Thursday, April 30, 2009

forgiveness and Kiwi culture

News from Bible society that well known Kiwi author, Joy Cowley, is writing a children’s book about Tarore.

“In 1835, Bible Society published 100 copies of the Gospel of Luke in Maori. In 1836, missionaries gave one of these Gospels to a young Maori girl, Tarore, at a mission school near Matamata. Tarore’s subsequent acceptance of the Christian faith and her murder at a young age had a great impact upon the Maori people with many coming to faith as a result.”

The risk of this is hagiography, overwrought emotional embellishment at the expense of truth, and the choice of Joy Cowley is wise in helping to avoid this.

The opportunity is to tell a Kiwi story in which forgiveness does have legs. I noted a few weeks ago the lack of such stories in Kiwi workplaces a few weeks ago. (This did spark quite some discussion among my theological colleagues, one of whom pointed out the differences between Pakeha and Pacific Island peoples, given a number of recent high profile incidents when Pacifica have shown public forgiveness.)

Anyhow, the Tarore story is the telling of a Kiwi story: of the murder of a 12 year old, of her father who preached forgiveness at her funeral, of the Bible stolen from the 12 year old which was then read, leading to the conversion of one of the murderers, and being instrumental in the spread of the Christian gospel down the lower North Island and into the South Island, through Tamihana son of the paramount chief, Te Rauparaha.

So forgiveness does have legs, in at least one place, in our Kiwi past.

Posted by steve at 11:44 AM

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

what is church? emerging forms in Aotearoa New Zealand

Welcome to Laidlaw students from Theology and Praxis in Global Ministry class. Here are the video’s I used: Firstly, how to move a 100 year old church

and secondly, We need to change everything.

The use of Dwelling in Word as an approach to Scriptural engagement gets some coverage here and here.

Links to some experimental Kiwi emerging church forms (based on the class reading Taylor, “A Kiwi Emerging Church? Yeah Right!” New Vision New Zealand, Volume III, 2008, Tabernacle Books, 311-324) include the Kitchen, Cathedral of Second life, Stations of cross (with specific videos here) and Christmas journey.

Thanks for all your energy and questions, I thought it was a great class.

Posted by steve at 06:12 PM

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

what is a community ministry?

So I’m having a chat. As you do. With a person enthusiastic about mission in their community. ‘

Who has a problem. They run a community ministry. People come, but people don’t transition into church.

I suggested that rather than think about taking people from the community ministry to the church, that they think about taking the church to the community ministry. What would it look like to think about building a community of faith around the ministry? I politely inquired.

Vigourous shake of head. Wouldn’t work, because lots of the people who attend the community ministry go to other churches.

How many, I ask.

70%. 70% attend a church somewhere else.

Oh. Long pause. My mental wheels are turning.

So what makes community ministry a mission? Is it the intention and the hope, that we run this so that people from the community can come? Is it the numbers, when 50%, or 70%, or whatever number, are from the community (and not from another church) then it’s mission? Is it the baptisms or bums on Sunday seats, that it’s worth it when the Denominational stat counter can be clicked?

Personally, being blunt, I think it’s a load of hogs to call something a community ministry, and defend it as missionally important, when the majority of people who attend are already churched. It might be useful and important and have a role – in ecumenism, or community or whatever. But it ain’t mission!

Posted by steve at 05:34 PM

Sunday, April 26, 2009

urban Easter sunday prayer

One the ways we sought to express our missional life over Easter was with regard to our corporate prayer life. Over the week prior to Easter, we placed a large 2 metre high wooden cross at various points around our community – McDonalds, police station, urban developments, state housing village. Pictures were taken. These were then shown in both our Easter Friday and Easter Sunday services. (Friday was greyscale here (click to move through each slide), Sunday was colour – here – click to move through each slide). Some historical research was done and a prayer was composed, for 2 readers (A and B), weaving a conversation between the history of our community and what the reality of the death and resurrection of Jesus might mean.

It was a fascinating exercise, a way of inviting us to take Easter outdoors (where it was orginally played out), and to consider the relevance of the cross for our local communities in 2009 – amid urban grime and fastfood outlets and urban development and social housing.

