Wednesday, January 09, 2013

the year that was – 2012

It’s always interesting to look back over the blog as one way of reflecting on the 2012 year past. The most interesting thing for me is the decline in blogging that began in July, coinciding with becoming Principal. I was posting 25 times a month prior and 19 times a month after. Given that I blog as a way of reflecting aloud, it is an interesting development.

So, posts from 2012 that I like, that give some sense of the year gone

So there you are. Fascinating to look back and see the blessing as I pay attention to the natural world, the importance of creativity, the priority of mission and the ongoing opportunities to write.

The writing has been the most interesting, with a frontpage article here, this artists floor talk being requested for an international publication, along with the usual more academic book chapters (this published, this accepted for publication) and monthly film reviews.

Posted by steve at 06:16 AM

Friday, June 08, 2012

still blogging 10 years on

Apparently Saturday marks my 10 year blog-versary. I say apparently because my original webhost is long gone, so there’s no “public” record of birth.

My midwife was blogger, which after a few months, got hosted in as part of the Graceway church website. When I transitioned city (Auckland to Christchurch) and churches (Graceway to Opawa) at the end of 2003, it seemed appropriate to leave the resources of the blog at Graceway, but I continued to blog, using wordpress (first entry here). Going back through blogger archives, this is the earliest post I can find is dated 9 June, 2002.

Ten years ago. Before Facebook, iPhones and twitter.

I remember the day I put my first post up and within a few hours, had comments from Andrew Jones, Prodigal Kiwi and Rachel Cunliffe. That sense of amazement over a digital word and how strangers become linked.

All 3 remain friends – Rachel visiting us this Easter, Andrew stayed at our house last year, while I enjoyed a beer in Auckland with Paul last August. A virtual world, yet with enduring relationships.

I’ve often pondered whether to continue blogging. And then there will be another random connection – a comment in response to a post that gives me fresh vistas, a email asking to borrow a prayer resource. And I will be reminded of the gift of connection, the new worlds made possible through the web-verse.

I can’t picture a world in 10 years time, nor whether I will still be blogging. But I still like to remain open to the sheer wonder of human connection.

Posted by steve at 03:16 PM

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

use of social media ministry learnings from Kony12

The last few weeks in class (Reading Cultures/Sociology for Ministry) has been focused on contemporary global cultures. Last week, a student asked about the Kony viral video campaign. It seemed a case study worth processing as a class, as it was so current, and yet raised so many questions about the use of social media to bring about change.

So the class were invited to view the video for “homework.” Upon return today, I invited them to choose a place on a continuum, from “it was not right” to “great use of social media.” This produced a great discussion with those on opposite ends of the spectrum making some really insightful observations.

To help ground the discussion, I reminded the class that our aim is to help churches think about being part of effective change. And at some point, a church might want to get involved in social media. So, what might we learn from the Kony campaign.

Here is the list we created: things to consider if you’re thinking about using social media.

  1. It can be highly, highly impacting
  2. It can have real potential for educating, especially for a generation that doesn’t watch the television news
  3. Social media can emerge from anyone, especially from people with the right creative and media savvy skills
  4. Think about how you communicate. Media can be manipulative and abusive. Will you focus on head or heart? Will you try and be simple, or seek to nuance complexity?
  5. Consider the ethics of who you use, who you film and how you film them
  6. Reflect on whether your “author” and your “author’s life” is important to your story
  7. Social media can only be a starter. It needs to be supported by more information and next steps
  8. What you do can form a precedent
  9. Learn from other campaigns
  10. Be prepared for backlash
  11. You can’t control other users, and they can spin your campaign

What do you think? What else would you want to add?

Posted by steve at 04:35 PM

Thursday, February 05, 2009

celebrating the city

(Art by Olivia Chamberlain, used with permission)

I spoke at Celebrating the City last night. It’s an excellent initiative by Oxford Terrace Baptist, here in central city Christchurch. Four Wednesday evening lectures (February (4, 11, 18, 25) with four different speakers exploring city themes. An excellent initiative for an central city church to be taking and I really like the fact that speakers will include our local Mayor (February 11), and the sense that this is not just a church conversation.

