Friday, September 30, 2005

i’m not creative, but

Most people tell you they are not creative. Back in May, I tried out a creativity and spirituality festival here at Opawa. We had live music and coffee. We offered kite making and metal tile working, and artists to guide and encourage. The theme was nor’west people – what does it mean for us to be blown by the Spirit. People at Opawa told me they were not creative, but we mounted the tiles together last weekend and this is the result. Not creative my foot!


For an article I co-authored with Lynne on creativity as a pathway to spiritual growth, see here.

To those who are itching to have a go, “Play!” Get out your wax crayons, your pastels, your paints, your angle grinder and enjoy. Go cook a meal, dig your garden, sing, dance. Weld metal, glue stones, take photos, weave grasses, quilt, cross-stitch, make cards. Design websites, write stories, tell stories, arrange flowers. And as you do, be aware of Creator God, who created you. Allow your spiritual journey to come through in what you do, let your work be a prayer, a blessing to others. Enjoy!

And to all who have the privilege of seeing someone else’s vulnerable, humble efforts at creativity — treat those efforts as gift, as treasure. Be careful not to inadvertently snuff out the creative confidence of those who would express themselves in this way. Encourage, support, and affirm.

Pentecost 2006 is a long weekend. We are already working on a second NorWest Festival. This will include a Spirit art installation, alongside live music and art workshops. Put a ring around it and make plans to have a holiday weekend immersed in Christchurch creativity and Christian spirituality.

Posted by steve at 01:25 PM

found bears

Update: The writing piece below eventually became the introduction to the following sermon. Download file

On Wednesday night great sobs erupted in the Taylor family. On Thursday night great sounds of joy erupted in the Taylor family.

On Wednesday, squirrel and bear were lost. On Thursday, squirrel and bear were found. Great rejoicing and mighty giggles of relieved laughter echoed down the hallway.

Face down in the washing basket, squirrel and bear were retrieved, then held aloft to be paraded around the house, triumphantly presented to mother, father, sister.

But the theological question is this: When were squirrel and bear converted?


Posted by steve at 11:40 AM

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

taylor family times


Five year old Kayli worked on this today. On left side are the things the Taylor family does together; coffee-breakfast-presents-Mondays-the bach.

On the right side are the things the Taylor family doesn’t do together – school, book (writing), reading, funerals.

Posted by steve at 04:11 PM

Sunday, September 25, 2005

cold shower

The emergent block course is over. I actually think it should be called an emergent experience not a block course. Matt asked for notes. It is really hard when you teach by offering experiences -practising online spirituality, spirituality2go takeways, reflecting on art, working with video, sharing around food – and using those experiences as the starting point for reflection, to capture that as “notes.”

Course things that struck me:
: interactive learning is demanding and hard for people who are used to “linear” spoken forms
: student learnings were so positive. We seemed to have moved from deconstucting church to diving into the Jesus story.
: the link made between passive Christians and passive church, and the counter question; if church worship was more participatory, would we in fact be modelling faith as participatory?
: that I forgot to define the emerging church; So, here is an A-Z of the emerging church;

A = artistic
B = blogging
C = culturally sensitive
C= community loving
.. for more

And here is a definition I once wrote.
the emerging church is a journey toward a corporate expression of Jesus Christ birthed in the amniotic fluid of postmodern culture. Note that the sheer diversity of postmodern culture means that while characteristics of community, participation, imagination, cultural awareness and appreciation are shared, their expression is diverse.

I have reached a significant milestone. In the last two years I have written 6 new courses as part of my new lecturing role at BCNZ. This is exhausting. However, BCNZ teaches on a 2 year cycle and so from the start of next year, I get to re-travel and re-tweak old notes, rather than write new notes. Further, with this block course complete, I have the rest of the year with no lecturing. I hope to read and to work on two writing projects: a book on organic leadership and a book on living the Biblical text.

Posted by steve at 02:22 PM

Thursday, September 22, 2005

kickoff tomorrow

Tomorrow I lecture for two days at the (first ever BCNZ) emerging church block course. 26 students are enrolled, including 2 from Hamilton and 1 from Nelson. It will not be a content based course as much as an interactive mix of storytelling, video, group work, online experience, stations, food and tactile spiritual resources.

Hopefully amid that mix students will reflect on contemporary ways of being church. It is not just a “description” course but together we will be asking
What in the culture is producing the emerging church?
What Christian resources sustain and critique the emerging church?
What does this mean for our following of Jesus tomorrow?

It is always madly stressful working toward a speaking deadline. Even more so when it is 10 hours of lecturing in 2 days, and I also had to lecture today. I still have the visuals to set up and the videos to cue, but I am greatly relieved to hear the lecture notes currently being bound.

Posted by steve at 05:30 PM

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

interactive learning


I am very pleased with this. If you go here, you can download your own online snakes and ladders game. The download comes complete with a separate questions file. So, change the questions and you have a great way of doing review and learning.

Tomorrow is the last day of my being kiwi, being Christian class. So we will divide into two teams and have a computer game of snakes and ladders, with teams answering the review questions I have set, and so reflecting on what they have learnt during the course.

(I tried to upload our game for you to play, but couldn’t get the file paths right and have run out of time. Sorry. Anyhow, the questions the teams will answer are here.)


Posted by steve at 05:47 PM

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

espresso ending tonite

Well, the sound sample is “When the rain comes down, where will you be” (from Fat Freddy’s Drop Live from the Matterhorn album)

If you’re coming tonight bring either snow boots or an umbrella. See ya.