I posted the Friday prayer here, but for those interested, here is the Sunday prayer:

Posted by steve at 06:06 PM

Saturday, April 25, 2009

excited by bible: updated “training the imagination”

I’m really looking forward to today. It’s Bible day and in few hours, I get to gather with my church community and with other Christians around the Bible. We’re been lead by Paul Trebilco, who is one of New Zealand’s leading Bible scholars and is flying up from Dunedin for the day to be with us. It’s a fantastic opportunity, to sit for 2 hours digging into 1 Peter and what it means for our mission life today, to increase our Bible knowledge and engagement.

Hopefully the technology will work and it will be up as an MP3 down the track as well!

Updated: Bible days are a great thing. Paul Trebilco commented at one point that in 1 Peter, Peter was “training the imagination” so that this new church would live out of the Jesus story.

“Training the imagination.” That’s what we’re trying to do with Bible days. Gathering around Scripture. Taking the original context seriously. Letting Scripture explain Scripture as themes of exile in 1 Peter were traced through the Old Testament. Changing gear to explore wonder what this Bible book might mean for us in Aotearoa in 2009. And from tomorrow, as the lectionary reading takes us into 1 Peter, we have this resource, this richer understanding, which will help us read better.

Over time, Bible day by Bible day, we are building the capacity of the church to engage Scripture and move well between the two horizons of text then and life now. Bring on the next one, 1 Corinthians on Saturday, May 30.

Posted by steve at 02:37 PM

culture making: workplace mission and Kingdom stories

I’m a culture maker from Andy Crouch on Vimeo. (hat tip Bob Carlton)

I like how this affirms workplaces.
I love the variety of ages.
I like how some of these link their work with mission.
I don’t like how the last clip celebrates violent play.

I read this video within a framework of God as creator and redeemer of the world. But that’s me and I wonder what explicit narratives do drive people’s “culture making.” I wonder what uniquely the Christian gospel has to offer to culture making. I worry, based on a recent workplace experience (does forgiveness have legs), that Christianity today is actually not shaping culture.

I can see this being used at a church camp or through a block course, to create discussion on
– in what ways am I culture making
– what Bible stories shape my culture making
– what are the obstacles and dangers of my culture making
– what partnerships do I need to sustain and enhance my culture making
Finishing with the group making their own video, which becomes their “mission statement”

Posted by steve at 11:56 AM

Friday, April 24, 2009

what are we building? musuem or ?

At Opawa, we buried one of our saints today. 93 years old, faithful in prayer and love for Scriptures. It was a lovely service, with much honesty. During the (5) eulogies, one of her sons commented that she had a 19th century faith.

Which got me thinking. Generally as a society we put things from the 19th century in a musuem. It’s a mark of respect and that’s how we remember.

So what do we do when it comes to faith? If it is 19th century, do we seek to preserve a church that holds that faith.

Surely the answer is no. Churches are simply not meant to be living museums, a snapshot of the past. Jesus is the risen Christ, the Incarnate one. As the same yesterday, today and forever, that risen Christ must speak to every generation, calling for disciples to carry their cross for such a time as theirs. Faith is renewable, a living thing that shapes hearts and minds across diverse cultures and different times.

But neither should the alternative be amnesia. Our saints are gift to us, and deserve respect and to have their faith nourished not only in their twenties, but also in the old age. It is reckless to plunge into the future with no regard for our history, 20th, 19th, and back even further.

Which then raises the question of how we respect and remember 19th century faith, without needing to create museums?

I’m a bit tired after having conducted the funeral, so I’ll ask you, my blog readers, to help me. What are the metaphors that might allow us to not only respect and not only remember, but also renew? If church is not a museum, what might it be?

Posted by steve at 06:35 PM

seeing yourself through the eyes of another

I’ve been doing some reflecting this week on perceptions. On how I am seen by others and how important those perceptions can be. So on a whim, I thought I’d grab a “blog” perception of myself. What do I write and what type of signal does it send? So here (courtesy of here), visually, are the most common words I use on this blog …

Wordle: stevetaylor

The most prominent words (i.e. what I have been writing most about in recent days) are “Jesus” and “forgiveness” and “workplace”!

Nice! (click on the image if you want to go bigger)

Posted by steve at 09:17 AM

Sunday, April 19, 2009

stars and Christianity

We’ve had a few days break as a family, which included an evening star-gazing at Mt John, Tekapo. It was chosen as one of the best places in the Southern Hemisphere to launch astronomy research, became a University research centre and is now open to the public.

It was a fantastic experience, a warm nite, soft cafe light, expert guidance and insight into a vast space. Sometimes the vastness of space freaks me, but this evoked a deep sense of peace.

