Thursday, March 01, 2007

UK applause

I wrote an article (3,000 words) last year, titled “Emerging, established or re-emerging?; which explored some theological and ecclesiological themes around the story of our move to Opawa Baptist, and the change processes around the planting of emerging church congregations, using a multi-congregation model, in an established church. It is a mix of storytelling and reflection on the Trinity. It has now published in the UK journal Ministry Today (Edition 38, [Northern Hemisphere] Winter 2006). (You can subscribe on-line to the journal).

They also carried the following review of my Out of Bounds Church? book

The Out of Bounds Church? Learning to Create a community of faith in a culture of change by New Zealand Baptist minister, Steve Taylor, should be essential reading for any one wanting to understand ’emerging church’ for four reasons: first, this is a book by a practioner, who currently runs three forms of ’emerging church’ while pastoring a traditional church in Christchurch. Second, it is a book by a theologian, who has applied academic rigour to doing mission. Third, it is a book by a person very much in touch with the cutting edge of today’s youth culture(s). Fourth, it is by a New Zealander, and, in this reviewer’s opinion, the New Zealand churches are very often ahead of their Western counterparts. Steve Taylor is an extra-ordinarily creative individual, and this is reflected in this book. I found this an unsettling book, for it makes me realise how much my church, along with most churches, is out of touch with contemporary culture … One question which this book leaves me with is this: is ’emerging church’ dependent upon creative individuals such as Steve Taylor?”

What do you think? Is the New Zealand church often ahead of the game? How important are creative individuals for emerging churches? Would this be a good thing, or a bad thing?

Posted by steve at 09:05 AM


  1. I have often wondered about this, there is an emphasis on shared leadership and on emerging this that and the other. However, in my rather limited observations there is always a dynamic, creative inspirational leader behind what ever is going on.

    I’m sure (in my rather traditional way) that people need dynamic and creative leaders and its good thing. I’m also sure that people need encouraging not to depend on those leaders, but I get the feeling that the “Emerging Church” try to deny that the role of leader exists (even though it does).

    Comment by Graham Doel — March 1, 2007 @ 8:49 pm

  2. I agree with Graham. All churches, groups or communities need leaders. I guess emerging church needs creative leaders because on the whole it appears to be a creative enterprise (although there are such a large amount of resources around that you can get away with having someone with good presentation skills and broadband) but that’s not the same as having someone or a group of people who spend time reflecting on how their lives, the life of their community, can be reflected in worship.

    The cult of the leader isn’t peculiar to emerging church. I think that some people do ‘charismatic leader’ very well and people are happy to follow them. Others do ‘facilitator and enabler’ well and those in my experience are the places where real community flourishes and is sustained.

    Comment by Stewart Cutler — March 2, 2007 @ 1:39 am

  3. I have found that a leader who is not so creative but realizes the need for (and unleashes others to exercise) creativity is effective as well. Creativity for it’s own sake can be dangerous, but creativity for the sake of enhancing communication as well as environments can make one gathering feel more welcoming than another even though no one can say exactly why.

    Comment by Will — March 2, 2007 @ 8:25 am

  4. Creative leader, yes – but creative leader who knows how to create safe spaces for other people to explore their own creativity. There are plenty of creative people around who insist/assume that their form of creativity is the only one allowed and who therefore neither encourage others nor learn from them. In my experience, New Zealand has its share of both types. Those who are relaxed within themselves often are ahead of the game (you fit in here Steve) – the others are as out of touch as anal leaders anywhere else in the world, and sometimes aggressive with it as well.

    Comment by John — March 3, 2007 @ 5:12 am

  5. thanks for your kind words john. i think your phrase “create safe space” is crucial.

    i think it has two dimensions;
    1 – safe space for other people to be creative. thus my philosophy is to model creativity, because in doing so it provides a (not THE) new way of being Jesus followers. the hope is that having seen this people might themselves create. my role then shifts to one of coaching, encouraging.
    2 – the whole aim of creativity is to create an environment in which people can be safe with God. Mark Pierson uses the phrase “curating” which I love. It says so much about the point being to let people interact, and not to say “do it my creative way.” this really is the heart of a chapter of my PhD, the crucial role of imagination in discipleship.

    thanks for the encouragement John and death to anality in leadership,


    Comment by steve — March 3, 2007 @ 2:24 pm

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