Wednesday, January 31, 2007

angels are biblical

Lynne and I have a trust called Angelwings, from which we run various projects.

I received a letter today, making a whole range of nasty accusations, including the fact that this trust was “new age.” Unfortunately the person did not leave a return address. (I am not sure whether this is deliberate or an oversight).

So I would just like to clarify, because this address-less person does claim to read my website, that the reason we chose the name “angel wings” was nothing spooky or sinister or for any new age reason, but simply because in the Bible, angels bring messages and blessings from God and we set up the trust praying that we (Lynne and I) might be agents of blessing from God. And that the trust simply provides census data to help church’s with their planning for mission, to provide an umbrella for my various speaking things and to allow us to develop research interests and Christian resources.

Sorry to disappoint, but “angel wings” neither intends, nor plans, anything sinister or “new age”.

Posted by steve at 03:46 PM

has anyone used Elgg spaces?

One of my projects for this year is to seek to integrate some of my lecturing (in particular my teaching on Critical Missional Issues: Emerging Church and Missional Church Leadership), with my research.

I want to draw together in one place
:my catalogue of on-line emerging church (articles and blogposts I have collected that I think are important in the conversation)
:a database of emerging church communities (building on the emerging church postcards) and thus helping to move the conversation toward emerging church as living communites of practice.
: any class groups that work with me, both in New Zealand and overseas), in terms of researching emerging church and dialoguing around missional church texts (the missional reader project).

The aim is a collecting place for research and conversation on the emerging church. I would welcome co-creators and co-agencies.

Some one suggested Elgg spaces to me today as a Web 2.0 software tool. Anyone out there used it? Any comments?

Posted by steve at 02:42 PM

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

7 practices, 7 images, 7 texts = Lenten 7-pack

Lent is coming fast, with Ash Wednesday February 21. Here at Opawa we are developing a Lenten 7-pack. These are being offered across our 5.4 congregations, giving us a way to talk about the practices we share as one church in many congregations.

The Lenten 7-pack will include;
: 7 spiritual practices (for the 7 weeks leading up to Easter),
: 7 hand drawn art images (in the Si Smith 40 genre. Here is a sample image
: 7 Biblical texts (drawing from the gospel of Luke and the journey of Jesus toward Jerusalem),
: 7 questions.

The 7-pack will be supported by study guide questions, so that groups and congregations can engage around text, image, practice. The 7-pack will also be supported by Si Smith’s 40 as a worship aid.

We are planning to print the 7-pack business card size, so that people can carry around the practice of the week in their wallet. We go to the printer on Monday February 12. If any groups want to partner with us (sharing costs), get in touch or leave your details by Sunday February 11.

Posted by steve at 04:30 PM

Friday, January 26, 2007

my students love me

the 2006 exiting class at my seminary BCNZ just rolled in with this …

cd gift250.jpg

what a spot-on gift — 21st century, chill-out, Lemon Jelly, Nitin Sawhney, Chicane — makes me wish I’d been far more generous to them in my marking 🙂

And it certainly sets a high bar for every other year! 🙂

Posted by steve at 12:07 PM

the star from the east

If the wise men followed a star, what is the place of astrology in Christianity? This was a recent question that started discussion at the espresso congregation. A great topic for Epiphany (the season following Christmas).

And is this the type of star the wise men could have followed (Comet McNaught, visible over New Zealand duing Epiphany 07)?

comet mcnaught.jpg


Posted by steve at 11:37 AM

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

storytelling as a pathway in discipleship

“I think, therefore I am” proudly proclaimed Rene Descartes. And so, in modernity, the individual mind was given priority.

The consequences for Christian discipleship were huge. Discipleship becomes book based and content focused. Information is passed from one mind to another. Christianity runs the danger of becoming rational individualised information.

I am tossing around the idea of trialling the use of storytelling in community as a pathway for discipleship. As Douglas Coupland writes in Generation X of the need to take time to tell stories and make our lives worthwhile tales in the process.

So here is the first draft of the storytelling approach to discipleship.


Posted by steve at 08:19 PM

Monday, January 22, 2007

alt.worship and the poor

Noted the following (10) comment about alt.worship on tallskinnykiwi.

Actually Andrew, I came to believe that Alt Worship (of which I am generally very appreciative) actually is quite exclusive of the poor and those lacking in aesthetic graces. At its worst its quite elitist even if it never intends to be.

