Wednesday, February 07, 2007

valentines day spirituality

A number of people have noted the significance of the Opawa Baptist Church annual meeting being on Wednesday 14th February. It will be Valentines Day and all over Christchurch city retailers will be lurking, keen to remove hard earned cash from guilt-ridden and last minute planners.

Here are my top 5 romantic tips for Wednesday 14th February
1. Start the evening before with a special chocolate placed on top of the pillow.
2. In the morning, slip your own, hand-made Valentines Day card, with your own hand-written words of appreciation, under the pillow.
3. Ring your loved one at unexpected times throughout the day.
4. Become a year long romantic by taking out your diary and writing “buy red roses” on the 14th day of every month for the rest of 2007. You will get much more rose for your dollar.
5. Finally, full of romantic cheer, proceed to the Church annual meeting to enjoy live love songs, coffee and dessert, and a celebration of God’s activity past and present at Opawa Baptist Church and a message for us all from a secret admirer.

The Opawa Baptist annual meeting is free and open to anyone in the church. If you want coffee and dessert, you need a ticket, costing $5, available from the Board or church office.

Posted by steve at 10:53 AM

Sunday, February 04, 2007

workplace spirituality

This worked well.


We printed a map of Christchurch city onto brown paper bags and people were invited to mark where they ate their lunch and 3 words to describe what they did. (Work can be viewed as a term that excludes the retired and homemakers, so we hoped that a focus on where you eat your lunch would prove more inclusive).

I then preached on Ephesians 4:1-16 as a workplace text, a challenge to use our gifts and ability for the sake of the Kingdom come where we eat our lunch during the week.


By way of response, people brought their paper bags to the front of the church and pegged them up. We will make these into a banner, and perhaps even a prayer mat for people to walk and pray over, with the words from Ephesians 4:16; when each separate part works as it should, the whole body grows.

Posted by steve at 08:07 PM

Saturday, February 03, 2007

the good old days

We all have memories of the good old days. Which means that any change process challenges the past. Take on a missional church leadership challenge and you face the history of a church and the values and habits of it’s members.

But don’t think this post is irrelevant if you are part of a flash, new, emerging startup. We planted Graceway Baptist Church, aged 25, thinking we were the newest thing on the church block. We had gathered a team, workshopped our core values, prayed, listened in the local community. I was washing clothes at the local laundromat, incarnating myself in the local narratives.

Week 2 and I left a message, asking one of our team to lead worship. He rang back, “So what’s the pattern, Steve.” Bright, young, one week into a church plant and he is searching for memories.

Every person that enters your church has memories and carries notions of what church should look like. They might get it from Mr Bean or a priest on TV. They might get it from previous church participation. But we all have memories of the good old days and change challenges these memories.

What to do with the good old days?

Visit one on one. Shows you are a listener, but takes time.

Ignore them. This can make things look good on the surface and serene in your office, but you might just be corking an explosion.

Shout louder by using the pulpit, or your knowledge, or your use of the Bible, to maximise your own voice. Again, this can make you feel good, but you might just be corking an explosion.

Our staff team has a pattern of gathering around Scripture. We are all part-time, committed to living and working not only in the church but in other forms of work. So we need a way to be gathered and scattered. Our current pattern is to share a common set of lectionary readings, to pray on Tuesday and every second Friday we gather to drink coffee, read the lectionary text and engage in some form of lectio divino.

Hence a 4th idea: New and old listen around Scripture. This Friday I invited some our older members, with long memories to join us. We read Scripture together. I then invited those with long memories to share one memory of one time when the church had come close to living out the Scripture that had just been read. The new on the block pastoral team listened. And then we prayed for each other.

How might this help a change process? For a start, the Scriptures, rather than the good old days, or a shiny new emerging idea, start our conversation. New and old are sharing time and text together. The work of God in the past is honoured. The voices of those often marginalised in a change process are heard, but in a context of Scripture and affirmation, rather than complaint. And if the new staff listen carefully, they might just begin to sense more clearly the historic pathways by which the God who began a good work in the good old days might carry it on to completion into the changing world that is our tomorrow.

Posted by steve at 11:17 AM