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Church: R & D funding needed

30 April, 2003 1:18 PM

Karen's Post really moved me today as she reflected on the current state of the Church and the lack of committment of many mainline denominations to R & D. In part she writes:

we have basically lost any significant influence over my generation (x) and are well on our way to losing any significant influence over the younger generation (y), but nobody seems concerned enough to allocate a workable amount of 'r and d' (research and development) funds toward 'missional lab' churches that are at least attempting to bridge this huge gap. and so, the gap just widens and widens ... and after the boomers are gone, the gap will become a full fledged 'temporal rift'.if the church were a business, we would have gone under years ago, as corporations have significant budgets for 'r and d' to stay on game and incubate new ideas (as innovation and movement come from the edges and move slowly into the center (and not the other way round)).

Maybe there is someone out there who wants to invest in some R & D - I'm sure Karen would love to chat to you!

Bubble Popping adiction?

30 April, 2003 1:10 PM

Do you like to pop the bubbles on bubble wrap? Virtual Bubblewrap and Perpetual Bubblewrap will fulfill all your desires!

Thanks to Lady Dusk for the links.

The Testosteroneless Church

30 April, 2003 12:11 PM

Last night at Living Room our normal wonderful crew were all in attendance. I'm really enjoying getting to know each other more. I revealed an embarrassing secret or two, we tackled the topic of 'community' (more on that later) and we prayed for Rob who is embarking on a 4 week trip for his work.

Rob's departure leaves me as the sole male in our little church!

Whilst many 'one liners' come to mind... and it will be a fun month... its a strangely familiar feeling.

For the past three years I've become more and more aware that the male representation in churches in Australia seems to be on the decline. The stats seem to back it up with only 39% of church attendees being male in 2001. Is this just an Aussie thing???

This can partly be explained by women living longer than men, but the stats show that there are more females than males in every age group. I don't have the statistics at hand, but I've heard that the gap between male and female church attendees is growing and that within the next couple of decades some experts are predicting women will outnumber men 90% to 10%!

This article suggests some theories on why there is such a difference. They suggest:

- Differences in the ways boys and girls are socialised affect their church involvement.

- Australian men are more likely to reject authority structures such as the church.

- Men are more emotionally inhibited than women. Consequently, this theory would suggest that men are daunted by structures in church life which promote intimacy (eg small groups).

- Women are more likely to seek to instil moral values in their children as part of their role as child-rearers. Women not only look to the church to provide religious education for their children but also attend church in order to be good role models.

- Women get social status in church that is denied elsewhere.

- Men are more likely to be in full-time work and to get their self-esteem from work. Work provides an alternative sense of purpose, community, identity and interests. It has been shown that in Australia women engaged in full-time work have the same low church attendance levels as men in full-time work.

Personally I think its a pretty important question to be getting to the bottom of as it has some substantial consequences for both Christian men and women in the future. It will impact church leadership, mission, worship, sexuality and marriage choices just to name a few things.

I've got my own theories....but before sharing them am wondering what others think???

Muslim Fear

30 April, 2003 10:32 AM

Interesting post at Signposts here today after Phil chats with a Muslim friend about the feeling around his Mosque in regard to the invasion of Iraq.

Experiential Worship

30 April, 2003 10:24 AM

New Article at Phuture by Bill Carroll entitled What Experiential Worship Looks Like (Part 2)


Diddle Question

29 April, 2003 3:30 PM

My friend 'Diddle' left this question in the last posts comments - thought I'd post it for all to see (with his permission) as I think its a good one. Lets have a discussion!!!

"The church I go to is reasonably modern and fits the traditional model of church - we have 3 services on Sundays, sing predominately choruses, have a sermon each week, the occasional drama, have a mid-week bible study, and lots of young people, etc.

We hear a lot about emerging, experimental churches - held in cafe's, some in pubs, some don't have any singing, some are small groups based, some don't call themselves 'church', etc etc.

The new style of emerging church is one to which I'd feel a lot more comfortable inviting a friend.

What I'm interested in, is whether there's a 'gap' which exists between the traditional model of church, and what these emerging churches provide.

Are some people attending 'emerging' churches missing out on solid bible teaching in order to provide a non-threatening environment for non-Christians?

Has anyone attended one of these churches noticed a difference in their relationship with God over time? Positive or negative?

Please look over any generalisations here - I realise there are probably models out there which are very close to how Jesus intended church to be run.

Hobart Emerging Church

28 April, 2003 8:35 PM

While we were in Hobart (Tasmania) we caught up with a couple of local church planters — Darryn and Corrie who are part of the team at 'Third Place Communities' . They are thinking along really similar lines to what we're doing with Living Room — except that they are about 2 years down the track from where we're at and have established a sizable core of people.

They showed us through the premises that they rent in Hobart's CBD which they use for their gatherings and as a base to connect with their community. Its an old restaurant that they've painted up and furnished with an assortment of funky 70's couches, stools and cushions. Its got a bit of a nightclub feel — but its not quite as dark and dingy as that. They are in the process of getting a liquor licence and hope to be able to use the venue for an array of purposes ranging from Art Exhibitions, to Jazz nights, to kids programs, to lectures of philosophy etc.

