31 January, 2003 8:35 AM
Yesterday was the second day of the national tribe gathering for Forge bods. It was good to spend a couple of days with some really good thinkers and practitioners of Emerging Missional Church. These people are all involved in the birthing and running of pretty cutting edge churches around Australia. Most of their churches you will not have heard of - and that's something that they would probably like to continue - they operate under the radar - but are all attempting to reinvent the 'norm'.
We did a bit of thinking about Margaret Wheatley's book 'Leadership and the New Science' - which was good stuff. She writes about leadership not based upon Neutonian Science as it perhaps has been based upon for decades....if not centuries - but rather she suggests a better approach would be to look at some of the newer discoveries in science as a basis for leadership. Chaos theory, Emergence and Complexity theories have alot to say to us about how we might approach leadership.
I've still got to do some reading on this, but it was a rich topic.
We also were led through a SWOT on Emerging Church which was also very stimulating.
I'd like to get some of the papers that we looked at up on Phuture in the next month or so - will let you know when they are published there.
31 January, 2003 8:25 AM
Well with a couple of hours to spare I've managed to get most of my images safely hosted with a new host. Thanks so much Cameron for your generosity!!! I've now got to work back through my archives and get all the links updated which will be a bit of a process. The main page is updated I think so hardly anyone will notice...unless you like to delve into my historical records.
29 January, 2003 8:29 AM
I've been toying with some different ideas for the types of gatherings that we'll start off with at the Living Room. As I said in a previous post - I've come up with these 'starting point' gatherings - and desire them to evolve as people join us and interact with the community. I'm interested in your prayerful feedback upon these. They are designed to facilitate our community going on the three journeys of 'inner' (spiritual formation), 'outer' (mission/justice) and 'together' (building community). (see here for more info on these 'journeys'). The gatherings are:
1. Vespers - A short weekly evening prayer gathering designed to give space for deepening individual and communal spiritual formation. (ie focus on 'inner' and 'together' journeys) Leadership of this creative time would be shared by regular attendees and from week to week would include alt worship experiences, meditations upon Scripture, storytelling and some discussion times. The use of the Creative Arts would be encouraged in Vespers and group learning and a hands on approach to prayer would be valued. It is not designed as a teaching time but from time to time may also include some short group learning on relevant topics. Vespers would be a gathering open to all from the local community to participate and could be held in homes, cafes, galleries etc. Vespers is likely to be held early in the evening on a weeknight - some have suggested an early morning time slot also might be suitable.)
2. Mission Cluster - This weekly gathering will be held over an evening (midweek) meal. It is designed to deepen the sense of community and mission (together and outer journeys). The focus of these meetings is upon developing the participants sense of 'call' and 'mission'. (they are similar in style and aim to 'mission groups' developed by 'Church of the Saviour - Washington DC'.) Mission will be explored using bible study, group learning, discussion, sharing and prayer. The style of this time will be based on an 'action relfection' style of learning. The aim of these gatherings is to inspire both corporate and individual missional activities which will be supported and resourced by the group as a whole over time. These gatherings will be held in homes with shared provision of food and hospitality by group members. They will be open to all people wanting to commit to develop a missional outlook. As the initial group grows it will split and another will be birthed.
Missional clusters look like your traditional 'small group' in many ways - however the focus is less upon the development of attendees - rather they exist as much for those who are NOT part of the group as for those that currently do - the focus is much more outward than inward. These groups aim to resource and support attendees for the every day of their lives where they have opportunity to respond to the call of Jesus to service, mission and justice.
3. Sunday Brunch - This monthly (or fortnightly - to be assessed) gathering is designed as an informal time of developing community. It will be held in a local cafe or home and will be an opportunity to mix with both Living Room members and friends, neighbours and family. All will be welcome. No specific planned activities will take place on these occasions, rather the focus will be upon laughter, fun and developing relationships over good food and coffee.
This is all a work in progress - but I'm really looking forward to your thoughts and ideas. Thanks...
29 January, 2003 7:13 AM
Today is the first of two days where the people around Australia who work for/with FORGE/DREAMLAND get together for some networking, dreaming, planning and...of course....coffee. I guess you could call it a national conference if you wanted to make it sound bigger than it is. It will be a good chance to hear what others are thinking and doing and to share where I'm at. I usually come home from meeting with these people pretty inspired - they are all into some pretty interesting and cutting edge stuff. Will report on anything that rocks my world!
28 January, 2003 3:49 PM
Spent this morning in meetings with various DCCC people - trying to get things up and ready to a point where they can be taken over by other ministers and volunteers when I move on. Its a bit of a sad process to have to let go of ministries that you've started and played major parts in shaping.
Met this afternoon with Phil - a fellow traveller. He's the ministry team leader of an innovative multicongregational church slightly north of our region. Its great to have someone else in the same vacinity doing something with a similar ethos to what we'll be doing with the Living Room. We shared stories, ideas and drank coffee.
As I write this an email has just landed in my inbox from Phils partner Danielle which lightens my rather somber mood of the day (I think I need more sleep) - I'm sure she won't mind me quoting her in part...
'I don't know how funny it is, but I had a look at your blog today and noticed the title Living Room, a Space for Life.
Sometimes I am struck by how different phrases have different contexts in different languages. Couldn't help but think that the direct translation of Living Room into German, is Lebensraum, the concept used so forcefully by Nazi Germany to justify the third Reich's expansion into Eastern Europe.
I should note that this is not the same as the german word for lounge room, but just a direct translation of the phrase. Until this linguistic hijacking by Hitler et al, Lebensraum may have had similar connotations as Living Room does in English....Anyway, good luck with your own aggressive expansion in North Fitzroy."
Thanks Dan - I will state now for the record - I have no secret dictatorship desires - my only facial hair is a small tuft UNDER my BOTTOM lip (not above my top).
28 January, 2003 1:16 PM
Added new discussion topic added to Phuture. The topic under discussion is
how should we evangelize happy moral pagans >> who are unconnected with the idea of sin?
27 January, 2003 5:58 PM
Tomorrow its back to work at Doncaster Community Church of Christ for my last week at 4 days per week employment. After this next week I officially start working on the Living Room project and am only at DCCC one day per week. It is an exciting prospect - however also quite terrorfying to know that its actually happening.
I've wanted to plant a church for a couple of years now -actually its been about 5 years since an elder of my previous church prayed for me and sensed that I would be a church planter - but to actually be in a position to do it is rather freaky!
I'm worried about many aspects of this new journey - about if it will ever attract other members (except for my wife...who should be pretty regular :-) - about what direction to take - about the little logistical things like how to fund alot of the set up costs - about the toll it will take upon my family etc etc etc. These things (and others) have been keeping me awake at night a bit.
However mixed with the feelings of fear are some of inspiration and excitement (which also are keeping me awake at night!!!). I do feel a calling to make a difference in the region where I live - to help provide a place where people will connect with God and become reproducing followers of Jesus. I feel excited about the support I'm recieving from my denominations leadership and local churches. I'm excited by the excellent people I've been asking to consider joining us in building this community. I'm appreciative of the 20 or so people that have already joined my prayer support team and the couple of financial supporters that have given generous support. I'm inspired by the direction I feel led to head in in terms of the types of things we'll be undertaking. I'm so appreciative of the support of V, my family, friends and those I've been meeting of late through this blog.
I can't wait to see what is around the corner...
27 January, 2003 5:47 PM
Today was the public holiday for Australia Day - we take it off even though the official day was yesterday....we guard our public holidays jealously. Went to the botanical gardens with friends for a picnic. It was very pleasant to sit in the sun - eat some amazing food and have some good conversation. Our American friend Melanie joined us again and gave us a bit of a US history lesson - also shared some more of her impressions of Australia with us. Its always interesting to hear those types of comments. In fact just to be spending time with her forces us to take a look at our country (and ourselves) in a different light. Its interesting to see the 'normal' things that you see every day through someone who hasn't seen them before.
Came home and watched the soup bowl - what was Shania thinking when she picked that outfit??? - I don't mind watching American football (although why do you call it FOOTball when you only kick it 10 or so times in a few hours?) I get a little frustrated with the whole stop start process of the game - but do enjoy the strategic aspect of it. I don't rate it as a game as highly as I do Australian Rules football (footy) where we kick the ball regularly and the play doesn't generally stop for until the quarter is over (25 or so minutes later).
Then again - its all sport and I'm generally satisfied watching it no matter what code it is.
27 January, 2003 8:29 AM
Just found out yesterday that my blog is about to be without IMAGES! As you can probably tell - they are a fairly essential part of my site - but my free image host just told me they are going to a paid service.
Question - does anyone have any ideas on what one should do? Are there any free image hosting services out there that let you post the images on another site for free? Most won't allow this. If you have any ideals let me know asap as I only have a couple of days maximum to arrange it. Thanks
26 January, 2003 12:51 PM
Its the day we celebrate our Aussieness - well sort of - tomorrow is the day we get a public holiday for the occasion.
