Saturday, November 11, 2006

spirituality in public spaces

So I am having a go at offering spirituality at my local cafe. More precisely, I am running a journalling course for 4 weeks. 17 people turned up for the 1st night.

What’s hot about a cafe:
- public space means neutral space. the dialogue feels less churchy. the prayers need to be more real.
- the social rules are already written and understood. this is great for those not used to church.
- the set up is easier as someone else does it.
- the vibe is relax, chill, coffee, cake. if that’s your medium, then it’s a great message.
- cafes have tables which people naturally sit around. instantly you can operate at a number of relational levels – whole group and table group. great for working with groups larger than 10 in size.
- when you pop back for a coffee the next day, you remember the God interaction. you are walking back into a space that has been spiritual. that’s surprisingly good.

What’s not as hot about a cafe:
- it is noisier. all those hard surfaces. especially when the milk is frothing. so everyone needs to talk louder. that’s harder for introverts.
- there are economic realities to negotiate.
- what do you do with the walk-in crowd, the “Oh the lights are on, let’s pop in.” and they walk into an existing group. that takes a bit of relational skill to process.

But on balance, for what I am trying to do – offer spirituality in a public space – the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Posted by steve at 05:43 PM

Friday, November 10, 2006

church as having your cake and eating it too

The All Blacks are playing France this Sunday Morning, kicking off at 9am. We have it here live… at Opawa Baptist!

This Sunday we will be watching the first half LIVE on the big screen in the Sunday School from 9am to 9.45am

Then we are recording the Second Half and we will play this on the Big Screen in the Church shortly after the morning service has finished!

That way you won’t miss any of the action.

While it’s Good to be a Guy, THIS SUNDAY IS OPEN TO all!!!

Even if you want to watch the first half at home, come along and see the second half at the conclusion of the morning service!

Posted by steve at 01:03 PM

Thursday, November 09, 2006

cans film festival and spirituality2go

Last year, in speaking to Anglican curates in Nelson, I compiled a list of ways churches uses film under the following headings:
1. Environments
2. Devotion
3. Communication
3.1 Illustration
3.2 Dialogue
3.3 “Roll your own”
4. Community building
5. Missional dialogue
6. Film Festivals

(Full notes are here.)

I’ve just found another: 7. Spirituality of food. The Cans Film Festival is a clever title and great idea. Donate a can of food and you get free entry to participating (big hat tip to Hoyts, Readings, Sky) cinemas. The can of food goes to The Salvation Army Christmas Appeal. (For more go here). So film is being used to fundraise.

Now if I was the Salvation Army I would add in one more component. They’ve made a great start and could add significant value by considering spirituality2go. I discuss the theology of spirituality2go in my book (Out of Bounds Church?). In essence I apply Christian faith as pilgrimage to argue that the church needs to supply spiritual takeways to resource people 24/7 and beyond church gathered.

So, the Salvation Army should make up a spiritual film takeway. This could be given to people when they donate their can of food. It should thank people for sponsoring the Christmas Appeal. It should contain a link to a website so that people can see exactly what their can of food is being spent on. It should also contain a list of film questions, to help families discuss the film later. For example, the Taylor family donated 4 cans to watch Over the Hedge. Film discussion questions could include:
- Who was your favourite character and why?
- What was the impact of the new suburb on the animals?
- How would RJ describe the eating habits of your family?
- What can our family learn from this movie about including people?

Such questions help resource ongoing film reflection. This could all be attractively presented in the shape of a can … you give a can, you get a can. In so doing, a great event (the Cans Film Festival) becomes a process.

Posted by steve at 11:39 AM

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

spirituality of my bean plants

My beans plants have just appeared. I planted them 3 weeks ago. Normally bean plants appear in 2 weeks. Quite a number of the seeds in the packet had been damaged. Combined damaged with delayed seeds and I had almost re-planted the garden, only to be rebuked by the rapid appearance of bean life on Monday.

forgive my easy dismissal and impatient hurrying
past the damaged and delayed
whether people or churches, cultures or institutions,

God, give me patience to tend absent life and
weed unproductive space

One way to make this blogpost your prayer could be to leave the initials of people and institutions you have treated as has-beens (pun intended).

Posted by steve at 10:20 PM

Saturday, November 04, 2006

suit yourself: a conversation with Leunig


Silvan Gallery Cafe, 320 Selwyn St (cnr Brougham & Selwyn St) from 13th November to 1st December. Opening Tuesday, 14th November, 5.30pm – 7.00pm (at the Silvan).

Posted by steve at 03:10 PM

Friday, November 03, 2006

a greatly missional week

It’s been a great week for me.
- Community family film night last Friday, and the joy of offering hospitality to numbers of young people in our surrounding community, while helping them think Christianly about film
- Spring clean day on Saturday and the joy of practically serving as a church community and in partnership with other community groups, in cleaning our surrounding community
- Light party on Tuesday and having 60 kids – mixing of church, children’s ministry and community kids – dressing up in non-scarey costumes, eating sausages, scavenger hunting, thinking about the Christian echoes around Halloween.
- I am have been working on a missional project for about 6 weeks, something that I think has huge potential to influence our culture/s. I can’t say what it is at the moment, but it has been such a joy to work HARD with a few new friends, and to test the project with various groups over the week and to see connectivity.
- I have been exploring the place of spirituality in our culture by offering a spiritual journalling course. Over this week 18 people have signed up and the local cafe has said yes. So something that was a dream a month ago is a goer.

