Saturday, December 19, 2009

wanted: church in Adelaide

I was driving this morning, thinking about the values that would mark the “ideal” church for the Taylor family in Adelaide. As a pastoral family, we’ve never had to “choose” a church before. We’re suddenly going to be “church shoppers.” Which is a seriously wierd experience. So what will we be looking for?

Here’s my first thoughts:
1. In a poorer area, and with an outward mission that we as a family could serve in. I really want the kids to be part of a family that serves, not just because we have been “church pastors”, but because we are Christians.
2. A community committed to growing our kids (9 and 12). This need not mean great children and youth programmes, simply a culture that is taking the growth of all ages seriously.
3. Existing worship that is thoughtful, culturally connective and whole-bodied
4. Space for the development (if necessary) of new forms of church

Am I asking too much? Is it fair to go into a church with an existing set of values? Am I just becoming a church-shopper? Are these things realistic?

And then I laughed. I suddenly realised that I know a church like this. It’s in our city, just down the road, called Opawa, the church that we are currently part of!

Thanks Opawa, for all you have done to be a GREAT place for the Taylor family. You are going to be so missed. And as we have sensed all the way through this call process: we simply have to trust that the God who has given us such great friends, family and church here in Christchurch, will do it again in a new space.

Posted by steve at 11:41 AM


  1. Praying for the right place for you all
    Have you got your opening line sorted for when you meet a pastor to whom you are a stranger – could be in interesting experience

    Comment by Jo Wall — December 19, 2009 @ 2:02 pm

  2. any suggestions?


    Comment by steve — December 19, 2009 @ 2:13 pm

  3. Steve, your blog brought back some good memories for me. My first church as solo priest was like that – St. James, Mile End. Near city and on the wrong side of town. Great congregation of indigineous Australians, Sudanese refugees(who loved and cared for my children and showed them what a loving God is all about), Mar-Thoma Indians from Kerala, uni.& theological students and good old ‘working class’ men & women who bought into the area before it was popular. All were prepared to give anything a go. The local area was full of uni. students (cheap accomodation),artists, intellectuals, Greek and Italian migrants (with tremedous shops & food)& a general mix of charlatans and rat-bags. I loved it! But, sadly all has changed there. Hard to say good-bye to these things but I have found other communities that have given me and my family other special gifts. All part of God’s ‘mixed economy’. Steve, God will lead you, as you know, to the right place. Be prepared to shop around! Come and have a look at Brighton, but we are still very much @ ground zero with new things to try & lessons to learn. Adelaide – an exciting adventure for the Taylor family, I feel!




    Comment by Chris McLeod — December 19, 2009 @ 4:50 pm

  4. Hi Steve, I was lucky enough to have the very church experience you describe ‘back in the day’ of the 1980s and 1990s, in a leftie Catholic parish called St Mary’s in the Southern suburbs. But my favourite priests left, a more conservative Archbishop keeps things on a tighter leash and the embargo on married and women ministers is now a deal breaker for me as a would be worshipper. Like that famous facebook relationship status update, with me and the Catholic church “it’s complicated.” But I’m enjoying what is emerging from the Esther Project, and funnily enough the EP is re-churching me somewhat – I’m going to go to worship with Christ Church Uniting (the host community) to give the EP a plug tomorrow morning. I’m planning a bit of a “mystery worshipper” tour of some of the more progressive communities in Adelaide next year – we’ll have to swap notes on what we find!
    Best wishes for Christmas and preparing for your big move,

    Comment by Michelle — December 19, 2009 @ 8:34 pm

  5. It is an interesting question Steve and one I have thought about from time to time…

    The irony is, I know of a church that would love you and care for you and help you worship God but alas, we may not live up to your expectations…

    Comment by Mark Stevens — December 20, 2009 @ 9:14 am

  6. is it wrong for a person (me) to have expectations?

    it’s a genuine question. am i just becoming another consumer?

    but i assume people will have expectations of me. no?


