Saturday, March 10, 2007

God at work group at Opawa

Today marked the beginning of the end of 13 months of planning. A year ago I wanted to orientate Opawa much more intentionally around workplace mission. I initiated the following:
: 3 sermons on work place spirituality, in order to promote
: a 3 week God at work midweek discussion group (which 20 people attended)
: in order to invite those interested to form a regular and ongoing God at work group.

Today this regular God at work group started, with 7 people gathering. The group will be based not on content and information, but on a process of reflecting on actual workplace experiences, and how we might live as salt and light in our workplaces. The following processes will be employed:

a) Dwelling in the … work – a person will bring a workplace experience. It could be a practical work problem or an ethical work problem or a theological wrestling. The group will listen to an experience, will explore by asking what strikes us? or what questions do we have? and then reflect together and back to the person who shared what they are hearing.

b) Dwelling in the … Word the group will engage with a Bible passage relevant to the work area, by listening, exploring by asking what strikes us? or what questions do we have? and then reflect together on how work and Scripture link.

c) Dwelling in the …. practise a person will bring a particular work practise: it could be individual (a prayer, a practise), it could be church-based (work prayer for Sundays, shaping a work-place pastor), it could be community-focused. And these will become a concrete way to respond as God@work followers.

To run the group will require a scribe to document what is happening, a keeper of the conversation as safe and focused and an organiser of times, dates, reminders, drinks.

The group started today. The processes worked well and all the responsibilities were picked up. The processes will ensure that the group does the work and generates life within itself.

Each year we will re-run the 3 week God at work discussion group, thus allowing those new to Opawa to engage, to keep this mission before the church and to ensure new life drips down into the regular God at work group.

It is a dream come true, due in no small part to Nigel, from the UK, who served with us setting up part of this project last year. Thanks Nigel. Thanks Opawa for letting me dream and plan. Thanks God who loves this world and it’s workplaces.

Posted by steve at 09:57 PM

Sunday, February 25, 2007

would Jesus carry a tract?

Excerpt from Sunday sermon:
Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher what do I need to do to get eternal life?” Luke 10:25.

And what does Jesus do? Does he pull out a tract from his back pocket


Posted by steve at 04:57 PM

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

christmas journey in the news

christmas journey2006at300.jpg

The 06 Christmas Journey, run by Peter and Joyce Majendie and Opawa Baptist and supporters, is making the printed press this month; an article in the February New Zealand Baptist and an article written by Jonny Baker (full article is on his blog), which appears in the Church Times (UK). I have suggested to Jonny that he should get Pete over to Greenbelt to do his containers and run a seminar on “Church outside the box.”

For more on the Christmas Journey: go here for Christmas 05; some missiology here; New Zealand Listener article here; photos of Christmas Journey 04 here.

I also have a DVD; 4 hours of Pete and Joyce Majendie explaining the whole installation process from start to finish. Drop me a line if you want some resourcing input in doing some art outside the church in your community.

Posted by steve at 09:39 AM

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

storytelling as a pathway in discipleship

“I think, therefore I am” proudly proclaimed Rene Descartes. And so, in modernity, the individual mind was given priority.

The consequences for Christian discipleship were huge. Discipleship becomes book based and content focused. Information is passed from one mind to another. Christianity runs the danger of becoming rational individualised information.

I am tossing around the idea of trialling the use of storytelling in community as a pathway for discipleship. As Douglas Coupland writes in Generation X of the need to take time to tell stories and make our lives worthwhile tales in the process.

So here is the first draft of the storytelling approach to discipleship.


Posted by steve at 08:19 PM

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

when art comes to town: reflection on art as public mission

christmas journey2006at300.jpg

here are some reflections I wrote today on the recent Christmas Journey. Love some feedback on my last section “unresolved tensions” if anyone has the time.


Posted by steve at 08:00 PM

Friday, December 15, 2006

written on city walls

8 shipping containers, placed in the centre of Christchurch, around the Christchurch tourist tram route. Each is wrapped in fabric. These are gifts, each an interactive art installation, waiting to be unwrapped, a present to our city, telling part of the Christmas story.

While this is a huge undertaking, the Lectionary Scriptures for today were of immense encouragement to the tired and stressed and nervous among us, for in Daniel 5, God writes on the walls of the place. God’s words are displayed in the corridors of power.

Interestingly, sown into each shipping container are scriptures. The words of God hang on container walls, around our city.


