Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Bubble courses: a KCML innovation

An educational experiment I’ve been working on for the last few weeks, seeking ways to facilitate learning and community in the context of a global pandemic.

During Level 3 in Aotearoa, Bubble courses provide input for leaders, elders, ministers and whole people of God. They are timely, conversational, engaging, thought-provoking.

  • Geoff New The Practice of Preaching in a Pandemic – Thursday 30th April and Thursday May 7th
  • Nikki Watkin Leading in change: conversations and creativity – Monday 4th May and Monday 11th May
  • Steve Taylor – Building community and increasing participation online – Tuesday 5th May and Tuesday 12th May

7:30-8:30 pm (NZT) evenings.  To register and get a zoom link, contact registrar@knoxcentre.ac.nz.

Bubble Courses2

Posted by steve at 01:54 PM

Saturday, April 25, 2020

communities of practice as action-reflection tools

It’s been an extraordinarily generative week for me.

  • First, I found myself offering a closed facebook group to bring practitioners of innovation in digital worlds into contact with research. That has generated 38 members and over 200 comments as people interacted with research on faith formation.
  • Second, I hosted an online video conversation in which 25 folk from 4 countries engaged further around their experiences of innovation in digital worlds.
  • Third, I’m potentially offering a community of practice, in which folk wanting to experiment can meet with peers for support and reflection. This is still forming and might not yet materialise – life is so fluid for so many people. However, it is astonishing to realise this wasn’t even on my radar 7 days ago.

Companies of friends in the journey of innovation.

There is action, and there needs to be space for reflection. Reflection can be individual, as I write and journal. Reflection can be individual, as I read and engage with the experiences and insights of others, and so see my actions more carefully. Reflection can be communal, as I share my intuitions and half-baked processing and gain wisdom simply from those who give the gift of listening; even active-listening, which draws me into free speech. Reflection can be communal, the conversations that result from sharing, the connections that get made.

So I’m offering a Community of Practice for those innovating in digital faith. It is for active people already doing stuff this is a space to reflect, to process with peers. And I have this hope, this pleading, that it won’t be my last. I dream of multiple Communities of Practice, in which unique projects (actions), by those facing a shared challenge, are enhanced by the space to reflect – individually and communally.

 

COP

Posted by steve at 12:51 PM

Thursday, April 23, 2020

5 practices for cultivating safe and prayerful space online: #ministry in isolation4

A resource – video and written summary – I produced this week. It is part of a series of interviews I am doing, called #ministry in isolation, which is spotlighting ecclesial innovation in the context of external (lockdown) restraints:

Jill McDonald #ministryinisolation4 from JaneThomsen on Vimeo.

How can God build a tapestry of love online through skilled leadership?

“Going online felt better. Being part of the river of God’s healing love. It felt profound. Lifegiving … A tapestry of prayer and love across Aotearoa,” concludes Jill.

Steve Taylor, from KCML, interviews Jill McDonald, from St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Hastings about her leadership of Sacred Space Whakamoemiti. Why did she take this short midweek prayer service online, and what was the result? What has been learnt?

The interview outlines five practices for cultivating safe and prayerful space online.

Such experiences require skilled leadership. Here are the five tips for creating sacred space online.
1. The value of a pre-gathering bidding question. Prepare people to participate by sending out prior a question you will be inviting response to during the online experience. A bidding question clarifies purpose. It communicates an ethos of participation and gives people space to prepare. This is likely to enhance the depth of participation and a sense of meaningful engagement.

2. Guiding the conversation through a focused question. Rather than offer an open space for anyone to answer, call people by name. It could be clockwise around your screen, or top of the land to the bottom. Being directive lets people know when and how they will be able to participate.

3. Modelling through drawing first on those familiar with the culture. Begin asking focused questions of people who have been before. They have experienced the culture of the group and the length, depth and type of responses.

4. Create a pass. Give words that allow people to pass. “I’m going to go around and call people by name. If you don’t yet have a response, just say “pass.”” Giving a specific word reduces a sense of forced participation.

