Wednesday, February 08, 2006

the emerging church in 2005: a visual summary

What does the emerging church look like? More specifically, what does the emerging church look like in 2005?

postcardsglobalmastersummary250.jpg And they say a picture is worth a 1,000 words. So, why not gather a visual date stamp? Why not invite an emerging church to send a picture of their life? Collected together, they could offer a visual narrative of a year of life lived.

Thus Postcards05 germinated. I posted the concept on my blog in mid-December and invited anyone who wanted to send a postcard. I worked up a generic template, hoping for visual continuity. I never got my wished for postcards from France and Serbia. But I did get fifteen postcards from 8 countries; Ireland, England (5), Australia (2), Canada (2), New Zealand (2), Germany, Malaysia and Denmark (and had email conversations with people in Japan and South America).

Today I printed out all 15 postcards and wondered if there were some repeated echoes.


Posted by steve at 02:15 PM

Monday, February 06, 2006

Contemporary Waitangi Day worship

Today in New Zealand is Waitangi Day, which acknowledges the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between Maori and the Queen of England’s representatives in 1840.

So Sunday’s worship needed some connection between such themes and the gospel. For me I wanted to capture welcome, what it means to be inclusive and hospitable and how one might live justly as a guest in another land.

So as everyone arrived on Sunday they were given a photo of a person of different ethnic origin, currently living in New Zealand. (Images had been sourced in relation to here and printed black and white on 5 cm square paper.) After an opening song, we read together a montage of Scriptures (based on a selection I found in an old Baptist hymn book) which named the reconciling work of Jesus. I had hung a line of string across the front of the church. As a response to the welcoming and reconciling power of this gospel, people were invited to paper clip their photo onto the string. I played Welcome home DVD, from the Available Light album , by Dave Dobbyn, as people streamed forward. Quite simple, yet a really nice mix of participation, gospel and contemporary cultural connection.

Once we had finished, I prayed a brief prayer confessing our human ability to be selfish and hold onto gifts, praying that people coming to New Zealand would experience welcome and that our actions as a church would always demonstrate the hospitality of the gospels.

By chance, it was the first Sunday of the month, in which Opawa has historically celebrated communion and welcomed new members. It was visually powerful to celebrate communion and reconciliation in bread and cup against a backdrop of a “line” of photos. We were also welcoming a Korean family into church membership and that added a further layer of poignancy to themes of gospel welcome and hospitality.

Updated: For those who requested the Scriptures, here’s a the DJ-ed list (without references)


Posted by steve at 09:01 PM

Sunday, February 05, 2006

theology of blogging

Some thoughts in process.

This blog is gift. As hobby it emerges from surplus; my time, creativity, thought and skill. A gift always costs. Every minute I blog is one less for family or for sipping a pinot.

Gift need not cost the recipient, but it costs the giver. Indeed if it has not cost, it is not gift but work.

It is the choice of a giver to give a gift. This means that consumerism is not necessarily theft of a surplus.

However, a consumer of a gift might note that while given freely, surplus is neither endless nor unlimited. By definition, for a surplus to remain a surplus requires replenishment. Such replenishment is uniquely contextual, dependant on the individual and their unique personality and makeup.

It might be financial,and so the chance to trade in Adense for the replenishment offering by a pinot or a new CD; it might be a comment that offers a new perspective; it might the encouragement of a story returned when an idea or resource has morphed into life; it might be a link or another blog offering creative resource; it might be a relational connection made, a network accessed; it might be hits on a traffic counter.

Method and mode of surplus replenishment may change over time.

Sustainability will depend on the sustainable replenishment and thus the ability to match gift, surplus and appropriately renumerated replenishment.

Posted by steve at 09:59 PM

Saturday, February 04, 2006

is blogging worth it?

Over my January holidays I contemplated shutting down this blog. I had started emergentkiwi to experiment with on-line community. In the early days of this blog (back in 2002-3) it felt like there was a lot of community; lots of comments, through which I learnt heaps.

Over the last year, it felt less and less like a community space. Visitor numbers tracked up, but the sense of interaction on-blog and through e-mail declined. At times I wondered if this was now a consumer space, rather than a community space. Did I need to change the way I posted in some way? It takes time and money to run a blog. I have always resisted the idea of advertising as alien to a “community” sight. But if more and more visitors are just consuming, why not?


Two weeks into my January holiday a parcel arrived, posted from the UK. With a card; thanking me for the blog and noting that I had made a post asking for input regarding spiritual practices that might help a cafe. Near 100 people had visited the post. Four had commented. I had found that depressing.