I was really impressed with their set up and vision. Rather than growing one really large community they are hoping to start numerous smaller ones that connect with different subcultures throughout Hobart.

Easter Thursday night they had a 'midnight mass' which they had a good turnout to — the next day they had a 'Good Friday' party which over 70 attended (quite a few from the local community) and Sunday they go to their local pub (as they do every Sunday) to connect with the locals. I'm struck not only by their creativity but also by their strong outward focus and commitment to mission.

Will blog more on these guys soon.

Boxable Church

27 April, 2003 10:54 PM

Over at Stinky Convoluted Past Steve posts this

" i love the scientific mind. "is it a house church?" ask those who are aware that i am experimenting again. "well, i guess so, we meet in our homes occassionally and have dinner, conversations and pray together, but we also meet in the local pub too". "oh, so you're a pub church then?" again, curiosity. "well, as you have already pointed out we meet in our homes as well, but in addition to our houses and some local pubs, a few of us meet in a couple of cafe's around the area too.' "so you're a cafe church then?" "well, like i already said, you could say that but we meet in a variety of places".

here's my confusion, why when a church meets in a purpose built building it is simply referred to as a church, yet when we meet anywhere else, it is referred to as a "place of meeting" church? i might start asking traditional church goers, "so are you guys a church building church?"

I think I've had virtually the same conversation as Steve at least 30-40 times in the past couple of months....glad I'm not alone.

Amelie

27 April, 2003 10:31 PM

We didn't end up going to the movies - instead we got a Amelie out on DVD. What an amazing movie - I remember watching it the first time and realising that I was not only seeing a fun tale depicted with incredibly rich visuals and innovative use of technology - but also I was seeing something 'new'. I still can't put my finger on it completely but it struck me as being a new form of communication. Whilst I've never fully grasped the idea of post modernity.... has anyone?? can anyone...or would that be 'Unpost modern in and of itself... (I've had similar thoughts to Rachel here) I did come out of the cinema feeling as though I'd seen something 'pomo'.

Anyway - I really enjoyed te movie again - a great birthday flick.

A Muslims reflections on Easter

27 April, 2003 12:13 PM

This is a really interesting reflection on Easter from Karen who converted to Islam 9 years ago from Christianity.

thanks to Islam4Real for the link

Youth Ministry

27 April, 2003 11:52 AM

Jordon posted on the 'failure of youth ministry'...It got me thinking, I left this comment.

I've been thinking about this for a while now. As an ex youth pastor I actually found it pretty easy to have a vibrant youth ministry. The hard bit was keeping them involved in the church when they turned 18.

I think the church does reasonably well at engaging relevantly with young people, well here in Australia they do. We research culture, we understand their generation, we are creative and innovative, we are missional, we meet them where they are at, we tackle relevant issues that they are facing....but then when they become 'adults' we tell them its time to go to 'big people's church' which more often than not is boring, culturally irrelevant in its 'method', very uncreative and not understanding of their culture. Its no wonder than 18-30 year olds are haemorrhaging from the church in unparalleled numbers!

31 Today

27 April, 2003 11:26 AM

Well we're back in Melbourne just in time to celebrate my 31st birthday today. Its days like these I often do some pondering on how life is going. I'm really grateful for the many things that are going on in my life at the moment. This past year has been a very rich one with many amazing experiences. V and I were reflecting while we were away that we are in a very fortunate postion and should not take that for granted.

My day so far has been pretty low key - its raining so we're trapped inside - V made me french toast for breakfast - I've read the paper....relaxing really. We're having lunch with Jac and Luke and will probably catch a movie this afternoon.

How does one celebrate a birthday in the blogisphere??? Any ideas anyone? Perhaps we could have a party in comments...

I'm looking forward to seeing what the age of 31 has in store!

Advertoilet

26 April, 2003 10:16 PM

Just Toilet Paper Maybe the marketing department of the church I just blogged about could try THIS new form of advertising!!!!

Thanks to Presurfer for the link.

Christian Junk Main

25 April, 2003 5:47 PM

Back to Melbourne Tomorrow on the boat - tonight we are staying with my brothers inlaws in Shefield - they've been most generous with us on our trip!

On Good Friday we were walking through a quaint little village in the middle of nowhere and my phone beeped at me notifying me of the arrival of a text message. I checked the message and was quite astounded to see that I'd received my first ever 'Christian' Junk mail via text message!!! It was a message 'reminding' me of an upcoming Christian conference that is happening in Sydney later in the year. I'm not really sure how I feel about it - the marketing department of the church behind this conference is obviously in overdrive. In the past six months I've had four letters (complete with glossy brochures), three emails and one text message 'reminding' me that I haven't registered yet. Despite their best intentions - every time I hear from them I grow less and less likely to ever head up the highway! Its 'campaigns' like this one that distress me more and more about the way churches commercialise following Christ - the money that has been poured into promoting this conference must be a staggering amount!!

