Monday, April 02, 2012

feel the seasons change

Today marks a personal and vocational transition for me. From 1 April to 1 July I’m on study leave, three months break from teaching to read and write.

As Faculty at Uniting College, we gain 6 months study leave after every three years of service. I was due to take this in Semester 1, 2013. However, with my appointment as Principal, which begins 1 July, it would have meant that 6 months after I became Principal, I would have been absent for 6 months. Which is not ideal. So the suggestion was made that, for the sake of leadership at the College, that this be split into two 3 month blocks, with one taken before I start.

So of the next three months, I am based on Adelaide, head down, writing. My major project is a book on emerging church sustainability. This builds on my PhD research, which explored in (great) detail an emerging church in Auckland, New Zealand. Last year, I returned to the same church to repeat the research. This provides what I think is a world-first, an close up inspection of an emerging church over a 10 year period. My hope is to turn this data into a book, tentatively titled “Emerging ten years on”, yielding important insights around leadership, continuity and sustainability.

I also have a number of smaller projects I want to play with – turning my recent mission conference presentations into written pieces available as internet accessible downloads, either as “singles” or as an “album” – tentatively titled “Feelings of Jesus and the mission of God.” I also want to paint an icon, as a way of reflecting on the change of role I am undergoing.

Then in December-March 2012 (3 months plus 3-4 weeks for holidays), I hope to go to the UK. I’d like to base myself (and family) within a UK College training missional leaders. (I’m having a conversation or two about this, but nothing definite has emerged yet).

I’m happy to speak to groups about the data emerging from “Emerging ten years on.” I also want to extend the research – specifically by re-interviewing the 10-15 UK emerging church communities I interviewed back in 2001.

So this morning, rather than head to the office, I’m at home. I’ve turned off my google calendar. What has been so jam packed for the last few months, is now basically empty. I’ve loved being able to say no to basically every speaking invite for the next 3 months.

Although I can’t quite start writing yet! There are still a few things in the “in” tray – some assignments, some Masters processes that need to be enacted.

Posted by steve at 11:00 AM


  1. Hi Steve,

    I’d be really interested in reading your reflections on sustainability of the emergent church – having watched and dipped into the emerging zone over the last 20 years (I think we were doing emerging stuff before it was called emerging???) and having watched quite a few friends dip in, out and around emerging mission it remains for me an important part of what God is up to in the church/world.

    Any links – articles – etc would be great


    Comment by Peter Armstrong — April 2, 2012 @ 11:28 am

  2. Grace to ya. I have such respect for a system which allows you to “make space”in such a way.

    Comment by Dan Anear — April 2, 2012 @ 10:37 pm

  3. Hey Steve, tell me more of this college training missional leaders in the UK! You’re welcome here of course – the rooms have all be decorated now – but I’m planning a trip down under in 2013-14 so may well be after a return favour! BTW happy to talk sustainable EC stuff – Sanctus is still going, after 10 years and has transitioned leadership, which sometimes i think is a miracle in itself…



    Comment by Ben Edson — April 3, 2012 @ 12:31 am

  4. Ben,
    I’m hoping for a base – a community to study with and among; an office to write in; a library to read in; some accommodation – me for 3 months, my family for 2 of those 3 – and in exchange hoping to be a lively conversation partner among a lecturing or pastoral taff, do some guest lecturing. Somewhere that’s an easy transport hub, so I can do some research.

    Back in 2001 I interviewed about 15 communities in UK and I want to follow them up – dead or alive – hear their stories and compare with the Cityside story.

    I’d love to explore hosting you (just you or family as well) in 2013-4 irrespective of whether you can help with this. With you having a PhD, you could be a visiting lecturer among us at Uniting College – some guest lecturing for us, an office to write in, be part of our academic community, reflect with us on what you’re learning re mission, change, etc; contribute to some of the pioneer research projects we’re working on; input into our post-grad programmes re ethnography and research. What do you think of that?


    Comment by steve — April 3, 2012 @ 9:55 pm

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