Wednesday, August 31, 2011

making links through Fresh expressions

Here is some notes from the talk I have gave last night, titled Making Links Through Fresh Expressions. And a concluding prayer, using this advertisement, which sort of really went off!!



Introduction (2 mins)

Moses and burning bush. It has a lot to say in terms of our topic – making links through F ex.

First, mission begins with listens – Exodus 3:7 “I have heard them crying because of their slave drivers …. “ Mission begins with this compassion for hurting people.

Second, Moses is asked to give what he’s got – “what is in your hand.” (Exodus 4:2) All he’s got is his stick. And a diseased hand. And a tongue that feels to thick. And that’s what God starts with. Pretty simple way to think about mission. It’s as is as simple as giving what’s in our hands. We’ve all got something.

For all of us, it’s our God story – our lives have been changed. As it says in Basis of Union – Para 3 – say it to the person beside you … you are “the beginning of a new creation, of a new humanity. God in Christ has given to all people in the Church the Holy Spirit as a pledge and foretaste of that coming reconciliation and renewal

And our community charism. That each of us are in a church that has a particular set of gifts and possibilities.

So Making links – starts with us paying attention to the cries. And being willing to simply give what we’ve got.

I want to approach tonight under 4 headings

  • linking through listening
  • linking in (because despite tonight being about fresh expressions, many of you are in established churches and not yet ready to think about fresh expressions)
  • linking out (focused on fresh expressions)
  • linking in posture

I plan to talk for about 35 mins and then give you some time to chose 1 of those 4 headings and “do something”, ie to resource yourself practically. (more…)

Posted by steve at 11:27 AM

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

a practical “linking in” mission resource?

Tonight I’m speaking to about 60 folk from the Community Outreach Mission Network, which is a grouping within the Uniting Church of South Australia. The topic they have given me is

“Making links in mission.”

It has given me the chance to develop some ideas I’ve been pondering. In particular, how to help churches conduct a mission audit of their life. I worked with a church recently who became aware of needs in their community but in the end decided they were simply too busy.

So the tool is a way of inviting us first to reflect on what exactly we are busy about. Who is our life for?

And second, to think strategically about how we do our mission. If we have limited resources, then how are those resources being deployed? Anyhow, here it is “Linking in” resource and I’d love some feedback on how useful you find in reflecting missionally on your church life?

Posted by steve at 06:26 PM

Monday, August 29, 2011

leading in a mission: moses style

Sitting in church yesterday, I heard a particularly good storytelling of the call of Moses. I began to appreciate a number of important insights in regard to leading in mission.

First, the call begins with the cry of a people. So leading begins with listening, to the cries of those in pain. This is a care for another, a motivation to serve born out of desire to serve. And in the Moses story, the listening is quite specific, the cries of an oppressed Israelite people at a particular time in history. Good leading involves that depth, knowing what are the cries of our community, at a particular time. (For a specific way to do this, see some ideas I have produced here and here and here).

Second, Moses was invited to give what he had, his staff, his hand. In other words, to share what he had. This could be viewed thought the lens of asset-based community development, or appreciative inquiry, that Moses builds on what he has, on what he knows, rather than on what he does not have, or does not know. All people, all churches, all groups, have something in their hand, have gifts and insights and important ways of being. Leading in mission starts with being willing to offer that.

Third, it assumes our feelings of inadequacy. I find this wonderfully liberating. I often feel overwhelmed by what lies around me and deeply aware of my own limitations. So did Moses. Yet God called in and with those limitations.

So, leading in mission – Moses style

  • listen deeply, specifically
  • assume we start with limitations and liabilities
  • simply give what we’ve got

I can almost feel a sermon coming on! :) Which might be important, given that I am speaking Tuesday night at a Uniting Church Community network!

Posted by steve at 09:32 AM

Friday, August 26, 2011

September UK trip planning

Here are my current details for my UK September 2011 trip. The trip is a mix of research presentation plus some relaxation and exploration. So, if there are people that would like to connect with me, show me their city, go hiking in the Lakes, all over conversation about mission, pioneering and leadership formation, then do drop me a line.

