Friday, October 23, 2009

turning points: key moments in Christian history

  • Benedict and Monasteries, Sunday 10:30 am, October 25
  • Luther and Reformation, Sunday 10:30 am, November 1
  • John Smith and Baptists, Sunday 10:30 am, November 8, complete with Anabaptist communion
  • Wesley and faith for all of life, Sunday 10:30 am, November 15

(All at Opawa Baptist, cnr Hastings St East and Wilsons Road). The intention is that Opawa catches a bigger picture of God in history. For a church in transition, knowing our back story helps shape our future. The hope is that I can be clear enough and sharp enough to relate history to life today.

Each Sunday will feature a song, a “saint”, some history and some contemporary application. This Sunday, Benedict and Monasteries, will include
– the facebook monks quiz
– honouring of three monks – Anthony, Benedict and Clare
– an analysis of the impact of the monastic movement on Christianity.
– finally, I want to reflect on what we can learn from the monastic movement for Christian life today. This will include how we imagine church, how we live our lives 24/7 and the shape of our Christian growth.

(The title of the series is borrowed from Mark Noll’s fabulous Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity.) Other books I’ve been reading have included:
Radical Hospitality: Benedict’s Way Of Love
The Rule of Benedict for Beginners: Spirituality for Daily Life
A Public Faith: From Constantine to the Medieval World, AD 312-600
Emerging Downunder
New Monasticism: What It Has to Say to Today’s Church
St Benedict for Today.

All in all, it’s been a rich week of sermon reflection.

Posted by steve at 02:06 PM

Thursday, October 22, 2009

an evening on u2: for Christchurch fans

For those of you in Christchurch, please pass this on …..

The world’s biggest band offers an intriguing case study in contemporary communication.
➢ How to play “old” songs in a new millennium?
➢ How to speak prophetically through changing times?
➢ How to connect across generations and cultures?
Steve Taylor presented a paper “The evolving live performance of U2’s Bullet the Blue Sky” at the first ever U2 Academic Conference, held in USA in October 09.

At AN EVENING ON U2, Steve will:
• Present his paper (visual here, some content here).
• Demonstrate with live concert footage
• Suggest implications for worship and preaching today

7:30-9pm Friday 30 October, Opawa Baptist Church, cnr Hasting St East and Wilson Road, Christchurch. This evening is brought to you by Laidlaw College and Opawa Baptist Church. To register call 03 3544270 or email chch at laidlaw dot ac dot nz

Posted by steve at 05:23 PM

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Do baptists have a communion liturgy?

“Do baptists have a way of doing communion?” I was asked in passing this morning. A few weeks ago, I spent time with the children in the church, talking with them about communion. It was part of a church wide process, in which we took time to explore communion, it’s why’s and wherefore’s. Hence the question, as to whether baptists have a way of doing communion.

My answer is yes, Baptist’s do have a communion liturgy. Each church is different, but there are some repeated patterns. Here’s my take on the “liturgy.”

explain – an explanation, often more devotional in format, in which the meaning of communion is explained.

pray – often 2 people, one for the bread, and one for the cup, pray.

invite – some indication is given of who can participate.

distribute – the elements are passed around. This tends to be individualistic and passive, with bread on trays and juice in little cups.

eat and drink – time is spent, usually individually, thinking upon the meaning of the cup.

thank – often a prayer of thanks.

A Baptist liturgy is not based on a whole lot of words. But the above is based on a clear theology. The explanation tends to focus on the events of the Last supper. This does make it “thin” (too thin in my opinion, missing Incarnation, resurrection, Spirit and eschatology), but it is a way of telling the story. The two people who pray are rarely clergy, because the priesthood of all believers is encouraged. Equally, going forward is viewed with suspicion, because of the danger of affirming a “priest” as essential in what is an equal table.

My journey has pushed me toward what I would call a bapti-can liturgy. It seeks to honour the richness of being baptist: a theology of community, a unease with ritual and words for the sake of words, an expectation of “communion” with God. But it adds in a greater theological breadth (weaving in themes of Incarnation, resurrection, Spirit and eschatology) in the explanation, ensures the prayer invokes the Spirit to make Jesus real, encourages people to come forward to receive from each other to enhance participation and community contact, distribution which includes the breaking of one loaf and the placing of pieces of that loaf on the trays alongside those small squares, visuals and creativity to provide multiple layers as people eat and drink, a final thanks which often includes the Lords Prayer as a way of expressing our unity with each other and the church world wide.