What should I write about Australia on this day of celebrations? What should I write about this place that in a couple of centuries has gone from a small convict colony to a modern vibrant society? As I contemplate the task I've got some mixed reflections on my country at this time. These reflections will not just be unique to Australia - but sum up some of the feelings I have towards my country.
First and foremost - I'm proud of my country.I love many many things about it. I love the diversity of this place. Diversity in its people groups (this must be one of the most ethnically diverse countries around), in its vast and beautiful landscape (from snowfields, to dessert, to amazing coastline) and in its weather (here in Melbourne at least - if you don't like the weather, just wait 5 minutes...illustrated by yesterdays 44 degrees and tomorrows 20 degrees with showers).
I love the freedom we have in this country - to worship, to express ideas and thoughts, to travel and to express ourselves creatively.
I love many of the typical attributes of Australian people. I love the Aussie sharp sense of humor, the ability to laugh at themselves, to use satire and sarcasm well, their laid back attitude towards life - epitomized in the statement 'SHE'LL BE RIGHT'. I love the 'Aussie battler' spirit - the ability to face overwhelming circumstances one step at a time and eventually overcome them. I love that we often support the 'underdog' - I find it remarkably similar to the attitude of Jesus. I enjoy Australians ability to be direct and honest as they interact with one another - even to the point of bluntness at times. The ideal of 'mateship' is also something that appeals to me which is apparent in the way many of us relate to one another.
I could go on - but as I've been writing there are also things that cloud my view of my wonderful country. It is not all rosy here unfortunately. I hesitate to raise it on a day like today - but we do have a long way to go as a nation.
I am ashamed at the way our people have treated its Aboriginal people over the past two centuries. The past decade have seen some reconciliation - but there is still more to do - our Prime Minister is still yet to utter the word 'Sorry' - out of fear of the consequences of doing so. As Rick Farley states in his Australia Day address : "for Aboriginal Australians and many others, January 26 is not a day for celebration. To them the date signifies invasion and dispossession."
I worry about our foreign policy as I've blogged in previous days. Our seeming to blindly follow our American friends into world conflicts which we don't seem to be thinking through ourselves. Why do we seem to need to impress the US so much? Do we perhaps have a self esteem problem as a nation?
I worry about some of the attitudes of intolerance towards asylum seekers/refugees and people with a Muslim belief system which seem to be rising up within our society. Likewise I worry about the way in which we are treating our environment - the efforts to change this have been considerable, however many of the damaging trends continue.
I flinch every time I go to the shopping centers or into the city and see the rampant consumerism and consumptionism that seems to have gripped our people. The striving for happiness through having, experiencing and succeeding which seems to leave so many empty. Perhaps this is one of the contributing factors to our sky rocketing suicide levels, particularly among young men.
As a nation celebrates I have mixed feelings. There is much to celebrate as I look at my country - I'm so glad to live here - however there is still a long way to go. I get the sense that we've lost our way a little in some of the above areas, perhaps we're struggling a little with our identity or place in this changing world. The opportunities exist for us to be a nation that makes a positive contribution to our world - I pray that we're able to see a way forward that might help us to succeed in this quest.
26 January, 2003 9:48 AM
Yesterday was 44.1c degrees (111f)in Melbourne - the hottest day in 64 years and therefore my life. Spent the day with V and Mel in my airconditioned car touring the Yarra Valley Wineries. It was actually quite a fun day and a cool way of spending the day as all the wineries were air conditioned.
Sleep last night was impossible - we have a little fan, but no air con - I feel very tired today.
24 January, 2003 4:45 PM
A book review that I wrote on 'Multiplying Churches' by Stephen Timmis has just been posted here on Phuture Eric Stanford writes"A not-so-big church isn't focused on growing bigger and bigger and offering more and more programs. A not-so-big church is concerned about the pagans in their community being subverted by God, onceborns into twiceborns. Beyond that, there's not a whole lot that not-so-big churches have in common with each other. They're tailor-made (Spirit-made?) for their place. They're gloriously individual. ... " Stephen Lim shares: "On nearly all relevant quality factors, larger churches compare disfavorably with smaller ones."1 Christian Schwarz came to this startling conclusion after the most comprehensive study of church growth ever conducted, covering over 1,000 churches on 6 continents. The research and observations of others, along with my experience, confirm its validity.
Since posting this book review I've had a number of emails requesting more information/blogging on the topic. At this point I don't have alot of time to write much more but would invite your comments on it either here or in the comments section after the article as some of you have already done. A couple of quotes from other pages that might stimulate your thinking are as follows (these are taken completely out of context - but have a look at them to get their full drift)
In spite of fewer people, staff, facilities, resources, and programs, the average small church produces:
- better fellowship.
- better pastoral care.
- better discipleship.
- more involvement in ministry.
- more persons called into Christian service.
- more spiritual harvest.
Eric Stanford writes"A not-so-big church isn't focused on growing bigger and bigger and offering more and more programs. A not-so-big church is concerned about the pagans in their community being subverted by God, onceborns into twiceborns. Beyond that, there's not a whole lot that not-so-big churches have in common with each other. They're tailor-made (Spirit-made?) for their place. They're gloriously individual. ... "
Stephen Lim shares: "On nearly all relevant quality factors, larger churches compare disfavorably with smaller ones."1 Christian Schwarz came to this startling conclusion after the most comprehensive study of church growth ever conducted, covering over 1,000 churches on 6 continents. The research and observations of others, along with my experience, confirm its validity.
24 January, 2003 2:44 PM
This week V and I found that we have a new home to move into in the next month or two. One of my concerns with planting a church that will in part meet in homes is that our present home is rather small. Our Living Room only comfortably fits 6-8 people seated which limits growth a little. We've been praying for the ability to afford a bigger place in the same suburb. This is a big ask because rental prices in our suburb are among the highest in the city!
This week we were told that friends of ours will be moving from a place that they rent and the landlord is willing to have us move in. The rent is only three quarters of our current rent - yet the house is probably close to double in size! We will have the top floor of a double story, double fronted Victorian Terrace similar to the one pictured above. It comes complete with a huge bedroom, a study, two living rooms (one is huge, big enough to fit 20 or so people at least) and kitchen and bathroom. Plus the best 'room' of the house - a big upstairs Veranda so we can have BBQ's and sit sipping wine on hot Melbourne nights. Its an amazing answer to prayer for us.
24 January, 2003 1:48 PM
This online survey is pretty quick and not that serious. Just 5 questions to answer. For all those who've been wondering what kind of wacko theology I ascribe to - well the survey says this:
|"God will not suffer man to have the knowledge of things to come; for if he had prescience of his prosperity he would be careless; and understanding of his adversity he would be senseless."|
|You are Augustine!|
You love to study tough issues and don't mind it if you lose sleep over them. Everyone loves you and wants to talk to you and hear your views, you even get things like "nice debating with you." Yep, you are super smart, even if you are still trying to figure it all out. You're also very honest, something people admire, even when you do stupid things.
I might be like Augustine theologically - but I certainly don't see any physical resemblances with the above picture. What sort of Theologian are you?
24 January, 2003 10:04 AM
The discussion over the past 24 hours has been rather hot at times - I've never recieved so many emails (both encouraging and very anti what I've written) on a topic or had so many hits on this blog (when I logged on this morning we'd already passed the record amount - humbly small as it is - of hits for a day after just 8.5 hours since I've changed to the new stats page) - abortion is a topic that generates such an incredibly deep felt response in so many.
I thank all for your comments and emails and blogging on your own pages. I also want to apologise if I've cause offense, anger or hurt by my posts. I've only wanted to encourage others to think about what they say and expect others to do so for me also. Lets continue put the effort into seasoning our conversation with Grace.
I will take a break from discussing this topic in my main posts as I feel the topic is sidetracking me and perhaps others. It also left me feeling very drained and a tad battered. Its never been my attention for this blog to be a commentary on such issues as I've gotten into of late. However it has been a useful discussion in my mind. I'm happy to continue the discussion either in the comments of this or the past two blog entries or via email.
Speaking of heat - its getting HOT in Australia again. Today its 37c in Melbourne (99f), the forecast tomorrow is 40c (104f) with some parts of the state getting up to 43+ (thats over 110f) The fire danger continues to be extreme with the outskirts of our city and rural Victoria on high fire alert.
23 January, 2003 10:17 PM
Well the conversation has continued - unfortunately I don't have time to catalogue all the latest comments and thoughts around the place except to say - have a look at Dean Peters post atBlogs4God. He issues an apology to those offended. For that I am very appreciative.
Joshua Claybourn's post caught my attention for two reasons. Firstly he encourages us to remember that we are also talking about unborn children. I agree with this - we've talked alot about the offended adults so far and need to remember the other life in what we're talking about. I guess I talked about mothers inparticularly in my last post - not because I think its all about them - not at all - my concern is for the life within the also - but because I've had to sit in an office twice now and hear the pain of a victim of rape dealing with their situation. So thanks Josh - I appreciate the reminder, I need to continue to keep perspective too.