Middle Australia and Mission

24 April, 2003 9:30 AM

Middle Australia is turning inward and the Church is going along for the ride. As part of my other life I organise mission awareness teams to Asia and Africa. Let me be really frank. Yesterday I had 3 more teams cancel due to a mix of terrorism fears/the war legacy and the SARS outbreak. Parents freaking out even over a team to Northern Thailand! Hello. There is a spirit of disengagement from the Muslim world. Few are willing to consider teams to even moderate Muslim countries because it is simply too much of a drama to argue the case with parents. This is a trend among long-term applications as well. Until SARS people were suddenly being 'led' to destinations like China, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. Now God is not in that either. WWJD?

Tim Costello conceded yesterday he was worried about his brother Peter heading to Gallipoli for ANZAC day, but said Australians could not let fear rule their lives. "You've got to travel, you've got to take some risks and not live your life shut up behind closed doors because of threats," he said. How much more believers in responding to Christ's call to the world? What happens to the shape of faith if the fears of middle Australia drives the future of world mission?

Greetings from the Apple Isle

23 April, 2003 10:23 AM

Hi all - Darren here blogging from St Helens in Tasmania!

V and I have been having a most relaxing time down here. The weather has been stunning (sun sun sun!), we've covered a fair bit of territory and are really feeling alot more relaxed. The scenery is fantastic, the food is amazing and I feel like life is slowly returning to a 'normal' pace again!

We've spent time with some amazing people from 'Third Place Communities' in Hobart who are doing some great emerging church/mission work (I'll blog about it when I get home). I'm really enjoying my time here - but am also feeling more and more ready to get home and get into things with the Living Room again.

Thanks Rob for your Easter commentaries - great stuff!

Not sure I'll be able to get online again until the weekend when we return - am unable to access email if anyone has tried to get onto me - this 'internet cafe' is pretty basic stuff!

Hope your easter has been a good one!

Easter - Part Three

22 April, 2003 4:09 PM

It is Easter Sunday. A day of celebration yet we decided not to begin with Church but with creation and the great outdoors. St Kilda is bayside Melbourne. A beautiful clear day and the attraction beckons. Around the bay people are running and walking. Picnicking. Enjoying the company of family and friends. Laughter and relaxation. Good food along a packed Acland St. Spirited fun at Luna Park. The bay and the esplanade is splendid. For me images of the Kingdom abound. Testimony to the fact that God remains active in this world is self-evident. The vibe of St Kilda today was living life. Now I know this can be distorted and self-indulgent but if anyone on this earth should live and demonstrate a life of transformed celebration then it should be followers of Jesus. After all he modelled this zeal for friends, partying and others so perfectly. And what better day to be in a celebratory mood! So we did just that.

By night we visited a young adult service at St Hillary's. I think I was the oldest there and most were 16-25 years. Good folksy unpolished worship in song and role-play message. As far as Church goes it is clearly a pretty happening place. Good to reflect on the Resurrection. In the one breath I can say that I love the church and yet find it thoroughly exasperating. But my passion for communities of believers within all cultures is driven by a dream that one day the church, by whatever name we call it would reflect more of Christ and the Kingdom Now. How do we relate to existing churches if we are involved in incarnational work? I work with a overseas mission organisation and we encourage our workers who feel the need for whatever reason to attend a non-contextualised Church in the situation of their work among an unreached group to keep a cordial relationship with that church but not to take on any leadership role. Why? So as to stay focused on the task at hand. This is a discipline that is hard to keep and even more the case in Australia as we consider incarnational ministry and yet also can hear the voice of the existing church calling us to support what is already established and in many cases struggling.

Monday morning and we find ourselves 90 minutes down the coast watching the RipCurl Pro at Bells Beach. Sensational. Another day of creation and traces of Kingdom. Another subculture and serious tunes by Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, John Butler Trio, FooFighters and The Waifs. Easter 2003 - thanksgiving and M.I.L.K (moments of intimacy, love and kinship) intermixed with the ever-present challenge of mission and more than my share of chocolate.

My Easter - Part Two

22 April, 2003 2:49 PM

On Saturday morning Nomes and Chrissy went off to do the Melbourne shopping thing. The usual spots including Bridge Rd, Smith St and Brunswick St. The shopping culture is never one I could get into. It has a place in life I know and picking up some bargain clothes is no sin as such. But I must confess to becoming more sceptical about retailing. In its modern expression I just wonder where God is in it. Which for me is a big statement as I am passionate about discovering God in the everyday.

Like many others I have been reading 'No Logo' by Naomi Klein. It is part of my desire to unpack the social activist dimension of my faith that for too long has been restricted or minimised by my own background and conservative evangelicalism or at least my version of it. This is also the other side of the incarnation pendulum. While we identify with the cultural context, there are values that we hold dear and which mark us out within that context. For example, we do not define ourselves by the material. We are willing to take a stand against global brands that utilise sweatshops through Asia to minimise wages and operating costs and yet pour enormous resources into branding and marketing strategies and so on.

