Thursday, June 30, 2005

Holy-Wood film festival

Bible College NZ Christchurch in association with the Damah International Film Festival (Seattle), St Christophers Avonhead and Opawa Baptist present the first Christchurch Holy-Wood Film Festival.

July 22-24, 2005. 6-8pm, 8-10pm Fri/Sat 3-5pm, 7-9pm Sun. FREE MOVIES Supper and popcorn $5. Mobile food carts on site for those who wish to purchase pizza/coffee etc.

Movies, discussion, film:church, debate: “Is LoTR a Christian Movie?” with students from Bible College of New Zealand.

View flier – 96K

Venue: Bible College of NZ, 70 Condell Ave, Papanui and other venues. To RSVP or for more info call: 03-3544270 or chchatbcnzdotacdotnz.

Posted by steve at 04:59 PM

mission and church DNA


An invitation to a conversation about mission and church…

Part 1 – Wed July 13th 6-9pm for church leaders and pastors
Part 2 – Thurs July 14th 9-11am for pastors

Venue: Opawa Baptist Church, Christchurch. RSVP in comments below. For more detail download file

Posted by steve at 04:53 PM

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

yes but is it church?

Context: we have been planting a new congregation, called espresso, at Opawa Baptist. And it has caused me to reflect more deeply on what is church. It has been a very intuitive journey. I don’t have a plan. Nor, I think does the rest of the leadership team of Paul and Anne and Lynne. We are sort of shaping it up as we go.

Below is the outline of last night. The use of an “*” (a theological star) equals some theological thinking that shaped why I did what I did last nite and if you hit the link at the bottom of this post, you’ll get that theological thinking.

8pm: 6 people turn up and there are apologies from 4 people with hospitalised family. Only 6. There are 150 people on a Sunday morning. Is 6 people church? “*1”

8.10pm: We say our regular gathering prayer. “*2”

8.15pm: We play a game. Cranium. The boys lose to the girls. But is playing a game church? “*3”

9.05pm: We celebrate communion. Bread is such a let down if you’ve dined on cake and pineapple and chocolate slice. So we have sparkling grape juice and fruit bun. “*4”

9.10pm: We take some time to reflect as a community on how espresso is going. What is working? What is not? “*5”

9.15pm: We decide on the question for next week – Why are there 4 gospels? (Each week of discussion starts with a question, which emerges from our group life). We allocate among the community who will provide food and the closing ritual and the discussion starter. Until next week. “*6”

As I drive home I reflect on how it seems so low-tech and organic. Is there a danger that something can be so low-key that it doesn’t grab people’s vision and time and energy? And does it matter? It was for me, a sustaining among friends of my following of Christ into the world.


Posted by steve at 03:16 PM

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

len sweet encouragement

For those of you who don’t follow the out of bounds church? book blog, I was blown away by the following email from Len Sweet.


I assigned your book to my doctoral students, and they loved it … I thought the book was dynamite . . . and glad it exploded in the hearts of my students as well

Posted by steve at 04:27 PM

Saturday, June 25, 2005

art at Opawa

Some thoughts by Shannon, one of the Opawa church’s plus 5 interns, who blogs here.

this past week i worked on creating an irrigation system for the front part of the church. this was to visually show how the living water (Christ) trickles down to other parts of the world. we placed 7 “mission stations” around this irrigation piping to represent specific places around the world to pray for (with specific missionaries to go along with each of them). we drew water from the fountain (the installation i helped make the week before) and visually showed how each of us (represented by the individual pipes, screws, etc) can work together as a church to pour out the living water to those in need. i was kind of skeptical before i worked on the project because i kind of thought it would either be really cheesy or really bizarre, but now i love it!

opawa is a muti-generational church and uses hands-on, creative art installations like this to generate discussion and get people interacting with eachother. in steve’s book, (“Out of Bounds Church“) it talks about how in this day and age, what we need now is a church that is more in tune with getting practical, hands-on things – or we may be in danger of losing the generation x’ers.

and as far as where artists enter into this picture, i think we as artists have the amazing task (and privelage) of stepping up to the plate. we live in a world full of images.

Posted by steve at 03:16 PM

a simple metal plumbing pipe and why the future of God is indeed, among the people of God

One of my passionate beliefs is that mission is a partnership with the Spirit of God already at work. We don’t dream up mission, but we find a creative, redeeming, reconciling God already at work in the world.

