Sunday, August 02, 2015

playing the fool

I was speaking at the annual gathering of the 3D mission network on Friday evening. Around 100 folk had gathered to hear me reflect on leadership and change, using my time as Principal of Uniting College as a case study. The session was going well. Those gathered seem engaged. There was laughter at my jokes.

I navigated my way through a section on out of the box leadership. I drew on Paul’s description of himself as fool in 1 Corinthians 4 and linked it with notions of clown. Clowns stand outside what is normal and expected. They are allowed to say and do unexpected things. They provide fresh eyes to see new things. It involves risk and it might not work. But, I suggested, it is a Biblical understanding of one dimension of leadership.

I moved to my next point. It involved a slide image. Staring at the image being projected in front of me (but behind the audience), I found myself disappointed with how small it was. How would anyone see. I got out my infrared laser, pointed it at the image and began to explain what was happening and who was speaking to whom.

Gently, my audience interrupted me. Politely they asked if rather than point to the image they couldn’t see because it was behind them, if perhaps I could point to the image they could see, behind me! Which, when I turned to look, was of course plenty big enough.

Sprung. Playing the fool indeed. Without even trying!

Posted by steve at 11:07 PM

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Ode to the feline flirt at Hagia Sophia

Hagia Cat

Cats paw
Hagia proud
Kneaded Turkish pride,

East mets West
in consumer dance

Cats mother
Blue Mosque blue bred
Serene in Allah’s will

Cats father
Greek Orthodox
History, marginal minority worn with pride

Cats purr
Scented, scraps from tourists,

Posted by steve at 01:52 AM

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

the suspense of tomorrow: “Something was here but it got deleted”

As you can see from my diary, I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. “Something was here but it got deleted” is my first appointment for the day. I have no idea what it is. I have no recollection of what was “here” before it got deleted. Nor do my hardworking on conscientious administrative team. It’s a mystery.

I’m ready.

I’m waiting.

I’m wondering.

We’ve checked with various people.

If anything or anyone appears, I’ll let you know … tomorrow

Posted by steve at 10:01 PM

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Emigration to New Zealand

The Emigration to New Zealand – A poem by Henry Lawson (1893)

I’ve just received a letter from a chum in Maoriland,
He’s working down in Auckland where he days he’s doing grand,
The climate’s cooler there, but hearts are warmer, says my chum,
He sends the passage money, and he says I’d better come.
(I’d like to see his face again, I’d like to grip his hand),
He says he’s sure that I’ll get on first-rate in Maoriland.

An’ tho’ he makes the best of things (it always was his style),
You mostly get on better in a new land for a while,
An’ when I see the fading line of my own native shore,
I’ll let it fade, and never want to see it anymore.
I’m tire of Sydney pavements, and the Western scrub and sand,
I’d rather fight my troubles for a change in Maoriland.

I’m off to make inquiries as to when the next boat sails,
I’m sick of all these colonies, but most of New South Wales,
An’ if you meet a friend of mine who wants to find my track,
Say you, “He’s gone to Maoriland, and isn’t coming back”.
An’ should it be the landlord or the rates, you understand,
Just say you’ll find him somewhere knocking round in Maoriland.

Posted by steve at 02:43 PM

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Air NZ’s in-flight safety goes Hobbit style

Classic. The latest Air NZ inflight safety briefing includes hobbits, elves, wizards and other characters from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films. A partnership with Weta studios, it even includes a guest appearance by Peter Jackson.

Which becomes my prayer for Presbytery Synod meeting here in South Australia happening today, tomorrow, Saturday – for safety, for creativity, for humour, for mission – “Fly you fools.” (For the easily offended, “fools” is a reference to 1 Corinthians 4:10 – Because of Christ we are thought of as fools)

Posted by steve at 09:37 AM

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

the colours of formation

“Ministerial formation is a life-long process. It involves the whole person.” (This quote comes from our Uniting College Formation Panel handbook.)

That is so provocative. How does what a theological college offers give expression to what is life-long and embodied? It is so tempting to assume those who join us are blank slates, in whom we need to download everything they need. It is equally tempting to assume that we have more influence than reality, because a person has countless influences in their lives outside of the theological college experience – family, friends, sport, church – that makes them who they are.

So how does ministerial formation respect the past and integrate the whole? One way to conceptualise this is through categories of theological study, ministry practice and formation. To seek to place equal weight on class, experience and the non-formal practices and disciplines.

Which got me thinking colours. You see, part of the whole person is our visual and our sensory. Part of the whole person means thinking not only in words, but also in colours.

If you had to choose one colour, what colour is theological study?
If you had to choose one colour, what colour is ministry practice?
If you had to choose one colour, what colour is formation?

Posted by steve at 06:11 PM

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

a missional snail

‘Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.’ So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.’ So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. Ezekiel 3:1-3

An interesting approach to mission. It begins with eating, the ingesting. It leads to mission, the speaking.

All this is important given what I discovered last night. Tidying up my home office, I picked up a pile of Bible commentaries, only to discover my Gospel According to Luke X-XXIV (Anchor Bible) by Joseph Fitzmeyer, was being eaten.


Literally, by a snail. Nibbling at the cover. A literal take on the mission of Ezekiel, the act of ingesting in order for speaking to begin.

Posted by steve at 09:53 PM

Monday, July 16, 2012

a mail male impulse buy

Monday afternoons, I have a regular date with one of my children. (For those who count hours, I work late the other 4 days of the week to keep the ledger sweet.) We’re working on a project together, making an outdoor writing hut. I pick her up after school and we use the few hours to plod away.

