Wednesday, November 30, 2005

sorry to those of you who comment here

It appears that on Friday I made a mistake and blacklisted “http.” Duh! Which has meant that anyone trying to comment and leaving their full URL has been denied by my spam filters. My apologies to you. No of course I don’t consider your website full of “objectionable comment.”

Posted by steve at 05:22 PM

Why the missional church leaves me cold

In 1 sentence, it urges “too many oughts.” Click on the indicators of what a missional church will look like and there are so many things one ought to be doing. There are ideals and lofty hopes and plenty of “not yet rhetoric.” All of them I love and none of them I disagree with. It’s simply that there are so many “oughts.”

In contrast, let me quote from Euguene Peterson;
God’s great love and purposes for us are all worked out in messes in our kitchens and backyards, in storms and sins, blue skies, the daily work and dreams of our common loves. God works with us as we are and not as we should be or think we should be. God deals with us where we are and not where we would like to be. (Christ plays in ten thousand places, 75);

That’s not “oughts” but reality. This surely is the meaning of Christmas, that God is found in shit and straw, under oppressive tax regime and mis-spent dreams.

Abstractions and ideals leave my cold. Lofty dreams paralyze me. I’m not sure the gospel is a set of ideals. Rather it is the reality of people, honest in their inadequacies, not trying to be something or someone, but searching, seeking for the unique whisper of what God is doing within their unique set of circumstances. It is concrete practices expressed among real people.

Oh, what are the missional “oughts”? For the complete set, go here, but in summary …


Posted by steve at 12:17 PM

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

u2 coming to New Zealand

I’m a fairly simple sort of being. I have good and bad days. And I love U2. And this week was the news that U2 are coming to New Zealand March 17. For St Patrick’s Day. How good is that? So it seemed appropriate to kick off Advent 2005 mixing together a bad week for me with some Bono lyrics and Bono thoughts.


Posted by steve at 02:58 PM

Sunday, November 27, 2005

layering advent journals


The good thing about pastoral ministry is the chance to build layers. You do something one year knowing that a year later you can perhaps re-do it, building, layering, deepening. This week the Opawa Advent Journals start to circulate in the community.

The concept is simple;
1. Locate 8 blank journals.
2. Place some Advent “resources” (art pics, Bible verses) in the front.
3. Hand them out to people in the community, telling them to keep them for 3 days and to journal what Advent means for them. After 3 days they are to pass it to someone else in the community. If they have it on Sunday, bring it along so that people can flip through.
4. And so quietly, simply, I as pastor encourage people to engage with the Christmas story, in their time, in their space.

I introduced this last year and it worked well. So this year, a second time around, their is a 2004 “layer” of Advent art, a 2004 “layer” of people’s reflections a year ago. To this I have added a 2005 fresh “layer” of art and will be offering them into the community this week.

For information on the first appearance of the Advent Journals last year, go here.

And for those interested, these are the Guidelines typed in the front of each Advent Journal …


Posted by steve at 09:13 PM

Friday, November 25, 2005

the church year down under

Sometimes the Church Year feels like a Northern Hemisphere colonisation of downunder Christianity. Just like so much other baggage, the missionaries arrived in New Zealand carrying a Spring Easter celebration of new life. But it’s autumn here in Aotearoa New Zealand. Eggs are absent and bulbs are dormant.

And how to celebrate Christmas light into darkness when summer days are long and all you want is a cold drink rather than a warm candle. Yet imperialistically the coloniser swept on. I mean, what would happen on a UK Anglican synod floor if it was suggested that given Downunder has lived according to Northern Hemisphere church year rules for 200 years, that Easter will now be in August until 2205.

Last week here at Opawa we celebrated the end of the church year. In a matter of weeks the Southern Hemisphere is heading into holidays and it actually makes a lot of sense, come late November to look back over a year. We turned the entire church into a walk through journey featuring all the church ministries and activities. We pulled out the bouncy castle and turned some sausages.