This affirmation is important when we think about church and emerging church. It might just be, if God is a God of the unexpected, that the creative, redeeming, reconciling God might be at work not only in the world, but also in the church. That the future of the people of God might already be among the people of God.


A simple concrete pipe is a potential, practical example of this. Opawa Baptist is a 40 year old, brick, block monolith. So the thought of installing a coffee machine sends the cash registers spinning on practical, plumbing types. Putting water pipes through concrete block walls can get expensive!

This week I went exploring. I dream of a coffee machine in an “L” cove of the foyer. So I open some cupboard doors under a stair-well and I find a hot water cylinder. I look underneath the cylinder and there is a “T” join already on the pipe, pointing straight toward where I want the coffee machine. I knock on the dividing wall and it echoes. It’s wood, not concrete.

40 years ago, in the wisdom of heaven, a church plumber chose to install a “T” join in a straightforward plumbing operation and a church builder chose to build a wooden wall rather than concrete wall. And so today, a coffee machine installation is much more affordable. So perhaps the future of God really is among the people of God. Perhaps we really do build on foundations laid by others.

So much of the emerging talk is about starting anew. Let me rant. It’s dangerous. It’s disrespectful. It’s dodgy in it’s theology. If we really believe in the Spirit of God at work in the world, why is it so hard to conceive that the Spirit could be pregant among the concrete block walls of a church?

Posted by steve at 11:37 AM

Thursday, June 23, 2005

how can churches use film?

How can churches use film? This was an assignment I set my Gospel and film class.

Help, they began to cry. There is very little in books Steve. There is very little on the web Steve. So I compiled the following notes for them, under the following headings.
1. Environments
2. Devotion
3. Communication
3.1 Illustration
3.2 Dialogue
3.3 “Roll your own”
4. Community building
5. Missional dialogue
6. Film Festivals

The notes are here (download file) if you want. Please respect the copyright notice. And if you think of any gaps, or find them helpful, I’d love to know.

Posted by steve at 04:05 PM

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

random links

Last year I wrote a slightly tongue in cheek A-Z of the emerging church. It has leapt back into blog circulation thanks to tallskimpykiwi [sic] and I like how it is (sort of) being “open-sourced” ie added to here.

One of my local cafes – jack flash – is offering $2 coffees in the morning.

Some blogs I have been meaning to mention for a while;
a whole rash of people at Opawa have started blogging. They are on my side-bar blog roll but for the record; feel free to meet Andrew; Paul; Amy; Jo; Ann.

and two Kiwi exports – Mark Pierson and Duncan MacLeod.

Posted by steve at 10:28 AM

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

how is espresso going?

We’re pioneering a new congregation here at Opawa – every Tuesday, 8 pm, church foyer. (The journey is blogged here, here and here). It is based around sofas, and we
– gather ritually
– discuss
– ritually end

It’s scarey and its exciting. Often I get asked how it is going. Here is some participant feedback:
I have started going to Expresso/Espresso at Opawa. It is a place where we can eat, have a coffee and discuss, mull over some of the questions of life we have as we travel on our journey towards or with God. There is a lovely mix of people with lots of different stories to tell that have made them who they are. It has been nice to see familiar faces and get to know new ones. It has been nice to feel safe, to have my own opinions and to be able to express these whilst listening to others and seeing the world through their little window.

I am enjoying it!! and last night I was able to take a very special friend of mine too. She is related to me but she is so much more than that – she is truely my friend. I am writing about her in the hope she will read this and feel special as a result of me blogging about her. Thank you to Steve, Lynne, Paul & Ann for taking the risk of starting Espresso and allowing us the chance to attend and grow together. Thank you for starting to restore my faith in people – Karen.


Posted by steve at 05:16 PM

Sunday, June 19, 2005

visual learners

This was the “visual” of my sermon today.

lake taylor4.jpg

I was talking with Adrian on Saturday after the Stirring the waters prayer and justice gathering. We talked about developing our writing and journalling. He then casually mentioned that he often diagrams his learning. It reminded me that people have different learning styles:
V – visual
A – aural
R – read and write
K – kinesthetic.

I try and bear this in mind when I communicate, but keep slipping back into my strengths – aural and read/write. I’m not strong in the visual learning. Visual learning is not about art images or video (that’s kinesethic), but about diagrams and mind maps. So I tried to visual today’s sermon. It involved a simple paint program and added a new visual part as I moved through.