On Saturday night we took Nomes to a football game. In Melbourne we call this Aussie Rules or AFL. I had picked the game intentionally out of the weekend options. It was the ultimate battler team - the Western Bulldogs against the well-resourced, marketed and and successful Essendon. Our general admission seats were upgraded for some reason to reserved seats some 4 rows back behind the goals, right amongst the Bulldog diehards. Now this was a mission awareness exercise in the making. There was a guy behind us who made Chopper Reed look angelic. He had a huge tattoo highlighting his team. Now the other supporters were as earthy as you can get and the tirade of abuse directed against the opposition players was certainly nothing for the faint-hearted. Yet there was a real sense of togetherness and tribalism among them. They had a language, dress-code and cultural mores of their own.

How would you do mission? Extractionist mission paradigms might distribute "Jesus the Battler" tracks and invite the tribe to a Sunday night seeker service featuring former footballers who had converted to Christianity. They would be invited to receive Christ and become part of the Church. Would it work? Would a Jesus movement that both reflects and transforms this subculture take hold? Would they stay?

Incarnational mission would take the risk of becoming. Form a team. Join the tribe. Learn the culture. Adopt all that one can within the ethical restraints of the gospel. Love the focus group unconditionally. Find a person of peace. Share contextually. Mentor that new believer in remaining within the cultural group and explore shapes for 'communion, community and commission' that are from within the culture and yet consistent with the biblical witness. In other words, start the process of movement-making! Would it work? Would a Jesus movement that both reflects and transforms this subculture take hold? Would they stay?

My Easter - Part One

22 April, 2003 12:20 PM

I'm sorry that my blogging has slowed over Easter but we had an interstate visitor and man did we have 4 days of Christ and Culture.

On Thursday night from the airport we took Naomi (Nomes), a dear friend of ours to that classic icon of Melbourne eating — the Vegie Bar on Brunswick St. (Nomes is in her early 20's and after sharing some short-term mission trips together and a mission thinktank called 'unearthed' we just love dreaming and doing mission and it rocks to have her down). Anyway - back to the Vegie Bar. I love the deconstructed feel of this place for it stands in the face of so much sterile modernity constructions. Revealed beams, scarred walls, rough textured concrete flooring, edgy art and trance music. It has a real vibe. The imagery and the multiple messages somehow manages to direct conversation to things meaningful. Yet I hear of church after church that is selling or demolishing their old stain-glassed buildings and going for sterile modernity constructions that feel more like a boring office space than a place of spiritual inquiry and solace. Imagine the kind of space one could create. Perhaps not multi-purpose as per the Saddleback/Willow Creek church growth model of church but so much more multi-experiential. It this just me or are others feeling the same? If anything we should be selling our large multi-purpose buildings that are not naturally part of the community and buying up stacks and stacks of small creative spaces that are. Just a thought.

On Friday morning we made our way up to the local park for a �Ecumenical Stations of the Cross�. Good concept. Using a public space to facilitate reflection on the death of Christ but 10am on a public holiday saw few using this park. So it was Church just moved to a new location. We were talking about this at �Living Room� last week and wondering how could you do something like this in a way that connected in with the natural rhythms and gathering places of our communities in this area in the days leading up to Easter. An art inspired spiritual journey along Brunswick Street or in North Fitzroy or on High St?

In the afternoon we got on our bikes and took the Yarra trail into the city. There is a real bike-riding ethos in Melbourne. Some people in the inner north are quite vocal about this and see a bike ride as a stance against our the environmental vandalism caused by our dependence on cars. I love this for I see it as an expression of a longing for Shalom and a restored world. Kingdom stuff that believers should be at the forefront of. But for many of us and me included a bike ride has been or is often just exercise or a way to improve our body image. But how about it as expression of my worldview and my values. Sure makes a bike ride all the more meaningful and challenges our sacred/secular divide.

In at Federation Square was the MILK art display. MILK is an acrostic for �Moments of Intimacy, Love and Kinship�. It was a beautiful day and there were hundreds of people just taking it all in. No sermon. No music. But a picture tells a thousand words and you could not but come away inspired to be more accepting, loving and appreciative of others. On Easter Friday God was there. The reason for the Cross brilliantly illustrated.

We decided it was time to put some of this into action. So I loaded a foam mattress into the back of our car with doonas and pillows and we headed off to the drive-in. We (my wife Chrissy, Nomes, Yolly and I) all crawled into the back of our 5-door hatch and with the rear door lifted up we got mega cosy watching �The Wild Thornberry's�. It was a moment of intimacy, love and kinship. My daughter is still raving.

But this is only Friday and Sunday is still coming.

Beyond Extraction

17 April, 2003 3:28 PM

Did you know that in Kazakstan be known as a �Muslim� identifies one with the Kazak community but to be �Christian� identifies one with the Russian community. The questions, �Who are you?� or �What is your religion?� relate to the issue of which community do you belong.