My task was to kick off the series reflecting on the Bible and the city. The argument I made was that most of our images surrounding spirituality and prayer are rural. I took a visual flip through Christian posters and the front covers of books on prayer and how often God is imaging to us in the outdoors and the isolated and the “natural” landscapes. I suggested this makes it hard to celebrate the city, because we have lost our capacity to find God in people and in complexity and in human creation and offered some suggestions for ways forward.

Preparing was an interesting personal journey for me. I used to teach a course on Urban mission, back in 2001 and 2. So it was bit of a historical foray digging up old notes. I found things like 3.5 in disks. And colour overhead transparencies! Remember those? I remembering feeling so pleased, back in 2002, scanning images on the computer, then getting colour onto acetate transparencies.

Just seven years later, and for this lecture I was downloading and embedding video clips, with sound, all inserted into my keynote presentation. Technology is moving so fast and is just one more complexity of living today.

I was also interested in how my own thinking had progressed over the years. Recent sermons on Deuteronomy and Ruth and the minor prophets were inserted in the theme of the city in the Bible. Video clips I am currently using in my missional church speaking seem to flow really well. In other words, I had this sense of remaining true to what I used to teach, yet still growing, refreshing, deepening.

I thought it was good night. Attendance seemed to exceed expectations. A good mix of people and I heard some great stories afterward. I even got to meet one of my silent blog readers, on holiday from Rotorua (!). “We came from Rotorua to hear you” and laughter all around 🙂 So today is a shout out to my silent blog readers. Thanks for being around, even if I don’t know you :).

Posted by steve at 11:38 AM

Saturday, January 10, 2009

it works

It was a simple message: Am i a txtng twit?

Which led to a whoop of incredulous joy; “It works.”

From a cell phone in New Zealand I can text a phone number in the UK, which updates both on the twitter website, and on the left hand side of my website, under the TWEET TWEET heading. Isn’t technology amazing. Isn’t our world getting smaller and smaller.

Posted by steve at 09:21 PM

Saturday, July 29, 2006

blogs and books

i think books are different from blogs. it might just be me though. i have been blogging for a few years now. one of my categories was about church transition – doing emerging church stuff in an established setting. i was stunned to discover earlier this year that there are over 200,000 words in that blog category on my blog.

now those 200,000 words are jottings and have blessed people on the way. but i suspect there is another way to bless people; to reflect on those 200,000 words and integrate and edit them as a 45,000 word book.

is there a place in our world for multiple approaches to communication?

A comment I made on Mark Berry’s blog.

Posted by steve at 05:50 PM

Thursday, March 16, 2006

copyright and blogs: updated

In the last 24 hrs I have had two of my blogs posts copied in their entirety on someone else’s blog. I’m not going to name them because this is not in any way a personal discussion. Rather it just got me thinking.

In a book world, you are allowed to “copy” 10% or a chapter from a book. Should there (is there?) such (voluntary) guidelines for the blog world?

Advantages of 100% copying
1. Ideas get spread. A person’s thoughts get multiplied. That is part of the new media revoluation.
2. Ideas get read more widely. Every blog audience is unique and so the readership of an idea increased.
3. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, so 100% blog post reproduction is a huge compliment.

Disadvantages of 100% copying
1. Words lose context. A blogpost gains layers of meaning because it is shaped by an author and by the surrounding posts. Reproducing a blogpost loses that context. (This is also the reason why I don’t use or like RSS feeds. They might be efficient but they strip context.)
2. The original author is more likely to be removed from any ensuing discussion (ie comments occur in another context and the original author is less likely to be aware).
3. Chinese whispers. You know that game you play where you form a line and pass a whisper down and laugh at how much it has changed. Similarly, reproducing a reproduction heightens the risk of not giving due credit or mixing up words from various bloggers.
4. Internet pollution. In an information rich world, should there be an ethical commitment to streamlining information rather than reproducing the same information?

