Wednesday, July 12, 2006

there is no such thing as emerging church

Given that I don’t have a Mac, a goatee or sunglasses, I find this cartoon hilariously funny.


It also names a personal wondering of mine over the last few weeks: is there is any such thing as emerging church?

I wrote this a few weeks ago: The emerging church seems (IMHO) to be a shared conversation among people, groups and churches, about life and faith in a changing contemporary context. But it is so easy to objectify the stories and to read the conversation as monolithic, as “this is the emerging church.” In doing so, the stories have been stripped of context. They are then in danger of commodification, as books, websites, podcasts etc. (A few sentences buried in a jet-lagged post about place and cross-cultural storytellinghere).

In other words; there is a conversation between various people about mission, faith, God, church in a postmodern context. This conversation has become commodified and homogenised into a universalist label “emerging church.”

The result
- the focus has become the conversation rather than the work of missional communities
- like any good conversation, it has no “leader.” Thus it has very few mechanism to respond to critics. (This infuriates critics even more.)
- words and labels can so easily be used to exclude and include
- we are in danger of homogenising voices and contexts and in so doing, obscure difference.

Posted by steve at 12:51 PM

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

prayer of formation

Ashes to ashes
Dust to dust
Dirt to dirt and Mud to mud

God’s back bent
over earth’s cosmic wheel

Divine thumb prints
Covering us
Forming us
Shaping us

Mud to life
Star dust to far galaxies

Ashes to ashes
Dust to dust
Dirt to dirt and Mud to mud

God who forms
People and planet,
our neighbour,
our poor,
our differently abled

Help us love your creation as you first loved us.

Your Kingdom come
Your will be done
us, in us, through us,

In the name of all that is life,


Written for espresso church community last nite.

Posted by steve at 10:17 PM

Sunday, July 09, 2006

tears, judgement and global justice


The preaching text was Jeremiah 19. God is a judge and holds us accountable for injustice done to the poor. A tough, tough text to preach. I gave out clay at the start of the sermon and invited people to use the clay to express how they felt about the text. I think these are tears.

Update: more photos here.

Posted by steve at 09:57 PM

Saturday, July 08, 2006

painting a print

Keith sent me this:


his painting of my blog header picture. The blog header picture is of a sea shell lying on a New Zealand beach and came from the invitation to the baptism of a good and dear friend. Keith made the following interpretation “I sorta made it where the shell is on safe ground but things are tough on the horizon.”

Posted by steve at 09:49 PM

Friday, July 07, 2006

living the text in a contemporary context

I’m teaching a 1 week intensive at Fuller Theological Seminary July 17-21. I hear there are about 45 people enrolled so far. Ryan Bolger and I had coffee last week, waiting for a plane at Boise Airport, Idaho. He was asking me about the course and what I’ll cover, so I thought I would drop a 90 sec podcast, if you want to listen.

Download file (450K)

Posted by steve at 02:19 PM

Thursday, July 06, 2006

emerging AD:missions 7

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

MISSION IN THE BALKANS: Readings in World Mission, page 12-14.

The context is the 8th century, the place is the Balkans and the people group are Muslim. St Cyril learns Slavic, turns this oral language into a written language and then translates the Bible.

Missionary issue one: The Church in Rome responds by accusing Cyril of selling out to the culture. Oh how familiar. Some 1200 years later, the context is global and the people group are postmodern, and the emerging church in a missionary mode is often accused of selling out to the culture.

Cyril responds to his critics by quoting from Psalm 150:6; “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” and by celebrating that “the sun of justice [has] diffused the holy Christian faith throughout the earth.” Amen. The emerging church continues in the contextual missionary spirit of Cyril. May we have the grace to respond Biblically and prophetically to our critics. May we continue to be part of the diffusion of Christian faith throughout our globe.

Missionary issue two: Slavic Muslims want to follow the Christ. Cyril offers 1 day of catechical instruction, immediate baptism, followed by thorough education. Cyril recognises that Christian faith requires formation. Which leaves me wondering where formation occurs in the emerging church. We are often criticised for being soft on doctrine. How true is this criticism? In what ways are we paying close attention to the forming of disciples?

I am futher intrigued by Cyril’s decision to baptise early and form later. This is in striking contrast to authors like Stuart Murray in Post-Christendom and Robert Webber in Ancient-Future Faith who call for extended catechesis before baptism in our contemporary world. So, does the order of baptism and formation matter in any way?


This post ends the first section of readings; titled Early and Eastern Church. I have initiated a dialogue between mission history and the emerging church. Topics covered include culture | context | rhythm | focus | worship and formation | heresy. For an more detailed introduction to emerging AD:missions, go here. For all the posts in this series go here.

Posted by steve at 10:16 AM

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

wasted by a jet plane

Travel effects me in three ways-
: disrupted sleep, which leaves me feeling quite spaced for day 1 and 2.
: disrupted body clock, which leaves me feeling quite drained for day 3 and 4
: disrupted rhythm, which leaves me struggling to get back into the groove of place and people. This is often worst in day 5 and 6. It is not helped by the piles of marking that sit on my desk at BCNZ (Update: 20 exam scripts + 20 reading reports + 6 personal preaching reflections + odds and ends).

Posted by steve at 10:54 AM

Sunday, July 02, 2006

flightless kiwi: yeah right

For those who doubt that a Kiwi can fly; this is the lesson …


and this is the real deal …


Posted by steve at 08:54 PM