Sunday, December 31, 2006

the blog year gone

Most commented on posts in 2006
1. 7 things I learnt from Bono about worship leading
2. My God questions
3. Dub spirituality and worship
4. There is no such thing as emerging church
5. Flamed for Spirit as love

5 blog hopes for 2007.
1. To find a better way of balancing a gift economy with the pressures of life
2. To form a good robust panel discussion are each “my God question
3. To have less spam
4. To have a great set of emerging church postcards and make them available as hard copy through lulu.
5. To develop an interactive on-line community around the missional reader project.

Posted by steve at 10:49 AM

Friday, December 29, 2006

christmas worship 1


This worked well as Christmas worship. I hung 4 nappies across the front. My (sermon) reflected on Christmas in the 4 gospels:

: Luke’s Christmas is the stuff of childhood carols
: Mark’s Christmas has no Christmas and Jesus is an adult, announcing the Kingdom
: Matthew’s Christmas includes foreigners
: John’s Christmas is God giggling.

On each nappy was a different visual image, taken from a contemporisation of the Book of Kells. The images had been digitally scanned and, using inkjet printer transfer paper, ironed onto the nappy. So each nappy represented a different gospel.

So the Christmas response was the invitation for people to come and rip a piece off the nappy from the Christmas that most challenged them. So if you look closely, John’s gospel got a thrashing.

Posted by steve at 09:04 AM

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

christmas worship 2


This is the Christmas worship moment I like best – mixing the stars. After each Christmas service, the pastoral team sprinkle little stars over everyone; with the blessing “May Jesus Christ, the true star of Christmas, shine on you today.” It is quite a special moment, individually “blessing” each person with sprinkled stars.

I love mixing the stars before worship; getting the blend of blues and reds and golds. I love that people find them for days afterward, in their sheets and pillows. That for me is what worship should be, sustaining us in our everyday lives.

Posted by steve at 11:20 AM

Sunday, December 24, 2006

i have never been in a church with so much life

This was a comment made to me at the door, after the service, this Sunday morning.

Signs of life could have included;
– the kids praying the pastoral prayer with me up the front of the church;
– reflection on our 4th Advent art piece. (We focus on an art piece each Sunday in Advent by giving them out as postcards at the beginning of Advent, by having an artist speak to each art piece Sunday by Sunday, accompanied by a piece of live music). The actual art piece was present in church this morning;
– celebration of an Opawa sermon being published;
– a story of God at work touching a person’s life in the Christmas Journey;
– commissioning 2 people on overseas mission: 1 short term to Cambodia, 1 for a year to Puerto Rico;
– the energy in the room; kids anticipating Christmas, a great musical mix of carols and contemporary chorus, lots of visitors …

Posted by steve at 04:48 PM

Saturday, December 23, 2006

reminder: emerging church postcards 06

Emerging church postcards 06 are starting to roll in, so just a reminder:


that come the new year I am publishing on-line a series of emerging church postcards . All contributions welcome; simply send me at steve at emergentkiwi dot org dot nz;
a) 1 photo of your emerging community this (06) year;
plus a few sentences in response to these 4 questions;
b) what has been a helpful Scripture in the formation and life of your church community?;
c) what has your emerging community been learning about spiritual formation?;
d) what movie (or scene) might sum up your year?;
e) what has been your best mission moment in 06?.

Posted by steve at 02:04 PM

Friday, December 22, 2006

kiwi sandwiched between richard hays and brian mclaren

My authors copy of Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross arrived today.


It is such an important book; offering 18 sermons on preaching the atonement today, putting contemporary preached wheels to the multiple images of the atonement in the Bible. I have already used 3 sermons from it as case studies in my Living the Text class at Fuller Theological Seminary. There are sermons from CS Lewis, Rowan Williams (Archbishop of Canterbury) and me. A little Kiwi! Sandwiched between New Testament scholar Richard Hays and Brian McLaren.

My semon is titled “Participation and an Atomized World: A Reflection on Christ as Representative New Adam” and is part of a series of 10 sermons I preached around the communion table in 2004. The editor notes of my sermon; “Rather than discarding the biblical imagery and language, however, Taylor digs into the contemporary context and experience of New Zealanders … to breathe new life and meaning into biblical images. Therefore Taylor not only stands on firm biblical ground ..[but] … also in line with fine theological work done by one of the church’s early theologians.” (pages 103-4, 109.)

Posted by steve at 11:56 AM

Thursday, December 21, 2006

imagination, leadership and humming Mary’s song in the emerging church

Update: I have added below a somewhat excellent conversational email response to this post from Alan Roxburgh – reflecting further on imagination, leadership, emerging church and Mary’s song

“There is then a twofold work for those projects involved in developing transformative practices of hope: the work of generating new imaginary significations and the work of forming institutions that mark such significations.” (Ward, Cultural Transformation and Religious Practice, 2005, 146.


