Sunday, June 05, 2011

some new church tensions I can’t resolve

1. If team Taylor are part of starting something fresh expression wise in the Southern suburbs, then it would be great to have a few local folk to be part of it (especially given we’re still pretty disconnected migrants). But folk we talk with who want something new could also be used quite profitably to prop up some existing struggling causes. Shouldn’t we just do that? (Or might some new models actually provide some new options that become helpful for existing causes?)

2. Personally, I have a demanding day job. So do lots of other folk. So the idea of “spare-time” church makes sense of current realities. But would “spare-time church” be lifegiving? Or would it simply end up a bunch of tired folk gathered tiredly? (But doesn’t that sound like a good few established churches anyhow)?

3. Given that I am quite well-known in terms of Fresh Expressions, how to start something that has lots of permission to experiment, risk and fail?

Posted by steve at 09:47 PM


  1. Hi Steve, would be very interested to know more about where your thoughts go on this one … I too am a tired full time worker (loved the phrase ‘tired folk gathering tiredly’)… and am completely unchurched while the Esther Project is in recess, and missing not having a space to connect and reflect … I wonder what you mean by ‘fail’ …. I can think of communities that only have existed in a small way and for a shorter season that still provided great sustenance for those who were part of them … and for the community generally … for that particular time and place.


    Comment by Michelle — June 6, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

  2. Interesting question Steve, but my reflection on reading is that the dominant expression of church today is most likely ‘tired, (and busy) people gathering tiredly’ and distractedly. I wonder how we combat this – if we actually can. But surely we must if we are to be of value.

    Fwiw – ‘propping up’ gives me no passion and I doubt it does you either!

    Comment by Hamo — June 6, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

  3. Thanks folks.

    Michelle, I meant fail in that I worry about the impact of “tourists” on something small and fragile and I want to a space to play, not meet external expectations. I agree with you that seasons are important and longetivity should not be automatic.

    Hamo, yes, lots of tired churches around. Do churches ask for too much from lay folk? Or is it that life is asking too much (remember that thing called the 40 hour week?) Now, a hypothetical – if one of the folk interested in joining our plant was a key couple in your church, chair of your leadership council, would you still be handing out the the no propping advice? 🙂


    Comment by steve — June 6, 2011 @ 8:37 pm

  4. I’m not sure if I am understanding you right in your question Steve. I guess ‘propping up’ feels a bit like palliative care or something that happens just before that stage, so it doesn’t have any positive vibes for me.

    Fwiw in leading our current church i find myself regularly feeling like i am propping rather than leading. Those are my darker days, but i am guessing there is stuff to be learnt in the propping.

    I think the bigger issue you identify is that life is complex and it’s not just that people are ‘uncommitted’ or lazy, but rather that it’s very hard to know what is a reasonable expectation of someone in a church these days.

    Comment by Hamo — June 6, 2011 @ 11:22 pm

  5. Thanks Hamo. The usual church answer to busyness is to employ a person. We contract folk to run our services and preach for us. Worse, we sometimes even hire people to do our mission (we need to reach youth so lets employ a youth pastor!).

    But I’m still nervous about a lay alternative because of the loss of energy and resourcing. Pondering, pondering – as the title to this post suggests,


    Comment by steve — June 6, 2011 @ 11:47 pm

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