ministry?
Is my prayer life improving?
Have I maintained a genuine awe of God?
Is my lifestyle distinctive?
Is my “spiritual feeding” the right diet for me?
Is obedience in small matters built into my reflexes?
Is there enough celebration in my life?

Yours in Advent preparation

Posted by steve at 02:13 PM

Saturday, December 11, 2004

horoscopes and Christianity

so if the “wise” in Matthew 2 were star followers, and most likely Magi (magicians), does that not mean that horoscope reading and UFO spotting and magic is potentially a spiritual search?

and how can we keep the Christ at the centre, while encouraging such spiritual search that could lead people to the Christ?

and is this Christmas text therefore actually hugely subversively missional?

or am I making too many logical jumps?

Posted by steve at 04:26 PM

Friday, December 10, 2004

the white stones of spiritual protection

The ancient Celtic Christians used to place stones in a circle, to claim the protection of God. And for me personally, to step inside a circle of white stones is an immensely powerful experience. I have no idea why, but lay them in a circle, step inside them, and I feel the embrace of God.

I use white stones, because it links me with Revelation 2:17, where those who overcome are given a white stone. White speaks of purity and so to stand in the stones is, for me, to make a commitment to live ethically before Christ.

So I today, in the midst of a pastoral encounter, I laid out the white stones and stepped inside. Feeling weird, but experiencing yet again the physical presence of God.

Posted by steve at 05:20 PM

Thursday, December 09, 2004


We awoke this morning to find our toilet blocked. With the personal plumbing of 2 adults and 2 children at morning bursting point, we called the plumber. You probably don’t want the details, so let me just say
Praise God for plumbers.

Posted by steve at 11:24 AM

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

sand and containers

New Zealand Listener, a national magazine, just rang, wanting to interview me about church and culture today. So we talked about Jesus having a step-dad, the foreshore and seabed issue, 20 tonnes of sand inside the church and 9 shipping containers, parked outside the church, as part of the Christmas Journey at Opawa Baptist Church.

And I tried to emphasise that the Christmas story demands we set outside our nice safe walls. The stable after all, was a long way from safety.

Posted by steve at 04:47 PM

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

emerging and Advent

I’ve been using the same Advent benediction for each week of Advent so far. I have been loving the line;
Awaken within us the richness of our origins and the depths of our past
that we may be a people old in experience and young in hope

I love that mix of old/wise/experience/rooted in tradition and new/vibrant/young/hopeful. That’s why I’m part of the emerging church and that’s why it’s my home. Because ideally, at it’s best, it is taking the best of the past – Scripture, church traditions etc – into a newly postmodern future. That’s why it’s emerging, not from something or against something, but in this changing world we’re DJing a new mix, that because of the Spirit and the humility of its practioners and theo-blogians, resonates with the depths of the past.

So this Advent, rather than attack the emerging and critically nibble at our edges, why not pray for the emerging church; to become a people old in experience and young in hope.

Posted by steve at 12:03 PM

Sunday, December 05, 2004

the emerging church and the wilderness of God

Christianity emerges from a wilderness spirituality;
John the Baptist, camel haired and with locust wings in mouth, emerges from the desert;
Jesus in preparation for ministry, walks into the wilderness;
Israel finds God in the desert, where in the wilderness Moses is called and a nation is shaped.
The rough places and tough spaces become the place of encounter with God.

So what is the place of a wilderness spirituality in the emerging church? A book like The Shape of Things to Come takes growth – in the early church, in China – as the benchmark. A history of vitality becomes the shaping spirituality. When the emerging church emerges from the evangelical church in the US, a history of vitality is the shaping spirituality.

So what of a wilderness spirituality? Where is the encountering of God in the rough and tough? How does the emerging church embrace the wilderness, rather than the myths and shadows of vitality.

Is it time for the emerging church to find new partners in its spirituality? Is it time to stop dreaming of early church glory and embrace God in the rough?

I wonder if this is where the experience of the de-churched becomes redemptive gift. Those who have entered the wilderness and have learnt to find God in the raw might have spiritual gifts to offer.

Wilderness God
Hidden in the deep valley
Obscured by rocky outcrop

This Advent
May we be found in Your wilderness.

Posted by steve at 10:50 PM

Saturday, December 04, 2004

how to dismantle an atomic bomb

Sometimes you can’t make it on your own; makes me cry, because I love my dad, and he’s not in the best health.

Love and peace or else; has got this great big fat base-line that begs to be played loud.

City of blinding lights; is classic U2 that affirms the Edge as the Original of the lead guitar species.

Posted by steve at 02:47 PM

Thursday, December 02, 2004

place, spirituality and mission

Dis-place-ment and participation in the Other as Trinitarian mission: A contemporary Pakeha theological reflection on the foreshore and seabed issue

Just sent an article, 6,000 words, to a journal, hoping for publication. The title sounds a bit of a mouthful, but a part of my gift-mix is the ability to think. For me its part of loving God with all of my mind, as well as creativity and work-ethic.

I spoke on this issue – the foreshore as an indigenous theological response at Kingdom Builders in Auckland in September. I got such a good response, I shaped it up for a journal. It’s been killing me for the last week. Big thanks to greenflame and beyond flatland, who chimed in with some excellent comments, and kelli, for an edit.

(And before you ask, no it isn’t a web journal, so no it won’t be up on the www. So go on. Start a revolution. Get luddite. Buy a paper journal!)

Posted by steve at 05:21 PM


My head is full —- job reviews, exam marking, writing deadlines, conflict resolution, pastoral matters, speaking here and there.

The saviours are the headspaces —-
: the gutter, sunlit and warm, waiting for a bus
: the cafe, Groove Armada tunes and clear metal table, space to de-clutter and re-read.

The deadlines remain, the tasks tug at my sleeve, —–
but changing the space changes the headspace.

Is church/spirituality/this season a clear headspace or a cluttered tug at the sleeve?

Posted by steve at 03:21 PM

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

symbols of life

We had another baptism on Sunday morning. It’s been our 7th in the last 3 months, our 4th in the last few weeks. The person being baptised, previously unchurched working class male, made his own shrine; symbols important to him – a dove, a roster, rose petals, an image of Jesus.

One of my increasing convictions over the last few years is that Christians have our symbols all wrong. I once turned up to an Easter Sunday service in a strange town. I thought it was a funeral. Such long faces. I wanted to yell, He’s alive.

But I was a visitor. Instead I listened to a meditation on death and sacrifice and pain. The church was trading on a death symbolic.

Yet Jesus was in the birth business and came that we might have life to the full. We need to trade in life images.

Stations of the Cross are quite popular among emerging churches. My worry is that they trade in the death symbolic.

And so around a baptism I anoint with oil and I get children to throw rose petals into the water. When the baptism is complete I crack open a bottle of sparkling and toast the first fruits of the Kingdom. For me, it’s a deliberate attempt to capture the life symbolic of Jesus ministry.

Posted by steve at 05:15 PM