What’s more, at Opawa we have our Annual General Meeting in February. And it actually makes a lot of sense to think and dream, for the Southern Hemispere is heading into a new year, refreshed and ready to go.

In between we have Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. Which has felt this week like a great, big theological pause between church year ending and annual church year beginning. And in this ceasing from activity, there is a reminder that the energy of our church is found and formed in Christ. It is Incarnation and theology and God that will generate momentum and movement, life and resource.

So maybe this Northern Hemisphere liturgical colonisation enforced on the South, might, in the subversive grace of God, be enriching a down-under theology.


Posted by steve at 05:56 PM

Thursday, November 24, 2005

worlds fastest indian film review

I’ve just added the worlds fastest indian (my latest film review) to the blog.

worldsfastestindian.jpgOn the 13th of October, 2005, Invercargill rolled out their red carpet for the world premiere of “The World’s Fastest Indian.” The movie is based on the true story of local man, Burt Munro, whose love of speed is expressed in a dream of testing his classic 1920 Indian motorcycle on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA …. For the full review click here.

For the world’s fastest indian movie trailer click here. For more of my reviews; here’s September’s review for Sedition, a New Zealand film about the fate of conscientious objectors in World War 2. Download film review and here’s October’s review of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Download film review

Further film resources:
Film as a point of gospel engagement (PDF).
Film and spirituality web resources.
Why gospel and film?

Posted by steve at 04:21 PM

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

entering the biblical text or godly play in larger settings

Godly play is a wonderful way of engaging the Scriptures. It uses imaginative storytelling, pauses and offers space to “wonder” around the text, then concludes the story. I am still wrestling with how it can be used in larger congregational settings. How do groups of more than 40 people all have space to “wonder” together.

This following variant worked well on Sunday morning. I was working with the crossing the Jordan narrative. I printed up three wondering questions on different coloured cards;
I wonder what it felt like to face the Jordan?
I wonder what it felt like to cross the Jordan?
I wonder what it felt like to stand on other side?

(Download PPT file of 3 questions)

The story was read. I then divided the congregation into three sections and invited them to “wonder” in groups, and to write their wonderings on the relevant coloured cards. The kids got involved, carrying the cards to and the various groups, and then collecting the cards from the groups to lay on an “altar” at the front of the building.

In about 7 minutes, 180 people of all ages and stages, entered/wondered their way deeper into a Biblical narrative. (The service then moved into a dialogue sermon, two people applying the text to our life as a congregation.) Here are the congregational “wonderings”; which shows quite some depth of congregational engagement/wondering with the text.


Posted by steve at 09:12 PM

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

planting advent hope

I’m tired. I’m cynical. I need this as my advent prayer;


the thing about babies unborn
is that their only task
is to prepare for the life to come

and the only urge in their every cell,
is a yearning to be born

this advent, put me back into your womb, God
so every cell in me finds that single-minded longing
for life

Cheryl Lawrie

Posted by steve at 03:21 PM

angels missional coaching basic information

Angelwings Missional Resourcing pools the talents of Lynne Taylor, Paul McMahon and Steve Taylor. With a range of qualifications in missiology, research and ethics, along with experience in church planting and missional church, they offer resources for the wider church.

1 – Community demographics: Information on the surrounding (New Zealand) community, along with guidelines on how a church might use this information to shape their life. In 2008, this involved a roadshow in three New Zealand centres, working with over 150 leaders.

2 – Leadership coaching: A year long course, including teaching, readings, projects, designed to help leaders focus on the challenges of their unique. In 2007 this was offered in Hamilton (hosted by Anglican Diocese of Waikato) and Auckland (AnglicanDiocese of Auckland). In 2008 it was offered in Adelaide (hosted by Parkin-Wesley College).

3 – Online resourcing: Under development.

For more information contact us on ….

Posted by steve at 10:56 AM

Monday, November 21, 2005

who are we? Paul McMahon

Paul McMahon: Paul was born and bred in south Auckland, moving to Christchurch after marrying Anne in 2004. He has completed a BA in History and Politics with Honours in Politics from the University of Auckland, a Graduate Diploma and a Master of Theology in Public Theology from the Bible College of New Zealand (Laidlaw College).