Leaving Adelaide Thursday 15 September, arriving Manchester Friday 16 September. Returning evening, September 28, from Manchester.

Weekend free. Explore Manchester? Or hike into Lakes District?

September 20-22. Ecclesiology and Ethnography network, St Johns College, Durham, UK. Present research. “Finding fresh expression ten years on? Initial findings from a longitudinal study of emerging churches in New Zealand.”

Weekend free. Explore Lindisfarne and Northumbria coast?

September 27, Cliff College, Master of mission input day

  • Session 1 and 2. Emerging church in history – stories from a global mission tour. Galilee to Azherbijan to Vietnam to Aotearoa New Zealand.

September 28, Cliff College, Doctor of Missiology research day

  • Session 1 – Bible, culture and history – “Bible, Ploughs and damper: responding to a de/colonizing God”
  • Session 2 – Ecclesiology as ethnography – “Finding fresh expression ten years on?”
  • Session 3 – Liturgical rupture – “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table”
  • Session 4 – Pop culture – U2’s “Bullet the Blue Sky” as an Evolving Performance

On the 27th I plan to offer some global mission history, using storytelling to explore how the church has emerged in history, followed by discussion of implications for church, Spirit, Jesus, gospel/culture.

On the 28th I will offer some of my recent research. I will be drawing on Rowan Williams definition of Christian mission as “finding out where the Holy Spirit is at work and joining it.” I will do this by offering a range of ways that research as listening can actually happen – in history, in church practices, in contemporary culture.

Posted by steve at 12:18 PM

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

changing a space: putting relationships back into theology and education

Change. It just keeps happening. Some good. Some bad. Always dislocating.

Part of my long weekend in Auckland was being at Laidlaw College. I used to work for the Christchurch branch of Laidlaw, so the Auckland campus was often visited.

Walking in the front door on Friday, the change was obvious –

- the foyer was now a cafe. Walls painted, tables of various sizes set up, good coffee going. Students talking to students, staff interacting, visitors welcomed.

From the foyer you can turn left to the library, straight to the classrooms, go up stairs to the office areas or right to reception and finance. So its a major thoroughfare, that with some vision, a bit of paint and some plumbing, has changed, in a really good way, the feel and values of the place.

The signals were instant – that this place is about relationships.

Posted by steve at 02:29 PM

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Eugene Peterson free at amazon

Free at the moment on kindle

Posted by steve at 08:39 PM

5:30 am start

My very full long weekend in Auckland came to a grinding halt today with a 5:30 am start in order to catch a flight back to Adelaide. Always a tough one, given that it’s not only early, but works out to be 3 am by Adelaide time, making for a very long day.

Anyhow, a brief update on the long Auckland weekend. First, some great times catching up with friends. It so nice to see people with whom I have a back story, in which conversations can loiter around prior history and shared memories, with people you know well enough for their to be pauses and space.

Second, my research paper – Feeling for a theology: an exploration of the place of “sense-gesis” in theological reading – on Friday went well. (Apart from my copy of the Saint John’s Bible: Gospels and Acts falling off the music-stand-as-podium).

And it generated some really, really interesting responses. (Brief excerpt from the paper, on using the sense of touch to intercede with Jesus for the hard stuff of life is here). Not the normal academic responses, comparing footnotes or authors. Rather the sharing of some deep heart places. And some intense discussion of the implications for ministry. Fascinating. I need to ponder this some more.

Third, the Cityside research went well. I ended up with over 6 hours of interview data from a variety of perspectives. I am even more excited than ever about the importance of the research. Just one example. 10 years ago, this community had few kids. Now they have around 70. So one of their challenges over this last decade has been working out how their values of community, creativity and cultural engagement work not only as younger adults, but as busy families and among their children. It is so fascinating to listen to them articulate their insights, joys and struggles.

Thankfully a common response at the end of the interviews was also their appreciation, how they had found it helpful. Mutually beneficial research.

