Friday, June 08, 2012

still blogging 10 years on

Apparently Saturday marks my 10 year blog-versary. I say apparently because my original webhost is long gone, so there’s no “public” record of birth.

My midwife was blogger, which after a few months, got hosted in as part of the Graceway church website. When I transitioned city (Auckland to Christchurch) and churches (Graceway to Opawa) at the end of 2003, it seemed appropriate to leave the resources of the blog at Graceway, but I continued to blog, using wordpress (first entry here). Going back through blogger archives, this is the earliest post I can find is dated 9 June, 2002.

Ten years ago. Before Facebook, iPhones and twitter.

I remember the day I put my first post up and within a few hours, had comments from Andrew Jones, Prodigal Kiwi and Rachel Cunliffe. That sense of amazement over a digital word and how strangers become linked.

All 3 remain friends – Rachel visiting us this Easter, Andrew stayed at our house last year, while I enjoyed a beer in Auckland with Paul last August. A virtual world, yet with enduring relationships.

I’ve often pondered whether to continue blogging. And then there will be another random connection – a comment in response to a post that gives me fresh vistas, a email asking to borrow a prayer resource. And I will be reminded of the gift of connection, the new worlds made possible through the web-verse.

I can’t picture a world in 10 years time, nor whether I will still be blogging. But I still like to remain open to the sheer wonder of human connection.

Posted by steve at 03:16 PM

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Kony 12: An optimist, a cynic and a theologian ..

Each month I publish a film review, for Touchstone (the New Zealand Methodist magazine). Here is my most recent.

Kony 12
An optimist, a cynic and a theologian sat down to share a latte and change the world.

The optimist wanted to do something…anything. He left the cafe and flew to Africa. His heart broke, bled in a thousand pieces in a country he didn’t understand, among a culture that was never his.

Being a Westerner, he came armed with a video camera. He used it to shoot footage of crying children, dense bush, and men with guns.

He returned to form an organization, and coined it ‘Invisible Children’. He gathered donations – a third for film, a third for expenses, a third for programmes grounded in Africa.*

He began to recruit, drawing together a staff skilled in film-making and media industries. Carefully they edited the video, manipulated the sound bites, added graphics and sourced the emotional background music. And so was born Kony 12.

The cynic snorted when he saw it. A lifetime exposed to world hunger and media manipulation had left a well-practised sneer. He googled ‘Kony 12’ and pressed ‘like’ on all the criticisms.

What is the budget? Who funded this? Where is the conspiracy? What if it fails? Is the US there simply because of oil? Will this simply inoculate people against the next tragedy?

While he complained, ‘Kony 12’ became a media sensation, watched on the Internet by nearly 90 million views.

The theologian’s teenage child suggested she watch the video on YouTube. Pressing play, she smiled at the gospel echoes in the sound bites – ‘the value of all human life’, ‘a bunch of littles could make a huge difference’, ‘the unseen became visible’.

She pondered the difficulty of fitting story, slogan, sound bite into the words ‘nuance’ and ‘complexity’. She recalled the words of challenge from African youth leader Teddy Ruge: “Did I ask you to sell my story for an action kit to make uninformed college students feel good?”

Time went by and later, the optimist, the cynic and the theologian bumped into each other once again on a crowded city.

Proudly, the optimist noted how Kony was now a household name. ‘We’re making the world a better place,’ he said.

The cynic was unconvinced. ‘Surely there must be more to life than making Facebook a better world.’ He mentioned the ‘S’ word – ‘slacktivism’ – the idea that sharing, liking or re-tweeting across the social web will solve a problem.

The theologian pulled a book from her handbag and read from Teresa of Avila. “I particularly notice in certain persons … that the further they advance … the more attentive they are to the needs of their neighbours.”

Which means, suggested the theologian, that Kony serves a purpose. It is a way to pay attention to the needs of our neighbour. Yet Kony must advance. Eyes that watch a video, and hands that ‘like’ a link, need feet that carry them to meet their needy neighbours face to face. Wouldn’t that be a video worth making!

*Publicly available financial accounts of Invisible Children suggest nearly 25 percent of its $8.8m income last year was spent on travel and film-making and about 30 percent went toward programmes in Africa.

Rev Dr Steve Taylor is Director of Missiology, Uniting College, Adelaide. He writes widely in areas of theology and popular culture, including regularly at

Posted by steve at 10:18 PM

Sunday, May 20, 2012

why twitter is good for little blogs like mine

“Brilliant,” was the comment.

This week in the calendar of the church was Ascension Day. In honour of the day, I placed a quick note on Twitter, pointing to a number of historic “Ascension Day” posts on my blog:

Ascension day in worship And theology

One post (Ascension day in worship) was an interactive worship service I had offered back in 2010 – Ascension Day and the footprints of Jesus – as a resource. Another post (Ascension day in theology) was a short theological reflection that I blogged back in 2007. (Please note the date. 2007 was some 3 years BEFORE Jeremy Begbie, at Wheaton, declared that the emerging church needed to pay more attention to the Ascension. Three years. Obviously Jeremy Begbie didn’t read my blog in doing his research. LOL!)