I guess the other thing that caught my attention about Josh's post is his last paragraph. I'm still uncomfortable with some of the language - I'm sorry mate - wish we could all sit down in person to talk as I wonder how much of what this is about is the imperfection of communication via the net!?
The sense I get in this last paragraph is that the pain of the unborn baby is more important than the pain of the mother. The idea that we should stop abortion and THEN work on the hurt of the mothers doesn't sit well for me. I agree the hurt of the unborn is important, but I'm not comfortable with ranking either as a higher pain or priority.
Don't hear me wrong, I'm not putting mums b4 babies - all I'm trying to say is that its more complex than all that. In the same way I don't think we can say that the posters of PP are 'even more hurtful' than the posters we saw on b4g this morning. How do we measure the hurt and asign one as more hurtful than another.
Am I being too nitpicky here? Am I getting caught up in the details? Please tell me if I am - I just feel strongly that the language we use conveys so much more than we often give it credit for. Happy to hear your thoughts. Its late here - I hope I've made some sort of sense....
23 January, 2003 9:40 AM
I've been struggling whether to respond to this 'pro life'/'planned parenthood' campaign on Blogs4God. When I looked at the site on my morning round of the blogs I had a strong internal reaction to these strongly worded posters. I guess that this is the reaction that I was supposed to have. It is an important issue to talk through and debate (as we have been for decades now) and therefore part of me thinks the posters and slogans are worthwhile as they will stimulate debate. HOWEVER I am also very uncomfortable with them and the slogans in the links on the site.
In having a poster and slogan competition are we perhaps trivializing and emotionalizing an issue that touches on a very deep part of so many?
I guess I speak out of my involvement as a minister with two people who were deeply affected by this very issue. They struggle on a daily basis with it because for different reasons they made decisions to terminate pregnancy. Whether their decisions were right or wrong is not something I wish to discuss here apart from to say that they were not simply cases of 'poorly planned pregnancy' - the situations were complex and incredibly painful for all concerned.
My question is how will these two women react to posters like the one above from B4G? How do they react to slogans like Gregory Popcak's "Just Kill It", "Genocide - It's not just for Nazis anymore!", "This holiday season, give the gift of death." or "Babies. The other white meat." or Mark Shea's "Depopulating the world one person at a time", "Life without consequences", "Reach out and abort someone" or "Betcha can't kill just one".
Where is the Grace that Jesus talked about? For a woman who is struggling with such an emotional decision to be confronted with such an emotive slogan or poster by Christians (by anyone!) is a shocking thing. How is she supposed to react to that? What will it do to her emotional wellbeing, to her self esteem and to her faith?
Are we over simplifying, humorising and trivializing something complex with such a campaign? Are we polarizing things into black and white without hearing the pain of people living in the grey? Are we casting stones at broken women that Jesus would have stood alongside and loved.
Yes we need to continue to talk - but perhaps we can think about the impact of the way we stimulate the debate.
UPDATE have been saddened to find this comment left in the last hour or so by Sally a hurting woman in response to this campaign (Mark Sheas site). Puts a personal face to things doesn't it.
UPDATE 2 alot of blogging is being done on the topic - Kathryn (original poster on B4G) shares a personal and appreciated response to the criticism of her post, Rachel, Richard and Richard all add to the conversation with good posts.
23 January, 2003 8:31 AM
Some interesting conversation is happening in this previous post still - the pros and cons of meeting Sundays...
22 January, 2003 3:57 PM
I'm not sure I'd be describing our Prime Minister (pictured far left if you're confused) as a Rambo like figure (I can see at least one or two differences in the pictures)- however the way he is going leaves me wondering just how well we are thinking through our joining the war effort. The Australian Newspaper article about Howard sending the first Aussie troops to the middle east tomorrow concerns me greatly. It says; 'Mr Rudd (from the opposition) today said Australia was now one of only three countries out of the 191 UN member states that had forward deployed troops to the Middle East before weapons inspectors had delivered their findings.'
Are we perhaps rushing things a little? My concern with international affairs (and I don't pretend to be an expert here) is that so often Australian governments seem to jump on the bandwagon (led generally by the US) so quickly without really thinking through the issues as they pertain to us and the world we live in.
The way I described it to an American friend recently is that its like a child accepting the beliefs/theology/morals etc of their parents. There comes a time in most children's lives where they have to think these things through for themselves. One can't go through life always allowing the 'big people' in your life to think through the big decisions and just accept their reasoning.
Now hear me right - America MIGHT be coming to some good decisions as it seems to be heading down the path of war with Iraq - however the decisions its making should not just be swallowed without strenuous examination by the rest of the world. There needs to be debate, there needs to be conclusive evidence and their needs to be space given so that a reasonable decision can be made. If at the end of this debate and scrutiny of the problem through the lens of our own context we come to the same conclusions as the US then I'm perhaps a little more open to the idea of sending troops (although I suspect I'll still have grave concerns).
War is not something for our country to move towards lightly. I fear that we are moving towards it too quickly and for the wrong motivation - pandering to the whims of the 'big boys' on the block and not thinking through the issues sensibly.
Phil just messaged me about this article in the Age newspaper (by David Day) which picks up the same thing - although perhaps a tad more controversially than I just have. Day writes about mateship - something us Aussie boast about all the time. In particularly this article looks at the 'mateship' between Australia and America and how Australia is followin the US off to war under the pretense of mateship - although this has not been resiprocated in the past (WW2 being one of these times). Day writes:
'Sometimes, though, a mate should refuse to go into battle, and not only for the sake of protecting its own interests. Sometimes, a great power needs lesser powers to restrain it from making a costly mistake.
22 January, 2003 3:39 PM
Fires continue to burn across Australia. Tasmania had over 40 separate fires burning this morning. The north East of Victoria (my state) reported fires 100km in perimeter last night - but there were only 4 houses lost which is quite amazing and illustrates the vastness of the countryside. Unfortunately it is suspected that many of these fires were deliberately lit and that the state government had been warned about the susceptibility of these regions to such an emergency without doing anything to intervene. Its amazing to see the media's reporting of the situation. Some of the TV footage is amazing, people filming at the centre of intense blazes. Its full on stuff!
Heard another amazing story on the radio this morning from one woman in the north east who spent last night sheltering in a mine shaft with her family and a number of animals. It was the only place she could escape to - and even there they had to keep watering down the heshen bags they'd put up at the entrance because they kept catching fire. Scary stuff - enhanced by the immediacy of the reporting. She talked on the radio via satellite phone this morning as she fought the fire around her house. Literally hose in one hand phone in the other - her description of what she saw and felt was amazing.
21 January, 2003 1:20 PM
In response to my Living Room update post a day or two back I had a number of good emails which have confirmed the direction I was thinking of taking. Steve from Emergent Downunder and I have been conversing on the topic - he posted this on his blog - great advice from someone who has done and is doing it! Some of it is similar to Phil's article. Steve's main points for someone wanting to birth a new community are:
1. Have fun.
2. Planters will shape it.
3. The hardest thing will be letting go.
4. Serve the culture.
5. Don't push too hard the dualisms between church and community.
There is lots more detail in his post.Thanks mate.
21 January, 2003 11:23 AM
Found another one - this time from way out west in Perth - its called Another Brazilian in Oz - not alot of English, but we don't discriminate against that!
UPDATE - another Aussie (Sydney) blogger that I've stumbled upon is Cade. Check him out.
21 January, 2003 9:34 AM
Jason is home after a trip to Africa and his first blog reflecting on it from home is a great one.
He writes "those of us that call ourselves "Christian" must turn our eyes toward heaven and beg His forgiveness. I have looked into the eyes of the have-nots and have seen the souls of our very own brothers and sisters in Christ neglected while you benefit from the wealth of a human nation. And while we have been "blessed" by this nation the Kingdom blesses them, not you, with great treasures. Their smiles, their laughter carry more joy than most of you have ever known... maybe it is we, after all, who are the have-nots." Read the rest
20 January, 2003 5:34 PM
This morning V and I went for a walk at 7am (part of our fitness kick). Its a lovely walk normally, especially this time of year when it gets so hot later in the day. This morning was eerie. Melbourne was covered by a blanket of smoke. Instead of the crystal clear sunrise we saw a blood red sun trying to shine through the haze. Visibility was down to under 3km. Its not unusual at this time of year for their to be bush fires on the outskirts of our city and for us therefore to be able to smell smoke - however this morning things were different. There are no major fires within hundreds of kilometers of the city - the smoke had traveled some distance, from the north east of our state where the news report I just heard said fires are burning that rival any in that regions residents memory.
Our nations capital, Canberra, has had the worst effects in of fire in the past week. 400 homes have been lost so far in the past 48 hours - 4 have lost their lives and some of our countries most beautiful forests have been leveled. The news reports that I watched earlier in the day about the Canberra fires were heart breaking. One woman told the story of trying to escape her suburban home in Duffy in her car. The tyres were on fire and yet they drove on - desperate to escape. The car contained her family, pets and a few hastily grabbed mementoes - it was full. Even though the tyres were on fire, people in the street tried to get in - the fire was so intense. In the end she had to lock the car doors because they couldn't fit anyone else in and she had to drive off from those who had no way to get out.