PS The ending (provided) will also involve tent, candles, projected images.

Posted by steve at 12:24 PM

Saturday, September 17, 2005

further on spiritual formation

A number of people, including myself, have noted here that sermons-as-imparting-knowledge- do not play a major role in “forming us spiritually.” Randall has just made the following (great) blog comment:
are you an aural learner Steve?Or a visual one? Do these things influence us? Is there a correlation between what flicks your switch in the learning arena and your spiritual formation…

Which opens up the whole area of individuality and learning preference in spiritual formation.

Link here and for the initial post on spiritual formation here.

Posted by steve at 02:26 PM

today we vote

The man pulled the crumpled note out of his pocket. Sir Edmund stared back.


“Sorry,” smiled the ballot officer, and pointed to the ballot box.

The man searched his pockets and grabbed a US dollar coin.

“In God we trust” he tried. “For God we fight,” the bearded bystander, destroyer of twin towers, growled back.

“Give what belongs to God to God, and to Ceaser to Ceaser” he replied tossing his coin, glancing again at the ballot officer.

She smiled again. “That’s dictatorship. This is democracy. Two ticks please.” And pointed at the ballot box.

(A contemporary re:write of Matthew 17:27. It first appeared on my old blog, 3 years ago, at the last election. I still like it.)

Posted by steve at 02:09 PM

Friday, September 16, 2005

a lingering spirituality

The smell of blossom hangs outside the back door.

I feel grey, pressured by too many funerals, too many time demands, too much detail. These are signs and symbols of my tiredness.

The choice is mine, to linger on the back door step, to savour the fragrance of the now.

In Psalm 49, the invitation is to savour wisdom while playing the harp. It is the call to creative depth, to linger with ideas and play with imagination.

I feel grey, pressured by the demands for simplicity, for clarity, for solid basics.

The choice is mine, to linger amid the gifts of intelligence and savour the fragrance of creativity. I linger toward the now of a cafe; now I will listen to the new CD (Fat Freddy’s Drop Live) and now I will read the new book (Pete Ward’s Selling Worship).

Posted by steve at 11:27 AM

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

emerging church course content

I’m teaching a two day block course on contemporary ways of being church (September 23, 24) at BCNZ (Christchurch). I’ve spent today finalising course content and now the BCNZ office staff are busy pricing laptop hirage for on-line experiences and banquet costs. What this means is that the course is starting to click and starting to look like a seriously fun multi-sensory learning experience.


Posted by steve at 03:12 PM

formational environments initial reflections

I posted yesterday asking the question: what has formed us spiritually?. I’m really appreciating the comments. We had a church Board meeting last night, and we finished the meeting by asking each other the question. It was a great discussion and confirmed for me why I am at Opawa. The values of journey and spiritual growth that radiate from the church Board are great.

And I got passionate. Wouldn’t it be great to be part of a church known in the city for forming people spiritually. Go there and you’ll grow.

Two initial reflections on the comments and feedback I’ve been getting.

1) The importance of hard times. Some strands of Christianity invite you to leave your problems at the door, or offer you a good-times Jesus. Yet if people are saying that hard times are part of spiritual formation, what does that do for the need for truth telling in our church environments.

2) No-one has mentioned sermons yet. But then I thought about the influence of people, who I often first met through their preaching. So preaching becomes the meeting of a person and being shaped by their passion, rather than imparting information.

Update. When I thought about my key people who had influenced me, i realised that almost all of them had spoken/preached/taught to me at some time. Their influence was mainly through the time they gave me and their gift mix which spoke to my gift mix. But their influence was magnified and increased because of things they said.

Posted by steve at 10:36 AM

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

formational environments

I’ve been thinking recently about “spiritual formation.” How do we grow, how are we shaped into the image of God? Coming to a long-established church, so much seems adhoc, a group here or a sermon there. So I have been pondering what it means as a church to become “formational environments”?

It’s such a big question and I have not even been sure where to start. So this morning, I personalised the question. What has “formed” and grown me over my life?

I identified some key people – with names like Peter and Marjory and Mike.
I noted the importance of being given opportunity – in ministry and with encouragement.
I recognised the necessity of space – which for me was theological seminary and the PhD process.
And somewhere in there are regular habits – of reading and reflection and prayer.

people + opportunity + space + regular habits; together these have been for me significant formational factors.

But my experiences are not necessarily universal. So, I’d value your input. Over your life, what have been the key events/circumstances/things that have formed you spiritually?

Posted by steve at 11:37 AM

Friday, September 09, 2005

midwiving and leadership formation

I’ve just had some more of my thinking published. In my book the out of bounds church?, I spent some time using the image of midwiving to describe emerging church ministry. It is organic and life-giving. It employs a multi-facted skill base amid the mess and complexity of life in giving birth to the dreams of mother and child.

Anyhow, I have now developed my thinking a bit further. This started life (OK, was birthed) as a paper I gave in November 2004. I has now been published (born again?) in a recent Ministry, Society and Theology Journal. In the article I explore some Biblical echoes around mid-wives, particularly in Exodus. I then apply the mid-wiving image to the task of spiritual formation, theological education and ministry leadership.

Title: Midwiving and the practices of theological field education.


Copies of the entire journal (264 pages) can be purchased for $7 (Aus) from:
The Editorial Committee
Whitley College
271 Royal Parade
Parkville Vic 3052

Posted by steve at 06:16 PM