Monday, March 31, 2008

resurrection door kicker

Jesus, door kicker, strides out the tomb
hinges swinging
door banging
in Spirit’s breeze

Jesus, walks our world,
loving on sandy beach, gathering on grassy knoll,
calling “Followers, to me”

If you walk away, will we follow?

inside 4 walls,
contains, confines,
holds, hoards


jogging through city street,
laughing, listening,
stretching through house and home,

Til Kingdom come

Posted by steve at 09:04 AM

Sunday, March 30, 2008

defining your missional life

So in Luke 10, Jesus sends out the 70/2 in mission. And he suddenly looks around his empty church. Stink. This won’t look good next Sunday. Who will do sound? What will visitors say? What will the denomination think?

And then he wakes up in a cold sweat. Can those 70/2 be trusted? What if they don’t get the mission right? What if they aren’t faithful in gospel transmission? What if they don’t come back?

So much of our life and identity as church has historically been defined by Sunday. Yet missional church is about following Christ outside the building, about inviting ordinary disciples into God’s purposes in settings beyond are physical control.

It suddenly occurred to me this morning that so much of Opawa’s life actually now happens outside Sunday morning church.

Every year the denominational statistical sheet arrives. They want to know our attendance and our baptisms. Yet you can no longer simply can’t define us by Sunday. You need to count the community kids enjoying mainly music or watch us at the Waltham Community Fair on Friday. You need to note the visitors at the family movie night. You need to check out our other 4 congregations. You need to interact with the God at work group, quietly practising spiritual practices in their work place. You need to be part of the Thursday nite youth forum, and watch parents, pre-teens, grandparents, youth group leaders and community youth, multiple small groups all over our church foyer, talking, dreaming, praying.

How are those things named? How do we keep Sunday morning up to date with all of this energy? How do we share the sheer enormity and diversity of these stories when we gather? What practices sustain this type of scattered energy?

Posted by steve at 09:34 PM

Saturday, March 29, 2008

evaluation multi-media in easter worship

Email from Jeremy Williams (UK Programme Development, SGM Lifewords): I’ve just been writing up a debrief on our Easter project, and I came across the mention of the films on your blog. Thanks for the link, and for the resulting traffic!

I’m going to be writing a short news item for our magazine too, and it would be great to include a quote from someone who has used the films on the ground. Can you tell me a bit about how you used the animations, and how they were received?

My response: Hi Jeremy,

We used 4 of them in 3 services:
Palm Sunday we used day 1 and day 3. Day 3 (breaking of Alabaster jar) was used to introduce the offering and gave a lovely texture and nuance. Day 1 was used to tell the Palm Sunday narrative by way of introduction.

Easter Friday we used day 6, at the end of the reading of John 18-19. It was a powerful way to underline the death of Jesus, helping hold the liturgical space that is needed as the death is pondered from multiple perspectives.

Easter Sunday we used Day 8, again by way of introduction early in the service and as a way of telling the narrative.

I used them because they gave visuals to Scripture. I liked the use of text+symbol+music+aural reading. It allowed Scripture to be multi-valent. One of our art students commented on the art techniques, she is using similar in her study, so there was a particular resonnace for her.

Good work and kudos to whoever was the creative catalyst and project manager.

Posted by steve at 10:42 AM

Friday, March 28, 2008

mission storytelling roadshow

Over the next few weeks I am part of a mission roadshow, Baptist initiated, called Sharpening the Middle. It is a follow up to the Sharpening the Edge conference last year (short youtube video clip of me in action here), telling the stories of grassroots missional experiments and classic church planting going on here in Aotearoa.

The roadshow consists of three regional workshop days, in Auckland (April 5), Wellington (April 10) and Christchurch (April 12).

Topics include:

* The challenge of Mission facing the church in NZ today – Murray Robertson
* Thinking Biblically about Mission and Church in NZ today – George Wieland
* Discerning the biblical frameworks – George Wieland, Steve Taylor
* Local church stories – including Opawa story.

This day is specifically aimed at our existing churches (defined as the ‘middle’). For me this is quite meaningful, as it’s nice to have emerging church conversation tucked up within Baptist mission and life.

Posted by steve at 10:50 AM

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

easter workloads

Fascinating Easter workload reflection from here.

Until this year I had thought that the intensity of Holy Week came from the business involved, but this year has made we wonder in a positive way.

For the first time in 10 years I have not accepted any external commitments during Holy Week – no supervision sessions or retreats etc, and I had assumed that this would make the week lighter or less exhausting.

I have also been unusually well prepared in advance this year.

So far I feel very little different than previous years – which perhaps indicates that the intensity comes from the experience rather than the work-load

Easter simply wipes me out and the week after is really hard work. This year we paused our Easter Journey, yet I am still wasted. Is it just church leaders? Does Easter take an emotional toll on worship participants?

Posted by steve at 06:59 PM

Monday, March 24, 2008

imaging resurrection life 2008

The door is open, and Jesus walks out, into our city, calling “Come, follow me”


and in response, the invitation to reflect on resurrection by placing flowers – symbols of colour, life and potential – on maps of our city, in the places where we live and work, as our commitment to live resurrection life to the full.


Posted by steve at 07:06 PM

Sunday, March 23, 2008

resurrecting the resurrection

Went to see the movie Vantage Point and it helped me make sense of the resurrection. The movie is tagged 8 points of view: 1 truth. It’s a soft form of postmodernity, affirming eyewitnesses as subjective, without losing history as truthful.