The news services tonight will be filled with more stories like this - more pictures of complete streets of houses gone - more gloomy weather forecasts of hot and windy days with no rain in sight. Australia is experiencing the worst drought its had in decades, some say the worst in centuries - the bush is dry - all it takes is a spark to get an inferno going - things are gloomy. Would you pray for our nation?
Yet in the midst of the heartbreak and chaos there is an Aussie spirit that seems to shine through. Amidst the stories on the news tonight will be stories of firefighters traveling hundreds and thousands of miles to help fight the fire in other states. There will be stories of money and supplies being donated. There will be stories of heroism and of people left with absolutely nothing who still manage to crack a joke or look at the positive of their situation. The Aussie spirit will live on.
PS - Jan is doing some great updates of the fire situation around Australia at her blog - Shalom
20 January, 2003 9:02 AM
Just checked the ongoing 'Have Your Say' conversation in the Who's In post. Was surprised to that the conversation continues there! Thanks for them - there is some really insightful thoughts and stories there - thanks to those who are using my 'Have your Say' section to share their own experiences - its a real privledge to hear your story. Check out, Laura, Paul, Richard, Johanna, Alan, Bene, Rachels etc comments in that post particularly - they are top quality!!! Debs last comment gives a bit of a feel for what has been said. She writes:
'wow - what an amazing story - my friend and I are viritually howling our eyes out here in our study. We both have had similar experiences of being cast out of churches - not because we did the unforgivable sin, but because we were broken people searching for a God who we thought accepted such people. Thank God we found a church that allowed us to be broken and in time find healing.'
It seems that my story of the woman who was ostrasized by her pastor was not such an extreme or isolated case! This saddens me and makes me all the more determined to help facilitate something that is different.
19 January, 2003 1:54 PM
Spent some time the past day or two thinking more about the Living Room and where to from here. The official start date for the Baptist Union of Victoria's grant for the new community is February 1st, just a week or so away now. I've been spending some time the past few weeks talking to individuals that are interested in being a part of what we're doing.
Its a frustrating period for a number of reasons - firstly I'm working for DCCC until the end of the month at 4 days per week which doesn't leave much time for the new venture (this will change at the end of the month when I begin the transition out of DCCC and into the Living Room - something I'm looking forward to. The other frustration is one that is a tension within me that seems to be growing. On one hand I want the community itself to be able to design and shape how it looks itself, but on the other hand people are reluctant to join a community that doesn't have much set in stone yet. They always ask - 'what will it look like?', and generally seem confused and disappointed when I tell them that that is something I'm hoping they can help me explore. Even though many of those I'm talking to are pretty relaxed, post modern, flexible type people, they seem to be thirsting for a bit of structure before they'll pitch their tent with us.
So - in talking with V this morning - I think I'm going to take things a step further and design a couple of weekly simple gatherings that will operate for the first three or so months of the existence of the Living Room. They will not be glitzy, highly programmed formal affairs, but rather will be defined enough to give some structure, but loose enough that they can be torn down and replaced in time with something that the group shapes. They will pick up and run with the three journeys(DNA) of the Living Room (inner journey, outer journey and together journey) and will give us a launching pad for the road ahead. I have some ideas about how they'll look and will blog about them in the week ahead.
My main fear is that my ideas and views will dominate the shaping of the Living Room - but I'm also sensing a need for a period of stronger leadership in these early days. I'm interested to hear the views and ideas of others on the subject and would value your prayers - I'm very aware of the embryonic nature of the Living Room and sense how fragile and vulnerable it is. In this early stage of formation it sometimes feels like touch and go - so I continue to value your support and prayer. Thanks for those of you I know who are already praying!
19 January, 2003 12:26 PM
Tonights service at DCCC continues the theme of 'Where is God on Monday?' Its been interesting to hear over the month the stories of different members of our congregations share where and how they experience and sense God during their week. I've personally found it very refreshing and just as stimulating, if not more than the preaching that we normally hear from the 'experts' week to week. (including my own preaching!) Its great stuff.
Tonight we are taking a break from the story telling and I'm giving people some space to think about the year ahead. They'll receive a sheet with a blank timetable of their week on it. They'll then plot the things that they generally do in a normal week and then spend time reflecting upon where they expect to experience God in it. I guess the challenge is to realise that God is there 24/7 - and we need to learn to tune in and be more open to experiencing and being under his direction in the 'normal' things of life and not just on our 'Sunday worship experiences', mid week small groups or the times we set aside specifically to pray.
One of the books I've found helpful in thinking this through with a small group is Tom and Christine Sine's Living on Purpose. I'm looking forward to meeting and learning from them in person in a couple of weeks time as I do an intensive subject with them at college.
18 January, 2003 8:08 AM
I'm off down the beach this morning with V and some friends to celebrate a good mates 30th birthday. We're staying down there overnight - should be good fun - apart from the fact that we have to come home again early tomorrow for church.
This gets me onto one of my 'pet topics' - does anyone else wonder whether Sunday is the most appropriate day of the week for church? I can only speak for my part of the world, but for most people living in the streets of North Fitzroy Melbourne, Sunday is an important day. Its the day of the week that the majority of people are home relaxing. Many people spend it with family, many use it to connect with friends and participate in their local community. Its a day for bbq's, sleep ins and coffees at the local cafe. Its a day for day trips with friends, a day for laying under a tree in the park with your special friend and a day for getting ready for the week ahead.
As I look at the way many of my non churched friends spend Sunday - I would describe the way they use it almost in the biblical terms of the Sabbath. My reflection is that in many ways its a very 'spiritual day for many - even if they don't step through the doors of a church. It is a day of rest for them. In comparison I look at my churched friends and see people who are racing from a service where they are participating in something, to a luncheon, to a meeting for their ministry, to another service, to a supper etc. Sure along the way they connect with friends and may have moments of relaxation - but often at the end of it they look like they've run a marathon - a day of rest....I'm not so sure.
So why do we as church drag people away from our cultures day of rest, day of relationships and day of opportunity to have an impact on the community and make them so busy? Why are we so obsessed with filling 'the sabbath' with programs? Why is it a day when our volunteers often have their most demanding day?
Perhaps there is another way? Maybe its in simplifying what we do on Sunday so that it becomes more relaxing and less demanding? Or maybe we should release our congregations to their own devices on Sunday. Let them have brunch with friends rather than have to show up to music practice. Let them see a movie and discuss it over coffee with a non churched friend. Let them go hiking in the bush and connect with God through creation. Instead of Sunday meetings perhaps there is a better time where we can gather to do what we do presently on Sundays.
I'm thinking the Living Room will meet Tuesday or Thursday nights for these reasons. I'm interested on others thoughts on this? Does your church do things differently? Any ideas on how to tackle this?
17 January, 2003 1:48 PM
Just posted the second part to Phil McCredden's article on Phuture here. If you didn't read the first part read it here. In this article Phil articulates the lessons he learnt in establishing a new form of church here in Melbourne. He reflects upon 11 lessons which are titled as follows.
1. Remember this is Church not a small group
2. A square peg in a round hole
3. Spiritual Practices
4. Make sure there is need and you are not just following a fad
5. Engaging in each others lives
6. Ensure that the leaders facilitate and don't preach
7. Face the inevitable opposition
8. Adapting to the environment
9. Focus on health and not size
10. Never underestimate the power of food to create community
11. There are no boundaries
Of course you're going to have to read it to get the gist for what he's saying - its worth a look! Interested in your thoughts, leave a comment after the article on the site.
17 January, 2003 11:36 AM
Steve is blogging from Hanoi about his meeting with a senior exec of the World Bank here.
17 January, 2003 10:31 AM
Yesterday was the first day since I started this blog that I didn't write something. Instead I spent the day cheering on Aussie tennis players at the Australian Open. It was one of the most fun days I've had in ages. My American friend Mel came along too and had a ball!
We went with 150-200 other people, mainly from churches from our denomination. Everyone was dressed in yellow t-shirts, vietnamese hats painted green and gold, face paint and all had signs with assorted things on them. We chanted, sang, cheered and shouted all day long.
We also found ourself written up in a couple of places as having made a bit of an impact. Look here...
During the day as we made fools of ourselves and had alot of fun my mind kept wondering back to Rachel's post of a week back where she reflected upon sitting in the middle of similar crowd at the cricket and making some observations about church and worship.
It was interesting to look around at the crowd sitting around us as we chanted, sang and got into the match. We were the largest group in the stadium (although only 200 out of thousands who were there) and the impact that I felt we had upon the rest of the crowd (and the players) was significant. There were times where what we did seemed to bring things to life. Others around us seemed to be drawn into what we were doing. Even cheersquads from other nationalities seemed to join in at times because we made an intentional effort to include them. People came up to us during the day and asked who we were, how we started and if they could join us! Others asked us how they could start their own cheersquads. There was obviously something about this group of fools that was contagious and life giving! Even the players acknowleged us after the games including one Aussie who although he lost came up to us afterwards and threw his racquet into our section as a thankyou.
