Sunday, April 30, 2006

emerging AD:missions 2

emergingadmission1.jpg a series of posts called emerging AD:missions; reflecting on the emerging church in light of mission thinking.

DIVINE TRUTH THROUGH PHILOSOPHY: Clement of Alexandria, Readings in World Mission, page 5-7.

While Jesus was a wandering rural peasant, it did not take long for Christianity to become an urban faith.

Alexandria was a city of 1 million people noted for it’s intellectual life. The very presence of the writings of Clement remind me that an emerging church can Incarnate faith in philosophers cafes of our urban centres. How?

Clement experiences the philosophy that is his contemporary cultural world as gift. Contemporary culture is “preparation paving the way for him who is perfected in Christ.”

How willing is the emerging church to watch film, listen to pop culture, dialogue with postmodern philosophers, and so (like Clement) find a seedbed for Christianity to grow? What are the skills, environments and narratives needed for this initial contemporary cultural dialogue to be perfected in Christ, in whom is hidden all the treasures and wisdom.

For an introduction to emerging AD:missions, go here.
For all the posts in this series go here.

Posted by steve at 02:33 PM

Saturday, April 29, 2006

emerging AD:missions introduction

emergingadmission1.jpg I am beginning a series of posts called emerging AD:missions; reflecting on the emerging church in light of mission thinking. I will be using the book, Readings in World Mission, by Norman Thomas (sadly out of print). It is a companion to David Bosch’s Transforming Mission. As a companion it offers 170 short excerpts of mission. From Augustine to Mother Teresa; Luther to Leonardo Boff, we catch insight into mission thinking in 6 continents over the last 2000 years (ie AD Jesus). Each excerpt is a page or 2, so it’s easy to dip into and easy to blog in response to. There are 170 excerpts, so it will be a regular, but not necessarily rapid process. I will blog about lessons for emerging church and emerging mission; my emerging church ad:missions in light of the mission insights gifted to us by our history.

I have been stimulated to do this by Don Carson. In his book Becoming conversant with the emerging church (ie some books of Steve Chalke and Brian McLaren) he concludes his first chapter by noting that issues of gospel and culture are central to understanding the emerging church. Ahh, I thought, surely having discerned this, he will critically read the emerging church by using the gospel and culture insights of mission history. Sadly the answer was no. Hence these series of posts; emerging AD:missions; using the insights of mission history to “read” the emerging church. I’m looking forward to the stimulation.

For the archive of all the posts; go here.

Posted by steve at 03:41 PM

emerging AD:missions 1

emergingadmission1.jpg a series of posts called emerging AD:missions; reflecting on the emerging church in light of mission thinking.

EXEMPLARY CHRISTIANS: Letter to Diogentes, Readings in World Mission, page 5.

So, how did early Christianity, birthed into a pluralistic and multi-cultural world, become in the space of several centuries the dominant world religion? The answer, for Diogentes, is a lifestyle of influence. “They do not live in cities of their own; they do not use a peculiar form of speech; they do not follow an eccentric manner of life.” Reading Diogentes, I am struck by the fact that residents are not alien.

A marginalised faith can never retreat. Rather, mission is influence through lifestyle. This early emerging church was in-culture. Emerging churches are encouraged to be in-culture.

For an introduction to emerging AD:missions, go here.
For all the posts in this series go here.

Posted by steve at 02:47 PM

spirited exchanges starts in Christchurch

Jenny MacIntosh stayed with us last night, here to help birth a Spirited Exchanges (an umbrella name for groups, seminars and resources for people who have left church or are struggling with their faith) here in Christchurch.

“Spirited” : something lively, energetic, and robust; with the reality of the Holy Spirit as an integral part of faith-development and the faith-journey.
“Exchanges” : the “exchanging” of ideas and experiences, learning from each other, honouring the importance of that mutuality and sharing.

A good start was made in the foyer of Opawa Baptist last night and there was enough energy and interest to commence monthly, 1st Monday in the month (except for Queens Birthday weekend). Good stuff.

Further resources:
Spirited exchanges website here.
Interview with Jenny about Spirited Exchanges here.
Podcast interview with Jenny in which she describes ministry to those outside the church. Download file: ethos of Spirited Exchanges: 2 mins : 600K.

