Friday, September 28, 2007

a redwall feast

It’s school holidays here, so the Taylor family has been grabbing some precious days out at our family bach/holiday house. Last nite we had our first ever family Redwall feast.

As a way of sharing time with one of my children, earlier this year I started reading aloud to her from a book in the Brian Jacques Redwall series. It’s been a chapter a time, most likely on my Mond-day off, snuggling together to read and imagine. We were due to finish it while on holiday, so to honour this milestone, I suggested that together the two of us make a Redwall feast.

A quick search of the internet last week found a website dedicated to Redwall food recipes. Our family holiday house is quite primitive, so after careful selection, we settled on a few recipes and ordered in supplies! Special table mats were constructed and together the family enjoyed skilly and duff, meadow cream and October ale (you gotta read the books to appreciate the menu!). A good nite together and hopefully some good family memories to tuck away.

And it made me marvel again at the gift of the internet: a fanzine website that can faciliate a sharing across countries. Now back to the holiday.

Posted by steve at 03:03 PM

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

an emerging Bible according to Peter, Paul and John MacArthur

I came across John MacArthur waxing erudite about the emerging church on youtube here

Hermeneutics … to interpret .. It’s really not that hard. It’s not brain surgery … We are talking simply about how we discern what it means by what it says.

Which I couldn’t help contrasting with the apostle Peter: Paul’s letters contain some things that are hard to understand. 2 Peter 3:16

Or am I simply misusing proof texts and quoting people out of context?

Posted by steve at 02:16 PM

Monday, September 24, 2007

creation and re:creation

What is the difference between creation and re:creation?

Is it that God starts with creation. Human sin meant that God could have decided to start again (creation again). But instead, through Jesus, God enters into re:creation. This is not a starting over, but a continuity between the old and the new.

Posted by steve at 10:19 PM

Sunday, September 23, 2007

stoning the prophets: kickoff

stoningtheprophets.jpg Stoning the prophets kicked off today. And an excellent kickoff it was. The space was wrapped in black cloth. River stones were piled in the middle along with a big black bible. Grass tussocks and box lighting added to the environment.

A brief welcome and a warning, that this could well be hard work. We so very rarely engage with the prophets in church, let alone large chunks of Scripture, let alone large chunks read aloud.

With that warning, we listened to the prophet Hosea. From chapter 1 to chapter 14. It took nearly 50 minutes, simply listening to the power of a long gone poetic voice.

Then the invite to pick up a stone from the pile in the middle and to share what struck us. People shared and then tossed their stone back onto the pile. There is something very primal about the sound of stone striking stone. There is something rich and powerful about being among a community taking the word of God seriously, as a community and not from a preaching expert.

Stoning the prophets continues for the next 11 weeks, from 5:30 pm, upstairs, in the Friendship Centre. It is designed to partner a 12 week preaching series on the minor prophets happening in our morning congregation. And it makes me wonder why we don’t do this every week, simply gathering to listen to large chunks of Scripture being read in community.

Posted by steve at 11:39 PM

Saturday, September 22, 2007

missional church coaching on the road


About a year ago I started working on a dream, a way to explore missional church leadership with existing pastors in context. Rather than expect leaders to come to my training institution, what would going to them look like?

I designed a course that mixed coaching, on-line learning and action projects and started field testing it with a group of 14 pastors, students and church planters here in Christchurch in February. So far I am delighted with the growth that is happening in lives, and in ministries, as we read, think, talk and listen together.

My input in the last few months into Anglican Clergy Conferences has resulted in an invitation to take the course on the road and to work with groups of church leaders as follows:

Waikato: 13 oct, 26 oct, 25 nov, 19 jan, 8 mar, 3 may, 7 jun, 5 jul, 2 aug.

Auckland: 7 dec 07, 18 jan 08, 7 mar 08, 4 apr 08, 2 may 08, 6 jun 08, 4 jul 08, 1 aug 08, 5 dec 08.

Canterbury (still taking shape): 8 dec 07 (2 hour introduction in town), 26 jan, 1 mar, 19 apr, 10 may, 31 may, 28 jun, 9 aug, 6 dec.

(There is still space for about 3 more people in Waikato and 6 more people in Auckland. Canterbury is still very fluid).

For more information on the course download file. I have also put together a 6 minute video presentation introducing the course, which I’m happy to send to interested parties. Let me know.

Posted by steve at 11:44 PM

Thursday, September 20, 2007

tasting the Kingdom again

Here is another taste of the Kingdom. Last year, we spent a church meeting gathering around Scripture. Instead of me as pastor coming up with vision, I read a Scripture, offered some exegetical background, and invited each person to consider how Opawa could practise this Scripture in 2007. We then entered into community discernment and 7 ideas were generated. (For more detail, go here.)