Many of us have a familiarity and a comfort with the concept of Jews who follow Jesus. The early believers retained their identity as Jews and continued to worship in the temple courts (Acts 2:46). They were part and parcel of the Jewish community but had encountered Jesus. There was never any issue of them retaining their Jewishness from Paul or others. If asked �what was their religion?� they would have in all probability have answered �We are Jews!�

Yet there remains a complete misunderstanding of this position by so many modern-day believers. To cease to call oneself Muslim in many contexts would be to say to others I have abandoned this community. This is not our desired outcome. Our desire is that people from within the community of Muslims are ardent followers of Jesus and relate effectively to their community. Well that is mine anyway.

One issue that emerges here is how broadly can this principle apply?
Living Room is focused on the inner north of Melbourne. The area abounds with people who would identify themselves with a community of social and environment action, a community of alternative spirituality or a community of diversity in culture and music. To identify themselves with a Christian community that has a global reputation, rightly or wrongly, as often belittling these things is a major social barrier.

Is our mandate to have these people switch their community of identification? Did Jesus want Jews to cease being Jews? Did Paul want Gentiles to change their community identification to Jewish? No way! Paul in fact was very clear in his instruction to new believers to remain part of the community of which they were part of. (1 Corinthians 7:17-24)

In mission contexts I have a belief that the term �Christian� is often unhelpful to the cause of mission and even unbiblical. I cannot see any compulsion upon us biblically to label ourselves as Christians nor to compel new believers to do the same. Why would we allow them to loose connection with their natural communities and so minimise the potential for transforming Christ movements within them? That is not my calling.

Mission and Easter

17 April, 2003 1:57 PM

Hiya all. As Darren flagged yesterday I am going to fill in while he and "V" cruise around tassie. He is brave handing this over to me. I hope I am able to create some lively conversation.

As part of some study I am doing, I was reading an article by Harriet Hill who critiques the missionary idealist in her article �Incarnational ministry: a critical examination�. The thrust of her paper is that the demands of incarnation are not realistic and often not appreciated by the recipient culture.

Our Living Room �Easter� reflection on Tues night (see Darren's entries below) on the humanity of Jesus got me thinking anew about this and left me convinced her thesis is a depressing justification for compromise when measured against the Easter story.

In the night before his death in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus is grappling with how realistic is it for him to fully identify with us. Will I take this on and so separate ultimately from my past, my eternal presence with the Father?

No bugger em' it is just too much....

What if appreciation was his measure of decision? He would have packed it up right then and there. The kind of values Jesus employed in identification were not up for grabs. They were part of his very core and way of relating to us.

If there is no acclaim I am out of here...

Easter gets me pondering Mission. How far am I willing to go in terms of incarnation. Are my principles up for grabs because of the seductive messages of my culture urging me to sell my soul to the material, to self and to lifestyle? Am I after acclaim or am I a follower of Jesus?

Holidays - blog sitter

16 April, 2003 10:54 AM


I'm very excited today because tomorrow morning 'V' and I will be getting on a boat and heading to beautiful Tasmania for 10 days of rest, relaxation, reconnection and rejuvenation!

So I won't be blogging much (I might once or twice if I find a place to connect) but HAVE NO FEAR!!!! The blogging will continue.

Living Room's very own ROB will be 'blog sitting' for the next week or so. Rob and his family are core and founding members of the Living Room (in fact they almost make up 50% of our community at this stage!). He is a great guy - a stimulating thinker - he's someone who has the ability to ask those aggravating yet challenging questions. I'll let him introduce himself when he posts first time. I hope you'll enjoy hearing from him! Feel free to give him some encouragement in the comments and to stir him up a bit too to get him going!!! If we're lucky and he enjoys this experience we might even be able to convince him to get into blogging on a permanent basis!

As I said - I'll probably pop my head in while away to make sure there are no unruly parties going on in the Living Room while I'm gone! Have fun all!

Easter Reflections II

16 April, 2003 9:59 AM

Last night we did our Easter reflections (as outlined here. I think the others found it good - I personally was challenged by it. The 7 sayings of Jesus really have struck me in the past 48 hours.

To me they speak of both the Divinity and the Humanity of Christ.

'Father Forgive them for they know not what they do.' What an amazing statement! Its one I'm not sure I can actually relate to being able to say! I get so peeved when someone does something small against me - but to say it about your torturer, your killer....

'I am thirsty.' Now that is a statement I know about and can relate to. Its a very 'human' thing to say - I can almost feel my mouth drying up as I think about it.

'My God my God - why have your Forsaken me?' That hits me hard every time - there are so many implications of that statement...to me it speaks of both his humanity and divinity all in one. It speaks to me of the brokenness and fracturing of the God-Head. I cannot fully comprehend it.

I really enjoyed the discussion last night after we took in the images and statements and took the bread and the wine. It was great to see how it had affected us each differently.

Watch out what you say...

15 April, 2003 5:21 PM

A word of warning to those of you who have MSN conversations with other certain bloggers... your words may end up of their page!!! I might have to stick a Creative Commons licence on my MSN outgoing messages! :-)

Nice one Rachel

Easter Tuesday

15 April, 2003 11:49 AM

Tonight Living Room meets for its first ever Easter gathering. It feels a little strange doing it on a Tuesday but thats the way its worked out for us. We will all be away over the coming weekend so we decided to do it tonight.