We’re always dreamers, accessorising before we’ve put the door on, thinking colour schemes before the walls are up. But we both need time away from reality, time to be fun and flippant.

A few weeks ago we went looking for a mail box. All houses have mail boxes, she loves writing and so it seemed a neat way to add some personality. Alas all the local hardware shops had nothing that appealed.

Too expensive, too square, too common. The list went on.

And then today she showed me this. A real mail male impulse buy.

Posted by steve at 07:18 PM

Friday, May 25, 2012

Got it

Looks like we’ve caught the mouse that was in the house.

🙂 lol

Posted by steve at 10:27 AM

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

appreciative inquiry and mission through Jess’s eyes

I’m speaking on appreciative inquiry and mission with folk in a Catholic leadership formation programme today. In preparation I’ve been re-reading Mark Lau Branson’s wonderful Memories, Hopes, and Conversations: Appreciative Inquiry and Congregational Change.

And loving this video, young Jessica affirming all that is good about life.

I’ll use this to seque into the theological foundations for appreciative inquiry, in Luke 10:1-12 and in the Pauline letters. But for now, I’m thankful for my dad, my house, my pyjamas …. Yep, you get it, go Jess … 🙂

The Gospel: Luke 10: Where is Appreciative Inquiry in this Biblical text?
1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two[a] others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If the head of the house loves peace, your peace will rest on that house; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for workers deserve their wages.


  • Peace is shaped by Old Testament concept of “Shalom” – love of God, love of neighbour, love of alien, love of earth. Go looking to bless, looking to affirm
  • Disciples look for response. They don’t force ourselves. But where there is “life”, we stay.
  • Assumes “common ground,” that we are not the only people who desire the wellbeing of our communities.

Letters of Paul: 1 Corinthians: Where is Appreciative Inquiry in this Biblical text?
4 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— 6 God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.


  • Paul writes to a church in conflict. Yet he starts with thanks.
  • It is important to note that each letter of Paul’s has a unique, specifically, different “thanks.” In other words, the thanks (the AI) is specific.
  • As it is specific it can thus only connect as it truely names.
  • Key “problems” in the church (for example spiritual gifts, eschatology) at Corinth are engaged in the “thanks.” Hence its not Pollyanna!
Posted by steve at 08:55 AM

Saturday, March 17, 2012

can we change their mind. Kiwi sceptics?

For fun after a hard week. Four Aussies – Bali Girl, the hipster, the Europhile, Aussie Aussie – get taken to New Zealand.

Posted by steve at 09:49 AM

Sunday, January 29, 2012

being 12: a birthday car-hunt

One member of Team Taylor turned 12 today. Being a Sunday, it meant a whole day to fill with pleasure and enjoyment. We decided to try and have a treasure hunt using the car. We identified 7 fun things/favourite spots. We then created a number (3 or 4) clues for each, from hard to easy. The challenge was to use the clues to identify the spot, which we then drove to, to enjoy a treat. Once enjoyed, the next “spot”/set of clues could be requested.

It turned out to be a fun and creative way to spend some time as a family celebrating a birthday. Here’s the clues, and I will put the answers in the comments. (It mostly took about 2 clues to guess the spot, although one confounded both children). (more…)

Posted by steve at 06:08 PM

Thursday, December 29, 2011

summer holidays = choosing paint colours

So the out of bounds bach (holiday home/shack) is getting a facelift, an exterior coat of paint. To be precise, an exterior coat of Rongotai, with the windows and barge boards being Reefton. Choosing colours is more fun than sanding and undercoating. Although both are more fun than ministry, because both are about instant change – you scrape, you choose – and change is immediately apparent.

What is also more interesting than sanding is the social media strategy adopted by Dulux New Zealand. Their paint range is named after New Zealand places, to which you are invited to upload your photos:

What’s your Dulux Colour of New Zealand? Where do your magical moments and fond memories come from?

To begin, simply find your special place on the map, then submit at least three photo. Simply click on the approximate area, and we’ll give you a selection of locations to choose from. You’ll also be able to browse other people’s uploads at the same time. Of course, not every location in New Zealand is in our current colour range. If you can’t find your favourite place, please let us know. We would love you to tell us what place in NZ is dear to you and what colour you think is best associated with that colour.

So that when you search under Rongotai, you get a great picture. Go look

Posted by steve at 10:06 AM

Thursday, June 09, 2011

once was lost but now am found: an ode to ecumenism

Confessions of a lost blue cup

Last week, I got lost. Someone kindly took me from Catholic World, transported me to Kitchen World and washed me.

Then, sadly, strangely, I was placed in a (Kitchen world) cupboard!

I wept for my owner in Catholic World. Alas, she heard me not.

Later, someone else opened the cupboard in Kitchen World. Seeing my attractive blue colouring, having no knowledge of my rightful owner, seeing no marks of possession on my pretty blue bottom, they filled me with coffee and took me to a new place, the broad and spacious halls of Uniting World.

Later, a third person collected me from a desk in Uniting World. Dirty, they decided to take me to Kitchen World. Suddenly a door in Catholic world opened. A cry was heard, “That’s our cup.”

Immediately, promptly, I was returned to Catholic world. I was lost (not stolen by Steve Taylor).

But now am found.

(For another ode to ecumenism, see I am a stealer of Catholic bread).

Posted by steve at 08:49 PM