Saturday, August 05, 2006

how exclusive is the emerging church?

The emerging church is regularly charged with the crime of exclusivity. This nameless entity which exists only in the conversational relationships between interested parties; earns cartoon fame for its homegenity and causes practioners to consider whether they are institutional racists!

This week at Opawa we have welcomed Nigel and family, to do a workplace “internship” with us. All week I have marvelled at the irony of an English Anglican ordinand from a historically Anglo-Catholic theological institution, doing time with a historically conservative New Zealand Baptist Church.

An outsider, a local Anglican, someone with sharp powers of observation, made the comment; “wow, the emerging church certainly creates interesting partnerships.”

And so I lay this comment alongside the charges of exclusivity. Is the emerging church exclusive, or might it be that there is a simultaneous loosening of old networks and the forming of new networks?

This should not be an excuse for exclusivity or a lack of hospitality. Nevertheless, I will self-flagellate myself less this week with the ropes of post-colonial guilt.

Posted by steve at 11:06 AM

Friday, August 04, 2006

reading the missional text: 2

A process of reading the Biblical text in community, aware of context, and with missional eyes. The second text is 1 Kings 19:3-18;

A place of despair (both personal and cultural) need not be an ending. God can meet and sustain us in our despair. In fact, in our brokenness, we just might become teachable.

The need to find God in new ways: what are the skills and capacities that will sustain us into a postmodern journey?

The need to find new partners, including “pagan” partners: who are the partners that will walk with us in our missional journey?

The missional journey is counter-cultural, a movement from the edges and by the minority.

Where the “signs”; of earthquake and storm, in any way “signs” used by the idols of Elijah’s culture? What skills and discernment might be needed to unmask the idols of our culture?

For more on missional texts

Posted by steve at 05:31 PM

Thursday, August 03, 2006

contemporary ways of being the people of God

The church around the world is changing. This course charts emerging church trends and evaluates their potential for Christian life today. Topics will include:
the Bible and spiritual formation
worship and mission
new forms of emerging church

A course I am teaching, Saturday, September 16 and September 23, 2006. For more info go here

Posted by steve at 03:26 PM

preaching belongs to the community

- it’s either “long-winded, old-school Bible preach[ing]” or “artsy collective ignorance.”

Pernell points to a nice little dualism which I hear every now and again when we talk about the Bible and church.

In modernity expounding the Bible usually belonged to one person. But a close look at the Bible makes that problematic: the school of the prophets in the Old Testament suggests a community engaged with the text, Jesus and the Emmaus Road suggests God is revealed not in the expounded words but seated around table, Paul in the lecture halls of Greek culture “dialogued” between text and context. I am not suggesting either/or; replacing one way with another way, but both/and.

One of my students summed it up beautifully: Preaching belongs to the community. But that statement requires the learning of a whole new skill set.

First is the skill of trust: It is much safer for 1 voice to speak. To allow community engagement requires whole new levels of trust in Spirit and trust in people.

Second is the skill of engagement: Ask a dumb question and you are likely to get so-called “collective ignorance.” Ask a question that everyone knows you know the answer to and you are asking someone in the group to look stupid so that you can look expert. But in every group are life experiences and insights that out-trump a preacher’s limited perspective and experiences. The skill of engagement is the creating of ways for these gifts to be brought to the table.

The image I often use is that of an athelete. The church has trained one muscle well – that of the Bible speaker. In so doing, we have lost the muscles of community learning. It will take a while to recover those muscles. There will be some inevitable ups and downs as we re-learn. Which makes it such an exciting time to be Bible people today.

For more:
- Living the text course I teach – go here.
- Living the text website – blog learning of students from a recent course here.
- Pray that my book manuscript on this finds a publishing home.

Posted by steve at 10:40 AM

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Daddy, you don’t have to say yes to everything

I was due to speak at Greenbelt, UK, later this month. My seminar was titled:

Spiritual takeways – Christianity Lite or Discipleship Extreme? We live in a 24/7 world, yet so often our community is public in worship 1 hour per week. This seminar will explore the relationship between contemporary spirituality and the emerging church, with a particular focus on what it means to be a visible presence in a transient community. It will explore practices such a spirituality postcards, tactile takeways and spirituality of life resourcing.

But I am tired of airtravel. And I needed a few more speaking gigs to make it worthwhile and things were not really clicking. So over the weekend I wondered aloud about the wisdom of going and my 9 year old set me straight; “Daddy, you don’t have to say yes to everything.” Sorry Ben and sorry Greenbelt. Maybe next year.

Posted by steve at 08:21 AM