While I was at camp this past weekend I did a bit of work on a powerpoint reflection focusing upon the last sayings of Jesus upon the cross. Imagine my surprise to log onto Rachel's blog last night to find she's linked to a similar, but much more technologically advanced series of macromedia presentations at ReJesus. They are releasing one saying of Jesus every day for holy week. Its worth a look! (as you watch you'll get a feel for what i've prepared for tonight, except mine is just a series of crucifiction images/text and probably a radiohead or massive attack track behind it...no cool English accent either)

Above image found at Chalk Painting

The Boy is Back in Town

14 April, 2003 3:00 PM

Well I've just returned back home after a really worthwhile time down at Marysville (an hour and a halfs drive East of here) where I was speaking at a camp for 70 or so young Asian Aussies. It was a really worthwhile time I think. I love to see young people drawing near to God and expressing their faith - I saw heaps of it this weekend.

I also found it really interesting being one of only two guys on camp who were not of an Asian back ground - I think experiences like that are really challenging and teach us alot. Despite some subtle differences though I felt really warmly welcomed and included.

I'm pretty wrecked though - its on camps like these that I realise that I'm not as young as I used to be - I have muscles hurting in places I never knew I had them - my eyes feel like lead and I've got the concentration span of a...

On the up side - I'm pleased to report Melbourne has had a lot of rain over the weekend which is going along way to helping bring an end to our drought situation. I need sleep....

The People of the Boxes

12 April, 2003 10:38 AM

I'm off to Camp. I don't think I'll be posting til Monday night. Have a good weekend all!

I'll leave you with the beginning of this beautiful little piece that veiled4allah posted:

The People of the Boxes

By Dawud Wharnsby Ali:

There were once some people who all saw their lives like empty boxes
They looked around the world collecting up the things they liked
They filled their lives in boxes with the goodies that they gathered
And they all felt in control, content and they all felt all right
They climbed inside their boxes, they settled with their trinkets
They neither looked nor learnt much more and closed their lids up tight
Once they fastened up their boxes they smiled there inside
And they all thought in their darkness that the world was clear and bright...

The rest is here

US Evangelical Views on Islam - Survey Results

11 April, 2003 8:35 PM

Kingdom Space just posted a link to theseSurvey Results examing the view of Evangelical Christians views to Islam. The survey questioned "Evangelical organizations, ranging from churches and missionary associations to relief agencies and political groups" in 2002.

A few results of note

Overall view of Islam - Favorable 13%, Neutral 10%, Unfavorable 77%.

Islam is a religion of violence? - Agree 70%, Neutral 9%, Disagree 20%

Muslims/Christian pray to same God - Agree 17%, Neutral 4%, Disagree 79%

U.S. policies are partly responsible for the attacks of September 11 - Agree 33%, Neutral 10%, Disagree 57%

U.S. should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own - Agree 4%, Neutral 6%, Disagree 91%

There's heaps more here

Mc What!

11 April, 2003 5:53 PM

Thought this was was an interesting photoshop commentary!


I guess it speaks for itself.


link via Burnt Toast


Camp

11 April, 2003 5:51 PM

Tomorrow I'm off to speak at a camp and will be away from the blog for a few days. Today has been a day of polishing up some of the studies that we'll be doing. I've been given the theme of 'Get Real' which gives a fair bit of scope.

The first study will be looking at 'Masks' - getting real with ourselves and each other.

The second study is about getting real with God - I'm using my Mudcake story to talk about being like a child.

The third study is about getting real with our World - focusing on some of the 'faith without works is no faith at all' ideas in James.

I've gots lots of hands on stuff for them to do - should be fun times!

Hope my blog taster will keep you entertained while I'm away!!!

Another Iraqi Image

11 April, 2003 12:03 PM

John Campea reminds us of another image of Iraqi people at present. This is chilling - please be warned its a confronting picture that took my breath away.

Emerging Blog

11 April, 2003 9:15 AM

Just got an email from Greg, an emerging minister. Check out his blog....very....'emerging'...

Blog Taster

10 April, 2003 6:13 PM

Rachel is a complete star. She just added some very nice code to my blog to enable you my readers to get a taste of what four of my four favorite bloggers are saying right here on my blog. (its over there on the right under the 'search' option and above the other links) At this stage its just four blogs featured and its limited to those bloggers using Moveable Type.

The purpose is to get us all talking and interacting more - I hope it draws you over to these blogs - I'll add more as I can and perhaps rotate featured blogs as I find more MT based ones!

If you'd like to add this feature to your MT blog let us know and we'll get you the code! Thanks Rachel!!

UPDATE Also to acknowledge that the original code (before Rachel adapted it) came from Trommetter

My 'Commentary'

10 April, 2003 9:12 AM

What do you do when you check your email in the morning only to find another blogger who's taken a different stance to you on an important world issue has sent you an email which seems to be baiting you respond...

He writes: I'm looking forward to your commentary on Iraqis celebrating the fall of Saddam Hussein and his evil regime.

