Wednesday, April 21, 2021

First Expressions “a compellingly honesty narrative” book review # 5

“If you met Steve Taylor, you would instinctively like him. He might say some things you didn’t agree with; and you’d have to put aside a generous amount of time to hear him out.”

So begins Dr Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester. It is intriguing and highly personal reflection on “Steve Taylor-the-writer” that Warner glimpses as he reviews my book First Expressions: innovation and the mission of God. The review is in Church Times 26 February 2021. Church Times is a weekly English Anglican newspaper.

Warner finds First Expressions: innovation and the mission of God is “a compellingly honesty narrative,” with a bravery that is “honest and challenging.” The ecclesiology  being developed in the book is affirmed as having a “courageous freedom to be immediate and provisional” that seeks “authenticity and depth.”

The review concludes by linking First Expressions: innovation and the mission of God with the global pandemic. Hence First Expressions: innovation and the mission of God has value not only in studying the history of Fresh Expressions in the United Kingdom, but to invite “a shared experience, one that belongs to this time and place in such a way as to connect us with every time and place.”  It’s a wonderful connection, an affirmation that a provisionality in being church can open us to Christ.

…..

This is the fifth substantive review of First Expressions: innovation and the mission of God. There have been four other reviews (that I’m aware of)

  • here in Ecclesial Futures;
  • here in Practical Theology;
  • here in Ecclesiology
  • here in Scottish Episcopal Institute Journal.
Posted by steve at 10:21 PM | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Missional Research Workshop online

The Ecclesial Futures journal, which I co-edit with Nigel Rooms, is offering an online workshop to try and encourage publishing in ecclesially grounded mission.

A short summary would be – Missional Research Workshop: This Workshop (online June 8-10, 2021) is designed to encourage research and networking. Sessions will share skills in writing and publishing and provide opportunities for presentation of work in progress, along with generative feedback from experienced researchers. The event will suit those seeking to publish in areas of ecclesially grounded mission, particularly new and emerging researchers who have not published before. To make a proposal, go here

A longer summary would be – Missional Research Workshop Call for Contributions

The Ecclesial Futures journal, in partnership with the IAMS Christian Communities in Mission Study Group are hosting an online Workshop, 8-10 June, to nurture research, and publishing that research, in mission. The Missional Research Workshop is designed to encourage research and networking. Each session will share skills in writing and publishing and provide opportunities for presentation of work in progress, along with generative feedback from experienced researchers.

The event will suit those seeking to publish in areas of ecclesially grounded mission, particularly new and emerging researchers who have not published before. We seek proposals offering verbal presentations of research reports, thought pieces and updates on mission research in progress, in areas that include:
• Examination of the ways in which theology is generated with the local church
• Longitudinal studies in congregational development over 5-10 or more years
• Diagnoses of why different churches flourish or die
• Studies of the relationship between a local church and its ‘world’ or context, including issues related to contextualisation, ‘cultural negotiation,’ ‘intercultural mission’
• Ethnographic studies of the cultural changes required in flourishing churches
• Methodological treatises on how to research in ecclesially grounded mission
• Studies of how local churches learn to experiment and fail
• Analysis of how organisations and denomination might transform themselves towards embodying the mission of God
• Astute, hermeneutically aware bible scholarship on the future of the contemporary church
• Implications for theological education of the local church ‘as the hermeneutic of the gospel’
• Contextual studies of transformative churches from wide-ranging places, particularly local churches formed outside of Christendom and modernity
• Ways in which leadership is identified, discerned and theologically formed for the local church to embody the mission of God
• Systemic studies of local churches and the systems that support them.
Workshop format – Each session will commence with a short presentation by an experienced researcher on their craft of research and writing. Work-in-progress summary of 10 minutes will be followed by generative feedback of 15 minutes. The 75 minute sessions will be spread over 8-10 June, at different times, to allow global participation.

Timeline
Abstract proposal of up to 250 words – 15 April 2021.
Notification of acceptance – 30 April, 2021.
Workshop contribution of up to 1500 words – 25 May, 2021.

Proposal registrations here or to Steve Taylor (kiwidrsteve@gmail.com).