5. Work to a settled rhythm. In the familiarity, there is safety. People can settle into their work. Good liturgy has call and response which gives direction. A pattern of welcome, a settling question to ensure folk have heard their voice, a sound to start and end a period of silence, a repeated ending ritual. It means that participants are more likely to settle into prayer if they are aware of where they are heading.

Steve Taylor and Jill McDonald
21 April 2020

Posted by steve at 07:34 PM

Monday, April 13, 2020

seeing faith: art and theology in Christ in the Wilderness

Christ in the Wilderness: Reflecting on the Paintings of Stanley Spencer by Stephen Cottrell has been a wonderful Lenten 2020 companion.

Art opens up the imagination. Cottrell reflects on the paintings of British painter, Stanley Spencer and in particular a Lenten series of paintings done by Spencer in the 1930′s. The book begins with a wonderful introduction to the spirituality and life of Spencer. Then there are 5 chapters engaging with 5 different paintings.

Cottrell is a brilliant communicator. The clever interweaving of stories from his life and experience, along with Biblical text, theology and the life of Stanley Spencer make for an accessible, yet at times profound engagement. Paying close attention to the imaginative work of an artist makes a space for stillness and reflection. At the same time, there is constant engagement with the life of Spencer, which adds layers of insight.

A picture a week made for a paced Lenten. Each picture is reproduced and in colour. The week began with a few days of my own contemplation on Spencer’s art. This was followed by reading slowly, a page or two, of Cottrell’s insights, as the week progressed. The result was fresh insights and a more contemplative Lent.

Posted by steve at 09:41 AM

Friday, April 10, 2020

limit your palette: radio ZB Easter Friday interview notes

jeremy-chen-b3hedAc21B0-unsplash

I was interviewed on radio ZB on Easter Friday morning. Here were the questions asked, and my rough notes in preparation.

Introduction: When we think about church and traditions around Easter, we might think of quite traditional churches, but there are church movements that have been wrestling and exploration different ways of expressing and meeting together. Steve Taylor has been leading and observing some of those new approaches to community faith practice for 20 years.

Question: What’s the opportunity for churches to explore new ways of doing things in the time of Covid-19 and how do you think that might actually benefit churches and their communities?

“Limit the palette” (David Sheppard). So not being able to physically gather is a limiting of the palette. It can benefit churches by sparking new imaginations. I’ve seen the creation of DIY walk the local community Stations of the Cross. I’ve seen folk realise that being home alone is a bit like a monastic experience and so offer contemplation and isolation spiritual practices. So limiting the palette has produced fresh forms of spiritual practice.

Question: What have you learned about what to focus on and what not to stress about when it comes to changes to the way we might traditionally worship – are people likely to be sitting around singing hymns on Zoom calls?

Don’t sing on Zoom! Technically the lag times make it awful.

First, stick to your strengths. If you’ve been good at technology, do technology. If you’ve been good at care and connection, do care and connection.

Second, use the tradition. Christian history is rich and deep. There are people before us who’ve been locked down, who’ve explored ways of doing worship. The letters of Paul were written from prison – a lockdown experience. So how might that help us respond.

Question: There are people for whom, big festival celebrations like Easter and Christmas, weddings and funerals are the only time they engage with a collective spirituality. Now that the doors of those buildings are closed, how can communities think about connecting with and serving each in new ways?

There are reports of online attendance increasing in the first week of lockdown. Perhaps it was ministers watching their friends but it will be interesting to see what happens. There are reports of first time visitors online. It is easier to check out a church by clicking on a link than it is to dress up the kids and be a first time visitor. So there is opportunity.

But please use the online space as it is made to be. Remember that online is a ‘making and doing’ space, not a ‘sit back and be told’ space. So explore ways to care and connect online.

Credit: Photo by Jeremy Chen on Unsplash

Posted by steve at 07:26 AM