I'm not sure how I'm expected to react to that? I felt like I'd recieved an email from a child gloating after winning a game of snakes and ladders....

Last night well after midnight watched the statue of Saddam topple and I had mixed emotions. I have to run to present a paper I've just written but let me share some of them very briefly with you.

- I was really excited that someone who had done so much harm was gone from power. I felt satisfaction as I saw that statue hit the ground.

- I worried that perhaps this wasn't the end of Saddam and that the celebrations were perhaps a bit premature.

- I felt great happiness to see the joy of those celebrating on the streets of Baghdad.

- I felt amazed at the power and speed of the progress of the 'allies' campaign

- I felt distressed about the 1000 or so Iraqi citizens that have been killed so far in the fighting that brought the regime to topple.

- I felt distressed about the deaths of the soldiers on both sides of this conflict.

- I felt angry that humanity seems to breed characters like Hussein who are often unjust in the way they rule and cause real suffering to so many others.

- I wondered where the Weapons of Mass Destruction that this conflict seemed to be about are? I worried that if they exist they still might be used.

- I felt disillusioned with the worlds leadership that they could not find a peaceful solution to dealing with this complicated situation.

- I felt concerned that the dispute has left our world with major splits - not only between some middle eastern countries and the 'coalition' but also Europe after the France v US fiasco.

- I felt worried about the splits within my country, about how we will resolve our feelings about this war. I worry about the impact of seeing war 24 hours a day on our children.

- I felt desperately worried that whilst many Iraqis celebrated - that this conflict may have actually caused many others to react even more strongly against the West. Has this war inflamed the situation and been a recruiting poster for terrorist action against the US and its allies?

- I felt angry at the waste of money that has been poured into this conflict. Hundreds of billions of dollars blown up in just a few weeks.

- I felt concerned for the Iraqi people who still await aid and relief. For those who have not had fresh water in weeks, for those who are beginning to suffer treatable diseases as they wait.

- I worried about the damage that this conflict has done to relationships between people of different faith communities here in Australia. I felt sad about the reports I've had from Muslim friends who have been verbally abused on the streets of Melbourne from being Saddam's cohorts.

- I worried about 'where to from here?' Who will lead this country? What will their agenda be? How will the different racial groups that live in Iraq move forward? Will this 'peace' last?

- I worried that whilst now there are celebrations in the streets of Iraq that in the months ahead we could see the conflict continue in a messy and ongoing way. Could this be the beginning of something like a civil war in Iraq?

- I prayed, I smiled, I shed a tear and I went to bed and lay next to my wife and wondered about where humanity was headed.

A bible study with George Bush, Mother Theresa, a refugee and Bill Gates.

9 April, 2003 10:46 PM

Graham at Organic Church has been talking about Fuzzy Thinking lately.

It got me thinking about a fun bible study that I've run a few times now. The idea originally came from Mark at Phuture - we called it a 'fuzzy logic bible study'. Its an exercise which can be used with virtually any passage of Scripture. All you need is a few recent magazines, newspapers and a group willing to think outside the box.

Before the group meets - go through the magazines and newspapers and cut out a variety of pictures of people's faces. Try to get a wide variety - get a few famous faces, perhaps a politician, a movie star, a sporting hero, a humanitarian. Also include some 'nameless' faces of different ages, racial back grounds and religions. Put these pictures in a hat (or a bucket, bag etc).

When the group comes together let each person choose a picture at random from the hat. The picture they've chosen is the person that they will 'become' for the bible study. They must put themselves in the shoes of this person and attempt to speak their words as they discuss the passage. If the picture is a 'nameless face' let them come up with a bio for the person.

Pick a passage that would generate a lively discussion from a variety of people. For instance the beatitudes would be a passage that might be interesting for a group such as Bill Gates, Mother Theresa, a Middle eastern refugee, Tom Cruise, a single mother and George W Bush. After the discussion while still in character, debrief the group on how it felt to look at Scripture through another persons eyes.

It's an exercise that takes a certain type of group to make it successful — but each time I've done it we've ended up having some very surprising and rich conversations. For me it was personally challenging to attempt to put aside my own cultural background and take a second look at some familiar passages.

If you try it — let me know how it goes.

Inter Faith Dialogue

9 April, 2003 7:59 PM

Today I had a number of very encouraging emails from Muslim bloggers who linked into Living Room through links to my previous posts on Jihad. There were a couple of comments left also on the last site which were really great. Thanks to my new friends for your words and for dropping by. You're always welcome here - your presence is valued by me and I look forward to learning more about you and your beliefs.

On a related topic - I'm wondering if anyone knows of any blogs dedicated to interfaith dialogue conversations? Not blogs that try to convert people of other faiths, but rather blogs dedicated to understanding, communicating and building relationships. If there is no such blog would anyone be interested in participating in one? Just an idea.

Lastly - I finished my tutorial paper on Jihad this afternoon. I'm not sure if I will post it here yet - I have to present it to class tomorrow so I'll see how it goes over there first. If anyone really wants a preview shoot me an email.