A voluntary participation donation is invited. All contributions will fund developments in the Ecclesial Futures journal. Suggested donation for salaried academic/church minister – $40. Suggested donation for student or participant from global south – $10.

Enquires to the Ecclesial Futures editors – Nigel Rooms (nigel.rooms@churchmissionsociety.org) or Steve Taylor (kiwidrsteve@gmail.com).

Finally, as a image,

Posted by steve at 09:32 PM

Friday, March 05, 2021

Mission For A Change – Gender and Mission March with Rosemary Dewerse, Cathy Hine

Mission For a Change creates resources for those engaging in church mission, showcasing recent research and new ideas, as fresh thinking is applied in local contexts. Mission For a Change is ideal for ministers wanting some short, sharp lifelong learning, students wanting to discuss fresh thinking and all who care about the future of the church’s mission. For 45 minutes, every month, there is time for prayer, interview, Q and A and conversation about the “so what.”

Participants have appreciated Mission For a Change:

“Thanks – for creating the space, holding it open and enabling conversations and listening.”

“Thank you for facilitating these mission conversations. It feels ‘just right’ for me .. to find relevant material to expand my missional horizon … and to be time efficient about it.”

Mission For a Change on Wednesday 3 March, focused on Gender, mission and reading Scripture for liberation.

An interview with Rosemary Dewerse and Cathy Hine, explored their article – “Reading from Worlds under the Text: Oceania Woman and the missio Dei,” Mission Studies 37 (1) April 2020.

Is the history of Christianity full of “mansplaining”? Are there ways to read Scripture that give voice rather than create silence? What can we learn from Angelina Noble, Aboriginal mothers, Queen Sālote, Kate Sheppard, Hēni Te Kiri Karamu, Mary MacKillop and the Siwai mothers of Bouganville? As we approach International Women’s Day, how might Oceanic women help us tell stories of God’s mission?

Cathy provides leadership in When Women Speak, while Rosemary has recently helped with the authoring of Anaditj, by Aunty Denise Champion.

The interview is online here – Mission For A Change March Gender and Mission from steve taylor on Vimeo.

Mission For A Change will next focus on mission and climate change and the rich resource that is Words for a Dying World: Stories of Grief and Courage from the Global Church. Mission For A (Climate) Change will interview Rev Chris Douglas-Hurawai about his understanding of pepeha (a Māori way of introducing oneself) as a resource in climate change. The event will also include the playing of a recently written song by Rev Dr Maggi Dawn, fruit of her search for music of hope. A tentative date is May 5, 4:45-5:30 pm (NZT).

Other upcoming topics include

  • Imagining mission and the gift of creativity
  • Seeing mission, a quick tour of documentaries, films, images

For enquiries, contact Steve Taylor, Director AngelWings Ltd, by emailing: kiwidrsteve at gmail dot com.

To register to receive further information, monthly zoom links and reading resources go here.

Posted by steve at 03:07 PM

Monday, March 01, 2021

sourdough at the end of the world: a contemporary missiology from Ecclesiastes

I attended a workshop on Sunday. With a rapid change in lockdown levels announced overnight, the workshop began with reminders of 1-metre distancing, hand sanitiser and contact tracing.

The workshop was about growing your own mushrooms. So following the health and safety was a whirlwind tour through lifecycles, Latin names and local varieties. After an hour and a half of mycelium and mushroom substrates, it was time for a break.

sourdough as mission The workshop facilitator announced cheese, sauerkraut and bread. “Homemade and sourdough” he announced, proudly whipping the tea towel of a loaf of beautiful bread. Despite the vulnerability of life in a lockdown, he’d still found time for sourdough.

Later, as the event was closing, the facilitator was asked if there were plans for a future workshop. “Next month,” was the reply, “unless the world ends first.” It was a window into the widespread anxiety being generated by this global pandemic.

The making of sourdough at the end of the world makes sense of some reading I was doing today. John Prior served as a Jesuit priest in Indonesia at the turn of the 20th century. The unravelling of a military dictatorship had resulted in acute economic distress, widespread social disruption and a rise in ethnic and religious tension. Prior observed a church that in response to polarisation, was becoming insular and ethnocentric. In the face of such widespread instability, it was easier to tend to their survival as a small sub-group.

