Thursday, December 11, 2008

KISS church trumps the theologians every day

On Tuesday, the neighbouring pastor and I were comparing notes. “What does missional mean for young people. We’re in decline. We’re losing our youth to local megachurch. Any ideas?”

I laughed. Maybe I’m cynical, but I am wondering (today) if sociology actually trumps theology. No matter how missional, KISS – keep it sociological silly – is powerful. People want to be with their friends. That’s more important than the preaching or the worship or the images or the practices. No matter what happens up front, it’s the pew-pew interactions, or lack thereof, that tend to win. Often we wrap the “story of growth” around a theology, when surely it’s as simple as friends attract friends and these are powerfully pragmatic reasons that shape people’s choices.

Or am I a bit too jaded in this current season?

Posted by steve at 11:16 AM

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

DIY Advent

At Opawa, we’re using Si Smith’s Advent figures (downloadable from Proost). They’ve been quite a hit, with all sorts of people connecting in various ways and a lot of joy being had as families and individuals make them. Some are even taking their (A4) size figures to work or in their cars.

We’ve blown up onto A0 paper a set for church. They stand about 50 cm high and each week we add 7 more, placing them around the Christmas tree and telling the story of how they fit into the Christmas countdown. Closer to Christmas, they’ll become part of the Great Opawa Christmas Countdown Treasure Hunt, adopted by various families, needing to be discovered in exchange for a Christmas carol or two!

Posted by steve at 08:35 AM

Saturday, December 06, 2008

mission as financial in a global credit crunch

A number of conversations around Opawa at the moment in terms of what being missional church will mean in a global credit crunch. Christianity is partly responsible, since our celebration of Christmas, was a bit of a kick start to the whole Christmas thing. Last year, as the tills rung on Boxing Day, I began to wonder if it was actually time for Christians to boycott Christmas. What would happen to the Boxing Day debt train if every church said they were not celebrating Jesus on December 25. Instead a random number generator could be used to ensure a random Christmas Day. This year the stakes are higher. What shape might “mission-as-financial” take?

Napier Baptist are talking about a community garden. Here’s a UK Anglican response, including suggesting church run seminars.

This looks a great web resource. Funk graphics and some very practical resources, including a downloadable Christmas budget plan.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

What sort of things is your church talking about?

Posted by steve at 01:26 PM

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

emerging church on air

Updated: Thanks to Rhema and wikiupload, the interview (6 mins long) is here and click “download”. I was most pleased with my line: “beware a bunnyhoping approach to church history” 🙂

I’ve been asked to be on air – Radio Rhema – tomorrow (Thursday) morning. Some person called Roger Oakland is touring New Zealand trashing the emerging church and they want a response from me at 7:40 am. I have just finished listening to an hour of one of his online videos re emerging church.

Personally, I don’t think it does Rhema any favours have this sort of stuff on air.

1 – He’s so extreme. When a person rejects those who read Purpose Driven Church or Richard Foster, those who listen to The Message, people shaped by the charismatic renewal, those interested in spiritual formation, then that’s a lot of evangelical church being dismissed, yet alone the Catholic church. (Vision New Zealand has had Catholic Archbishop John Dew speak twice at their Congress.)

2 – At heart this is a question of discernment. How do you know whether what is emerging is of God? Roger quotes the book of Jude for the need to discern. What is important is that Jude writes to a community. So discerment belongs in community. (Who is Roger’s community?) The Bible offers another models for discernment. In Acts 3, Gamaliel suggests fruit over time. In Acts 15 the church gives freedom, as long as the poor are remembered. Jesus suggests we love our enemies. What might happen if Roger applied these to the emerging church – give time, give freedom as long as they love the poor, love them?

3 – The way he constructs his argument makes him impossible to argue with
a) if you disagree with him, then you are deceived
b) if your criticise him, then you are a persecuter of the righteous remnant

4 – He asks the question “What Jesus will emerge from the emerging church?” Now that’s a good question and based on my reading and study, I’d suggest
(a) Jesus that takes Incarnation seriously
(b) a Jesus gospel that applies to whole of life
(c) a following of a Jesus who is the way, the truth, the life – Christian faith is not about an intellectual understanding of doctrine, but about a relationship with Triune God.