Now back to my day job. Including transcribing and beginning to write up some thoughts. (The first presentation of data will be in Durham, UK, at an Ecclesiology and ethnography conference in about a month). But first, a few more coffees to keep me awake! And a quiet night in.

Posted by steve at 04:49 PM

Monday, August 22, 2011

faith box: a challenge to church?

I heard about Faith box – Kiwi resource yesterday. A box with 20 minute once a week for busy families – reading, activity, questions. It comes with enough material for activities for 3 months. Followup material is also available.

In some ways this is similar to the Easter Weekend resources I offered a few years ago, some resources for a family to make their own spiritual event (here).

Could you plant churches using this? ie give out Faith box, and then gather monthly with other families to share what you learnt ie perform the activities to each other. (Sort of like the notion of festival spirituality that I talk about it my The Out of Bounds Church? book), in which I note that in the Old Testament, gathering was not weekly, but occasionally for large community festivals, alongside village life. In other words, families going to Jerusalem for large events. Translated to today, churches not offering weekly worship, but weekend long festivals, say 5-7 per year, heaps of hospitality and multiple learning events, with the encouragement for families to continue to work this into the home lives weekly.

Could you add in local “colour” eg have followup material that links with national holidays and local festivals?

Posted by steve at 07:30 AM

Saturday, August 20, 2011

vocation as listening for voice

Vocation does not come from wilfulness. It comes from listening. I must listen to my life and try to understand what it is truly about – quite apart from what I would like to be about – or my life will never represent anything real in the world, no matter how earnest my intentions.

That insight is hidden in the word vocation itself, which is rooted in the Latin for “voice.” Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling I hear. Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am. I must listen for the truths and values at the heart of my own identity, not the standards by which I must live – but the standards by which I cannot help but live if I am living my own life.

It has been good to be back in Auckland, a city which has so shaped my life and ministry. I trained for denominational ministry in this city, planted a church, had 2 children, experienced doors open and close. It has been good to be back at Laidlaw College, among a community of scholars that shaped my life and ministry, my thinking and my passion.

The place, the memories, the renewed relationships, the questions over coffee breaks and dinner, have all been a rich palate, a reminder of the decisions and implications in the move from New Zealand to Australia. I spent over two years before the shift with a spiritual director, pondering the shape of my life, seeking the discern “voice” – in me and in my life journey, in my family and faith community (Opawa Baptist Church).

There have been moments in the move to Australia when I have doubted how well I have heard that voice. Such realisations have been humbling and disturbing. I suspect they will continue.

As I have walked this city of memories, I have been reminded that listening never stops. That the voice I listened for 18 months ago needs to be listened too again. Constantly.

Life continually offers me an array of possibilities and tasks. Some are bad. Others are good. But what about my voice? The unique fingerprint that is Steve Taylor and the Taylor family? Who am I and who are we and what does it mean to live out of that?

Thanks Auckland, thanks Laidlaw, thanks Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation for reminding me of the importance, and the struggle, of listening for vocational voice.

God, give me the courage to hear that more clearly, more truly, this day and in the coming days.

Posted by steve at 04:10 PM

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Feeling for a theology: a “sense-xegesis” of Mark 14

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am presenting a paper as part of a Colloquium on Theological Interpretation, at Laidlaw College on August 19-20. My title is: Feeling for a theology: an exploration of the place of “sense-gesis” in theological reading.

So here is one small section, in which I use senses, in particular the sense of touch, to help me as I processed the Christchurch earthquake. (more…)

Posted by steve at 12:54 PM

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

feeling toward a theology of senses

I’ll be in Auckland for the next few days and into the weekend. Firstly, catching up with friends – Tony, Jan, Callum, Joseph, Paul, Fred, Paul, Mark, former colleagues at Carey Baptist and Laidlaw College.

Second, doing more emerging church research (see here for more detail).

Thirdly, to present a paper as part of a Colloquium on Theological Interpretation, at Laidlaw College. It features Joel Green and Murray Rae as keynote speakers and respondents, along with other scholars from around the Pacific Rim. Together we will be exploring the theory and practice of the theological interpretation of Scripture.