Prior writes of his surprise at finding wisdom in the book of Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes is the “bleakest of the canonical wisdom books” (11). Yet Prior found important insights for being church today – a contemporary missiology for a church facing unpredictability.

It is a complicated article, so let me summarise under three headings – who are humans? who is God? how then to live, especially in times of rapid change and increased polarisation?

Who are humans? In Ecclesiastes, humans are caught in a “precarious, bewildering world” (19), in which new technologies and rapid changes have rendered “a world populated by mono-dimensional beings” (11). The result is widespread feelings of powerlessness in a somewhat arbitrary, rapidly changing world. Prior finds resonances between the themes in Ecclesiates and the poor and marginalised in Indonesia. And as I read Prior, I found resonance with experiences of COVID – our sense of bewilderment amid ever-changing lockdown levels, our sense of being powerless in the face of a virus that can’t be seen, the shifts online that seem to zoom-ify humans as “mono-dimensional beings.”

Who is God? The God revealed in Ecclesiastes is an elusive God of surprise. God is beyond human conceptions, not bound by religious conventions and human prejudices. Yet despite the unpredictable of life, trust in God is not misplaced. Life might be chaotic, but this God is not bent on harm.

How then to live? Prior finds in Ecclesiates a “survival ethic” (17-8) which is good news for those who feel powerless. We remain alive to the world. Work is to be valued, yet we refuse to be defined by our jobs. This comes as we enjoy every scrap of life and value a creation ethic in which all that live “under the sun” have worth. We find wisdom through our shared and sustained human reflection on experience.

The result, says Prior, is that Ecclesiastes offers “a modest, guide to mission” (21). This modest mission finds value in every small action. In the wonderful poetry of Ecclesiastes 9:4 “Better to be a live dog than a dead lion.” This result is a “transformation of powerlessness into creative activity” (18).

Which suddenly made sense of sourdough, that joyous murmur among us all as the teatowel was removed, the loaf revealed. It makes little sense to bake if indeed our world is ending. Yet the simple act of making is work that offers dignity, hospitality and the value of life.

Importantly, Ecclesiastes provides a way to live with difference. For Prior, Ecclesiastes chooses to “negotiate, think through and dialogue with opposition view points” (18). This comes through dialogue, the affirmation that two are better than one. The aim is a “sympathetic co-existence” with those with whom you differ (Prior, 19).

I’ve simplified what is a close and detailed article. You are welcome to find it – John Prior, 2002. “When all the singing has stopped” Ecclesiastes: A modest mission in unpredictable times. International Review of Mission, 91(360), 7-23. Or, you are welcome to simply enjoy the power of making sourdough as an act of mission. Not to impress, or convert, but to modestly affirm the value of life, amid the exhausting vulnerability and increased polarisation so common to our pandemic human experience.

Photo by Macau Photo Agency on Unsplash

Posted by steve at 05:20 PM

Friday, February 26, 2021

Mission For A Change – Indigeneity and Mission February with Hirini Kaa

Mission For a Change creates resources for those engaging in church mission, showcasing recent research and new ideas, as fresh thinking is applied in local contexts.

Mission For a Change is ideal for ministers wanting some short, sharp lifelong learning, students wanting to discuss fresh thinking and all who care about the future of the church’s mission. For 45 minutes, every month, there is time for prayer, interview, Q and A and conversation about the “so what.”

Participants have described Mission For a Change as

“real valuable. Good work”; “very insightful”; “informative and enlightening”; “a great Zoom session”

February’s Mission For a Change was a conversation with Rev Dr Hirini Kaa about his new book Te Hāhi Mihinare | The Māori Anglican Church. With Waitangi Day approaching, we discussed how the past can shape actions of the future church and the role of Christianity in Aotearoa’s future.

For enquiries, contact Steve Taylor, Director AngelWings Ltd, by emailing: kiwidrsteve at gmail dot com.

To register to receive further information, monthly zoom links and reading resources go here.

