Monday, February 28, 2005

inside a story

My early experiences of Christianity were in what I now call a “point” faith. Testimonies were framed around the conversion moment and the emphasis was on a decision to follow Jesus.

My recent reading of Scriptures has moved to a greater desire to indwell the story. Rather than preach for the “point,” rather than worry about who is in and who is out, I want to tell the story of the amazing grace of God and the radical ethical implications of this grace for our lifestyles.

This seems to me to open everyone to the challenge of the gospel. All of us need to hear and re-hear grace and ethics. It allows people to explore their actions from within, rather than be told what to do. It honours the fact that most of us live our lives by the story/ies we tell.

I was talking with a person on last week. A year ago, they were nowhere near church. In the process of a pastoral conversation we talked about the implications of Genesis 1 and 2, and God as Trinity for a specific area of their life. Rather than give advice, a list of “how tos”, we explored the story and made application. As they talked I suddenly realized they were inside the story. At some time in their year, at a point probably invisible to them, they had moved inside a story by which now guided their life and actions. I was seeing new life, without ever witnessing the moment of conception.

Posted by steve at 10:12 AM

Sunday, February 27, 2005

how far should I go?

OK, so I am back in the west coast of USA April 27-29. And so is U2. So, is it worth me arriving early, and flying up to Seattle (April 24-25), to say “Hi”?

Or do I wait, and hope they come to Melbourne, Austalia (still a 3.5 hour flight from Christchurch, New Zealand).

Update: I booked. I am not chasing U2. I fly into LA on Sunday 24th April and leave Friday 29th April.

Posted by steve at 01:48 PM

Friday, February 25, 2005

repackaging Jesus

Back before Christmas, I got interviewed for a national magazine as part of an article on “re-packaging Jesus.” Just noticed the article is now up on the web.

Some of my favourite quotes:
So, if you’re expecting what Rev Dr Steve Taylor at Opawa Baptist Church in Christchurch calls “a Mr Bean experience” – a mumbled sermon and badly sung ancient hymns, with people dozing off around you – think again.

Back at Opawa, Taylor says that each church has to be like a DJ, sampling from a range of texts and traditions – the Bible, culture, ancient rituals. Whatever it takes to get people dancing. Different cultures, generations and churches will come up with different rhythms and God’s big enough for that. “When you mix these tracks together, new mixes emerge, new sounds.”

Posted by steve at 06:24 PM

Thursday, February 24, 2005

where is the gospel in film?

Last nite I kicked off teaching in gospel and film. It struck me in preparation that 50 years ago, Christians weren’t even allowed to attend films, let alone have them taught on at a theological College.

Film Course.jpg

Why a gospel and film course? I suggested 5 reasons;


Posted by steve at 02:37 PM

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Sunday’s worship was focused around hearts: Click to view image

you got a red heart as you came in;
and we read Ephesians 1 to each other – how God see’s our heart

you were invited to lay your heart at the cross
as we sung O love that will not let me go

you were invited to pick up a heart as a prayer for growth through hospitality; after I preached on growth through hospitality; Jesus and food and the gospels, with Emmaus Road text – full sermon here). You aren’t sure which heart you’ll get, which of course is part of Jesus challenge to growth thru hospitality

Posted by steve at 02:40 PM


the church has just got a wireless network.
so i am showing off by posting from outside the men’s toilet.
wierd place to show off from isn’t it?
people get arrested for showing off in such places.
i should go.

Posted by steve at 01:46 PM

Saturday, February 19, 2005

a spring spirituality


Last September (Southern hemisphere spring), I gave out sunflowers, and invited people at Opawa to plant them as a sign of spring hope. Opawa has had many years of winters, and I suggested the seeds could embody our prayers for hope.

Last nite, a church family popped around with this photo. The sunflower stands over 3.6 metres tall.

Posted by steve at 12:11 PM

Friday, February 18, 2005


– a VJ
– an environmental artist
for Sunday evenings in Christchurch.

Posted by steve at 04:36 PM

Thursday, February 17, 2005

touchstone and emerging

Just had a very pleasant lunch with the New Zealand Methodist denominational magazine, talking emerging church. They are doing a major feature. The conversation ranged over midwives, soteriological entrepreneurs, institutions and motivations.

Posted by steve at 02:06 PM

author purgatory

I visited Manna Book shop today, to work on details for a local, Christchurch book launch of my new book. On the way out the door, I was shown the specials table. “That’s where the books that die end up.” I move to my car contemplating author purgatory, the slow wait before that dreadful day when you see your book remaindered for $3.

Posted by steve at 12:12 PM

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

out of sync

Warning: real honest blog post: Most of us have deeper needs that shape our movement in, and into, ministry. It can be the need to help or the need to explain. Such needs are neutral, but remain open to a warping into good or evil. So the need to help can lead to burnout, while the need to explain can lead to poor listening.

My need is to prove myself, to take up every challenge thrown at me. It was a huge insight to discover this in seminary. And as a flow on, to realise that every challenge sent my way need not be responded to. In response to my need, I have often returned to Luke 1 and 2, the sheer unexpected gift of God’s encounter, which stands against my need to respond, to justify, to explain. (Those who know me well, will want to comment that I am still in process on this issue).

But it means that when someone from outside my headspace asks me to prove myself, or my ministry, they are syncing with some pretty big personal and formational needs and desires. My reluctance to provide measures of fruit for the emerging church could be construed as avoidance. For me, it is about an awareness of what drives me, and a desire to be increasingly thoughtful about what issues I need to prove.

This does not mean I will remain silent, but it is an honest reflection on who I am at this moment in my life.

Posted by steve at 04:55 PM

on the plane again?


It looks like I will be back in Los Angeles, April 27-29, for a leadership consultation in relation to the emerging church. I am sick of travelling, but this looks worth easing my butt back into an airline seat again.

Posted by steve at 04:30 PM

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


We have our annual church meeting this week. I’ve been here a year now and so the AGM is undergoing a radical re-shape. It’s trying to be more like a family time – with food, with comedy and live music, with sharing of what’s going on and talking about the future. There will still be motions and agendas, but the dominant image will, hopefully, be framed around the metaphor of family gathering. We have written to any and all our non-members to tell them about the changes and invite them along.

In preparation, I have been out and about shooting video. I made a list of all those new around Opawa since the last AGM and have been videoing them saying who they are and what they appreciate about Opawa.

Anyhow, I added up the list, and blow me down, there are nearly 60 new people. It’s been quite a year.

But then my thoughts jump. I wonder how it is for the long-timers. When 60 new people arrive, how do they feel? What are the pastoral issues associated with this sort of change? After all, the dominant metaphor is family.

Posted by steve at 03:30 PM

Sunday, February 13, 2005

reading for all its worth

We have started reading Walter Wangerin’s The Book of God, as part of worship at Digestion, our interactive Sunday evening service.

The nominated reader comes and sits on our “Hot text seat” – a gorgous red chair, and away we go, listening to the narrative of God in history. When we feel done, we put it aside for next Sunday. It’s a bit like a bed-time story.

In evangelical churches, the Bible is usually reduced to a tiny bit that someone explains. My hope is that reading the Book of God promotes the story, unexplained, uncommented on, reminding us of the big sweep of God through history.

Posted by steve at 03:24 PM