I am not upset or anything. It just got me thinking. What do you think? What advantages and/or disadvantages do you see?

Updated based on comments:


Posted by steve at 09:10 PM

Monday, March 13, 2006

comment denial

Sorry if you have been trying to leave a comment anytime in the last 4 days. I have been overzealous in my despamming settings. I trust it is fixed now.

Posted by steve at 03:44 PM

Sunday, February 05, 2006

theology of blogging

Some thoughts in process.

This blog is gift. As hobby it emerges from surplus; my time, creativity, thought and skill. A gift always costs. Every minute I blog is one less for family or for sipping a pinot.

Gift need not cost the recipient, but it costs the giver. Indeed if it has not cost, it is not gift but work.

It is the choice of a giver to give a gift. This means that consumerism is not necessarily theft of a surplus.

However, a consumer of a gift might note that while given freely, surplus is neither endless nor unlimited. By definition, for a surplus to remain a surplus requires replenishment. Such replenishment is uniquely contextual, dependant on the individual and their unique personality and makeup.

It might be financial,and so the chance to trade in Adense for the replenishment offering by a pinot or a new CD; it might be a comment that offers a new perspective; it might the encouragement of a story returned when an idea or resource has morphed into life; it might be a link or another blog offering creative resource; it might be a relational connection made, a network accessed; it might be hits on a traffic counter.

Method and mode of surplus replenishment may change over time.

Sustainability will depend on the sustainable replenishment and thus the ability to match gift, surplus and appropriately renumerated replenishment.

Posted by steve at 09:59 PM

Saturday, February 04, 2006

is blogging worth it?

Over my January holidays I contemplated shutting down this blog. I had started emergentkiwi to experiment with on-line community. In the early days of this blog (back in 2002-3) it felt like there was a lot of community; lots of comments, through which I learnt heaps.

Over the last year, it felt less and less like a community space. Visitor numbers tracked up, but the sense of interaction on-blog and through e-mail declined. At times I wondered if this was now a consumer space, rather than a community space. Did I need to change the way I posted in some way? It takes time and money to run a blog. I have always resisted the idea of advertising as alien to a “community” sight. But if more and more visitors are just consuming, why not?


Two weeks into my January holiday a parcel arrived, posted from the UK. With a card; thanking me for the blog and noting that I had made a post asking for input regarding spiritual practices that might help a cafe. Near 100 people had visited the post. Four had commented. I had found that depressing.

And a book, titled Church Cafes. Explored and Celebrated. (Order here). A really interesting survey of 100’s of cafes around UK.

So I’m back blogging for another season. I’m still concerned about the balance between community and consumerism and still pondering the time and effort of a blog. But I’m feeling a little less “consumed.” Thanks J. (you know who you are).

Posted by steve at 06:08 PM

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

can’t comment

I’ve had a number of emails saying people can’t comment. So I’ve had a bit of a tinker and I think it’s now fixed.

Posted by steve at 10:19 AM

Saturday, February 05, 2005

san diego

– the fact that the bar man asked for my ID!
– taking a picture of the first person who I saw brought my book
– meeting blog and email names
– American hospitality

Posted by steve at 10:22 AM

Thursday, November 25, 2004


did any of you have trouble accessing my blog yesterday? i couldn’t (so couldn’t post), but thought it was problems with my computer. then a friend said emails to me were bouncing …

Posted by steve at 09:16 AM

Thursday, November 11, 2004

media times they are a changing

Waiting for a take-away coffee today, I picked up a copy of a free magazine called the cityscape. The cover article concluded “For the full story, see” and pointed to the magazine url.

Normally print based media are very slow to adapt to internet technologies. Web use is the poor cousin. Articles are limited, wait listed or non-existent.

It’s the first time I’ve seen print media used to point to web media. Watch out magazines, the times they are a changing.

Posted by steve at 09:45 AM