And it got me thinking about the essential role of star gazing in Christian history. Just a few examples, and there are surely more …
: Abraham who found his future written in the stars
: Magi who followed the stars. As I have written here: For a Jew, following stars was idol worship. And so by including magi, Matthew is telling us that all sorts of people can seek Jesus, and they are not always from folks we’d prefer. That Jesus is not just Savior of his Israel! But he’s the saviour of all people.
: passages in the book of Revelation, in which Jesus is the morning star, and if I remember my theological education, Revelation does engage with the signs of the Zodiac.

I wonder what Christianity misses if we neglect the stars and what it might mean to recapture them? Worship wrapped in warm blankets outdoors with hot chocolate?

Posted by steve at 10:47 PM

Thursday, April 16, 2009

next Bible days

Bible days. Wanting to deepen Bible knowledge? Take two hours to blow the dust off the book of 1 Peter and consider its impact for Christians today. Saturday, April 25, 3:30-5:30 pm, exploring 1 Peter with Dr Paul Trebilco. Opawa Baptist Church, cnr Hastings St East and Wilsons Road. Cost $5 (for non-Opawa-ites).

What is Bible days (here and here and MP3 (2meg) rough cut intro here?

Just in case you do not know of him…… (more…)

Posted by steve at 10:18 AM

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

does forgiveness have legs?

I sat with a workplace group today. I had been asked to spend two hours addressing the topic of Managing conflict positively, and to cover negotiation, mediation. We got to the topic of forgiveness and the question was asked. “Does forgiveness have a place in the workplace?” Great question. We bounced it around the group for a while. Some said yes, others no.

Then I went fishing. I asked them if they had ever seen forgiveness in their workplaces. (If they had, I was then going to ask if it had a positive or negative effect on the workplace culture, hoping that it was positive and so might address the original question – “Does forgiveness have a place in the workplace?”).


No one could think of an example.

It was a sad silence and I came home pondering the “alleged” Christian Easter message, that God in Christ forgives and reconciles, wondering if any of these people worked alongside Christians, wondering what it will take to give the forgiveness message legs, into our workplaces.

Posted by steve at 06:34 PM

pink panther 2 as seriously theological film

I undertake a monthly film review for the Methodist denominational magazine. With Easter holidays upon us, the challenge has been set. I need to find both a family film, and one that can sustain a depth of theological reflection. When all else fails, enter Pink panther 2. Amid the chuckles from Taylor’s young and old, the following conclusion was written:

Inspector Jacques Clouseau functions as the fool. While not a theme common to contemporary Christianity, it has fascinating roots in the Christian tradition. Paul describes his ministry as that of being a fool for Christ in 1 Corinthians 4:10. Georges Rouault painted Jesus as a clown, Dostoevsky described Jesus as the fool in “The Brothers Karamazov,” while the movie “Godspell” portrayed Jesus with red clown shoes, suspenders and Superman T-shirt.

This is not heresy, for John Drane argues in “The McDonaldization of the Church” that the figure of the clown embodies central Christian beliefs about Jesus. The clown is a symbol of joy in the pleasures of the everyday, a symbol of hope who never gives up believing, a symbol of non-conformity who humbles the exalter and exalts the humble.

Good clowning sets worlds of success and failure against each other, in the process provides insight into what is real and meaningful. On that basis, take a bow Inspector Jacques Clouseau and “Pink Panther 2,” for amid the humour, a Christ figure subverts many of the values of our media saturated culture.

Posted by steve at 12:04 PM

Sunday, April 12, 2009

tree of life

– He saw and believed. They still did not understand.
Easter text by John 20:8-9

The leaves are not yet grown
The colour is not yet shown
The fruit is not yet formed
Yet this is enough

The clothes still are scattered
The disciples still asleep
The gardener still prowls a sin-stained garden
Yet this is enough

Held by you, Who is not here
Who has gone ahead of me
For the life and love, of the world

– Easter words by Steve Taylor

– Easter visuals by Mark Berry

Posted by steve at 09:18 AM

Saturday, April 11, 2009

best and worst easter songs

So what are they?

Best, for me, is Roachford’s “Dawning of life” and the worst is Stones been rolled away – with that long, draggy “rolled.”

Another friend commented that his worst is “O sacred head”; so gory that it should only be played as heavy metal alt.worship.

Best and worst Easter songs – what are they for you?

Posted by steve at 06:50 PM