In a similar way, the Bible has 4 gospels. Each offers a uniquely different point of view – Mark is fear and trembling; Matthew is earthquakes and angels; Luke is burning hearts; John is a new start. Each is subjective. Each adds insight, without losing truth.

Vantage point (the movie) ends with an 8th scene, an extended narrative which provides the big picture. In the same way, Christian hope is a big picture, or in the words of N. T Wright:
the events of Easter Sunday are no less than “a full, recreated life in the presence and love of God, a totally renewed creation, an integrated new heavens and new earth, and a complete humanness … in worship and love for God, in love for one another as humans, in stewardship over God’s world.”

In between the 4th and 8th perspective is the church. Each of us, in our homes, workplaces, city, living out the resurrection in our lives. Each of us subjective eyewitnesses, adding insight.

I wonder if the evangelical captivity to historical truth means that we jump to quickly from the 4th to the 8th perspective. I wonder if evangelicals are so concerned about the historical truth of the resurrection that they reduce the resurrection to an intellectual set of categories. Thus the entry to the 8th perspective is reduced to a set of beliefs that get you into heaven.

Yet the resurrection is so much more than an intellectual historical search. It is the affirmation of life, and life to the full. That is a truth to be lived, through your own unique point of view.

Full sermon manuscript is here.

Posted by steve at 04:34 PM

Friday, March 21, 2008

easter atonement theologies

is for friends,
honestly. OK, honestly betraying, honestly bad praying, honestly
take, eat,
this is my body
(atonement in community)

is for Passover,
liberation rescues us
crossing seascape, crossing sandscape
Kingdom coming
(atonement as liberator)

is for pain,
honestly. In, Darfur and in child abuse, God why have you
abandoned me, him, them
gone God
while innocents die
(atonement as crucified God)

Posted by steve at 12:28 PM

Thursday, March 20, 2008

vantage point student

from my leadership class today, a student cell phone pic.


the picture says a lot: in the foreground inductive learning with the class invited to use a type of lego to “build” their church. a way of allowing them to name their leadership values. leading into an excellent discussion around leadership and leader as builder in 1 Corinthians 3:10-17. in the background lecturer, white board marker in hand, waiting to capture student feedback. in so doing I am questioning, making links to pre-set class reading and earthing through practices and storytelling.

Posted by steve at 12:08 PM

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

pushing pause on a strength: easter journey 2008

services advertising for leterboxing300.jpg

Our easter services: creative, contemporary, multi-sensory, happening Easter Thursday, Friday and Sunday. But note, for the first time in 10 years, there’s no Easter Journey (interactive art pilgrimage) at Opawa.

I wrote to the main organisers, Peter and Joyce on December 28, 2007, noting that Easter was the earliest it has been in 95 years and that given the enormous energy required to do our 2007 Christmas Journey, open for 60 hours continously in a public park, it might be time for a pause.

In hindsight, it was a good call. It’s a good discipline to pause something that you as a church are really well-known for. We’ve been able to give Peter and Joyce a weekend trip away. We’ve been less busy as a staff. We’ve been able to do more with Lent.

How about you? What have you discovered when you have paused something you’re really well known for?

Posted by steve at 02:43 PM

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

easter week resources


Great Easter visually Biblical resource here for each day of Easter week.

I used a couple of clips on Sunday (and will again on Friday and Sunday). Afterward one of our church artists commented on how they are experimenting with similar art techniques in their work, with particular reference to Luke 10:1-12. Really looking forward to seeing that!

Posted by steve at 10:43 PM

Friday, March 14, 2008

collaborative learning around the real Jesus

Grow (our non-linear, interactive, Sunday evening church service) is using a cell phone text challenge to help us search for the real Jesus. Themes – like aren’t there are other gospels that offer us a different Jesus or the church tampered with the gospels – lend themselves to some collaborative learning through a text challenge. So we have asked people to volunteer to be either
a) a Gnostic Jesus or
b) a Buddy Jesus
c) or a real Jesus.

We have given them either a Gospel of Thomas, or a selection of feel-good Bible verses, or a Gospel of Mark and sent them into the week. Then we text them a challenge during the week.

I was sitting a test this week. I cheated by copying from my friend. Now I feel bad. What do I do [Gnostic or Buddy or real] Jesus?

Simply giving people the Gnostic gospels has already highlighted how patriarchal, esoteric and just plain weird they are. And we are hoping that then running these “Jesus’s” through real life type scenarios will further help us realise the significant differences between the real Jesus of the gospels, and other constructions.
advertising poster400.jpg

Posted by steve at 03:19 PM

Thursday, March 13, 2008

let him who has no sin cast the first stone


a tear ran down my cheek last week. it was a tear that developed from a splinter that I found in my own eye.

(If you want to make this poem your own, feel free to add your initials or your response in the comments).

Posted by steve at 01:42 PM

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

so who is the Bible for?

As I continue to probe the place of the Bible in church today, I have found myself asking who is the Bible for? Is it for individuals or for the church?

Is the Bible for individuals? And therefore the way we use it reinforces this. We encourage personal devotion and applaud a sermon that applies the minds of the individual with thoughts and truths.

Is the Bible for the church? And therefore the way we use it reinforces this. We preach a sermon that applies to the church. We encourage devotions that remind us we are reading within a wider communion. And we read the Bible together in ways that invite the community to engage the text as a community, through practices like communal lectio divino, Dwelling in the Word, community discernment, storytelling, takeaway spirituality.

Or is it for someone/thing else? Am I making a false dichotomy? How much does the culture we grow up in shape our answers?

Posted by steve at 01:55 PM