Friday, March 31, 2006

congregational innovation and missional texts: a snip from an email I wrote today

great question: how might a ‘missional reader’ in a local church innovate the bringing into public discourse the real, lived narratives of the people in our local churches? For me there have been key biblical texts and “questions” around which great energy has been released at Opawa. They are texts that we have lingered with and keep returning to. Four that immediately spring to mind are;

1) Luke 1:39-45 – what is God growing and birthing – how do older bless younger – how to speak words of courage and hope?

2) Peter vs Paul – what would it look like to be intentional about evangelism to Peter’s ie process and the invitation to community discernment around this process.

3) Change is best sourced in organic metaphors rather than narratives of decline.

4) The different responses of Peter, Mary, Thomas, John to the Risen Jesus and what does it mean for us to create spaces that acknowledge this diversity and allow this contextual freedom of expression; as a pre-cursor to our multi-congregational model as a concrete way of bringing about change in an established church context.

But these are unique to Opawa. So how transferable are these “texts”?

Posted by steve at 06:03 PM

Thursday, March 30, 2006

DJing gospel and culture

I was with a lecture class a few weeks ago, talking about gospel and culture. We tend to polarise into two camps; withdrawal from culture or assimilation into culture. This duality blights the emerging church. We get accused of assimilation; of buying into postmodernity. I think a much more subtle process is at work, and I offered the class the following three symbols (gift from Steve Collins).
Juxtapose: placing two contrasting things alongside each other. In doing so, we allow a new mix to emerge from the contradiction.
Subvert: using one thing to alter the meaning of another thing.
Amplify: two things that together enhance and compliment.

The emerging engagement with postmodernity is complex. At times we amplify the culture (e.g. we wonder if Web 2.0 amplifies what it means to be the body of Christ); at times we subvert the culture (e.g. we become passionate about creativity and imagination because we realise that creativity is sourced in God. In this realisation, we declare that creativity is not for Holywood pleasure, but it is to respect the image of God, as seen in the poor and marginalised); at times we juxtapose the culture (e.g. while respecting the full embodiment of humanity, we choose not to follow the increasing sexualisation of women in contemporary culture.) Reducing the emerging church to “assimilation” totally bypasses these realities.

Anyhow, students found the concept helpful. And I like the visuals, so I thought I would post it.

For a QT e-video of me being interviewed about this in relation to culture, download here (11 MB); for more on DJing, including where I explore how this is happening in 1 Peter, and engage with the work of Miroslav Volf, read out of bounds church? book); also check out the outofbounds blog.

Posted by steve at 11:40 AM

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Leading through change

Effective leaders understand that change is a reality of life and ministry. Leading through change is a one day seminar led by Dr Steve Taylor. It will explore the dynamics of leading change, grounded in Biblical and theological understandings, contemporary leadership insights and Steve’s experiences of transition and change at Opawa Baptist Church.

Details: Friday April 7, 9:30-12:30; 2-5 pm, Bible College of New Zealand, 70 Condell Ave, Christchurch. To register phone 3544270 or chch at bcnz dot ac dot nz

Posted by steve at 02:50 PM

what dreams may come 2

This week he emailed, wondering, could he explore combining theological formation and his internet skills? And yes, he had read, and resonnated, with some of my thinking on the place of cybermonks in the future church.

“Cybermonks: Internet use is a form of tourism. Cybertourists search for identity in an arena so vast it acts as a level playing field in which all have equal access to its riches. Traveling in cyberland involves a form of pilgrimage, including the ritual of leaving home (dialing up) to wander an interconnected world of conversation and spiritual resources, before returning home by logging off.

In this world, the emerging church needs cybermonks to act as spiritual guides. They blog their stories with image, narrative, and experience. They design websites to provide spiritual resources online. This is not a modern “come to us because we have a great worship service.” This is a postmodern “here are our spiritual resources, feel free to try-before-you-buy.” The cybermonk is a new missionary calling.” (Excerpt from my out of bounds church? book, 95.)