Anyhow, none of these posts rank anywhere on google, presumably not because they are bad, but simply because my blog is so small/does not know how to manipulate google rankings.

We are told that google is great for democratisation of information, but it also feeds a very fastmoving, temporary society, in which if you’re not on page one, you’re off the digital radar. Which means that for little blogs like mine, what you post as a resource has a very short shelf life. Which, if you post things hoping they might resource others, becomes self-defeating.

Until twitter. One short tweet this week led to a “brillant” comment by one person and a request by another to use the resources in worship. It put the resource back in circulation, by-passing the google gatekeeping and achieving the purpose of the blog – to share creativity, to pass on resources.

Which makes platforms like twitter more important for little blogs like mine, more important if the web really is meant to enhance connection and resourcing, a subversion of the hierarchies that have developed so quickly in this so-called “flat” networked digital world.

Posted by steve at 08:45 PM

Monday, July 11, 2011

living the (digital) text: use of social media in theological formation

Day one of the Living the text intensive kicked off today. A really engaged group and it looks like being a rich week.

One of the things I want to encourage during the intensive is a variety of learning experiences, a whole range of different and new ways by which folk can engage with each other. For instance, one of the assessment tasks is based on each person creating their own blogsite onto which they are expected to place a 1,000 word reflection on the intensive experience.

It’s a pretty simple process. I give out a one page “how to get started blogging.” Each student sets up their blog and sends me their URL. (I arrange an optional tutorial on the second day for any folk who get lost.) I create a central “class blog” (a living the text blog) and each student’s blogsite is listed on the sidebar. (If you click on it, you’ll see previous “cohorts”, the classes of 2008, 2007, 2006.

Having a central blog then allows a second piece of assessment. This involves students being expected to comment on each others blogs. So for example 10 comments of 100 words each becomes a 1,000 word addition to the original 1,000 word self-reflection.

Educationally, this has a number of advantages. Students get to revise not only through their own 1000 word reflection, but they also hear the reflections of others in the class. It reminds them of the diversity of experience. It also allows them to take the class interaction into another, online, context. The intensive experience, which can become quite rich relationally, can continue. And they get to explore the world of social media, which IMHO is an essential part of being in ministry today.

Posted by steve at 07:52 PM

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

new blog name?

A recurring question, with our shift across the Tasman, is “What will you call your blog?”

It started out as “emergentkiwi” and that is still it’s URL. That name felt appropriate at that time, a signifier of a search for forms of faith that made sense for Kiwi’s in a globalised, millenial culture.

Last summer, while keeping the URL, I renamed it “sustain:if:able kiwi“; because it was summer. And with my garden an increasingly important part of my spirituality, I wanted to reflect on issues around sustainability – still of (emerging) faith and spirituality, but with an earthed feel, and linked to a more scattered spirituality.

But how does that translate with a trans-Tasman shift:

any helpful suggestions welcomed, as we wing our way Aussie-ward ….

Posted by steve at 04:05 PM

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

adelaide + anglican + fresh in expression

Chris McLeod is an Anglican Vicar in Adelaide. He took my Living the Text in a Contemporary context course I taught at Tabor in October last year (and am teaching again at Tabor 28 Sept-2 Oct later this year). Before church ministry he was a chef (and threatened to bring food for our final day of the course, but wisely let a pastoral situation have priority!)

Anyhow, he’s just set sail on a fresh expression-ish evening service. It comes complete with a blog progress report of their first service, themed around Mother’s Day. And he’s keen to find travelling companions – so to all of my Adelaide readers and also to Anglican readers, head on over and let him know how exciting it is.

It’s enormously satisfying for me to see students trying stuff like this. Go Chris.

Posted by steve at 11:48 PM

Friday, September 01, 2006

sharing the linking luv

Apparently, today is world blog day, and you are meant to link to 5 blogs you have never linked to before; to share the linking luv … so here are 5 blogs that I have recently wished I could blog like;

Backyard missionary – good, honest Aussie battler

Laura Drane – a new blog that comes from a mind well worth listening too

Fernando Gros – self-reflective and lateral linkages being made around globalisation, film, popular culture, Christianity

Sue Wallace – creativity and spirituality plus

Andrew Picard – down to earth pastoral minister

Posted by steve at 05:28 PM

Monday, August 07, 2006

worth watching


Think Christianity looks a webite worth watching: “A conversation and general thoughts on the Christian faith from people of all walks of life. The good, the bad and the ugly.” To join the conversation, you simply send an email saying why you do or don’t go to church. It becomes a blog post and the dialogue commences.