I will leave the charge of “elitism” for possibly another blogpost, but in terms of the relationship between alt.worship and the poor:


Posted by steve at 09:10 PM

Sunday, January 21, 2007

emerging church postcards : Aotearoa New Zealand 4


For the last 6 months Fuller St Café has gathered on the first Sunday evening each month. We have a Café set up, fresh espresso and a theme for the night. First 6 themes were Narnia movie, Cancer panel, U2, Local Jazz band Toot & Croon, Da Vinci code panel, Christmas party. It’s an experiment in planting an alternative congregation at Kaiapoi Baptist.

a helpful Scripture in the formation and life of your church community: Only Scripture I can think of at moment reflect more how I am feeling about the project now – Isaiah 42:9 “See I am doing a new thing, now it springs up, do you not perceive it?” Reflecting attempt to plant something new but not feeling understood. And Psalm 127:1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, it builders labour in vain” wondering if we’re on right track.

learning about spiritual formation: Not sure that the “community” has emerged yet and whether it’s just too attractional to work.

movie (or scene) might sum up your year: One movie that might describe the first 6 months is “50 first dates.” We are basically experimenting until we find a new, real and helpful way to explore faith and live life. Also I can relate to Pai in Whale Rider wrestling with leadership issues.

best mission moment in 06: Probably the cancer night where 70 people showed up. 20 of those were outside the existing KBC community and 4 in response to the ad we put in the local rag. We had a panel of brave cancer sufferers some who were in remission and others who were terminal. We asked them these questions: How did you hear the news about the cancer?; What was your reaction/ response?; The treatment – what was that like?; What support did you have from others, what was helpful/ unhelpful?; Where has God been in it all? We have just lost the second of the ladies who were terminal this week – please pray for her husband and sons (13 & 3yrs).

For more emerging church postcards 2006, go here.
For emerging church postcards 2005, go here.
For information on how your emerging church can send a postcard, go here.

Posted by steve at 09:21 AM

Saturday, January 13, 2007

three new film reviews

I keep forgetting to put these up – monthly film reviews I write for a Denominational magazine, who kindly allow me to place them on the web once they have gone to print. With apologies, here are my 3 most recent film reviews:

my October review, in which I explore the cinematic use of sound to carry redemption in Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada;

my November review, in which I ponder the place of God in an Inconvenient Truth;

my December review, in which I enter the animated world of Over the Hedge;

I am teaching Gospel in film (Reel Spirituality) at Christchurch Bible College of New Zealand again this year and have just been to see New Zealand film Out of the Blue. It made me realise once again how much theological work is being suggested by our contemporary film makers and how important it is for us as Christians to be part of the conversation. Bring on the Gospel in film (Reel Spirituality) classroom.

My other film reviews include;
The Da Vinci Code here. (I also have written on the Da Vinci Code here; here and here; Siones Wedding here; Praire Home Companion here; Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Mans Chest here; River Queen here; 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

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

Posted by steve at 05:39 PM

Friday, January 12, 2007

emerging church postcards 2006: Aotearoa New Zealand 3


a helpful Scripture in the formation and life of your church community: We’ve spent a bit of time playing around with Genesis 1:26-28 & 1 Corinthians 12:12-26. Looking at how we were created from the community of the Trinity, and how we should function together as a community. We found some pretty darn challenging stuff in there I tell ya…

learning about spiritual formation: We’ve been trying to break down that invisible wall between everyday life and our spiritual lives; sacred vs secular and all that. Hearing each other’s stories about where we find God throughout the week; in the music of Jeff Buckly or Trinity Roots, in traffic etiquette – How exactly WOULD Jesus drive a car? – and in text message blessings.

movie (or scene) might sum up your year: This might just be me, but Fight Club has some pretty clear resonances. A small group of people, brought together by word of mouth, meeting in strange places, but feeling strengthened in their everyday lives from the experience. Take out the explicit sex, violence, fascism and mental illness of the movie, and I think you can sum up The Kitchen quite nicely.

best mission moment in 06: We haven’t been going long enough to have any wild stories of mission prowess yet, but merely the bringing together of 20 people (most of whom were disconnected from a faith community) and starting something after so much talk is probably the grand champion of mission moments for us. More specific moments would include the Christmas food parcels we made for those in need – you try taking 8 men and 1 woman into Pak n Save without a shopping list or a clue and exiting with a coherent food parcel and tell me that isn’t God at work! Also, seeing people who were total opposites in every possible way meet each other, and a few months down the track are now genuinely praying, caring and talking God with each other.