And a book, titled Church Cafes. Explored and Celebrated. (Order here). A really interesting survey of 100′s of cafes around UK.

So I’m back blogging for another season. I’m still concerned about the balance between community and consumerism and still pondering the time and effort of a blog. But I’m feeling a little less “consumed.” Thanks J. (you know who you are).

Posted by steve at 06:08 PM

Friday, February 03, 2006

I found 9000 dollars today

This week has been budget preparation week at the church. Among other things we’ve taken on an extra staff person to work (among other things) among youth in the community and all week I’ve worked with others trying to balance budgets.

All week this voice has gone; “You’re a pastor. You have more important things to do. You’re busy. You should be writing a sermon.” All week I’ve kept saying, no.

“No. I refuse to accept the sacred/secular divide. I refuse to believe that there are “spiritual” things that are more important than “earthly” things.” Besides, this is about growing and developing people and resourcing for mission. Besides, I’m good at this. I can be sharp.”

Today the wrestle bore fruit. I spotted the fact that the spreadsheet was using a hidden formula that based this year’s offerings on last year’s projected budget, rather last year’s real budget. Last year we projected a 10% rise in offerings. We actually got a 14% rise. The difference is $9000, a budget that could balance, a mission that could happen. A nice end to a week of deeply embodied spirituality.

Posted by steve at 06:39 PM

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Old Testament emerging mission

In December I was e-interviewed about my out of bounds church? book. I was asked to comment on an absence of interest in the Hebrew Scriptures in the conversations around missional churches and to what extent can the Hebrew Scriptures offer new models to the Church that is emerging.

In the interview I noted that a dominant mission model in the emerging church is the going to forming new communities of faith. This is often based on contrasting attractional forms of church with incarnational forms of church. I mentioned a article by Walter Brueggemann as a great example of careful Bible reading that goes beyond 2 binary opposites of mission as attraction vs mission as incarnation. A number of people have since emailed asking for the full reference: Walter A. Brueggemann, “The Bible and Mission.” Missiology 10, 1989, 397-412.

bookkells.jpgSteve, before you dash off-line, could you summarise the article? Can perhaps could you apply it to emerging church? Well, part of the article includes 4 different ways in which mission is at work in the Old Testament.

I Kings 4 is a subtle critique of the use of God to legitimate actions. This would mean that Americans who blogged against the Iraqi War are performing mission in the style of 1 Kings 4.

Dueteronomy 19 is the working for legislative reform to enact God’s justice. This would legitimate something like protest4 as Biblical mission even if it never “incarnates” a new faith community.

1 Samuel 2 offers the power of imagination to offer a new vision of society. This would legitimate the art of alternative worship as Biblical mission in it’s potential to offer a radical re-dreaming of Christianity enculturated.

Hosea 2 offers the belief that in a fragmented world, God can intervene in love. A Blue Christmas service offering hope of God’s love would thus be an expression of mission in the style of Hosea.

And for those who want more detail on the Biblical texts, here are my Church and Society (University of Auckland) 2003 Course lecture notes..


Posted by steve at 11:49 AM

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

do you renounce cultural evil?

Ever a provactive thinker, Mike Treston gifted me a phrase today; “cultural exorcism.” Reflecting on the place of confirmation in a post-Christendom culture, he wrote; “I think this is what is missing, excorcism was always apart of the catechesis rites of the anicent church, a cultural excorcism could be very impotant now also.” Link

To which I commented on his blog:
I really like the phrase “cultural exorcism.” That is very good. When I baptise people I ask them 3 questions as they enter the pool – do you follow Jesus, do you repent, do you renounce evil?

I have been pondering tying those questions to a more in-depth catachetical programme. That phrase “renouncing cultural evil” suddenly gives great scope for exploration of consumerism, social justice, living simply. Thanks heaps for the phrase Mike.


For more on what I actually do in terms of re-imagining baptism as ancient future:


Posted by steve at 09:30 PM

mission health conversation

Looks like I’ll be in Dunedin Thursday 9th March as part of Mission Health Conversation (Baptist Union gig).

4:00 – 5:30 Telling the Opawa story as part of a panel.
5:30 – 6:30 meal
6:30 – 7:45 4 Options; 1 of which is me on “Thinking missionally
7:45 – 8:00 coffee/tea
8:00 – 9:15 4 Options repeated.

It’s a great topic, that will force me to articulate not only the Opawa story but the underlying missiology and theology.

Venue: Valley Baptist.

Posted by steve at 05:40 PM