Posted by steve at 12:01 PM

Monday, February 22, 2021

First Expressions “important insights”

To date, there have been four academic reviews (that I’m aware of) of my First Expressions: Innovation and the mission of God book. (To date on the blog, I’ve highlighted the 4 academic reviews — here in Ecclesial Futures; here in Practical Theology; here in Ecclesiology and a here in Scottish Episcopal Institute Journal).

Now I’ve become aware of a more industry-focused review from Church Missionary Society. As a missionary society, they produce a Summer reading catalogue and in 2020 readers are encouraged to read First Expressions: Innovation and the mission of God because it offers “important insights for the future of Pioneer and Fresh Expressions movements, gained from extensive research … excited, connected, curious.”

It’s so encouraging to have this type of feedback from an international missionary society, especially one that is focused on mission both local and global, and in such creative ways.

Posted by steve at 09:11 PM

Saturday, February 13, 2021

First Expressions “contribute to the vitality of a broader ecclesial communion” book review # 4

A really interesting review of my book, First Expressions: innovation and the mission of God has been published in the latest issue of the Ecclesial Futures journal. The review is written by Dustin Benac, who at the time of reviewing, was Postdoctoral Associate at Duke University Divinity School, but is now Visiting Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at Baylor University.

The review is over six pages, and works by comparing First Expressions: innovation and the mission of God with Church Planting in Post-Christian Soil: Theology and Practice and How Change Comes to Your Church: A Guidebook for Church Innovations. This creative comparison by Benac results in a synthesis of insights, including the value of change for church, the necessity of approaching church using interdisciplinary frameworks and the need to nurture an imaginative ecclesial wisdom.

In terms of academic reviews of First Expressions: innovation and the mission of God, this is the first review to pick up on my use of haiku. At over 95,000 words, my book needed some “soundbites” and so I tried to clarify each chapter not by writing more prose but by utilising the 5-7-5 syllable structure of the haiku. Hence Benac’s review describes my writing as “equal parts a descriptive and imaginative inquiry … Taylor displays the “gift of poetic imagination” … that ecclesial innovation requires.”

The review by Benac also affirms the unique contribution that my work is making to practical theology, noting that my “longitudinal design advances ecclesiological inquiry, providing a template for future studies of change within communities of faith.” The review also appreciates how researching ecclesial innovation can “contribute to the vitality of a broader ecclesial communion.”

So thanks Dustin for reading and reviewing, in such an affirming and creative way.

The full review is in Ecclesial Futures Volume 1, Issue 2 (December, 2020), 118-123. Benac’s review is the 4th academic review of First Expressions: innovation and the mission of God (that I’m aware of). A 3rd review occurs in Practical Theology, the international journal of the British and Irish Association of Practical Theology. The two other academic reviews are in Ecclesiology and a Scottish Episcopal Institute Journal.

Posted by steve at 03:06 PM

Friday, February 12, 2021

Lockdown ecclesiologies: the limits and possibilities of enforced online first expressions

And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’ (Matt. 18.3)

In April last year, in the midst of lockdown here in Aotearoa New Zealand, I was invited to offer some theological reflection on being church online, with the hope of an online publication. Then in July, the request came for me to expand the writing, from 3,000 words to 5,000, with the possibility of the work appearing in a book project.

News this week that the book project has found a publisher – SCM/SCM/Westminster John Knox – and a time frame for publication – November 2021 – in time for American Academy of Religion launch. The book has around 13 contributors, reflecting from diverse contexts including Ghana, Switzerland and Thailand, along with the usual UK and USA. Tentatively titled Ecclesiology for a Digital Church, it examines the impact of being digital on church thought and practice.

Here’s the title for my chapter, along with my current 1 sentence summary —

Lockdown ecclesiologies: the limits and possibilities of enforced online first expressions

Enforced online first expressions are an invitation to attend to our enfleshment, appreciating ourselves as child-like, making visible the kingdom as we learn a new (internet) language.

My writing was shaped by a Nurturing faith online community of practice I had started as lockdowns began, seeking to support church leaders. Sensing the struggles, I had initiated the offer of a supportive environment to encourage action and reflection. As a result, I had the privilege of walking alongside some 25 leaders, from 5 different countries, all wrestling with the challenges of lockdown. This became an invaluable resource, informing my own struggles as I sought to lead a theological college community into enforced online formation and innovate with online education across the wider Presbyterian Church (called Bubble courses).