Most weeks for me feel a bit of a grind, with little to show for it. So it’s important for me to name the above. As I reflect on the joy within me, I am reminded again of what makes my heart sing. In God’s good humour, I am wired with a dimension of creativity that just loves offering spirituality outside church walls.

I need to name this joy, and nurture this part of my identity. It is too easy for me, in a growing church and with significant teaching responsibilities, to get locked into administration, planning and detail, and to run the risk of neglecting what gives me deep, deep joy.

Posted by steve at 05:34 PM

all saints are our saints prayer

I wrote the prayer below for worship on Sunday. The church I pastor is 96 years old, so I asked some of our long-termers to describe for me the key figures in our church’s history: our saints, the people who have, in God, built up God’s church at Opawa. I then ended with a snippet from the Anglican prayer book.

2 of our folk will pray the following on Sunday:

Thanks God for Wyn Voyce
Our oldest living saint at 102 years
Pianonist, Singer in the choir
Ministering to Opawa through music
May we use our talents like Wyn Voyce did

Thanks God for Dr Bob and Shirley Thompson
Pastor, Builder of A-frame church across the road
Preaching God’s Word, in season and out
May we use our talents like Dr Bob did

Thanks God for Evelyn, husband of Nellie Woods
Encourager of many
Teacher among our young people
May we encourage our young people as Evelyn Woods did

Thanks God for Gordon and Lois Coombs
Gordon a pastor with a mission heart
Lois a pianist and pastoral carer
Leaders at a turning point in the life of this church
May we serve as faithfully as Gordon and Lois did

Thanks God for Isobel Lord
Encourager, Pray-er
Arranger of flowers in this church
May we appreciate beauty as Isobel does

Thank God for saints like Roy and Ruth Woods
Missionaries for over 18 years in Papua New Guinea
The over 21 years working with kids in New Zealand
May we serve people outside this church like Roy and Ruth do

ALL: Almighty God; You have built up your church
Through the love and devotion of your saints
We give you thanks for your servants
Inspire us to follow their example,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Posted by steve at 01:05 PM

Thursday, November 02, 2006

the saints are coming

This, the U2/Green Day remake of The Skids The saints are coming would make a great call to worship for Sunday nite’s Kiwi Firecrackers All Saints service.

Posted by steve at 10:02 AM

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

globalisation and the Biblical text

Each week in my Gospel and post-Christian class we interact with the same Biblical text: Luke 10:1-12. It is amazing to me, and to the class, how one text can have the depth and breadth to challenge us week after week. It puts a whole new slant on the Biblical text as living text.

Today I placed on an overhead for the class all the brand labels of clothing I was wearing. I gave the class a copy of the overhead, with the Biblical text in amongst the brands. Then I read the following story (page xv) from No logo.

nologo.jpg Here they were all young, some of them as young as fifteen; only a few were over twenty-one.

On this particular day in August 1997, the abysmal conditions in question had led to a strike at the Kaho Indah Citra garment factory on the outskirts of Jakarta in the Kawasan Berikat Nusantar industrial zone. The issue for the Kaho workers, who earn the equivalent of US$2 per day, was that they were being forced to work long hours of overtime but weren’t being paid at the legal rate for their trouble. After a three-day walkout, management offered a compromise typical of a region with a markedly relaxed relationship to labor legislation: overtime would no longer be compulsory but the compensation would remain illegally low. The 2,000 workers returned to their sewing machines; all except 101 young women – management decided – were the troublemakers behind the strike. “Until now our case is still not settled,” one of these workers told me, bursting with frustration and with no recourse in sight.

I was sympathetic, of course, but, being the Western foreigner, I wanted to know what brands of garments they produced at the Kaho factory – if I was to bring their story home, I would have to have my journalistic hook. So here we were, ten of us, crowded into a concrete bunker only slightly bigger than a telephone booth …

Suddenly the words of Luke 10:5-7 have fresh challenge: 5″When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6If a person of peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves their wages. Do not move around from house to house.

These are the questions and issues, raised by globalisation and the Biblical text, that framed our lecture.

1. What does it mean to sit at a sweatshop table in a way that lets go of our perceptions of poverty and injustice?
2. There is a cost to self. Will we give to people out of our abundance or lack?
3. When we listen first, then the listening can change us. Change, Kingdom change, will then actually happen now, and in us, not just later, “in heaven.”
4. “The workers deserve their wages.” Makes a surprising connection to sweatshops, because it no longer speaks to us, but the need for justice among sweatshops.
5. What does it mean to pray “give us this day our daily bread”?
6. What would happen if you, because of your justice stance, didn’t eat meat and yet the food placed before you was battery farmed chicken? Would your justice principles, or the desire for relationship, be pre-eminent?
7. In globalisation, the power remains with the bosses. What are the power relationships in our “gospel encounters”? In contrast, in the Kingdom of God, the harvest (ie. every person) has value. How do we do mission so that power does not lie with us?
8. In New Zealand our power issues include land issues. How will we as Christians respond in New Zealand today?
9. What is proclaiming “peace as shalom” to sweatshop? How can you separate “peace and justice”?
10. How do we “dwell” long-term, around sweatshop tables?
11. How do our lives back home change as a result of our short-term overseas trips and cross-cultural changes?
12. The local is intrinsically linked to the global. How does changing the local impact on the global?

Update: In the comments, both Darren and I have applauded this book;
consumingfaith.jpg Consuming faith as a wonderfully accessible theological response to globalisation and how a Christian might respond to the issues raised by No logo.

Posted by steve at 03:40 PM