Posted by steve at 01:56 PM

planting churches for the 3rd age

I am in a number of conversations among people at Opawa about planting a fifth congregation; a third-age congregation, church for wise older people. Under our multi-congregation model; church is about growing in community; growing in spirituality; growing in mission.

This invites the question; “what would church look like for you and your friends who don’t know Jesus” to grow in community; spirituality; mission.

I have dreamed of church for the 3rd age since I arrived at Opawa. People are living longer and most Western countries have an increasingly older demographic. I have been among some fruitful conversations among Opawa people in recent weeks. Some books I have found helpful in my thinking include Older people and the church based on real research in the UK among older people, both churched and unchurched; and Pioneering the 3rd age another missional perspective in the UK.

Posted by steve at 01:30 PM

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Today I am in Auckland at the Bible College of New Zealand academic staff retreat. I am talking about how I teach, including the use of blogs to enhance learning in my leadership class. Thursday I drive to Tauranga to give input into a Mission Health discussion for the Baptist denomination (repeat of this). I am meant to sound intelligent about missional church and multi-congregations. Back Friday.

Posted by steve at 06:46 AM

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

is there no escape?

I have a little bach/cabin/holiday house that the Taylor family use to escape, revive, reflect and build family memories. It’s about 40 minutes drive from the city, isolated and peaceful and a life-saver.

We’ve owned it for just over a year. We go to hide and crash. We know none of our neighbours. But it seems they know us. At 6 pm last night there was a knock on the door. A stranger. “I am looking for the pastor. Can he come and pray for my sick wife.”

Part of me is wonders how on earth this isolated community has worked me out; part of me is honoured to be asked; part of me fears that I have just lost my precious hideaway.

Posted by steve at 05:36 PM

passionate practice of pilgrimage

Here are some pictures from Sunday night.

We have spent 5 weeks in our 2nd cycle of passionate practices – pilgrimage – walking toward, and then walking away from, Easter. We had preached around texts following Jesus to and from Easter. Practically, the passionate practice has been to
a) Walk and pray a pilgrim prayer
b) Attend Easter Camp
c) Cyber pilgrimage using online labyrinth.

We kicked off, five weeks ago, by inviting people to step into sand, as a way of commiting themselves to walking in pilgrimage with Jesus. Easy enough to then make plaster moulds of their feet, and to lay these feet out every week. On Sunday we talked about the resurrection and how it brings colour and life. We invited people to colour their feet and re-lay them, as a celebration of Resurrection life in our walking with Jesus.


For the start of passionate practice of pilgrimage see here.

For an overview of passionate practices and spiritual formation see here.

For books resources: Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church which gave the initial theological framework and opened my eyes to passion as a way to affirm youth spirituality; God bearing life:The Art of Soul Tending for Youth Ministry, which has excellent reflection on passion and passion in youth ministry; and Soul Tending which is stacked with actual practices.

Posted by steve at 05:09 PM

Sunday, April 23, 2006

alt.worship and mission

maryresize.jpg I don’t think you can separate worship and community and mission. Perhaps it’s because I’m a realist and when I see someone come to faith, I suspect that the two of us will want to worship together; ie worship and community and mission. Perhaps it’s because I’m a Baptist and when I think church I think gathered and community; ie worship and community and mission. Perhaps it’s because I believe in the Trinity, that God is found in relationships, that this Triune God so loved that world that God opened Godself to gather the world in relationship; ie worship and community and mission.

All of this by way of introduction to what I think is a great example of worship and community and mission. It comes via Jo Wall; who blogs here. They took their worship, their Easter art. They went to local shops in their community and asked them to host their art, and thus created a Easter Art Hunt that led back to the church, where they had turned the church into an Art Gallery for a week. It sounded a great example of worship and community and mission, so I interviewed Jo this week.


Posted by steve at 07:02 PM

Friday, April 21, 2006

alt.worship and australian fiction

submerged.jpg Just finished The Submerged Cathedral by Charlotte Wood. It’s fiction, a beautifully written tale of love set in Australia. It was a read for pleasure but it got me thinking again about contextualisation.

Part of the book is set in a monastery and portrays the naive sterility and rigid patterns that are monastic life. The monastery fails, a European transplant that finds no root in Australian soil.