One was that of workplace blessings from Opawa to people who work locally as a “thanks” for the work they do. Over 2007, this has slowly gained legs. A month ago books were given to a local kindergarten. (In return, they made us a card and then a group of them rolled up and joined us for our monthly family night. Quite cool really). This month, a cake baked for our local school, with a card from us, the church, to them. They have just been through a Department of Education review, so the cake was perfect timing.

In Luke 10, the disciples of Jesus are sent to speak peace among the towns and villages. I wonder if giving books and making cakes is a 21st century way of speaking peace into the communities around our church.


Photo from (here, as part of the picturing of 30 days in September series).

Posted by steve at 07:49 PM

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

tasting the Kingdom

Church on Sunday, (that is Digestion, our evening church service) happened around a meal. People bring food and we sat at one long table, complete with tablecloth and candles and sparking grapejuice. We do this about once every 3 months.

Just as we started, there was a furtive movement in the foyer. I went out, and a man was huddled in a corner, and wanting a food parcel. “Sure”, I said, “at the end of the service. But why not wash your hands and come and join us. We’re eating here tonight and there’s even roast chicken.”

He sat among us, enjoying his share of first, seconds and thirds. He laughed with us, and listened as we broke bread and shared. He left with a full belly and a food parcel.

The regulars were curious. I told them he might just be an angel. I think we were more blessed than he. He got to eat food in human company. We got to taste the reality of the radical hospitality offered at the wedding banquet of the Kingdom.

Go here for another example of tasting the Kingdom.

Posted by steve at 10:39 AM

Monday, September 17, 2007

stoning the prophets


A chance to listen
to the minor prophets, as they are read aloud

A chance to learn
from the minor prophets, through reflective space.

…dramatic reading aloud from the minor prophets
…candle light among river stones
(You are welcome to dress as a prophet)

Twelve Sundays, 5.30-6:45 pm
From 23 September – 16 December (with a break on November 4)
Opawa Baptist Church Friendship Centre (A frame building opposite the church)


Posted by steve at 12:46 AM

Saturday, September 15, 2007


All my various teaching commitments have caught up on me. I currently am marking
: 10 essays about missional church leadership (done)
: 16 masters essays on critical missional issues in relation to emerging church (half done)
: 40 masters pieces of work on living the Biblical text in a postmodern context (half done)
: 60 pieces of work on being kiwi, being christian.

That’s 126 pieces of work. When you consider that the masters related work comes in the 3000 word range, that’s a lot of marking.

Each piece of work represents blood and sweat. There is nothing worse than getting an assignment back with a simple mark scrawled on it. So my personal commitment is to write 5-10 comments, engaging with the blood and sweat. That’s currently a lot of comments.

Best thing about marking is realising that students are making connections and joining dots. Second best thing is when I learn something. Worst thing is a student who has put the work in, but hasn’t answered the question (haven’t come across this in relation to the above – yet!).

Posted by steve at 05:16 PM

Friday, September 14, 2007

God the hairdresser

haircut.jpg I wrote the following for my fortnightly radio slot. Those who have seen me in the flesh recently might appreciate that this post has multiple layers.


Posted by steve at 04:20 PM

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Guest post: Praise God from whom all economies of scale flow part 3


Over the last week this blog (here and here) has been probing whether the growth of supermarkets might parrallel the rise in large churches. On the way we have explored competition vs cooperation and asked why we go to church.

Here’s another guest post I’ve been sent that I think adds some thought to the debate.

Just some thoughts taken from a book called Sustainable Leadership by Hargreaves and Fink. Although a book based in the world of education, I believe it’s message is transferable, and relevant to this discussion.

“It is the part that calls us to serve the public good of all children [change to Christians?] within and beyond our community and not only the private interests of those subscribe to our own institution. Sustainable leadership means caring for all the people our actions and choices affect – those whom we ca’’t immediately see as well as those whom we can.” Hargreaves and Fink (2006)

Hargreaves and Fink state that few schools [change to churches] are islands. The fates of schools are almost always intertwined. Outstanding teachers, leaders and pupils are drawn toward the high performing schools, and at the same time, they are drained away from the rest. For the education system to be sustainable long term, school leaders need to think beyond their own school.

In other words: should we accept that some churches will be “outstanding” and will grow. As they do, they will inevitably attract the best and brightest. In doing so, what disciplines might they introduce that will help them think beyond their own school? Or, using the categories of my initial post, how might “supermarket” churches care for the “corner diary” churches?