I’ve been working on the paper for the last few weeks.

Feeling for a theology: an exploration of the place of “sense-gesis” in theological reading

But the more I’ve written, the more I’ve become aware I’ve actually been working on it for 4 years, if not all my ministry. More later, but for those interested, here was my initial abstract. (more…)

Posted by steve at 10:35 AM

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Of Gods and men: compulsive viewing

“compulsive viewing for a Western Christianity tempted to reduce faith to a decaffeinated religion of gentle Jesus hymns shared over civil pot-luck meals.” (a line from my just completed film review).

Based on a true story.

“This is mission as service. It draws energy from the life of Christ and finds expression in caring for the sick, filing forms for the illiterate and learning the Koran. The rhythms lap in gentle harmony with their Muslim neighbours. It is an uplifting and positive model of mission, a reminder that different religious faiths can – and have – lived in beneficial co-existence.” (a paragraph from the same review, for those with a missional bent).

For more
- on Christian-Muslim interaction on this blog see my summary of Jenkins Lost History of Christianity here and here.

Posted by steve at 10:31 AM

Monday, August 15, 2011

outdoor stations as fresh expressions

Over the weekend we had our mission-shaped ministry weekend away. Rather than withdraw to a rural campsite, which seemed at odds with the mission approach of the mission-shaped ministry course, we headed to West Lakes Resort, a conference centre in Adelaide city. Money saved on accommodation and exclusive use of a venue was put into a food and open bar on the Friday night, and the use of a conference room for evening and all day Saturday sessions.

West Lakes resort backs onto water, so as I prepared to lead the worship on Saturday afternoon, I was keen to maximise this opportunity. I adapted an idea from earlier in the year (see here. I introduced the idea of stations.

  • They can be used, as we had experienced on the Friday evening, to allow a way to engage material at an individual pace
  • They can be used, as the ancient church did, as an aid to physical pilgrimage, providing mediation places in the city of Jerusalem
  • They can be used, as the medieval church did, as an aid to spiritual pilgrimage, providing meditation places in a church building
  • They can be used as outdoors as well as indoors. And so I offered people a prepared card

Followed by the opportunity to worship by walking outdoors. When you come across a sky “station” or a flower “station” or a pavement “station”, to use them as invitations to prayer and reflection.

Feedback was very positive, people loving the chance to be outdoors, to be among people. And as usually happens, most came across 5th, 6th, 7th stations, other things though which God spoke.

Which all underlined the theology of fresh expressions and the input of the day, that God is active in the world, and we are simply invited to participate in that activity. Which starts by paying attention. In the words of Rowan Williams:

Christian mission is “finding out where the Holy Spirit is at work and joining it.”

Posted by steve at 02:35 PM

Saturday, August 13, 2011

the shopping trolley as spirituality for mission

It was the Spirituality for Mission topic in the mission shaped ministry course. Rather than talk about spirituality, ten stations were placed around the edges of the space (Function room at West Lakes Resort). Folk were invite to move through the stations and engage experientially this theme of spirituality for mission.

I spotted a shopping trolley and moved over to engage the station.

(More of the story to come later today) Updated: After a while I became aware that while the other stations were crowded, no-one was at mine. And the others all shared identical tablecloths and candles and instructions, while mine was just a trolley, filled with boxes.

Oh well. I held the bar and reflected on those who collect trolleys at malls. Wondered what a fresh expression for them would look like?

Pondered the fact that trolleys are so symbolic of consumerism. And how I want an expression of Christian faith that allows me to be in the world but not of it, a passionate Christ-follower and yet with what I put in my trolley, seeking a life that is simple and that eats justly.

Which I shared with the group upon our return.

Only to be gently told that the trolley was actually not one of the 10 stations. That it was only there because the worship curator had a lot to carry and when they arrived, saw the trolley and decided it looked useful for carrying things.

Oh well, it had been for me, a most significant entry into pondering a spirituality for mission today.

(This is another entry in dictionary of everyday spirituality, under the heading S is for supermarket trolley).

Posted by steve at 09:18 AM