And so we talked; about ways to integrate technical and spiritual, about “economies of grace” and ways to subvert the market and express the Kingdom.

monastery.JPG Might this be the first “monk” in an Opawa postmodern monastic order?

For more on cybermonks and postmodern monasteries; read out of bounds church? book. For the first draft of my concept of “postmodern monasteries” (written a year before the book) go here. For additional, updated, resources (written since my book was published) ; go to (postcard 7) of my book blog.

Posted by steve at 10:02 AM

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

a must read

I don’t normally blog reviews of my out of bounds church book here, because I didn’t want this blog/my personal blog to become some sort of pimp. Hence I maintain a separate out of bounds church book blog where I record reviews, discussion, further resources, stuff that got edited out of the original.

outofboundschurch.jpg But this recent review was a real encouragement;

The Out of Bounds Church has revolutionized my thinking about the Church as it relates to college-aged people… If you are interested in making the church work for teens and twenty-somethings, I think this is a must read.

For the full review go here here;

For all reviews of the out of bounds church? go here;

To buy the book go here.

Posted by steve at 08:15 AM

Sunday, March 26, 2006

passionate practice of pilgrimage


We kicked off another passionate practice for the next 5 weeks of Digestion, our evening service. (The passionate practice for last month was discernment of music.)

I told the stories of two pilgrimages that inspire me; Celtic peregrini and walking the Camino de Santiago. We then offered a number of stations; communion, praying for Easter camp and plaster casting our feet (which will evolve over the next weeks). The passionate practice of pilgrimage, could be embraced in the the following concrete practices;

1.Go for a walk each day for the next 5 weeks. As you walk, pray the same pilgrim prayer. See what you learn.

God be with me in every pass,
Jesus be with me on every hill,
Spirit be with me in every stream,
Each step of the journey I goest

2. Go to Easter camp.

3. Do an internet pilgrimage. Go here twice a week for the next 6 weeks.

Posted by steve at 09:24 PM

7 things I learnt from Bono and the real life of worship leading

Early this week I suggested that Christian worship could learn something from Bono and U2; under 7 headings;
1. Connect uniquely.
2. Engage through familiarity.
3. Use repetitition to call forth prayer.
4. Secure a 5th (visual) band member
5. Create hope by drawing the best from the past.
6. Plan participation.
7. Invoke passionate practices.

The post has drawn some interesting comments (including the suggestion I might be manipulative and a bit cult-ish:))

This morning I put together the following concrete act of worship, and this afternoon I thought I should put it through the “Bono worship” grid.


Posted by steve at 04:58 PM

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Spirituality resources birthed

Paul met God in a dramatic encounter. Peter met God step by step, in process. Which raises the question; how do we be intentional about connecting with the Peter’s we know.

rainbow.jpg To do so would value;
– Variety; creative, adaptive, flexible; issue and audience focused.
– Celebrate small; if we had lots of variety, then success would be 1, not 99.
– See people as pre-Christian, not anti-Christian; believe that God can be active in people’s lives before they were Christian. And this would change our conversation. It would not be us and them. It would be, how can any person, take a next step toward Jesus.
– Keep focused. Our activities would need to invite people into relating with Jesus.

Today I met with a group to bat around two concrete ideas in relation to spiritual resources;
spirituality courses that explored spiritual practices in a small group setting
rituals of change – offering a spirituality and rituals around birthing, including the 9 month preparation, birthing boxes, capturing emotions, baby room’s “dedication” prayers, prayers for sleepless nites, adoption rituals, grandparent rituals (memory book, symbolic actions), naming (home or church, formal or informal):

The five in the room (with four apologies) then discussed the following:


Posted by steve at 01:35 PM

Thursday, March 23, 2006

what dreams may come

Last year he attended my BCNZ Emerging Church course. Today we met over coffee and I listened to his dreams, to plant something emerging in his church and his denomination. It’s the sort of coffee I dream of having.