I sat there watching and participating in this strange activity and felt myself wishing that this was what church could be like. Not that everyone would wear ugly yellow t-shirts and go crazy - but rather I wish as we do our thing as church that the impact not just be felt by us (in the cheersquad) but by those in our context (our stadium). When I read the New Testament accounts of the church I see what they are doing as like a virus that is highly contagious. People want to be involved in what is going on in the church. They are inclusive and draw others in in very simple and natural ways.
Somehow I feel we've gotten a little lost. Instead of being out in the stadium of our world impacting the masses, we are locked away in our clubhouses coming up with great chants, cheering like crazy but not really in touch with the game. Its a pity - I think if we only would refocus the attention of our efforts just a little we could have a major impact on the game at hand and those others around us watching it!
15 January, 2003 4:26 PM
Have had a number of requests to speak at camps, conferences, churches etc of late. This is great in some ways because its something that brings me great joy - for some reason I'm quite at home and feel very alive when I'm speaking to large groups of people. Actually I've noticed I'm often more comfortable speaking to 100+ people than small groups (which is a worry as I'm about to plant a small church).
The questions that sits in the back of my mind however when I evaluate whether I accept a speaking engagement are 'What is the trade off of accepting these one off opportunities?' 'Does it cost the community that I belong to something for me to be out and about speaking?' 'How effective are one off sermons/inputs?' 'Should I accept all or just some invitations? How does one decide which?'
I feel I've been gifted to speak for some reason - I don't understand it but the feedback I regularly get from people seems to confirm this, however I guess I'm still working out the logistics and boundaries of doing so! How do you others who get asked to speak here and there determine some of this stuff?
15 January, 2003 2:38 PM
Spent this morning with Mark, Kel and Kamahl talking about Dreamland. we spent some much needed time sharing whats happening personally and ministry wise in our lives. We've each had an incredible time of change and I get the sense are all feeling tired and a little fragile! It was good to pray together, something we need to do more of.
Kel, Mark and I then spent more time thinking through some big issues which have the potential to make or break us as a ministry. Sometimes its all a little overwhelming! We'd value your prayers at this time as we are in a position where we feel quite on the edge and vulnerable.
14 January, 2003 4:06 PM
Quite the 'discussion' is being had in comments over Rach's last post in response to an article What is an American
14 January, 2003 3:26 PM
Thanks for all the comments on last nights blog. I don't really have much to add today - am feeling a little drained having blurted all that out - it had been a bit of an internal struggle as to whether I should have shared that publically or not but I felt that if the story had affected and shaped me so much that maybe it was worth sharing with others.
Alan referred to 'unbounded sets' in his comment to Margarets story. The times I've told this story in my preaching I've then gone onto develop the idea of bounded and unbounded sets communities. I'm not sure how many readers are familiar with this theory(?) of community so chose last night not to blog about it - however if people are interested I'm happy to write more on it. Although I'm not sure 'unbounded communities' are easily applied to all communities and I'm not completely satisfied with the 'model' as I've seen it written about previously, I do feel its a definate step towards the type of community that Jesus formed and talked about.
13 January, 2003 10:04 PM
I was told this true story over a year ago by a friend. It shook me then and continues to haunt me. It now plays a part in shaping the type of church I want to be involved with. (Names have been changed to protect the violated and violators) Its long but I can't share it any other way!
Margaret was a spiritual person. She had always sensed there was more out there, some power that was behind life, some being that seemed to be reaching out to her, desiring to entwine itself with her life.
Margaret grew up in suburban Melbourne in the 60's an 70's. A time where a young woman could 'find herself' . A time where one could experiment with who they were and what there place in the cosmos was. She began to reach out to an unseen but felt God.
Over the years her exploration included trips to Asia to spend time with various gurus, reading books about astral travel and in more recent years she and her young daughter became regular visitors to the New Age festivals that seemed to spring up around the outer suburbs of the city. At times Margaret seemed to find the enlightenment and peace she hungered for at other times she felt empty and longed for more. Her search continued.
After decades of searching Margaret met a Christian that introduced her to a local church and its pastor. The pastor met with her a number of times and in time introduced her to Jesus. She and her daughter became Christians and felt wonderfully and warmly accepted by this community of believers.
Margaret felt alive - she was able to name this previously unknown God that she had felt drawing near to her. She began to grow and mature in her faith yet she still had questions. Questions about how her new found faith in Jesus fit with her previous experiences. Had she not experienced enlightenment and peace through her yoga, her crystals and exploration of other religions? Or was it all just simply of Satan or perhaps just some psychological phenomenon?
She wanted to make sense of it all and began to read a New Age book again - looking for Jesus in their pages. She made an appointment to see her Pastor, surely he would be able to advise her. The appointment came and she shared some of her doubts and experiences of before her conversion. She asked him questions and told him about the book she had been reading. He said very little and she went home confused.
Sunday morning came and Margaret and her teenage daughter went to worship as they did every week. They sat towards the front, eager to learn and connect with God. After the singing had finished the Pastor got up to speak. All was normal at first apart from the fact that he did not stand at his pulpit as was his habit. Instead he began to leave the platform and walked into his congregation. He walked up to Margaret and then pointed at her so that no one could be mistaken about whom he spoke of.
"This woman has been dabbling with things of Satan!" he shouted to his flock. "She is not to be trusted. I do not want any of you to have anything to do with her from this day forward. This woman is a WITCH!" He then proceeded to order her from the building while those she had come to know as friends looked on.
Margaret and her daughter have never set foot in church again. Her daughter who this story was related to my friend by had an incredible distrust for the church and Christians as a result also and says she'll never return either.
This story made me angry. Its an extreme illustration of something that I feel many churches today are guilty of - building walls. The pastor that day put a boundary around his congregation. It was publicly stated and well defined. Everyone knew that morning who was IN and who was OUT. If you had questions, doubts or wanted to try to make sense of the gospel in relation to another belief system you were excluded in a vindictive way from the community.
As I said, this is an extreme case. Many, perhaps even most churches and pastors would take a more gentle and graceful approach with Margaret. However its got me wondering what boundaries we continue to build up around ourselves as churches. I've taken a good hard look at how church operates and I think that most are guilty of the same thing in many and varied ways.
Most of the boundaries we build are very subtle and unintentional - but none the less they exist. They can range from simple things like the language we use and the way we dress right through to the big issues like how we determine membership or issues of theology and exercising of gifts. When we do this the mentality is one of US and THEM. Time and energy is spent by the community defining the boundaries and making sure people are kept on the side that they belong. To become one of US (to belong) means you have to change your behaviour or beliefs. (or at least appear to do so)
The way I read Jesus is that he didn't operate this way. I can't find an account where he told a sinner or outcast to go away and fix themselves up before they could come to him. In fact the people he go most angry at were people who were into the US and THEM game. Time and energy in Jesus community wasn't spent on defining boundaries and keeping people in their place, rather it was spent on drawing people into a life in the kingdom.
I don't have all the answers, community gets tricky at times and so often we find ourselves 'playing the game' without even knowing it. But the kind of church I desire to be a member of is one where belonging isn't determined by what someone believes or what someone's lifestyle looks like - rather I suspect it needs to be based upon something a little deeper like their attitude and what direction they are moving in. Like Jesus community it might at times look quite opposite the way many of our churches operate - with the outsiders taking up central positions and the so called insiders finding themselves on the outer.
What do you think???
13 January, 2003 4:12 PM
from Melbourne paper The Age January 13 - By Kelly Burke
"Testosterone is keeping men away from church as religion fails to satisfy the thrill-seeking urge, according to research in the United States.
While women's over-representation in religious participation has been the case for centuries, the question of men's irreligiosity has been largely ignored, says Rodney Stark, a University of Washington professor of sociology and comparative religion. After studying data from 57 nations covering all the world's major religions, he has concluded that male physiology, not socialisation, has rendered them comparatively godless.
The reason men are less likely than women to be found in a house of worship is the same reason men are more likely to find themselves behind bars, Dr Stark claims.
"Recent studies of biochemistry imply that both male irreligiousness and male lawlessness are rooted in the fact that far more males than females have an underdeveloped ability to inhibit their impulses, especially those involving immediate gratification and thrills," he says in research published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.
Consequently, men tend to be more short-sighted about their souls. "Going to prison or going to hell just doesn't matter to these men," he says.
The theory is not just pertinent to Western society, according to Dr Stark, nor applicable only to those religions that threaten a negative payoff in the afterlife for non-participation. Although the gender gap was less pronounced in countries where religions such as Buddhism and Shintoism were dominant, the male/female imbalance was still there.
But Gary Bouma, professor of sociology of religion at Monash University, is sceptical about Dr Stark's findings. "The best you can say about his explanation is that at least it isn't insulting to women," he says, referring to the plethora of theories centred on female submissiveness and emotional capacity.
"(Stark) hasn't really changed the question and he does not give the answer... the physiological basis for risk-taking in itself has yet to be determined," Professor Bouma said.