The monastery is brought by a woman seeking love and redemption. She builds a garden, creatively using Australian plants to transform the hollowed hull of the monastery. It’s ceaseless and heart-breakingly hard work. But in the process of contextualisation, of clearing Australian clay, she finds love, meaning and redemption.

It was for me a reminder that contextualisation is at the heart of missiology. Our talk of missional church is not the transplanting of alien forms but the slow crafting of unique life among the existing contours. And for the Antipodes, it must be earthy, creative and indigenous.

This for me is what attracted me to alt.worship. It is contextualisation. It is faith, creatively expressed in the linga franca of video loops. It is the finding of a submerged cathedral in pop culture. I know it has it’s critics among the emerging missional church. It’s a criticism I struggle to understand, because surely taking missiology seriously demands the slow crafting and indigenous life i.e. contextualisation.

Posted by steve at 09:15 PM

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

river queen

Here’s my latest film review: of River QueenThe film follows Sarah’s search for her child, a search set against the backdrop of the viscous fighting between Maori and Pakeha that is part of the history of the Whanganui River. for full review

I do these for a Denominational magazine, who allow me to place them on the web once the monthly magazine has been published.

My other film reviews include;
Brokeback Mountain here;
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
Next month I review Crash.

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

Posted by steve at 01:38 PM

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

reality of resurrection

I’ve never noticed this before, but 1 Corinthians 15 is followed by 1 Corinthians 16. Brilliant observation aye!

A deep discussion about the resurrection body of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15), is followed by a church taking up an offering for the hungry in Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16).

So is this what the resurrection body of Jesus looks like? A group of everyday people sharing their resources with the poor? So practical. So Incarnationally real. Show me your faith [in the resurrection] and I will show you deeds.

Posted by steve at 09:36 PM

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Sunday is never tidy


Easter Sunday sermon. My third Easter and with a bit of trust built, time to take seriously the Resurrection.

If you’re looking for a tidy faith, well wrapped and beautifully packaged, you’ve come to the wrong place.

If you want a faith all neat and beautiful, You won’t find it in the Resurrection Garden…


Posted by steve at 12:55 PM

Thursday, April 13, 2006

thursday friends

Each day of this Easter week, at the start of the Easter Journey, we have run simple church services; fifteen minutes to pray, read Scripture and offer some sort of symbolic engagement with what Jesus is doing each day of this Easter week. We roster them out among the staff team. The aims are to:
– help us as a church community live inside the Scriptural journey to Easter
– utilise the great environments that are a gift of the Easter Journey
– provide a bit of a buzz as the Easter Journey kicked off each evening.

The downsides are that these are the most random services I have ever done. Church every day is totally new terrain for Baptists. You have no idea who will turn up, nor whether you will have 1 or 20.

Tonight (Thursday) was a classic. As I prepared and thought about what Jesus did on the Thursday, a number of themes presented themselves
: the place of Judas, apt given the hype around the Gospel of Judas
: foot-washing and servanthood
: communion
: the human struggle to answer the call to prayer

In the end I went with a theme of friendship. It is my eldest daughter’s birthday today and at 8 am the phone rang, one of her friends, wishing her happy birthday. It’s really sweet to see your daughter being loved by her friends.

So I decided to tell this story of friendship and then invite people to thank God for their friends. Then use that “emotional exegesis” to help us enter into a 5 voice reading that re-told portions of Thursday night. And thus to consider how the friends of Jesus treated him.

At 7:02 pm it is start time and I look with stunned mullet amazement around those gathered. First time I’ve seen children at these. Oh my goodness. Thirteen children and five adults. Yep. Child/adult ratio WAY out of wack. One family is new and probably totally unchurched.

Friendship suddenly makes this a very appropriate service for 13 children and 5 adults. We sing happy birthday to my oldest. We go round the room and all name our friends. We listen to adults and kids read the Scriptures. We ask God to help us be good friends to Jesus.

Thirteen kids then race into the Easter Journey and I collapse exhausted, thankful that in the mercy of God I did not go with an adult intellectual discourse on Judas, a solemn foot washing or an exhortation to stay up late to pray with Jesus!

Posted by steve at 09:39 PM