It’s a delight to see some of my theological ponderings – particularly the work of 11th century theologian Rupert of Deutz – find a published outlet.

Posted by steve at 11:47 AM

Friday, February 05, 2021

Serving the world: weaving a diaconal missiology in times of unravelling

It was a privilege to provide this week a 90 minute lecture – Serving the world: weaving a diaconal missiology in times of unravelling – to Uniting Church Deacons as part of the ordination training. It was online, me in Aotearoa engaging with participants from 4 different states in Australia.

In order to help with engagement, particularly touch and memory, prior to the lecture, participants had been invited to bring some

  • some wool in a colour that appeals
  • some knitting needles
  • a darning needle

The input had the following structure

Part 1 – Knitted dishcloths and the call to ministry
UCA Service of Induction of a Deacon
John 1:47-8, Psalm 139:13, 15, Jeremiah 1:5

For personal reflection on the call to ministry – who were you under the fig tree? What true colours will you bring to ministry? What gifts, talents, experiences might God be weaving?

Part 2 – Weaving the call: the shape of diaconal missiology

A cluster of character methodology. Since deacon as a title is only used once in the New Testament, I considered a number of characters who acted in diaconal ways.

  • God is weaving ahead of us, like Philip (Acts 6:1-2, Acts 8:5-8, Acts 8:26-38)
  • God is weaving fresh expressions, like Dorcas (Acts 9:36-38)
  • God is weaving resources, like Joana/Junia (Luke 8:1-4;24:1, 10; Romans 16:7)

For personal reflection on the call to ministry – how might these characters inform your practice of diaconal mission?

Part 3 – Resourcing and resilience (darning and knitting needles)

In order to explore spiritual resources for times of resilience, I showed an animation by Lou Baker, not of weaving, but of unravelling.

I offered a chapter from First Expressions to reflect on spirituality when communities experience unravelling. I then reflected on my own recent experiences of unravelling, offering 7 practices in a spirituality of resilience.

For personal reflection on the call to ministry – what has sustained you in times of unravelling?

For me …

  • Attend to your body
  • Add “season” specific practices
  • Attend to the big picture
  • Nurture blessing
  • Practice gratitude
  • Rituals of transition
  • New practices

I really enjoyed putting the session together, weaving my experience and missiology from recent years together. The work on spirituality of unravelling really struck a chord with participants and the levels of sharing were very deep.

Key resources:

Willie Jennings, Acts: A Theological Commentary on the Bible

Esther Rutter, This Golden Fleece: A Journey Through Britain’s Knitted History

Stanley H. Skreslet, Picturing Christian Witness: New Testament Images of Disciples in Mission

Steve Taylor, First Expressions: innovation and the mission of God

Steve Taylor, Built for change: A practical theology of innovation and collaboration

William Willimon, Acts

Posted by steve at 03:28 PM

Friday, December 11, 2020

celebrating First Expressions with my graduating department

celebrating The Theology Department at Otago University have a lovely tradition, an annual end of year celebration of books written by Faculty and former post-graduates. Since I was a PhD post-graduate student of Theology at Otago back in the day, I was invited (back!) to celebrate First Expressions: Innovation and the Mission of God, the book I had published late in December, 2019. Here is my “celebration” speech, trying to link the book with the PhD research.

First Expressions: Innovation and the Mission of God is the 2nd book to emerge from my PhD research. I graduated with my PhD from Otago in 2004. As I finished my PhD, I wanted to make the research accessible to the wider church. So I wrote The Out of Bounds Church?: Learning to Create a Community of Faith in a Culture of Change. This was published by Zondervan, USA in 2005 and translated into Korean in 2008. I’ve even been to visit a new church plant in Korea named “Out of Bounds Church” in honour of the book!

There was a large chunk of empirical research – ethnography, interviews, focus groups – I had to drop out of my PhD thesis. Because it was already too big. So I was keen to find a way to do something with that PhD research. So I sought ethics approval and did a longitudinal study. This involved returning 10 years later to the church’s I’d researched in my PhD.