Posted by steve at 02:24 PM

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

other priorities

I realise that debate on this blog has been hissing and fizzing away. Nevertheless, I have deemed other priorities far more important: 17 years of marriage needed to be celebrated in style with 3 day break in beautiful Queenstown.


Posted by steve at 11:30 PM

Friday, September 07, 2007

Guest post: Praise God from whom all economies of scale flow part 2

supermarkettrolley.jpg My post praising God from whom all economies of scale flow has caused a flurry of comment and interaction on and off-blog. Here is a guest post from a keen eyed watcher of world and church, wanting to be known simply as “the consultant”

One key issue facing Christian Church(es) in the modern environment seems to be the whole question “cooperation versus competition”. In other words, are
the different churches competing with each other, as opposed to working for
the ‘common good’. For example, if a church says that it is involved in
“church-planting” on a polytech or university campus, what does that
actually mean? Prima facie, everyone assumes this means that the church is
attracting new people, who would not otherwise be involved in a church;
(evangelising, to use the old term). However, my impression is that, in
practice, what tends to regularly happen is that the new church mainly
attracts people away from their existing churches to something that is
currently new and exciting – at least, it’s new and exciting for a few
months. You could rather bluntly, call it “congregation stealing”. The net
gain, across the overall Christian community however, may be quite small,
and instead we’ve just shifted existing people from one place to another.

Now, I don’t pretend to be able to second-guess what the intentions of any
church-planting people are, and I don’t doubt that they do this with the
best of evangelical intentions. Presumably they want to see church growth,
with something new and vibrant happening. But, I do wonder if there is a
risk of confusing our own personal church’s growth with the wider growth of
the Christian community. It’s that tendency to be somewhat myopic, seeing
what’s close to us and important to us, but not quite noticing the bigger
picture of what’s happening for others.

In a sense, denominational lines seem to have died in the late 1970s, and
since then people have often gone to whatever seems good, wherever that is.
The obvious victims of this are the older mainline churches; Anglican,
Presbyterians, Methodist etc. Call it “economies of scale”, or whatever,
the principle is that people have gone to what satisfies their needs, as
part of a consumer-like approach, rather than loyalty. Therefore the blog
“Praise God from whom all economies of scale flow” seems to be making a very
valid point .

At what point do we perhaps take the risk of saying, let’s put aside each of
our own personal interests here, and cooperatively work together? That might
mean that a new church planting group would get alongside the existing
churches, and work together on new ventures to make meaningful links with
the local student community. Or, it might mean that if we have some great
“secret” tactic that we are using to attract people, that we would share
this widely with other churches. The list goes on, if you really start to
tease out the implications of this. A person such as Steve Taylor
personally shares a lot of his own insights, strategies and tactics – and
deserves much respect for what he does in that regard – but how many others
do the same?

Perhaps a true test of whether we are focused on our own interests, or those
of the wider Christian community (and the people we are working with), would
be if we were prepared to create new links with (evangelise) people – but
then, be prepared to let those people go to other churches. I somehow
suspect that this is the approach that the “great people” of the past like
Wesley would have taken.

Looking forward to the pushback from all students and blog readers involved in church planters and those involved in student ministry.

Posted by steve at 03:37 PM

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Praise God from whom all economies of scale flow

So “big city church” is growing. Excitedly, I am told of growth and expansion and new building plans. Size obviously matters.

At the same time, I hear of two neighbourhood churches, small, struggling, that have closed in the last 6 months. Both have encouraged their people to attend “big city church”. In other words, growth in “big city church” has come from the death of corner church.

What does the Christian church do with these realities?


I drive home thinking about supermarkets. And the slow death of corner diaries, driven to the wall by the advent of cars, the ease of transport and the economies of scale.

And let’s be honest. We’re all part of it. We all shop at supermarkets. We all appreciate cheaper prices and greater variety and we all gladly absorb anonymous service and ease of parking.

So is this the future of the Western church? A few lucky ones getting larger and larger, filled with punters reassuring themselves that nameless growth is surely evidence of God being present and Christianity having a future? Size matters. And surely it’s easier to sit and soak in a high quality band than listen to the tuneless two-piece band at the corner diary? And surely large leads to economies of scale and ensures good programming can be absorbed by both toddler and teen.

Is this gathering of crowds of consumers, praising the God from who all economies of scale flow, really the Kingdom vision that Jesus lived and died for?

If not, what do we do? And who will lead the revolution? You?

Or the consumer next door?

For more on this topic see here:

Posted by steve at 09:19 PM