Today, as in Daniel’s time, God’s words are being written on the walls of our city, in the places where lawyers walk and shoppers shop. We at Opawa rejoice in being God’s handwriting. And we pray that today, as in Daniel’s time, our city might have the wisdom to discern the words of God.

Posted by steve at 03:00 PM

Thursday, December 14, 2006

8 christmas presents


8 shipping containers, each wrapped in 40 metres of fabric to suggest a Christmas present. Each placed in the centre of Christchurch, around the Christchurch tourist tram route. Inside each is an interactive art installation, telling part of the Christmas story;

container 1, God of the Universe come to earth in Cathedral Square;
container 2, enforced family get-together, on Worcester St Bridge;
container 3, angels and ordinary people and a Kiwi musterers hut, Art Gallery;
container 4, the stable, Arts Centre;
container 5, consumerism, outside Museum;
container 6, suffering of innocents, at Armagh St, Bridge;
contianer 7, moving on with a refuge theme, Cramner Square;
contianer 8, our response as a chapel in Victoria Square;

Open from 10 am to 9 pm (hours of the Christchurch tram), from Saturday December 16-Sunday December 24.

This is part of Opawa Baptist and Side Door Arts Trust gift to the city in 2006. This is public mission, taking Jesus back out of church and telling his story in our marketplace, in the City Square and outside the Art Gallery and Museum.

After months of negotiation, we gained Council permission 3 weeks ago. We have been scrambling ever since. In an ideal world, each container would have a person at the door, to offer welcome and provide security. If there are any Christchurch readers of my blog that have 4 spare hours between now and Christmas, please email me, steve at emergentkiwi dot org dot nz, as we desperately need volunteers.

Posted by steve at 05:45 PM

Thursday, November 30, 2006

my God questions tougher than your God question

Update: Unfortunately, due to spam, I am having to close this blog post. I am planning a panel to discuss each question once the New Year has been properly celebrated.

So what is the toughest God question you’ve ever been asked. A mate and I started discussing this today. Not the nice, easy, switch and bait Alpha questions, but the real tough ones ..

Why do kids suffer?
Why did God invent cancer?
What about Buhddists, they seem ok to me?
Why do you priests fiddle with kids?
Does God have an ego problem?
Why do Christians fight each other?
Would God forgive Hitler?
What about all the killing in the Old Testament

In the same sense that a heroin addict only has an illusion of choice over taking some heroin that is in front of him, does a child born to Fundamentalist Muslims in Saudi Arabia ever really have a choice to follow Jesus?
If we really have free will, how come it’s impossible for us to choose to not sin at all tomorrow?
If a devout Christian gets true amnesia and forgets who they are and stop being a Christian, then was he ever saved? And which begs the question of, if our soul is clearly not attached to memory, for memory is an aspect of the brain, what knowledge will we take to Heaven?
Does a Christian still go to heaven if he/she commits suicide?
If a Christian converts to another religion, are they still saved?
What happened to people before Jesus? Did they all go to hell? If not, where did they go?
Did God create life in the universe outside of earth (i.e. aliens)?
Who made God?
Why does God chose to condem some people to hell?
When Jesus died for your sins, so that your sins were removed, when you backslid away from God, did Jesus “undie” for you sins?

Comment away … just for fun, I’ll give a book prize to the question I deem the toughest.

Update: Hey folks, these are great questions. Keep them coming. A few comments have drifted into answer mode. I think the questions are too good to try and answer quickly.

What I would like to propose is
a) That we hold fire on answering the questions.
b) That I delete the comments of those of you who have provided answers, in order to keep this blogpost focused on questions. Deleting should in no way be seen as my thinking the comments are not helpful. Quite the contrary, I will be saving the coments for …
c) Doing separate blogposts for each question- inviting 2-3 panelists to provide an answer.
b) This should help ensure good discussion occurs for every question and thus each question would get the reflection it deserves.

How does that sound? Drop me a line at steve at emergentkiwi dot org dot nz if you want to be a “panelist.”

Posted by steve at 10:23 PM

Monday, November 20, 2006

saint thomas

st thomaswithphone250.jpg This is Saint Thomas and I’ve given him a cellphone. I like Saint Thomas because he stood against his peer group. The 10 disciples were keen on Jesus. Thomas was brave enough to raise his doubts and voice his questions. I like people that are honest and ask the tough questions no matter how enthusiastic their mates are.

A few weeks ago I gave out blank pieces of paper and invited our Digestion congregation to write down anonymously any questions they had about God, life, meaning. We got back 20 excellent questions.