According to 2001 census figures on religious affiliation, men significantly outnumber women in claiming agnosticism, atheism and professing no religious belief. But one of the most strident gender imbalances is to be found in Satanism - 1415 Australian men identified with devil worship, compared with just 383 women.
Dr Stark said says these figures were consistent with his risk-taking theory. "These men are possibly making a religion out of taking risks," he said.
"They're thumbing their nose at the church... making a religion of the irreligious." "
Thanks for the heaps up again Cam!
13 January, 2003 1:09 PM
Check out the first part (of 2) of this great brand new article entitled Lessons from an Emerging Church by Phil McCredden. Its good stuff, very stimulation, very insightful. I always love to hear about Churches doing new and innovative things - this is one of them! Its refreshing to read an artilce written directly from the experience of someone exploring new territory and not just writing 'in theory'. Check it out - the second part of the series will be out in a few days.
13 January, 2003 8:35 AM
Two more Southern blogs to add to the list previously published. Firstly is Dave's Revenge of Mr Dumpling. Dave is a 20Something ( remember when I was one of them....) from Horsham Victoria - Australia. The second is another New Zealand blogger Life is Beautiful.
12 January, 2003 12:11 PM
Have added a link on the side bar to follow this conversation which I am really enjoying.
Rachel has jumped into the blogservation again with an insightful reflection on a fun trip to the cricket. Just a part of what she said is;
I'm not much of a singer really. If I'm driving and alone, I'll start singing. If I'm at a sporting match, I'll join in. Karaoke would be my nightmare (and yes, I have done it once). I usually lip sync (badly) to songs. A lot of church songs I find really hard to sing. I'd rather listen to other people sing, or do something else that is creative.
12 January, 2003 9:48 AM
The challenge was simple: to find as many Christian bloggers South of the equator as possible. Blogs4God issued me with the challenge so I put the call out and the hunt began. What followed was a frenzy of surfing, searching, emails and sorting. The first round of results in the �Great Southern Blog Hunt� are in. (Results also found at Blogs4God)
Australia has some great quality bogging happening in Melbourne with Stinky Convoluted Past, Flutterings of a flutterby kel, Breathing Space, Martin Roth Christian Commentary, Philbo Baggins Blogger, Anthony Rae and Living Room.
Ballarat is well represented by Christops.
Down South in Tasmania Mike's Journal is holding the fort for the state.
Across the Tasman in New Zealand some fine blogging specimens which are making a name for themselves globally. In Auckland cre8d :: journal, Chicafa and Emergent Downunder are the pioneers and in Cambridge a new cluster is forming with Prodigal, The Beach and Bridges.
To this point I've not seen a lot of action in Brazil with only Random Variables being located. Likewise in South Africa we were only able to track down one Christian blog in Page Count. I am sure there are more in these parts of the world and look forward to listing them in round two of the hunt.(just let me know of them)
Others bloggers are busily at work just north of the equator and deserve a mention. In Japan Fat Blue Man and Emeth Hesed Smith are hard at work. Malaysia is represented by Tube Screamer and Musings and Misadventures of IreneQ. Also in SE Asia in the Philippines is Mere Madness and How Now Brown Pau. Lastly in Bangkok Thialand is Tishbyte.
Blogging is growing in the Christian community Down Under. Please check out and support some of these excellent blogs and begin to stretch your networks in a southerly direction. Some of these blogs are very new, others are put together by young Christians - all could do with some support and knowledge that they are not alone in their part of the world.
I am keen to make contact with any other southern hemisphere Christian blogs so if you own or know of one get in touch through his blog LivingRoom . Apologies to anyone who was missed in this first list (another will follow in time) and for any mistakes in location and poor geography. Again � notify me if any of your details are listed wrongly!
Let the hunt continue.
11 January, 2003 2:21 PM
Continuing the discussion Richard writes:
I'm not sure that it is "overfarming" that's the issue. I see it more in terms of timidity in our sowing. The sower of the parable scatters seed liberally and inefficiently. He does not sprinkle the seed carefully over the good soil so as not to waste any. He hurls it willy-nilly over good soil and bad. How can the church imitate this? I'm sure that this is about far more than how we organise our church services and church structures, though these things will not be left untouched. It impacts on all of the things we do as the church, and as individuals working out of the church. It should shape the messages we send to politicians and the causes were seen to support. In all our activities we should be seeking to imitate the gracious love of God, not calculating a strategy for achieving maximum market penetration. So far, so theoretical. What it means in practical terms will vary from one context to the next, but in most it will run counter to "common sense" - because most of our common sense is shaped by the world and not the gospel. Whenever we find ourselves using words like "efficient", "realistic", "reasonable", or any of the lexicon of management gobbledegook which has become so fashionable in the church, we should be wary. St Paul called himself "a fool for Christ". Maybe it's time the church got out its makeup and engaged in some holy foolishness again. What a bloddy ripper of a statement Richard!!! Couldn't agree more!
So....this being the case....how do we infect the church with some 'holy foolishness'? How does one help a timid and largely comfortable institution to change course? I've met numerous individuals scattered through churches around Melbourne (and the world now through blogging) that think this way - that are keen for change and open to some revolutionary thinking - but most feel helpless and disempowered every time they share their ideas or dreams in the churches where they worship. They suspect things could be different but the majority are happy with the status quo - happy to keep on keeping on worshiping the 'DitchDigger'. (see Rachels comment and link in Blogservations Continued)
The debate that I'm hearing in emerging church circles here in Australia is about the way forward. Do we remain in 'mainline' churches and attempt to bring about change from within? Do we band together in new communities and attempt to model a different way? Is there some middle ground - are both legitimate ways forward?
I guess for me I've decided to take a middle ground approach of sorts by attempting to start something 'new' (whatever that means) but keeping strong links with 'mainline church' by being intentional in my relationship with our denomination and two local congregations.
What approaches are others taking?
11 January, 2003 12:29 PM
Our email has been down at DCCC for the past few days and hence I've not been recieving any email at all. Sorry if you've emailed me, its likely its drifting in cyberspace somewhere - I'm hoping its now working so you may want to try again...HERE - sorry for the inconvenience
Check out Richards new look A Cup of Rich. Looks fantastic mate! Have you thought about adding comments?
Had a great night at the wedding last night. I think the photos will turn out ok - now the nervous wait to get them back begins - their ETA is Wednesday.
V and I caught up with Andy and Mel for brunch this morning - twas really good to relax in the cafe together and chat. I love meeting people from other parts of the world - would love to travel OS some more and meet some of you some time.
Am going to the Australian Open Thursday with 200 other crazy Aussies. We all dress up, sing and dance all day and basically try to get ourselves in the papers, on the news and in the replays. If you watch tennis look out that day for a big group of aussies dressed in yellow tshirts, with funny hats and green and gold face paint. It'll be a hoot.
10 January, 2003 11:31 PM
This is classic stuff from What is Church?. Mike writes - "Most simply take the best of what's out there and load it into their church like a pirated piece of software. Worship is not a closed-source system like Windows XP. It is open-source code; free to be handcrafted bearing the mark of unique creativity and gifts."
10 January, 2003 12:41 PM
For those who've been following this thread of conversation from Quote of the Day and Blogservations. I'm interested in keeping this thread of conversation alive. Debi Warford made the following comment which I found fascinating: Let's take your farming analogy a little bit further. The way I see it, the way a lot of megachurches "do church", they end up sowing over and over again into fields that have already been reaped. Most farmers would tell you that if you continue to sow the same thing in the same field year after year, and never switch to another field, you'll wear out the soil and end up having to spread more and more fertilizer on that soil to make it produce. It's a concept called "crop rotation". See any parallels?
Wondering what others think? I think I agree with what Debi is getting at (if I'm reading her right). How do we do crop rotation as farmers of the gospel? Are we in danger of over farming the same patches of soil as church? I suspect that here in Australia we are. As I stated in the blogservations post - the way the vast majority of churches 'do church' has been shown to only appeal to a relatively small part of the population. I suspect that this is one of the reasons that church attendance here is in decline.
Very few ministries are aimed at the majority - who in themselves are an incredible variety of subcultures. What will it take to do this crop rotation thing seriously? Do you agree that its neccessary? What might it look like? If we continue on the same way we are - what will be the consequences?
10 January, 2003 11:45 AM
Just checked the referers to this site - the latest person that ended up here from a google search was doing a search for "easy to do punk hairstyles for long hair"
I'm getting a bit of a complex! Is it my photo that brought them in? I did just shave my head again this morning for this afternoons wedding - but punk??
10 January, 2003 9:27 AM
Is anyone else drooling over the lastest Powerbook releases from Mac? When I leave DCCC I'll be without a computer so I'm saving my pennies like crazy and hoping to scrape enough together for a new laptop - was aiming for a little ibook, but for an extra A$1000 could get a little powerbook . Anyone with any opinions on whether its worth paying the extra for the G4 processor?
9 January, 2003 1:04 PM
Refined the Southern Blogisphere list of bloggers today. It will be posted on the weekend. Managed to find 32 blogs so with a couple more possibly to add between now and then. Let me know if you know any more!
