Thursday, July 30, 2009

faith:full families take a lot of work

I’ve just printed off my speaking notes for Adelaide. 74 pages, and 20,000 words in note form. That’s a lot of work! It’s something I’ve been working on for nearly a year now, using a range of places to workshop stuff.

Here is my introduction in the written material I have provided for participants:

Aim of week: To provide stimulation for our ministries as children, youth, family workers by weaving together selected Biblical narratives regarding families, together with contemporary missiology.

Key image – tables: You sit at a table. The people in your ministry context sit around tables. Jesus sat at tables. Many Bible narratives occurred around tables. What narratives and insights – Biblical, ministerial, missional – can shape our “table” ministry?

My context: I come not as an academic with a lot of well polished talks. Instead the material is tentative and on the run, shaped by 6 years helping an established church refind a heart for local community ministry. This conference has provided a chance to go back through my hard drive, trying to pull together key moments and learnings and shaping narratives, with specific regard to family ministry, and to realise this recurring theme of table. And so to offer the fragments to you, wondering what you will find as we sift life and ministry together. I am looking forward to that with you.

A more thorough outline is here. The angelwings research team has also cooked up some case studies – 4 different contexts in which ministry can be happening – and I’m looking forward to seeing what participants make of them.

While I am in Adelaide, I’m talking with a publisher about the possibility of this becoming a book. Just an exploration. But it seems to me that there is very little written on ministry across the generations from a Downunder perspective. Even less that is closely attentive both to Biblical narratives and to contemporary mission insights. So there might be a hole needing filling. It certainly would be nice to see 74 pages and 20,000 words find life not just for 1 week, but in an ongoing way.

(I’m also doing stuff here and here plus this lovely comment (final paragraph) here).

Posted by steve at 06:42 PM


  1. You may already know this poem but if not I hope you find it helpful

    ‘In search of a round table’
    Chuck Lathrop
    It will take some sawing
    To be roundtabled.
    Some redefining
    And redesigning,
    Some redoing and rebirthing
    Of narrow long Churching
    Can painful be
    For people and tables.
    It would mean no diaising
    And throning,
    For but one king is there
    And he is a foot washer,
    At table no less.
    And what of narrow long ministers
    When they confront
    A round table people,
    After years of working up the table
    To finally sit at its head,
    Only to discover
    That the table has been turned round?
    They must be loved into roundness,
    For God has called a People
    Not “them and us”.
    “them and us” are unable
    to gather round; for at a round table
    there are no sides
    and ALL are invited
    to wholeness and to food.
    At one time
    Our narrowing churches
    Were built to resemble the Cross
    But it does no good
    For building to do so,
    If lives do not.
    Round tabling means
    No preferred seating,
    No first and last,
    No better, and no corners
    For the “least of these”.
    Roundtableing means
    Being with,
    A part of,
    Together and one.
    It means room for the Spirit
    And gifts
    And disturbing profound peace for all.
    We can no longer prepare for the past.
    We will and must and are called
    To be Church,
    And if He calls for other than a round table
    We are bound to follow.
    Leaving the sawdust
    And chips, designs and redesigns
    Behind, in search of and in presence of
    The Kingdom
    That is His and not ours.

    Comment by Bob Sneddon — July 30, 2009 @ 7:31 pm

  2. thanks bob. interesting twist on the table image,


    Comment by steve — July 30, 2009 @ 8:14 pm

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