I found that half of the new forms of church were no longer meeting as gathered communities. Which raised ecclesiology questions. Does it matter if innovation doesn’t endure? How might Easter – dying and rising –shape our ecclesiology?

During that 10 year period, the wider denominations – Church of England and Methodists in the UK – had affirmed these new forms of church. They had developed structures like Fresh Expressions to partner with them. So that raised another set of ecclesiology questions – How do organisations discern what is of God and what isn’t? How do churches as organisations best partner with grassroots innovation?

So I interviewed denominational leaders –Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury and Stephen Cottrell who’s now the Archbishop of York.

Then I found a publisher – SCM. They have been great to work with.

According to Ecclesiology and international ecumenical journal – First Expressions is a “radical re-conceptualization of the marks of the Church” (more here).

According to the Scottish Episcopal Journal, First Expressions offers “in-depth theological hermeneutic, firmly grounded in Scripture and ecclesiology” (more here).

According to Rowan Williams, who emailed in January, saying he was – “impressed with the theological analysis .. [First Expressions is] an important book.”

Thanks to the University of Otago, who provided PhD scholarships and post-graduate conference funding. Thanks to the Theology Department for celebrating books emerging from PhD research. Thanks to any of you who might want to review it for Anglican Taonga or Methodist Touchstone!

Photo by Matthieu Joannon on Unsplash

Posted by steve at 05:32 PM

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

innovation evaluation

One of my tasks this year has been innovation evaluation. As Principal of KCML, particularly in 2016 and 2017, I sought to develop New Mission Seedlings, local mission experiments in partnerships with wider church. The hope was to find spaces to encourage mission and the forming of leaders in mission.

With two New Seedlings developing in 2018, there was always a need to reflect on progress. So over the last 6 months, I’ve worked with one particular local seedling. Together there’s been a 360 design, finding ways to encourage grassroots reflection and generate missional reflection. Being 360, this needed to include children, along with those new to the various mission ministries. So there’s been some careful thought regarding language.

After the design was agreed, I’ve been busy interviewing folk, then compiling and feeding back to the leadership and external funders.

Tonight, there’s a further feeding back, to those invested in this particular seedling.  In preparing, I’ve played with shaping it in the arc of worship.  So tonight, everyone will get a coloured highlighter

IMG_8774

  •  if yellow, they are to look for things in the review to thank God for
  • if pink (purple/orange), they are to look for things in the review to seek forgiveness for (After all, to err is human, to forgive divine)
  • if green, they are to look for things in the review to ask God for help with

So after a bit of an introduction to the review, folk will get busy with their highlighter. This will allow us to move through praise and confession. Next, we will then gather around the Word – by considering some of the Jesus images present in the review, followed by the recommendations (response to the Word). Finally, those with green will be invited to offer prayers of intercession.

An evaluation of innovation, shaped by the arc of gathered worship, that should encourage the 360 participation of all involved.

Posted by steve at 04:28 PM

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Imagining a New Normal

During lockdown one of the projects and communities, I’ve been involved in is Imagining a New Normal.

Within each Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand there are Mission Catalysts. Some are employed, some volunteer with a passion for God’s mission. During lockdown, these Mission Catalysts have gathered online, brought together by PressGo. The group is becoming a learning community, providing support, encouragement and sharing resources and ideas. As long-held assumptions about church services have been confronted and challenged, there are opportunities to talk about the possibilities of igniting a missional imagination, asking “what if?” questions and taking some risks.

Generally, the future unfolds in small steps. Change involves experiments, from which learnings are gleaned. This enables discernment toward the future. Mission Catalysts know the power of the story. Stories can ignite the imagination, evoke curiosity and help people to think differently.