    Comment by steve — December 20, 2009 @ 10:05 am

  7. My first thought: Woodville Gardens UC – I have a bit to do with them and I’m currently doing a writeup about things happening there.
    My second thought: Croydon Park Ch of the Nazarene.
    My church would be pretty keen to have you as well, but you might feel you’ve stepped back in time a bit 🙂

    I do a lot of inter-church stuff in NW Adelaide (which is poorer than most of Adelaide and not too far from the college) so I can give you all the goss about what the churches here are up to.

    I wouldn’t say you’re being a consumer – you’re looking for a place where you will best serve God, rather than one where God will best serve you. Most college lecturers I know of are not part of poor churches.

    Comment by Eric — December 20, 2009 @ 12:00 pm

  8. I have not thought of a good first line but wondering how far you could get into a conversation without revealing your pastoral past. We only church shopped once; the first church I went to as a child; the second because I was lonely at 9.30am on a Sunday morning and Greyfriars was the only one open at that time. So Kaiapoi was the only time and my opening line to Paul was one of relief as he had an alpha name tag on!! I felt safe and glad I didn’t have to search through all those liberal churches I had come to fear. Its interesting to think what my criteria would be now …

    Comment by Jo Wall — December 20, 2009 @ 1:56 pm

  9. jo, given that my mug shot is sprinkled over promo brochures, and i’ve spoken quite a bit in adelaide, i think i’ll be recognised. 🙁

    eric, anything around Marion area? that’s where we’re looking to rent, given it’s our “local” school?


    Comment by steve — December 20, 2009 @ 9:50 pm

  10. Well, we are near Marion! 😉

    “is it wrong for a person (me) to have expectations?”

    I really don’t know. I think on one level it is wrong but on another I feel it is fair and reasonable to expect certain things (especially relating to kids). It is a thin line between consumer and choice!

    “but i assume people will have expectations of me. no?”

    At our church, probably not. You would be Steve and Lynne. No one would care what you did for a living. I’m not trying to sell it I am being honest. It is a beautiful church full of sinners, of whom they call one Pastor!

    Steve, like you, I am Minister of the church my family and I would choose to go to. It is a wonderful community full of all age groups (and I mean all). But there is nothing special about it in the sense of programs. It is almost as far from emerging/emergent one can get. It has no sexy names for anything and I am called Minister, that is it! That is why I said what I said about expectations. It is not a criticism it is an observation. We are simply seeking to live faithfully as the people of God. Unfortunately it means consumers can rarely find what they are looking for…and we are okay with that.

    I think ultimately all we can do is be aware of our consumerist tendencies and try and look past what we think we want to what we really need…

    Comment by Mark Stevens — December 21, 2009 @ 1:45 am

  11. Didn’t realise you had connection to a school already.

    For a picture of how many churches are in the area see then click Sites then Churches (a very untidy home-made web application) so you can look up any of them (not a complete map, but you get the idea).

    I don’t know much around Marion, but Ascot and All Nations both have reputations for being outward-looking.

    Comment by Eric — December 21, 2009 @ 3:36 am

  12. thanks Mark, your church sounds wonderful. it must be amazing to be a pastor of a place that has no (so few) expectations and so little consumerist tendencies,


    Comment by steve — December 21, 2009 @ 12:38 pm

  13. Steve, are you being sarcastic?

    Comment by Mark Stevens — December 21, 2009 @ 12:50 pm

  14. seriously surprised.


    Comment by steve — December 21, 2009 @ 3:13 pm

  15. Why? They don’t know who you are therefore they would not have expectations of you guys. They haven’t seen the brochures and have no idea what the emerging church is.

    Steve, you asked for advice and I thought I was free to give some. Sorry of it offended you.

    Comment by Mark Stevens — December 21, 2009 @ 3:26 pm

  16. Not at all. Nice to know you think so highly of your place and your people,


    Comment by steve — December 21, 2009 @ 3:31 pm

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