So yes, Baptists do have a communion liturgy.

Posted by steve at 05:30 PM

Thursday, February 26, 2009

spiritual resourcing or church as kings seeds

I blogged a few days ago about my vegetable garden. I contrasted the limited range of vegetables on offer at the local supermarket with the fantastic range of vegetable seeds on offer from Kings seeds. A blog comment also noted the Kings catalogue, and the way it stimulated teenage students they were working with.

A few hours later, I dropped a Lenten spiritual resource into a letterbox. For a joke, I wrote on the back “Opawa Baptist Spiritual resourcing centre” (or words to that effect). As I drove back, I thought about the different ways we at Opawa are resourcing people for Lent this year.
– a individual, at home resource, upon request
Bible days, offering resources to encourage lectionary reading
Life shapes, an evening course during Lent.
– flax spirituality, (still under development but we are tossing around a creative idea that takes us from Lent, through Easter, to Pentecost.)
– a number of emails, from churches in Wellington and Minneapolis, asking us for our Lenten (07) spirituality resources.

I wonder if some churches are like supermarkets – they offer a limited number of items, come to us, attractively presented, gently misted.

Then I look at Kings seeds – pick your own, grow your own, get your hands dirty, enjoy the catalogue in your time and space. I’d like Opawa to be more and more of the later – that there is not one way, one time, one place, come to us – but there are multiple ways for people to grow their own, and that our energy goes into being a producer of spiritual resource. I think we’re making progress and it’s a great joy to see so many different types of people taking advantage of our range of resources over the last few weeks. I also realise that it’s probably not either/or, although I suspect that generally, more church energy goes into the come-to-us models than the resource-from-us models. (This is another way of getting at some stuff in my (2005) Out of Bounds Church? book, in which I talked about the church as a “funder” of spiritual tourists.) Buy it hereoutofboundschurch.jpg

Posted by steve at 01:54 PM

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

where is church in Luke 10?

I have asked classes on Saturday and on Wednesday the following question;
Where is community? Is this church? I have then read them Luke 10:1-12.

1After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

5″When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. 7Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

8″When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. 9Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’ 10But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11’Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.’ 12I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

Think about the question in relation to the text and then feel free to add your comments and insights to our reflections…


Posted by steve at 05:08 PM

Thursday, October 06, 2005



This looks great; Bible podcast. It starts last weekend in October, with a marathon effort to try and podcast the entire Bible.

podbible3.jpg This means you can download the “oral” Bible onto your iPod for your walk, gym, ride on the bus. So I listened to Mark 1. My only critical comment is that the podcast I heard had no clear break between the Scripture reading and the three devotional application questions. Or perhaps this is a claim for divinely authoritative devotionals!

An unexpected joyful moment was that straight after the podbible reading, it suddenly randomed into U2’s “Miracle drug.” “What an awesome podcast” I thought, only to realise it was on my computer! But the lyrics were SO appropriate.
“I want a trip inside your head
Spend a day there
To hear the things you haven’t said
And see what you might see
I want to hear you when you call”

(Oh, the joy of song devotionals rather than word devotionals).

Posted by steve at 04:24 PM

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

church notices

I’m still processing whether church notices are curse or gift.

A sacred vs secular divide would see notices as secular, mundane, needing to be rushed through. An integrated view of God in everything would discern notices as just as spiritual as prayer or worship.

All groups have them – if you’re small in number it might be which pub after the church service or notice of a house warming. If you’re larger in size, they can be long and tedious. They can also be manipulative, guilt-inducing sales pitches. Yet if done well they can be creative and insightful.

Are they an impediment to worship? Should they come at the end of a service, after the benediction, as part of the movement of God’s people into the world?

Or they actually an essential part of community? A chance to “peek” into the mission life of a church? An opportunity to participate?

Still processing.

Posted by steve at 02:17 PM

Thursday, March 03, 2005

festival spirituality and road trips

At the risk of upsetting a few respected friends; let me put up some ruminations about spirituality of road trips (or pilgrimage), festivals and large Christian gatherings.

But first some context. Their have been two recurring themes among Baptist youth ministry across New Zealand in the last few years. These are
a) the rise and succcess of easter camps as they grow each year
b) the rate of 20 plus’s leaving the Baptist church, either drifting to large, Pentecostal churches or totally out of church.

Could it be that these two are related; that what is happening at Easter Camps is contributing to the loss of young adults to church?