Posted by steve at 04:54 PM

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

7 things I learnt from Bono about worship leading: update

Update: I have added to the post below with a second post here; 7 things I learnt from Bono and the real life of worship leading, in which I discuss the 7 points below in relation to an actual worship service.

1. Connect uniquely. Time and again on the Vertigo DVD, Bono speaks about Chicago and his memories of Chicago. It is also his birthday, another uniquely contextual layer. A wise worship leader does not start in heaven and continue to the 7th heaven. Rather they search for the unique connections that make that context, that day, that date, that time, uniquely unrepeatable.

2. Engage through familiarity. The use of familiar songs brings back layers of memory. A wise worship leader includes songs that resonnate with previous experiences and previous encounters.

3. Use repetitition to call forth prayer. Bono dedicates Running to stand still as a prayer. He concludes Running to stand still by sliding into a repetitive “Hallelujah.” It’s so easy to sing. The simple repetition enables the audience to sing with the band. Bono has turned a concert into a participation in prayer, through the simple use of repetition.

4. Secure a 5th (visual) band member. U2 concerts are no longer a 4 band show. They are a 5 band show, with Willie Williams providing visuals that add multiple layers to the experience. Not many worship leaders have U2’s dosh. But a wise worship leader will look to add not just singers or musicians, but a “visual” person to their team, charged with enhancing visual environments.

5. Create hope by drawing the best from the past. As Bono tells the audience of the Vertigo CD, We as a band are looking to the future. We’re taking the best of the past and moving forward with hope. A wise worship leader searches the past for the fragments that resonnate with a hopeful future.

6. Plan participation. Faced with 40,000 fans, Bono can draw one boy from the audience to sing to, one woman from the audience to dance with. He can use repetition to call forth prayer and he can hold the mic to encourage “congregational singing.” A wise worship leader intentionally looks for ways to turn the many into one.

7. Invoke passionate practices. Bono invites the audience to haul out their cell phones. He kills the house lights and thousands of phones dance blue. He invites them to do something, to text the Make Poverty History campaign. A wise worship leader looks for ways to turn singing into action and turn entertainment into justice.

Posted by steve at 10:59 AM

an iPOD spirituality OR passionate practices of discernment

cdcross.jpg We ended the first cycle of passionate practices – discernment of music – on Sunday. (I introduced the concept on my blog here).

Theology: We are passionate. God is passionate. Passionate practices help us connect our passion with God’s passion.



Posted by steve at 10:41 AM

Friday, March 17, 2006

the Verti-CAN’T-go tour

A night for all depressed fans

Playing the U2 DVD Collection
on the large screen
with amplified sound

Saturday 25 March, 7:30 pm
Opawa Baptist Church
Cnr Hastings and Wilson

Posted by steve at 08:20 PM

Google ads

Since this blog costs me to run, I’m playing with using Google ads on this site to “fund” my habit. It might take a day or so to get ads in the right zone, so in the meantime, I might not support all the ads you see.

Posted by steve at 08:15 PM

brokeback mountain film review

Here’s my latest film review: of Brokeback Mountain. I do these for a Denominational magazine, who allow me to place them on the web once the monthly magazine has been published.

Brokeback Mountain. A film review by Steve Taylor. The date is 1963. The location is Signal, Wyoming and the mountain is Brokeback. Two young unemployed cowboys (Jack Twist, played superbly by Jack Gyllenhaal, and Eniss Del Mar, played by Heath Ledger) will spend the summer on its slopes. Mustering sheep against a stunning backdrop … For the full review click here

My other film reviews include;
Narnia here;
Serenity here;
The World’s Fastest Indian here;
Sedition, a New Zealand film about the fate of conscientious objectors in World War 2, here;
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, here
And look at next month for review of a New Zealand film called River Queen.

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

Posted by steve at 05:14 PM