SO … the Mission Catalysts set themselves the task of telling “what if” stories. We started from “what is” and then told forward where that might lead. Each story was then submitted to peer review. What are the mission practices embedded in each “imagining”. The stories have been collated and a first edition is here. I’ve got one, imagining local church wanting to simplify and seek to stay online. I also did some work, peer reviewing some of the peer reviewing, a way of me offering my missiology skills to the ongoing life of this important learning community.

safe_image

The aim is to give permission, offer grounded mission and so to spark more stories – for local communities to “out tell” us with their real life “what if” …

The next stories are yours. We want to hear from parishes, faith communities and small groups about the things that God has been stirring up. About the things you have tried that worked and the ones that didn’t. Stories that start with the seed of an idea, ask “what if” and then, with a playful demeanour, give it a go.

Posted by steve at 03:24 PM

Saturday, April 25, 2020

communities of practice as action-reflection tools

It’s been an extraordinarily generative week for me.

  • First, I found myself offering a closed facebook group to bring practitioners of innovation in digital worlds into contact with research. That has generated 38 members and over 200 comments as people interacted with research on faith formation.
  • Second, I hosted an online video conversation in which 25 folk from 4 countries engaged further around their experiences of innovation in digital worlds.
  • Third, I’m potentially offering a community of practice, in which folk wanting to experiment can meet with peers for support and reflection. This is still forming and might not yet materialise – life is so fluid for so many people. However, it is astonishing to realise this wasn’t even on my radar 7 days ago.

Companies of friends in the journey of innovation.

There is action, and there needs to be space for reflection. Reflection can be individual, as I write and journal. Reflection can be individual, as I read and engage with the experiences and insights of others, and so see my actions more carefully. Reflection can be communal, as I share my intuitions and half-baked processing and gain wisdom simply from those who give the gift of listening; even active-listening, which draws me into free speech. Reflection can be communal, the conversations that result from sharing, the connections that get made.

So I’m offering a Community of Practice for those innovating in digital faith. It is for active people already doing stuff this is a space to reflect, to process with peers. And I have this hope, this pleading, that it won’t be my last. I dream of multiple Communities of Practice, in which unique projects (actions), by those facing a shared challenge, are enhanced by the space to reflect – individually and communally.

 

COP

Posted by steve at 12:51 PM

Thursday, April 23, 2020

5 practices for cultivating safe and prayerful space online: #ministry in isolation4

A resource – video and written summary – I produced this week. It is part of a series of interviews I am doing, called #ministry in isolation, which is spotlighting ecclesial innovation in the context of external (lockdown) restraints:

Jill McDonald #ministryinisolation4 from JaneThomsen on Vimeo.

How can God build a tapestry of love online through skilled leadership?

“Going online felt better. Being part of the river of God’s healing love. It felt profound. Lifegiving … A tapestry of prayer and love across Aotearoa,” concludes Jill.

Steve Taylor, from KCML, interviews Jill McDonald, from St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Hastings about her leadership of Sacred Space Whakamoemiti. Why did she take this short midweek prayer service online, and what was the result? What has been learnt?

The interview outlines five practices for cultivating safe and prayerful space online.

Such experiences require skilled leadership. Here are the five tips for creating sacred space online.
1. The value of a pre-gathering bidding question. Prepare people to participate by sending out prior a question you will be inviting response to during the online experience. A bidding question clarifies purpose. It communicates an ethos of participation and gives people space to prepare. This is likely to enhance the depth of participation and a sense of meaningful engagement.

2. Guiding the conversation through a focused question. Rather than offer an open space for anyone to answer, call people by name. It could be clockwise around your screen, or top of the land to the bottom. Being directive lets people know when and how they will be able to participate.

3. Modelling through drawing first on those familiar with the culture. Begin asking focused questions of people who have been before. They have experienced the culture of the group and the length, depth and type of responses.

4. Create a pass. Give words that allow people to pass. “I’m going to go around and call people by name. If you don’t yet have a response, just say “pass.”” Giving a specific word reduces a sense of forced participation.

5. Work to a settled rhythm. In the familiarity, there is safety. People can settle into their work. Good liturgy has call and response which gives direction. A pattern of welcome, a settling question to ensure folk have heard their voice, a sound to start and end a period of silence, a repeated ending ritual. It means that participants are more likely to settle into prayer if they are aware of where they are heading.

Steve Taylor and Jill McDonald
21 April 2020

Posted by steve at 07:34 PM