This captures so much of the pain around the emerging church movement. The emerging church movement is gift as it embraces the work of generating new imaginative acts of church and worship. This is what drew me to the alternative worship movement back in 1995. I saw a picture of Visions in York in worship, projecting multiple slide images on church walls. Their imagination allowed my eyes to catch a glimpse of what it might mean to worship God body, mind and soul. Time and again I have seen in the emerging church glimpses of new ways of being church, renewed missional practices, Incarnational worship.

At the same time, I have seen emerging church groups remain profoundly distrustful of institution forming. Leadership and structures are often a dirty word. Listen closely and you hear stories of abuse. Yet Ward reminds us that our imaginative task is always two-fold. We need the breathe of new life and generative power for institutional life.

Equally, I have seen the emerging photocopied. The challenge is not to reproduce Visions worship on your wall. Instead it is to worship God body, mind and soul, Incarnationally in your context.

Creativity is never formless and void. It always looks for the containers of time and space that will mark day from night, form from void. Such institutions are never timeless, but rather contextual markers that best fit the new imaginations. Such is the hard work of the church emerging. It is easier to despise the church of your fathers and mothers than to hoe the hard yards that are the forming of contextual containers for a new day.

I have been working on Mary’s song in Luke 1 this week. At base it is a song. It is a creative response to the generative and birthing work of God. As the Spirit of God hovers over the waters in Genesis 1, so the Spirit of God hovers over Mary’s womb. The Christmas story in Luke offers 3 other new imaginations, the songs of Zechariah and Simeon and the angels, that hum into life around the birth of Jesus. Mary walks in a long line of Biblical woman, like Miriam and Deborah and Hannah, who sing in creative response to the work of God. Mary’s song invites us to respond to the generative work of the spirit with new imaginary significations.

Mary’s song offers a theological imagination. Mary seems little interested in singing in a song in response to sociological observations of church practice and church decline. Instead her song emerges from her personal narrative of excluded woman and young teenage. So must all our songs, for God dwells among the stories of the poor and dispossessed. But Mary’s song refuses to remain stuck in her moment. Instead it becomes a form, a contextual hum, that will shape a movement toward God for the poor and marginalised. Such is the task of mission today. To sing Mary’s song for our day, bounded by our context, listening to the stories of God in life, in response to the hovering work of the Spirit. May the power of God’s Spirit be twofold this Advent, to breathe new imagination and generate institutional life, for the sake of the poor we pray, Amen.

Update: A somewhat excellent conversational email response to this post from Alan Roxburgh – reflecting further on imagination, leadership, emerging church and Mary’s song


Posted by steve at 04:49 PM

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

overseas travel in 2007

I have a group in the US who have asked me to speak in the Los Angeles area either May 19, 20 OR June 2, 3. All expenses are paid but it is a long way to go and a lot of personal energy for one gig. Are there any other groups around the Pacific Coast-area who could use me either side of these dates?

In terms of my other overseas travel plans in 2007; I am
– in Melbourne with Churches of Christ May 5, 6;
– in Auckland with the Anglicans July 3-5;
– in Los Angeles July 9-13 at Fuller Theological Seminary (pencil booked), then Seattle 16-19 July.

Contact me if I am in your area and you think I could help your emerging and missional church conversations around any of those dates. I can consult and converse and speak.

Posted by steve at 01:43 PM

Monday, December 18, 2006

discipleship material

I am playing around with discipling options for next year. We already have 1-1 options around growth coaching. But we’ve been playing with adding in block course based options. My underlying principle is: multiple options for multiple learning styles.

So I am considering 3 options
1 : a visual option, using the Nooma videos
2 : a storytelling option, (more on this as it develops cos it is something that is being Opawa designed.
3 : a content based option. I am quite drawn to Living Faith by Tom Wright, because I like the breadth of topics (including 5 on the Bible plus Christian history).

Just wondering if anyone out there has used either Tom Wright stuff or the Nooma videos in discipleship? If so, what was helpful? what was not? Only answer if you’ve used them small group and discipling contexts (compared to in a worship service context).

Posted by steve at 08:10 AM

Sunday, December 17, 2006

5 things

Pernell has tagged me: 5 things you probably don’t know about me.

1. My brother Mark died at birth. I never met him and I’ve missed him more and more in the last few years. I find that a bit wierd.

2. I used to love marmalade as a kid. I used to spread marmalade on every one of my pieces of toast and school lunch sandwiches. Then suddenly one day I hated marmalade and didn’t touch it for years.

3. My favourite books growing up were Biggles books. As a kid I was intrigued by the fact that Biggles never seemed to go to the toilet.

4. I stand responsible for my younger brother badly burning his feet. I managed to con him into running across the smouldering ashes of a bonfire. Half way across he just started screaming.

5. My favourite movie is Jesus of Montreal. I love the musical score and the urban landscapes.

And I tag Tash McGill, Laura Drane, Darren Wright, Steve Garner, Fernando Gros.