What to do next and how to honour these questions? On Sunday I chose 5 of the questions and invited a panel of 3 to respond by preparing short soundbites – a relevant Bible text, a good quote, a prayer or story.

1: Why do non-Christians get a lot and yet faithful Christians miss out on their desires?
2: Why cats? Why did God create cats?
3: If God has a plan for us – and he knows what’s going to happen into our future – why do we need to pray?
4: Is is OK for Christians to be nudists?
5: 1 John – God first love us so we should show love to others. So why? Why does God love us?


I asked the panel the questions and kept the discussion bouncing around between them. I concluded by giving out wee cards with Saint Thomas printed on them and inviting people to name 1 thing they’d learnt. These were stuck to the cross.

Glancing at what people wrote, many had got the idea – that Saint Thomas inspires Christians to be honest and ask questions.

Posted by steve at 09:56 AM

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

evangelism as process and event

My Friday blog post – found bears – became a sermon that compared the apostle Paul and the disciple Peter, conversion as event and conversion as process (Download file). Next week I want to explore the question: what does a church look like that takes seriously both event and process? For this week I just wanted to affirm that bears and people are found in unique ways. So much of contemporary evangelism seems to miss this point.

Posted by steve at 02:16 PM

Friday, September 30, 2005

found bears

Update: The writing piece below eventually became the introduction to the following sermon. Download file

On Wednesday night great sobs erupted in the Taylor family. On Thursday night great sounds of joy erupted in the Taylor family.

On Wednesday, squirrel and bear were lost. On Thursday, squirrel and bear were found. Great rejoicing and mighty giggles of relieved laughter echoed down the hallway.

Face down in the washing basket, squirrel and bear were retrieved, then held aloft to be paraded around the house, triumphantly presented to mother, father, sister.

But the theological question is this: When were squirrel and bear converted?


Posted by steve at 11:40 AM

Thursday, August 18, 2005

missional discipleship

I just had an email asking me what Opawa was doing in the way of missional discipleship. Over the last year I have developed a programme called Growth coaching; which offers one on one; whole of life coaching. A person meets with a coach, together they set a programme, and the coach holds them accountable.

This was what started the idea , and the realisation that most discipling programmes are content based, not people based. They impart information and have set starting and ending points. How to be more flexible?

It was also important to see growth as whole of life and at all life stage, not just for “new” Christians. So this is some research I did as part of a sermon series.

This is our finished publicity product, which is given out to interested people. And this is an article from a New Zealand Christian newspaper about the concept.

We trained 10 growth coaches toward the end of last year. They met last week for support and prayer and feedback. They are quietly working away, behind the scenes, connecting with people, quietly changing lives.

Posted by steve at 09:17 PM

Friday, March 25, 2005

the Friday of Easter week

On the Friday of Easter Week, in the easter egg the colour is black. We break a black (painted) piece of polystrene, to find inside a red heart. Easter Friday is the saddest day, a day of darkness.


We will gather around and wrap the cross. We will sprinkle our rose petals. We will express love for a heart of love, broken for us.

Note re atonement: I have really struggled to include the more cosmic and wholistic dimensions of the atonement at this point. God died for the whole world, for the integration of people and planet. A red heart speaks of God’s love for individuals. There are hints of relational connectedness, as Christ restored relationships on the saddest day, so we are offered hearts of love which include restored relationships. But the central metaphor remains individual, and I have struck a creative brick wall.

Posted by steve at 04:02 PM

Thursday, March 24, 2005

the thursday of easter week

On the Thursday of Easter week, in the Easter evangeegg, the colour is blue. Often we talk about having a blue day, a sad day.


Wrapped inside blue cellophane in the Easter evangeegg is a lolly, sweet on the outside, sour on the inside. On Thursday Jesus disciples said sweet things, but by nights end, their actions left a sour taste. Sucking the lolly becomes a reflection on what walking with Jesus means for us this Easter week.

Note re interactivity: By this stage in this Easter evangeegg, people have used taste, touch, smell, sight and sound. We are made whole people, in the image of God, and so an ideal is that worship is multi-sensory. When I first came across the alt.worship movement, I marvelled at their video loops. Over time, I have tried to use technology less, and everday tactile objects more. It takes less time, it beds God in a different part of everyday life and it often opens up more senses.

A few weeks ago their was a surprise at church. The service was “hi-jacked” and the congregation took time to celebrate my being at the church a year, and to express thanks for all the change. There was space for people to share and a common theme was people talking about how interactive tactile symbols – sheep, flowering the cross – had been vehicles of help and inspiration.

Posted by steve at 05:35 PM