Posted by steve at 07:48 PM

Thursday, May 04, 2006

blog links

My post on 7 things I learnt from Bono about worship leading, and a follow-up post in which I outlined what this might look like in a congregation of 180 rather than a concert of 40,000 attracted quite a bit of blog comment at the time. Interesting to note that Sarah Dylan Breuer offers similar reflection here. It is far longer than my post, but reflects in a similar way on U2 as participatory and experiential worship. It is fascinating to see someone shaped by a Baptistic ethos, like myself, and someone shaped by an Episcopalian (Anglican) ethos, like Sarah, express similar views on the art of liturgy.

One of the most visited posts on this blog is a sermon I preached back in 2004 on the Prodigal Son. I just noticed a link from here and a post describing how a church group, called home, used the sermon, along with three different worship stations in response. It is quite wierd reading their post and realising that totally unbeknown to me, my words were being spoken on another continent. I bet they got the accent wrong!:)

Posted by steve at 01:13 PM

Monday, May 01, 2006

blog worth reading

malcolm.jpg Malcolm Chamberlain (UK) has started a blog. We swapped mission notes and shared a coffee at a local beach back in 2004. Malcolm is a thinker – working toward a Masters on postmodernity and mission, and a doer – planted a faith community called Dream (who supplied an emerging church postcard 2005 here). Malcolm has even said some nice things about my out of bounds church? book here, in a blogpost reflecting on community and mission in contemporary culture.

Update: thanks to the sharp eye of Bruce, who noted that I had forgotten the blog address –

Posted by steve at 02:01 PM

Thursday, April 06, 2006

podcasting Steve

The Red Herring interviewed me last month. It proved to be a fascinating conversation that is now up as a podcast; in two parts, complete with mixed in background music.


Part One: Steve outlines the links between the United Kingdom and New Zealand. He points to the role played by alternative worship communities in initiating emerging churches. We talk about globalization theory, particularly the idea of “glocal,” suggested by Roland Robertson. Steve reveals the role of women played in emerging churches in New Zealand.

Part Two: Steve’s one blog contains “postcards” from emerging churches around the world, including the Philippines and Japan. During Brian McLaren’s recent visit to Christchurch, Steve interviewed Grace McLaren about her take on the emerging church in New Zealand. Steve reviews three movies in relation to the emerging church, and summarizes his blog about 1 Peter as a feminist tractate.

If you’re bored, and want to listen, go here.

Posted by steve at 03:01 PM

Saturday, December 17, 2005

ground hog day in typepad blog world?

Quite a number of typepad blogs I visited this morning have lost posts. It’s like Groundhog day, reading stuff you’ve read before and thinking, I’m sure this blog has posted more since then. Nada. Gone. Typepad life has all bounced back to around 12 December. It’s quite hilariously funny, although probably not for those hosted by typepad.

More: Here’s the typepad media release; here’s the admission of a mistake and here’s the promise of regular updates here.

Posted by steve at 11:06 AM

Sunday, October 02, 2005

blogging for education

This afternoon I’ve been working on a new block course Living the text in a postmodern context, which I am expecting to teach at Fuller in 2006.

DRAFT: This course will explore the communication of the Biblical text in a contemporary world, with particular missiological reference to the use of the Bible in the emerging church in a postmodern context. It will explore ways to maintain the integrity of the Biblical text, applying the best of academic insights around text, community and culture, to the task of communicating the Biblical text with reference to postmodernity. The course will combine both theory and practice, believing that learning often happens through seeing new models, while new practices necessitate a shift in the under girding values. As a result of the course, students will be better equipped to read and communicate the Biblical text in a postmodern context.

Previously, I have often used journals as a form of assessment. It allows me to listen and interact with students, and allows a greater flexibility of expression than traditional essays. It has worked well.

Today I wondered about inviting students to journal, not with pen and paper, but on-line. Students could very easily be given their own course blog-site, organized by lecturer beforehand. Students would be asked to journal regularly at their own course blog-site, with a suggested number of entries (and word length suggested). Students would be assessed with particular reference to the course learning outcomes. Students could be made aware of each others “course blogs” and be encouraged to read and interact with each other’s journals, using comment functions.

I wonder if this would greatly increase the level of community learning and interaction. Any thoughts?

Posted by steve at 07:32 PM

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

random links

Last year I wrote a slightly tongue in cheek A-Z of the emerging church. It has leapt back into blog circulation thanks to tallskimpykiwi [sic] and I like how it is (sort of) being “open-sourced” ie added to here.

One of my local cafes – jack flash – is offering $2 coffees in the morning.

Some blogs I have been meaning to mention for a while;
a whole rash of people at Opawa have started blogging. They are on my side-bar blog roll but for the record; feel free to meet Andrew; Paul; Amy; Jo; Ann.

and two Kiwi exports – Mark Pierson and Duncan MacLeod.

Posted by steve at 10:28 AM