Monday, February 04, 2013

Sustainability in mission

Sustainability in mission is not about preservation, whether of mission, pioneer or denomination.

This is certainly so if you consider the use of the word “sustainability” in other disciplines. In Ken Greenberg’s Walking Home: The Life and Lessons of a City Builder he defines the term in relation to development. The term was popularised in 1983, by a United Nations body concerned about the environment. The commission asked all nations to establish sustainable development approaches. The invitation was “to take a completely new view of damaging practices we have developed.” What is needed is a “fresh vocabulary that is about synthesis and overlap. And conservation – using less in the first place, not consumption and planned obsolence.”

So when one begins to consider sustainability and fresh expressions, the focus must be on damaging practices. And the lens must fall on the entire system: denominations, training colleges, leadership both denominational, local and lay, church gatherings and the people of God in mission. The aim must be a fresh vocabulary and the seeking of synthesis.

This was brought home to me the first time I visited the mouth of the Murray River (see here and here, with some practical followup here and here):

Suddenly our guide bent down and started digging. In a few minutes, he offered us fresh water. In the middle of these desolate sand dunes, there was water. A bit further on, he showed us the piles of cockles, and the eating place of the Ngarrindjeri people, who have been the traditional custodians of these sand dunes for over 6,000 years.

I stood there astounded. Put me in that place, amid those barren sand dunes and I would die. Yet other humans have learnt to live within this environment.

I pondered the implications for spirituality.

It led to the change in my blog – to sustain-if-able – and to this study, of new forms of church ten years on.

Posted by steve at 12:25 AM

Friday, August 06, 2010

your place or mine? hospitality as mission

I’ve been asked to offer some input to a gathering of church leaders in Tasmania in a few weeks (August 20-22). The title they’ve given me is this: Your place or mine: hospitality as mission. I said yes because I think it names a fascinating tension and one that has been nagging at me in recent days.

Back in April I was pondering mission in relation to the Zaccheus story in Luke 19. I was struck by how Jesus does mission at Zaccheus place, at his table, inside his home. Which, when I thought about it, was the dominant way the Gospel stories portray Jesus. He doesn’t give hospitality. He receives hospitality.

The exception is the Waiting Father/Prodigal Son in Luke 15, which has often used to frame mission and encourage the church to open it’s arms in embrace. Yet note the context in which the story is told – Jesus accepting hospitality, not giving it. Fascinating stuff.

I took this insight to my bookshelf and went through all my books on hospitality. Wonderful books on the banquet of God and the embrace of God at the Eucharist. But sure enough, almost all are about hospitality at our place. We are the host and they focus on how we give hospitality.

Which can so easily become occupied with mission as people coming to us, our turf, our churches, our terms, our worship, our welcome, our websites.

Which leaves a wonderful tension: How to integrate hospitality with the pattern of Jesus? What does hospitality in Western culture mean at their place, not mine! Any insights welcome as I begin my preparation.

Posted by steve at 09:31 AM

Sunday, January 21, 2007

emerging church postcards : Aotearoa New Zealand 4


For the last 6 months Fuller St Café has gathered on the first Sunday evening each month. We have a Café set up, fresh espresso and a theme for the night. First 6 themes were Narnia movie, Cancer panel, U2, Local Jazz band Toot & Croon, Da Vinci code panel, Christmas party. It’s an experiment in planting an alternative congregation at Kaiapoi Baptist.

a helpful Scripture in the formation and life of your church community: Only Scripture I can think of at moment reflect more how I am feeling about the project now – Isaiah 42:9 “See I am doing a new thing, now it springs up, do you not perceive it?” Reflecting attempt to plant something new but not feeling understood. And Psalm 127:1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, it builders labour in vain” wondering if we’re on right track.

learning about spiritual formation: Not sure that the “community” has emerged yet and whether it’s just too attractional to work.

movie (or scene) might sum up your year: One movie that might describe the first 6 months is “50 first dates.” We are basically experimenting until we find a new, real and helpful way to explore faith and live life. Also I can relate to Pai in Whale Rider wrestling with leadership issues.

best mission moment in 06: Probably the cancer night where 70 people showed up. 20 of those were outside the existing KBC community and 4 in response to the ad we put in the local rag. We had a panel of brave cancer sufferers some who were in remission and others who were terminal. We asked them these questions: How did you hear the news about the cancer?; What was your reaction/ response?; The treatment – what was that like?; What support did you have from others, what was helpful/ unhelpful?; Where has God been in it all? We have just lost the second of the ladies who were terminal this week – please pray for her husband and sons (13 & 3yrs).