Doing alot of admin at the moment. Finishing up in my role here at DCCC means having to get alot of things planned for the rest of the year. Taking over some of my role is a new youth minister who will be great value. The rest of the role is to be taken on by volunteers which means I have to get alot of the year ahead planned so they can run with it without having to dedicate every waking hour to it! Its hard to plan so far in advance some times.
I'm also trying to rustle up articles for Phuture (got some good people writing some stuff as we speak) and keep conversations going with people interested in hearing more about the LivingRoom plant. I'm also taking the photos at two friends wedding tomorrow evening and am getting a little nervous about the responsibility of capturing their big day. Have done it plenty of times before, but it is a bit daunting when its friends! I feel a little torn in different directions today - running around like a headless chook!
9 January, 2003 10:43 AM
Osama bin Laden's 'Letter to the American people' is reportedly written by Osama - whether it is authentically of his hand or not it gives a chilling insight into an extremist Muslims thinking. What do you think of the reasoning? Thanks again Diddle for the heads up on this one.
9 January, 2003 9:53 AM
Thanks so much to those that have emailed so far to say they'd like to join the prayer team. I really appreciate your thoughts and prayers so much. I fell asleep last night extremely happy to know that I'm not alone in my ventures with Dreamland and Living Room. You should receive your emailed newsletters today. Others are welcome to join the team any time.
8 January, 2003 4:28 PM
Sent out letters to potential support team members yesterday. I'm trying to raise up a team that can support me in my new ventures with Dreamland and Living Room. Specifically I asked for Prayer and Finacial Support. I feel SO awkward about asking for money to help fund the Dreamland work - does anywone else struggle with this? Would love to hear peoples views on raising support, how and if you do it etc.
I'm so aware at the moment that in planting this new community I'm out on a limb. Its strange resigning from a secure ministry with hundreds in the congregation to support and care, with 140 years of history behind it and to step into something so small, new and fragile. The realisation that I have is that I need to pray more and I need to be asking others to pray for me too. Will you join my prayer team? If you do I will email semi regular prayer newsletters to keep you up to date with developments.
If you are interested in being a part of either my prayer (or financial) support team I'd be more than happy to email you my newsletter - just shoot me an email here.
8 January, 2003 1:54 PM
8 January, 2003 10:37 AM
Phuture has been updated with a new article by Stephen Said called Pigs Might Fly II. Its the second in his series of reflections upon an experimental chuch called Pighouse>. This reflection is upon leadership in the emerging church.
There is also a new discussion forum with this topic - "Many people that we encounter in our travels share similar sentiments towards "church". "We are looking for something real, earthy, a living faith, deep spirituality" and the like are just some of those comments we hear. And so they set out on a journey seeking the community of faith that will satisfy. Should more effort be put into "building" something where you are rather than searching for something that someone else is building? Is searching for a community that satisfies another form of consumerism? Is this generation significant for it's apparent lack of pioneers? Have your say..."
Check them out
And by the way - if you have an article you'd like to contribute to Phuture shoot me an email. As long as it fits in with the general ethos of the site of course!
8 January, 2003 9:58 AM
It says the church is timid, institutionalised, racist, sexist, homophobic, and impedes the message of the Gospel. The book argues that the church has to take risks, be willing to offend, offer unconditional love and acceptance and, above all, strip away the institutional trappings that allow timid Christians to shelter inside and avoid their biblical responsibilities.
Miley says when interviewd by the Age; "The discrepancy between what the church is like and what the gospels are like is really the cause of the book. The gospels are about empowerment, and the church is frightfully disempowering; the gospels are about love and acceptance, and the church is not accepting. It's mediocre and drab. I realised it was the culture of the church - it was basically English 19th century middle-class culture. You know, don't talk about sex, it's not nice."
Looks like an interesting book - I'm sure it'll create some debate here in Melbourne.
(I have the article saved as a word document if the link at The Age doesn't last long - just email me for it)
Thanks Cam and Diddle for putting me onto this article
7 January, 2003 12:17 PM
Calling all bloggers from down south!!! - anyone that is blogging from the southern hemisphere - I'd like to hear from you asap! I'm trying to compile a list of Theoblogians, Church/Community Blogs, Christian bloggers etc from anywhere south of the equator. Why? - well I've been chatting to a few such people and we thought it might be good if we were able to network and link to each others sites as I'm sure we have alot in common. The list will be made available to all shortly - posted here and on Blogs4God.
Anyway, if this is you or you know of such blogs could you either email me or leave a comment here! Please include your blog name, the URLto be linked, your location (city and country)and your own name/alias >>>
Any help through posting this on your blog and spreading the call would be greatly appreciated! Thanks
6 January, 2003 10:39 AM
Thanks for the links to my 'Quote of the Day' post (2 or 3 previously). It was unexpectedly but gratefully linked byJosh, Richard 1, Richard 2 and Mike. (all of whom have excellent blogs which I peruse from time to time!
I like the style of conversations people have on blogs - its like no where else! Snippets on this blog, snippets there.
Richard 1's post has got me thinking a little more. He writes: "We all want to see growing, lively churches, but it is a mistake to fall into the trap of thinking of the Church as a 'business' with a 'product' to sell....But we do not have a product to sell. We have a gospel to offer. I keep going back to the parable of the sower, who sows seed into every kind of soil indiscriminately, knowing that only some will produce a harvest....." Check out the rest � its good.
Like Richard, I am torn - I agree in part.... I don't believe we are in 'business' and we shouldn't reduce the gospel to a product. The gospel is not something that can be neatly packaged up to look great and then sold in easily swallowable sized pills. We need to continue to sow the seed. The seed is something I'm not willing to play with, to dress up, its not negotiable in my mind. However I wonder if the way we are sowing the seed is at least in part redundant.
Farmers over the years have found new ways to sow their seeds. I'm no agricultural expert, but centuries ago I take it that it was done by hand. Today we do it differently to increase our harvests. The seed has not changed (although with all this genetically modified food things are changing) but there are new and different ways of sowing it depending upon the farmer and the soil (culture) they sow it into.
Perhaps I'm stretching the metaphor to much. But when I look at the way many Churches and Christians sow the seed of the gospel into our culture today I wonder how effective it is. Take a typical outreach service that is run in many churches (including my own over the years). We sing 'contemporary' songs (something that in Australia a 'normal' person would never do unless they were drunk or at the football), we sit all facing the front, looking at the back of everyone else's heads except the 'experts' up the front, we listen to a guest 'expert' talk in a monologue for 20-40 minutes about how we should live our lives (something else the average Aussie at least doesn't do too well) and then we are asked to pay for the pleasure by putting money in the bowl that circulates at the end to pay for the 'guest expert'.
I'm not saying that this is a completely redundant method - obviously many of us have been touched by these services ourselves. However I wonder if we are sowing our seeds in such a way that only a certain percentage of the population will be open to.
One study into worship found that the style of music (contemporary worship) that over 90% of Australian churches play every Sunday appeals in style to around 10% of the Australian population. This is a fantastic and more relevant way for reaching the 10% of the population who are so inclined, but what about the other 90% of the population? Maybe we need to readdress the imbalance - if these are the stats and we are called to reach 100% of people why are less than 10% trying to reach the vast majority while the other 90% 'compete' for the minority.
Perhaps I'm being a little simplistic - but I can't stop thinking about this stuff - as 'Church' we need to really grapple with this - lets keep the 'blogservations' happening...
5 January, 2003 2:54 PM
Introducing Abston Church of Christ - a church dedicated to the memory of the builders cat (precious). A church made completely of lego.
Unbelievable to see how much time someone is willing to dedicate to the building of a plastic church! Frightening really.
5 January, 2003 11:33 AM
Thanks Rachel for the great little 'Living Room' Logo that I've just added to the side bar. Makes our little community all the more inviting. Pull up a couch or bean bag people - lets live life together.
4 January, 2003 9:27 PM
Someone once said to me "If you want to achieve things you've never achieved before, you need to be willing to do things you've never done before".
So often in life we dream of reaching new heights. We do it in our careers, in our relationships, in our ministries etc. But more often than not we're not willing to do anything different to reach those new heights! We are not satisfied with where we are at - but we're not willing to move out of our comfort zone to move forward. As a result we keep doing what we've always done and we fail to fulfil our dreams.
This is a principle that can be applied to virtually all areas of life. If you want to see the world, you'd better be willing to get on a plane or boat. If you want a dynamic relationship with your partner, you're going to have to step up to the plate when it comes to putting in some relational effort. If you want a promotion you will need to do that overtime and make the extra effort with your work.
Surely this is true for today's church also. The statistics across many Western Nations show that many Protestant churches are in steep decline. Last week in a Melbourne paper an article reported that one of our largest denominations, the Anglican church, had issued a press release stating that most churches in Australia would cease to exist in 15 years.
I'm not satisfied with this! I don't want the Church to be an irrelevant institution in my country and world when I turn 45! I want it to be a dynamic force that is presenting the gospel of Jesus in relevant and life changing ways! I dream of a church that is not sniggered at when mentioned in conversation, but one that is respected for the contribution it makes to our society.