Posted by steve at 10:23 PM

Friday, December 15, 2006

written on city walls

8 shipping containers, placed in the centre of Christchurch, around the Christchurch tourist tram route. Each is wrapped in fabric. These are gifts, each an interactive art installation, waiting to be unwrapped, a present to our city, telling part of the Christmas story.

While this is a huge undertaking, the Lectionary Scriptures for today were of immense encouragement to the tired and stressed and nervous among us, for in Daniel 5, God writes on the walls of the place. God’s words are displayed in the corridors of power.

Interestingly, sown into each shipping container are scriptures. The words of God hang on container walls, around our city.


Today, as in Daniel’s time, God’s words are being written on the walls of our city, in the places where lawyers walk and shoppers shop. We at Opawa rejoice in being God’s handwriting. And we pray that today, as in Daniel’s time, our city might have the wisdom to discern the words of God.

Posted by steve at 03:00 PM

Thursday, December 14, 2006

8 christmas presents


8 shipping containers, each wrapped in 40 metres of fabric to suggest a Christmas present. Each placed in the centre of Christchurch, around the Christchurch tourist tram route. Inside each is an interactive art installation, telling part of the Christmas story;

container 1, God of the Universe come to earth in Cathedral Square;
container 2, enforced family get-together, on Worcester St Bridge;
container 3, angels and ordinary people and a Kiwi musterers hut, Art Gallery;
container 4, the stable, Arts Centre;
container 5, consumerism, outside Museum;
container 6, suffering of innocents, at Armagh St, Bridge;
contianer 7, moving on with a refuge theme, Cramner Square;
contianer 8, our response as a chapel in Victoria Square;

Open from 10 am to 9 pm (hours of the Christchurch tram), from Saturday December 16-Sunday December 24.

This is part of Opawa Baptist and Side Door Arts Trust gift to the city in 2006. This is public mission, taking Jesus back out of church and telling his story in our marketplace, in the City Square and outside the Art Gallery and Museum.

After months of negotiation, we gained Council permission 3 weeks ago. We have been scrambling ever since. In an ideal world, each container would have a person at the door, to offer welcome and provide security. If there are any Christchurch readers of my blog that have 4 spare hours between now and Christmas, please email me, steve at emergentkiwi dot org dot nz, as we desperately need volunteers.

Posted by steve at 05:45 PM

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

doodling at Jesus birth OR Trinity, annunication, communion and eschatology

How would you express the annunciation of Jesus as a visual image?

Many of us like to doodle on paper as we listen. So how would you doodle the angel appearing to Mary and announcing the impregnation? Here is a marginal manuscript, a sort of doodle from the 9th century, from the Byzantine Khludov. It comes from After the After the Spirit. A Constructive Pneumatology from Resources outside the Modern West (a fascinating book by Eugene Rogers) and I used it on Sunday.


I then noted the Christian belief that the economic Trinity = immanent Trinity; that what God does = who God is. That God in Jesus acts the same before he was born as during his life, and as he will come again.

That God starts (God has a surprise for you. Luke 1:30); that Spirit works (the Holy Spirit will come upon you. Luke 1:35); that creation matters (You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. Luke 1:31).

It led me to offer the following table; integrating the Trinity with Jesus birth, Jesus return and communion.

We concluded around the communion table. Often at communion we just look back, memory of a night 2000 years ago. Yet in communion we are entering into Jesus, the economic Trinity = immanent Trinity, that Jesus acts in the Bible is the same as who God is before the Bible.

Christmas can be a very busy time. We have presents to buy, food to prepare, a long list of social functions and breakups. And it’s easy to get tired. When I do, when I get tired in December, I return to this doodle. The reminder that it is not my energy, for God starts, for the Spirit is working and that as creation matters and God wants to touch our human bodies with God power.

As we come to communion: you might like to think about: What is God starting in you? Where is the Spirit working?

Posted by steve at 01:48 PM

Sunday, December 10, 2006

emerging church postcards 06


Again, this Christmas I am compiling a series of emerging church postcards . I want to publish on-line a visual snapshot and digital diary of the emerging church in 2006. I welcome contributions from any emerging churches. Just send me at steve at emergentkiwi dot org dot nz;
a) 1 photo of your emerging community this (06) year;
plus a few sentences in response to these 4 questions;
b) what has been a helpful Scripture in the formation and life of your church community?;
c) what has your emerging community been learning about spiritual formation?;
d) what movie (or scene) might sum up your year?;
e) what has been your best mission moment in 06?.

During January I will be post your image and responses as a series of postcards06 on my blog. (Feel free to use the emerging church postcards 06 image above and to spread the word.)

Now last year I was very United States-allergic. I was tired of the way that the emerging church was so often reduced to emergentUS. I thus refused to accept any American postcards. It was a blog-stake in the ground, because I wanted to provide a visual reminder that the emerging church is global, not American.

This year I repent! I am accepting US postcards. However, I will only post them in proportion to their percentage of world population. That’s 5% (according to here). So, for every 20 postcards I get, I will post one from the United States (in the order they come from the US).

Why emerging church postcards 06?


Posted by steve at 09:55 PM