Thursday, September 30, 2010

church in the city: inspiration beyond our walls

After two excellent days of input at the City Church conference – first from Tim Costello (on leadership and the city), second from a group of city planners (City as Contested space) – it was my turn today! (A little mutter at this point about lack of blog response when I asked for help!)

I divided my time around 3 church:city questions and 10 possibilities.

For those interested here’s my visuals (video’s edited out, you’ll need to see the notes below for URL’s)

and here is my – Inspiration outside our walls: Being church in the city – handout

Mission issue one: an urban God? an urban spirituality?
At Palm Sunday, Jesus enters the city. Do we have a spirituality that encourages entry to the city. Rural images vs the offering prayer “City contours”, from Be our Freedom Lord, 198

Mission issue two: culture and city
At Palm Sunday, Jesus enters the city. During Holy Week he will both critique and encourage the city. David Ford, The Modern Theologians: An Introduction to Christian Theology Since 1918 (The Great Theologians), notes a spread of Christian approaches to culture. What postures does a city church take? Are these consistent? Take the high culture vs popular culture lens. Are city churches as welcoming of hiphop as they are of organs?

Mission issue three: Christ entering? or in the city?
At Palm Sunday, Jesus enters the city. Do we think we are bringing Christ to the city? Or is Christ already there? If the later, this requires a whole range of tools
… interviewing local leaders
… doing city walks
… learning history
… engaging popular culture
… exegeting events using spiritual direction

Church and the city: some possibilities
Note that “From little things, big things grow.” All of these started as seeds

0. imagine outdoors

See Christmas Journey

how? start indoors, by buying the indoor labyrinth kit.

how? read chapter by David White in Jonny Baker’s Curating Worship.

1. imagine (changing) exteriors

How? invite a local lighting place to show off, using your wall for free advertising

2. imagine arts – see currently on Gloucester Cathedral.

How? offer an annual artists scholarship

How? start with one season (Christmas or Pentecost or Easter)

3. imagine guerilla

See here

how? buy Mark Pierson, The Art of Curating Worship: Reshaping the Role of Worship Leader, which explores more about what this could look like.

4. imagine street pastors

See here

5. imagine tourists

See image of Seed Cathedral, World 2010 Expo. How do we place spiritual resources at our edges?

how? contract a graphic designer to research your history and make it accessible in a variety of formats including postcards, booklets, web videos.

6. imagine work
Many people come to our city to work. A key role for church to talk about those two words “Christian” and “vocation”

How? read Alistair McKenzie, “Churches Supporting Christians at Work,” Zadok winter 2009.

7. imagine outdoor liturgy
Church in 6 minutes!

how? see here

8. imagine mosaics
Observation one – Our cities are diverse. Increasingly so.
Observation two – Our existing congregations like a certain approach to worship.

So imagine mosaics ie an missional multi-congregational approach, when you look to constantly start new congregations, to rich a diverse city.

how? contact Uniting College about fresh expression training.

Other book bindings harmed in this presentation:
Ray Bakke, A Theology As Big As the City.
Hugh Mackay, Advance Australia– Where?.
Tom Sine, The New Conspirators: Creating the Future One Mustard Seed at a Time
Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology.

Dr Steve Taylor
Director of Missiology; Post-graduate Co-ordinator, Uniting College for Leadership and Theology; Senior Lecturer, Flinders University
Author: The Out of Bounds Church?: Learning to Create a Community of Faith in a Culture of Change.
My website:

Posted by steve at 02:01 PM

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