5 – And if I was to be critical of the emerging church movement, I’d offer some different critiques to those offered by Mr Oakland. I’d be challenging it to
– place a moratorium on US books and speakers
– take the absent voices (poor, women, ethnic) more seriously
– spend less time blog-ologising and more time discipling among real people in real communities

Posted by steve at 05:07 PM

where I work …

Laidlaw College promotional video (where I spend 2 days/week when I’m not on sabbatical!). Gotta love that line: Lecturers are extremely intelligent, with sharp minds and soft hearts (not that Michelle has been in any of my classes!)

Posted by steve at 03:23 PM

John and Olive Drane blogging

One of the world’s leading emerging missiologists – and family friends – John and Olive Drane are now blogging here. “These two churchmice have been chewing the fatty cheese together for some time now … The mice who intrigue them most are usually those who can feel at home in the traditional institutions, but have enough sense of adventure to gnaw their way out of the box knowing that there are some surprising discoveries to be made out there.”

John supervised my PhD study and both of them were contributors to my out of bounds church? book. (When I wrote the book, I wanted voices from a range of countries and a range of places – gender, inside and outside church leadership, known and unknown – and I was honoured to have the input of Andrew Jones, Gerard Kelly, Maggi Dawn, Mark Pierson, Kelli Robson, Cathy Kirkpatrick, Sally Morgenthaler, Robert Webber, John/Olive Drane. Each got sent two chapters and were asked to make 4 comments per chapter, which were included in the side bars, alongside rituals, books, movies, quotes, websites. It was all great fun and greatly enhanced my stumbling words :))

Anyhow, looking forward to the Drane’s making an excellently grounded contribution to the blogosphere.

Posted by steve at 08:21 AM

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

film review of Wall-E

Here is my latest film review, of Wall-E; mixing film, faith and U2’s Beautiful Day

A film review by Rev Dr Steve Taylor

“And see the bird with a leaf in her mouth
After the flood all the colors came out
It was a beautiful day”

So sing Irish rock band, U2, in their hit single, Beautiful Day. It is a lyrical reference to the Noah story, in which, in Genesis 8, the dove returns with a olive leaf in her mouth.

So might sing WALL-E (short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class), the main character in the Pixar movie by the same name. However, WALL-E is a trash collecting robot. Despite being the main character in this 98 minute film, WALL-E type robots never talk, let alone sing.

This is part of the artistry of the movie. Robots communicate through body language and robotic sounds. So it is over 45 minutes before the first line of spoken dialogue occurs. Yet for all that time, my children, eight and eleven, sat spell bound, wowed by the skills of Pixar computer animation and the multiple layered narratives that hold the interest of both adult and child.

This is the ninth movie from the Pixar stable (which includes previously reviewed movies such as Ratatouille (December 2007). Once again, Pixar deserve all the critical acclaim that WALL-E has garnered. Director Andrew Stanton, take a bow.

WALL-E is a modern day interpretation of the Noah story. In Genesis 7 and 8, human action results in the earth made uninhabitable. Yet the return of a dove, with a olive leaf in her mouth, signals return and renewal.

This in essence is also the plot of WALL-E. In an imaginary future, humans have piled our planet high with junk. With the earth uninhabitable, the human race launch into outer space. Hence a commercial voiceover. “Too much garbage in your place? There is plenty of space out in space! BnL StarLiners leaving each day. We’ll clean up the mess while you’re away.”

While humans laze in outer space, slowly losing their ability to walk, probes regularly return to planet earth, checking for signs of life. Enter Eve (yes Eve!), a returning probe, who captivates WALL-E. Until, that is, she finds the first sign of earth’s renewal, and must return to outer space, the leaf from planet earth tucked in her gleaming white Applesque attire.

Driven by love, WALL-E follows her back to the space ship, unleashing a chain of events in which robots fall in love, while humans come face to face with the consequences of their past. Enter a beautiful day, and a more beautiful ending, in which humans return to earth, replanting the leaf from Eve’s mouth, willing to embark on a more sustainable lifestyle.

WALL-E is a sermon, and a better sermon you are not likely to hear. The earth is God’s good gift and should be treated as such. Humans actions have inevitable consequences. Yet, in repeated grace, humans are offered an olive branch. Best we learn from our mistakes, avoid being called a race of wally’s, rather than trust our planet to a determined robot, name of WALL-E.

514 words

Posted by steve at 10:14 PM