For more emerging church postcards 2006, go here.
For emerging church postcards 2005, go here.
For information on how your emerging church can send a postcard, go here.

Posted by steve at 09:21 AM

Monday, January 01, 2007

emerging church postcards: aotearoa new zealand

OK, here’s the first emerging church postcard 06. If you want to submit one details here.


This church has no name. It meets in Porirua (Wellington, New Zealand) on Monday nights for meals followed by adult times later in the evening.

a helpful Scripture in the formation and life of your church community: The Beatitudes and Sermon on the Mount. Great stuff.

learning about spiritual formation: Thinking through the three aspects of believe, belong and behave and the dynamic they create in our corporate life. Thinking through the issues of spiritual formation for our children (age ranges 17 down to babies numbering round 30) and attempting to mentor each others kids finding significant others in our kids lives. Trying to find safe places which will also be able to challenge us in relation to the men and women respectively. Realising the importance of providing space for people to grow though stages of faith.

movie that might sum up your year: Worlds Fastest Indian – esp scenes traveling thought the States, stranger in a strange land, full of confidence and humour and not much else but kiwi ingenuity, having moments of near disaster and tragedy, coupled with much laughter and flying by the seat of our pants.

best mission moment in 06: Sponsoring and settling a Burmese family and all the subsequent followup and complications therein, incl encouraging us to work in with 1-2 other local (organized) churches. Also supporting a regular to go to Sri Lanka to help in rebuilding after tsunami.

Posted by steve at 10:28 AM

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

the emerging church in 2005: a visual summary

What does the emerging church look like? More specifically, what does the emerging church look like in 2005?

postcardsglobalmastersummary250.jpg And they say a picture is worth a 1,000 words. So, why not gather a visual date stamp? Why not invite an emerging church to send a picture of their life? Collected together, they could offer a visual narrative of a year of life lived.

Thus Postcards05 germinated. I posted the concept on my blog in mid-December and invited anyone who wanted to send a postcard. I worked up a generic template, hoping for visual continuity. I never got my wished for postcards from France and Serbia. But I did get fifteen postcards from 8 countries; Ireland, England (5), Australia (2), Canada (2), New Zealand (2), Germany, Malaysia and Denmark (and had email conversations with people in Japan and South America).

Today I printed out all 15 postcards and wondered if there were some repeated echoes.


Posted by steve at 02:15 PM

Thursday, January 26, 2006

emerging church postcards : Ireland

Time for a final postcard. Time for some fun. Maybe an emerging church from Ireland, maybe this is even better than the real thing?


For words about the image : birth : values : music: mission


Posted by steve at 02:28 PM

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

emerging church postcards : England5


For words about the image : birth : values : music: mission


Posted by steve at 01:47 PM

emerging church postcards : England4


For words about the image : birth : values : music: mission


Posted by steve at 01:40 PM

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

emerging church postcards : England3


For words about the image : birth : values : music: mission


Posted by steve at 04:24 PM

Monday, January 23, 2006

emerging church postcards : Australia2


For words about the image : birth : values : music: mission


Posted by steve at 03:45 PM

Sunday, January 22, 2006

emerging church postcards : Canada2


For words about the image : birth : values : music: mission


Posted by steve at 09:57 PM

Sunday, January 15, 2006

emerging church postcards : Aotearoa New Zealand2


For words about the image : birth : values : music: mission


Posted by steve at 09:27 AM

Saturday, January 14, 2006

emerging church postcards : England2


For words about the image : birth : values : music: mission


Posted by steve at 10:50 PM

Friday, January 13, 2006

the power of a postcard

This is the power of postcard 05. It creates connections. It brings a vision a step closer to reality. Imagine being able to say to your church; hey, a church like us is doing this.

Every so often I am reassured that my dream/calling of creating and building community via a coffeehouse is achieveable… Check out FREEWAY in Hamilton, Canada. I am delighted to see we have a shared vision … I got the heads-up from Steve Taylor’s emergent kiwi blog. Freeway posted a postcard on his site. Interestingly, the comments on the postcard indicate that Freeway is part of the Salvation Army!!! NO WAY!!! Check out the postcard … If this is being done… then it can be replicated


Posted by steve at 10:46 PM