Posted by steve at 11:59 AM

Thursday, February 10, 2005

G X E = spiritual growth

While debate still rages over the extent to which we as humans are shaped by our gene pool (G) and/or our environment (E); many people now suggest we are a mix of both.

So apply this with regard to spiritual growth;
G = (a mix of our “made in the image of God” + “being transformed into the image of Christ through the power of the Spirit.”)

E = (our communities; disciplines; growth coaching; practices; spaces).

Churches can’t do much about G; but they can do a lot about E. How to maximise our churches and relationships as E-growth-zones?

Posted by steve at 07:54 PM

Friday, November 05, 2004

the kpi cringe

KPI = business = modernity = vomit.

Yet cringing at the cringe, nose wrinkling in distaste, still begs the question …. what is important? When you pour your life into something, what makes it worthwhile?

If we go organic, and reject modern KPI, surely we are still faced with “what is important?” Bodies do grow. The doctor can, externally, check my internals … take my blood, pump my pressure, ask me to pee into a little yellow pottle. So organic images can still be bodily tied to external indicators.

Such indicators can be harder to assess, but surely they are still part of our discourse, modern or postmodern?

Posted by steve at 11:53 AM

Thursday, November 04, 2004

key performance indicators in postmodernity

There was a delightful piece in a local newspaper on Wednesday. The employment section was titled “working for the ultimate boss,” and explored ministry as a employment prospect! Tongue in cheek, it asked what where God’s Key performance indicators (KPI’s). Which got me thinking.

In modernity, I would suggest the KPI’s of the church were:
: church attendance
: offerings
: members

In postmodernity and with a more renewed theological vision, what might the KPI’s be. I am proposing:
: influence in wider community, leading to transformation
: generosity in time, talents and money
: wholistic growth

Am I missing any other KPI’s?

Posted by steve at 11:17 PM

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

women and the future of the church

I have been teaching a class on preaching in the postmodern. It has been a huge success, as I re-worked an existing seminary course with an in-service training option.

The class has totaled 26 participants. 8 of the students are training for ministry, while 18 are in ministry, most pastors, grappling with communication in our changing world.

Of the 18 in ministry, only 3 are women. Of the 8 training for ministry, 5 are women.

Is this hope? Or is this a reality check; that for women a huge gulf exists between dreaming and training and between the reality of ministry?

Posted by steve at 10:51 PM

Friday, October 15, 2004

church as holy internet

church as fluid and interlinked
church as honouring of the small, innovative
church of the Long Tail
the back catalog, older albums still fondly remembered by longtime fans or
rediscovered by new ones. There are live tracks, B-sides, remixes,
even (gasp) covers. There are niches by the thousands, genre within
genre within genre:
From Wired Magazine, available online at:

And for an potential image (warning 31K);
in The Holy internet: Communication between Churches in the First Christian Generation, Michael Thompson.


Posted by steve at 06:00 PM

Monday, September 06, 2004

out of cultural balance

Alan Creech engages with Don Carson, and argues:
if ultimately, you have first and foremost become some emerging church pomo whatever as a reaction to change in the culture – I, for one, believe you have your first and foremosts out of balance.

Well then, I for one am happy to put up my hand and say I’m out of balance. Out of balance and glad of it actually.

I was reading Philemon 22 yesterday; At the same time, get a room ready for me.

And it energised me as a missionary metaphor. We live in Western culture, which like the Prodigal Son, has left home. The church has been abandoned. And the Father waits. That’s our missionary reality.

As part of my missionary response, I’d like to keep a room ready for if the Prodigal returns. Our culture will never say what Paul says in Philemon. It will never ask for a room to be ready.

But I’m still willing to get the room ready, to create a welcoming and hospitable space for those wandering, squandering, enjoying the high life.

Maori culture has a proverb: ahi kaa – keep the home fires burning, so the loved ones will return. Such a hospitable (even if it might be out-of-balance) missiology has a number of implications.

First, it keeps me respectful of other rooms not like mine. This includes the mission rooms of modernity. I struggle with lots of Carson and lots of Willow Creek, but I keep trying to be respectful of such modern attempts at missiology.

Second, it keeps me surveying my room. It’s a place I prepare not for myself, but for the wanderer. So it’s not driven by my music wants or my favourite images. It’s a place that I hope the Prodigal will enjoy. Sure, it won’t be perfect. But part of my gift means I’ll do what I can.

So Alan, I’m sorry if it seems out of balance to you, but it’s a hospitable missiology that for me seems deeply energised by a Biblical impulse.

Posted by steve at 09:43 AM