If this is what we desire - to be somewhere that we are currently not - surely we need to be willing to do some things that we've never done before. We need to be exploring new ways of being church. We need to be open to new forms of worship, teaching, prayer, leadership and community. We should be dreaming, experimenting, tweaking and striving to find relevant ways to connect with our world. We should be changing the ways we think, speak and look. We should be empowering new, up and coming leaders, giving them permission implement their fresh ideas.
If we are not willing to do new things, we shall continue to do the things we've been doing for decades, if not centuries - and I fear we will never reach the dizzy heights of our dreams!
4 January, 2003 12:54 PM
Last night we had the privledge of having possibly the wisest man that I know stay over at our house. He is 20 years old, about 4.5 feet tall, he hardly ever stops smiling and his name is Andy.
We look after Andy once a month for 24 hours to give his parents (two remarkable people) some respite from caring for him. You see Andy has Downs Syndrome and his parents appreciate a night together and alone every now and again. So Andy, V and I paint the town beige for a Friday night and Saturday once a month! Heres a pic of V, Andy and me at our wedding.
For me to be honest it was something that made me feel a little uncomfy - don't really know why in hindsight - but my wonderful wife V is the most caring compassionate person I know so I thought I'd tag along with her - do a 'good deed'!
I soon found that it was not I doing the 'good deed' but Andy who gives more than I ever could. Every time I spend time with him I feel I've had a personal visit from God - all 4.5 feet of him is quite divine! His love for people and life seems to know no limits. His patience and kindness to us big, complicated sods astounds me. His ability to talk to just about anyone makes me envious. His childlikeness is amazing. (today he decided to do the chicken dance in the middle of the crowded market where we visited) And his gratefulness for every small thing I do for him makes me feel guilty for the hundreds of times each day I grumble about the smallest hardship.
In addition to all this he has the most amazing faith I've encountered. Sure its simple - but every time I see it I wonder if thats the way it should be for all of us. Last visit he had a sore stomach - he was actually in considerable pain but didn't want to let on that he was suffering. Eventually he asked me to come sit with him in our little back yard on an old park bench we have. As we sat there he rested his little head on my chest and stammered out the words 'D, would you pray for my sore stomach? It will make it feel better.' Then he took my hand in his and placed it on his tummy while I prayed. I didn't really have too many words to add to his incredible demonstration of faith - what could one say?
3 January, 2003 5:29 PM
Seems the last post hit a nerve both positively and negatively with some if the comments are anything to go by! A couple of the comments concerned me particularly and have made me think much on this subject as I worked today. Cameron concerned me because he seems to lump all Muslims into one basket - the one where they are all terrorists. I personally take offence at this as I have always had friends that are Muslim and they are some of the most peace loving people I've ever met. This is another topic altoghether that perhaps we could explore at some later stage. For now you might like to look at my previous post on my visit to a local Mosque here to get a feel for some of my own journey on this.
Ellis concerned me somewhat as they seem to be trying to isolate themselves from all those that don't profess Christianity as their religion. I don't understand this thinking at all - partly because such an approach would almost be impossible here in Australia due to the smallness of the 'Christian Market' (see last post for what I mean) but also because to me it seems to directly contradict the message of Jesus who time and time again took the religious leaders of his day to task for this type of behaviour. Jesus crossed borders, social taboos, norms and related with just about every people group that he should not have related with.
Why do so many Christians seem to have a 'compound mentality' where they look themselves away from the world and only ever relate to their own kind. There are obviously some who literally are doing this, but I suspect we all do in other more subtle ways.
I could write more - but don't want to harp on about it. Lets keep talking about this!
2 January, 2003 9:13 PM
Stumbled across this link to the Promised Land Paintball Park . To be honest its a concept that leaves me a tad puzzled.
Now before I say why let me say that I've done paintball (or as we call it here in Aus - Skirmish) and I found it to be a fun, although slightly painful, experience. I don't have problems with it as a game/sport even though its a bit violent in nature to be shooting people, even if it is with paint balls from a low powered air rifle.
What confuses me is why the park advertises itself as a 'Christian' Paintball Park. I know they are not alone in this, so many businesses do it, but I wonder why? I wonder if in doing so do we separate ourselves somewhat from the world in which we are called to engage with.
Jesus gave us the ultimate model to follow in his becoming human, his incarnation, in order to bring humanity life. When we separate ourselves and our businesses from the world we live in by slapping the word 'Christian' on our door, do we we run the risk of alienating some in our communities from the message we proclaim?
Please do not misunderstand me - I'm not saying we should hide our faith - rather I'm trying to work out what the positives of distinguishing ourselves so blatantly are? What makes a paintball park 'Christian'? Many of the 'customer comments' (and there are rather a lot!!) on the site seem to talk about it being a 'family friendly' and 'safe' environment. Its a place where you can only come if you come with a 'member' -I guess the unruly type are kept away - I wonder if Jesus and his disciples would have gotten a game?
I guess I say this from an Aussie perspective also where if a business were to name itself the 'best Christian paintball park in Australia' it would probably stand to go bankrupt in a matter of weeks. The 'Christian' market in Australia is tiny by comparison to that in America - 'Christianity' is not something that a business that is serious about making money would put in its name here - it would have quite the opposite effect! I take it things are a little different in the US. For example, the sales of 'Christian Music' in the US every year is larger by far than the total sales of ALL music in Australia each year.
With such a large 'Christian' market, the cynic in me wonders if maybe putting the word 'Christian' in your business's advertising is probably more a money making decision than it is a statement of belief.
Gee - I must sound like a real grump tonight. I'm not aiming to be and I'm not meaning to launch an attack upon 'Promised Land Paintball Park' - I'm sure they do offer a fun day out, if I were in the Mid West of the US I'd pop by, however think these types of questions need to be asked - anyone got any thoughts???
UPDATE - the original comments to this post got lost in the move to my new domain - if you're interested you can access them here
2 January, 2003 5:22 PM
Whats all the talk on the web of late on the topic of Benny Hinn about? I've picked up there was a TV special on him in the US >> don't think we got it here, but would love to hear what it was about? I always wanted a suit like Benny - I reckon one made out of Denim would be more my style though!!
2 January, 2003 4:59 PM
Mark and I tweaked Stinky again - added the blog teams photos.
Also added a few to this site for our viewing pleasure! The only frustration of the process is that blogger can be so slow sometimes when you're changing your settings - makes it a tad hard to adjust things - oh well, one shouldn't complain about a service when one doesn't pay for a service.
2 January, 2003 1:21 PM
Thomas comments on the age old numbers game that so many churches play!
2 January, 2003 8:49 AM
Ok - so the lack of good coffee has obviously impacted me more than I had thought - just reread yesterdays post and I wonder what planet I was on! Sorry, sometimes I get a little ...well ....crazy is a word that comes to mind! Hyperactive is another! It must have been the New Years Festivities - not that we did anything too wild. New Years Eve we spent the evening celebrating at our friends house - it was a bbq with 50 or so people. Twas good.
Yesterday we saw Twin Towers with my brother and his wife and then went to another friends for dinner. Was a great 24 hours of friends, food, films and family.
1 January, 2003 5:45 PM
Yes its true - V, my wife just spat on me....not on purpose of course, well I hope not. It just happened, in conversation - something that I guess has happened to all of us.
Most times people spit on me (and it doesn't happen all that much) its such an awkward moment. They are talking, often getting to a passionate point in what they are saying when they say a word like "peanuts' (not that I know why they'd be passionate about peanuts - but its usually a 'P' word for some reason) and then it happens. They've been talking to much, too passionately to have even time to swallow the saliva that is building up in their mouth - it all becomes too much for their chattering lips to contain - and out it comes.
Life goes into slow motion as the droplet of frothy spital arches through the air towards you. You both see it, how could you not. They continue to talk (passionately) but the sound of their voices becomes a nonsensical warble as you watch the spit slowly fall towards you.
What to do?? You are paralysed by the complexity of the situation - to move away would be to admit that your acquaintance has done such a horrendously socially unacceptable thing - but to allow it to hit you, too horrible a fate to imagine. You are helpless to do anything as the spital enters its final approach to your face - your eyes wide open, your muscles bracing for the impact.
After what seems like an eternity it lands..... upon the middle your lower lip. You feel the coolness of this strangers bodily fluid splatter upon a place it does not belong.
You feel like you haven't breathed for minutes as the droplet ever so slowly moves towards your chin. Again you are faced with the choice to humiliate your acquaintance by following every urge within you by brushing your hand casually across your lip or to humiliate yourself by allowing it to remain.
You are plagued with doubt and questions. Did they see it? Are they embarrassed? Isn't this how the Ebola virus is spread? Should I pretend to cough? Am I about to vomit? Can I hold the scream growing within me in much longer?
What a nightmare ....Isn't it wonderful to know that you've reached that point in your relationship with someone where they can spit on your without it having to be such an embarrassing social dilemma!