Update: For the Aural learners, here are the discussion questions a small group is using.
text questions
1. The sermon used the image of dryness and the example of being dry because we are busy. What other ways does dryness become part of our lives?

2. The sermon used Revelation 22:1-3 to suggest God’s best for the world. It particularly focused on the water. What else does Revelation 22:1-3 tell us about God’s dreams for us?

3.The sermon used the image of blocked sprinklers, and suggested donor fatigue as one thing that blocks the flow of God. What else could block God in our lives?

4. The sermon suggested doing one small thing (Matthew 10:42) as a way to unblock donor fatigue. Would it help you?

5. What has struck me most tonite?
6. What one thing would I appreciate prayer for?

Can anyone guess the text or the point? If you want to check your answers (or you give up or can’t be bothered thinking …)


Posted by steve at 09:58 PM

Saturday, June 18, 2005

a bucket for just one day


Today our family is getting all our water by bucket from an outside tap. So are others in the church. It has added a whole new dimension to toileting and washing and drinking. It certainly makes life slower.

While it feels hypocritical doing it for only one day, I have a hunch it will be something our family won’t forget for a while. And it has certainly made me more grateful for water. It’s part of water for life, our annual church and denominational missions focus (for more information go here).

And we’re meeting 4-5:15 pm at the church to Stir the waters Christians should boycott bottled water, to reflect on how we in the West consume water.

Posted by steve at 10:56 AM

Friday, June 17, 2005

evangelism by encouragement

I’ve been appreciating Barnabas as a interesting model of mission over the last week; he’s known as an encourager; he’s also a ministry resourcer (linking a young leader, Paul with a changing church) and around Barnabbas’s ministry comes a clearer identity (“called Christians”).

And through this “many turned to the Lord.” Now, to be honest, evangelists I meet leave me feeling condemned and beaten up, guilty within their black and white words and worlds. Yet here is Barnabas, a fascinating model of evangelism by encouragement and ministry resourcing and clarifying identity.

So we took time as a staff team over coffee this week to name what was encouraging us about the church in general, and about each other specifically. And having, like Barnabbas, been encouraging, we relaxed to let God take care of the growth of the church.

Posted by steve at 04:56 PM

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

2 recent emerging church web articles that I appreciate

One: Excellent response by Jordon Cooper to the consumeristic Ooze article “Behold I make all things stale and boring” and the provocative statement: After reading a bunch of Emergent Church type blogs recently I realized almost no one is saying anything new.

When talking about the future of the emerging church I often show an Adbusters video, supplied to me by Stephen Garner. In a bid to find identity, the person accessorises, seeking to be hip and cool by adding toys and gimmicks and new things. We live in a society which is based on selling the new. So in one sense it’s totally natural to see the same consumerism at work in a person’s approach to the blogging world.

Two: Thoughtful article by Alan Roxburgh (sent to me by ProdigalKiwi) on the emerging church in the context of the April Consult at Fuller. (At which a statement I made – ‘I’m not sure we are really as creative as we think.’” – became a context-less soundbite on quite a number of blogs – here, here, here and here).

As I read the article I reflected on my hope that the new of the emerging is not a panacea for stale and boring, but is the missional Image-ining of Christ . Such image-ining must take time. Such image-ining will search forward, backward and sideways, to our wired world, to our ancient roots and among cultures unlike ours. And such image-ining will often be found in unexpected crevices. Such is the kingdom.

My book has a postcard/chapter on creativity. It is positioned after a postcard/chapter on birth and midwiving. That’s deliberate – creativity emerging from the active image-ining breath of God.

Posted by steve at 09:56 PM

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

selling out

So I’ve got this new book – out of bounds church? – that got released in February.

And in April my local Christian bookshop – yah for Manna Christchurch – throw a book launch. And they are going to sell out of my book, so I give them the 6 remaining copies I have left.

So they owe me books. Last week they ring. New stocks of my book are in and I can come and pick up the 6 copies they owe me. So last night we cruise in there. I double park and Lynne rushes in.

And returns empty-handed. They’ve sold out. Again. Twice. Either they are only getting in little handfuls of my book, OR Christchurch is buying!

Update (17 June 2005): Susan from Colorado writes: When I bought your book about a month ago (either in Borders or Barnes & Noble in Colorado – can’t remember) I got the last copy. Hope they restocked. Great job on the book ! We’re using it for ideas on our own unusual culture at Flatirons Community Church in Lafayette, Colorado. Selling out again!

Posted by steve at 12:36 PM