To visit this community go here.
For more emerging church postcards 2006, go here.
For emerging church postcards 2005, go here.
For information on how your emerging church can send a postcard, go here.

Posted by steve at 04:39 PM

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

when art comes to town: reflection on art as public mission

christmas journey2006at300.jpg

here are some reflections I wrote today on the recent Christmas Journey. Love some feedback on my last section “unresolved tensions” if anyone has the time.


Posted by steve at 08:00 PM

Friday, January 05, 2007

emerging church postcards 2006: Aotearoa New Zealand 2


a helpful Scripture in the formation and life of your church community: Luke 10:1-12 invites us to look for God among the tables and everyday lives of people. We go to people rather than invite them to come to us. Refresh started as a dream of providing spiritual resourcing in our local cafes. If lots of shops sell spiritual journals, then what does Christianity have to contribute to the disciplines of Spiritual Journalling?

Ideally this would be in a public space, and so Steve Taylor spent time building relationships with a local café owner. The initial plan was to offer a block course on Spiritual Journalling.

The first course attracted such interest that it has birthed the possibility in 2007 of this becoming regular, weekly, and church by offering once-a-month sharing of what people are learning and weekly teaching on spiritual practises.

learning about spiritual formation: That people are longing for spiritual resourcing and that providing time and space for people to work on their spirituality is gift. Further, that the more this space is located in the cafes where people spend their everyday lives, the more likely it is to connect with people on the fringes of the church.

movie (or scene) that sums up your year: Everyday People and that sense of God’s future being revealed among the lives and coffee cups of everday people.

best mission moment in 06: First, sitting with the café staff to negotiate the use of the café and suddenly realising that in the grace of God and the circumstances of life, I was actually becoming the café pastor. Luke 10 was real, and I was speaking the peace of God amid the really hard places of people’s lives. Secondly, having someone on the first night of the journaling course voice their disillusionment with prayer unanswered and realising that this was going to be a very honest space, and thus a much more exciting place to be than any pious religious setting.

For more emerging church postcards 2006, go here.
For emerging church postcards 2005, go here.
For information on how your emerging church can send a postcard, go here.

Posted by steve at 02:21 PM

Thursday, January 04, 2007

an english eye for a kiwi book

Paul Walker, who blogs at Out of the Cocoon, is blogging his way, chapter by chapter, through my Out of Bounds Book?. Pop on over and have a read.

He writes: I enjoyed the book when I first read about 12 months ago, and I’m enjoying the second read perhaps even more so.

On the book front, I’ve also had emails from Canada and Spain in the last few days, thanking me for the book. It is quite humbling to sense that the book is connecting in such diverse – England to Canada to Spain – Western contexts.

Posted by steve at 12:41 PM

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

inspiration in 2006

5 most inspirational books of 2006

Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church – the theology helped us reshape our Digestion congregation, and allowed us to move to church as both resourcing, and learning from, the 24/7 doing of faith.

Cultural Transformation and Religious Practice – an real intellectual workout, but a must read for anyone who wants to think seriously about the processes of cultural change and the gospel.

Saint Johns Bible – this sits on my workplace coffee table as a reminder that the Bible is a coloured text, and deserves our visual excellence.

Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross – provided fresh insights for me on the place of story and storytelling in how we approach the communication of Scripture.

Kingdom ethics – invalable resource in mixing Biblical text and contemporary context as the Sermon on the Mount dominated the teaching in our Sunday morning congregation.

5 most inspirational films of 2006

Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada – for it’s exploration of the possibilities of justice and redemption in the gritty places of human relationships

Over the Hedge – a thought provoking commentary on consumption and the environment

U2 Vertigo DVD – stunning example of worship leading and became a regular used classroom resource on the place of DJing in communication.

Firefly series – became a weekly day-off highlight. I love the humour, the moral dilemmas, the interplay of the characters, while the place of Shepherd constantly raised questions of spirituality.

Crash – the power of grace amid the complexity of racism and human life in the urban context.

Posted by steve at 02:28 PM