In May 2005 Paul and Anne, with Steve and Lynne, planted Espresso, an alternative conversation-based congregation. In March 2008 Paul was appointed as an Associate Pastor at Opawa Baptist, with primary responsibility for Mission Resourcing. He is Opawa’s Community Ministries leader and co-leader of Opawa’s Spiritual Growth Ministries. Paul also works for AngelWings Trust Ltd. researching, editing, googling, downloading, tutoring and writing. As time goes on, so will the list of ings.

Paul’s passion is how theology and biblical studies can shape politics, public/social ethics/justice and distributive justice, particularly in New Zealand. A growing interest, related to his position at Opawa, is community development in suburban New Zealand. Other interests include radical discipleship, theological storytelling, narrative therapy and cricket. He is an eNFp, so likes to unwind around a table with good friends, good food and, if he is very lucky, good pinot noir or pilsener.

Posted by steve at 02:48 PM

Saturday, November 19, 2005

open home open year

At our church meeting in February, I presented the Annual Report to our church. 28 pages with written reports from all different parts of our church passed without comment. Hours of work and not a question. I came away, wondering if we needed a better way for the church to engage with the life of the church.

In the church year, tomorrow is the last Sunday. We’ve turned the building into a journey. People will be invited to wander through the building, on the way out to a barbeque lunch, taking the time to engage with the many facets of the church. So much has happened in the church this year.


Posted by steve at 04:46 PM

Thursday, November 17, 2005

the chasm continues?

Just doing some surfing and noticed that EmergentUS have announced a deal with Abingdon to publish a Theology for the Emerging Church line. This follows a deal with Baker to publish a line of books for pastors and church leaders.

Thus the chasm of modernity continues. On my left, in the Abingdon corner, serious theology and theory. On my right, the Baker corner, practioners and church.

Ken Archer’s insightful review of Carson’s Becoming Conversant with Emergent (which I still have not got around to reading) makes the following comment:
In fact, most of those involved in the Emerging Church are pastors, not professors of philosophy or theology … A refined art of pastoral writing as I hope is being initiated by McLaren would then achieve its own legitimacy separate from theological writing, as a writing that is particularly attuned to the consequences of theological ideas.
It is a perceptive comment but it worries me. It makes it easier for the emerging church to thus dodge the theologically hard questions. “We are practioners, not theologians.”

A strange drift, given the fact that:
a) Contemporary practical theology suggests that the practices of the people of God are valid place for theological reflection. (see my PhD New Ways of Being Church and the occasional blogs of Tony Jones)
b) One of the chief urgings of much emerging thought is the priority of community as the place for theological reflection. (I’m thinking hear of Grenz and Franke’s Beyond Foundationalism)

Such approaches refuse to accept the chasm of theology and theory on one hand and ministry practise on the other. I worry that emerging book deals could continue to perpetuate the chasms of modernity.

Posted by steve at 10:41 AM

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

the spiritual gift of scavenging

I grew up thinking that you had to have the spiritual gift of singing to lead worship. I have no idea where this came from. Certainly I can find no Biblical links between worship leading and needing to sing.

Today I saw the spiritual gift of scavenging in preparation for worship.

The biblical text is Joshua 3 and I want some rocks to make a praise altar for Sunday. The office staff checked out various theatre groups. A chance conversation and we discovered a theatre group throwing out 4 (polystrene) rocks 2 metre by 1 metre. Ideal for making an altar. We offered to take the rocks away for them.

Done. Ideal for Sunday worship. Free. Spiritual gift of scavenging at work in worship preparation. Now is that gift in the Bible anywhere?

Posted by steve at 04:35 PM

Monday, November 14, 2005

Youth facility manager wanted

The Youth Facility has got
• Three Offices
• Four meeting rooms
• Large Foyer
• Chill out area
• Music Room and recording studio
• Craft Room
• Climbing Wall
• Hall Area
• Video Editing Room


Posted by steve at 10:28 AM