Jihad

8 April, 2003 4:13 PM

There were some enlightening comments posted under my Jihad post. I've found it a real challenge to think this one through but am glad I'm spending the time on it as its such an important topic for discussion at the moment.If you have any more to add before I write up this paper tomorrow they'd be greatly appreciated.

Blogger Etiquette

8 April, 2003 2:47 PM

Every blogger should read Signpost's Blogger Etiquette - here, here and here.

Muslim Blogisphere

7 April, 2003 1:49 PM

I just spent a most interesting morning surfing a new (for me) part of the blogisphere that I'd never experienced before, blogs written by Muslims.

What a fascinating time I've just had! I feel like I've learnt so much.

There is probably a lot I could write about in response to what I read but the following are some of the observations that I made as I surfed. I've written them as comparisons to the Christian blogs that I read daily.

(please note that I am an outsider to the Muslim community and therefore do not presume to fully understand or comprehend everything I've read - I also surfed well over 100 blogs so what I am not writing is a gross generalisation....I hope I do not offend anyone in my observations.)

1. The first thing I immediately noted as I surfed was that many of these blogs use the same templates that you would find surfing any collection of Christian blogs! Blogger crosses all boundaries in its reach!

2. The topics of general postings were remarkably similar to that in the Christian blogs that I surf. Postings ranged in topic from Iraq, SARS, international politics right through to issues of faith and Scripture and through to personal observations of life and story telling of those quirky happenings that happen to all of us. This was reflected in the variety of types of blogs that I saw. As in the 'Christian blogisphere' there are blogs representing all streams of Christian thought, denominations, theologies and ways of life.

3. Related to this was a huge array of opinions and stances on the 'issues' of today. In particularly I observed a large range of opinion on the Iraq conflict. Just as many Christians take opposing views so do the Muslim bloggers I visited. Another similarity is the obvious pain that the current conflict is causing bloggers on both ends of the political spectrum - posts on the topic obviously come out of deep emotions and feelings.

4. I was impressed by the depth and genuine grappling I observed in many of the blogs on issues of faith. Some of what I read corresponded with some of the issues I've been reading on my blogroll. Many of the blogs were grappling with the question 'what does it mean to be a Muslim in the time and place where we live?' As a result there was conversation about how to be more relevant with expressing faith today in this fragmented world we live in. Again - this corresponding conversation is happening in many of the 'emerging church' blogs I'm interacting with.

5. Lastly I was very disappointed to observe on a number of blogs comments from readers that were inflammatory, racist and aimed at provoking some of the bloggers as they grappled with tough issues. My visit was fleeting so I cannot really comment on who was at fault - however in most situations the Muslim bloggers responded to these hurtful comments with real grace and the majority of the 'heat' seemed to come from those leaving the comments - often quoting the bible to make their points.

On the whole I feel my morning of surfing has been really worthwhile. I'm learning alot. I hope my observations have not come across as condescending in any way - they are basic ones, however I guess I was struck by some of the similarities in what I read. Thank you to those bloggers who have enlightened me no end today!

I am a little hesitant to point you to the blogs where I surfed — only because there is a minority in visitors to this site (perhaps even just 1) who have been quite abusive when I've talked on this topic before. However I'll give you a starting blog which has literally hundreds of Muslim bloggers for you to visit if you are interested. (I figure it doesn't take much to find such blogs if you put your mind to it, so I might as well give you one that has a wide spectrum of links) It is called Interview with Bilal - 1
Interview with Bilal - 2
Interview with Bilal - 3
A Muslim's Reflection on Easter
Last Sunday I visited the local Mosque

Just add Water

7 April, 2003 11:33 AM

Here's an interesting alternative perspective on all those Baptisms of soldiers we keep hearing about in Iraq.

It belongs to Army chaplain Josh Llano of Houston, who sees the water shortage, which has kept thousands of filthy soldiers from bathing for weeks, as an opportunity.''It's simple. They want water. I have it, as long as they agree to get baptized,'' he said.And agree they do. Every day, soldiers take the plunge for the Lord and come up clean for the first time in weeks.

Thanks to Adnan for the link.

Give the gift that just keeps on Shooting

7 April, 2003 10:39 AM

Check out Rachel's post on Easter baskets which feature military troops, weapons and tanks along with M&Ms and jelly beans!

I really wonder sometimes....

Jihad

6 April, 2003 12:07 PM

Does anyone know much about Jihad?

I have to write an paper on "What is Jihad?" this week and am interested to hear and see a variety of perspectives if any of you have thought about it or done any investigation and research on the topic.

The more I read the more I realise how many perspectives there are and also how far away from the original meaning many interpretations floating around in the media are. I'm finding it very difficult to sort through the agendas of the authors of the articles I'm reading to get to the heart of the topic.

Leave your comments and ideas here or email me if you have any constructive personal thoughts or articles that you have found.

Car Boot Excess

6 April, 2003 12:05 PM

Yesterday V and I decided to try to earn a little extra money by selling some of our excess possessions at a car boot sale. We loaded into our little Barina all the things we didn't use or like any more and then laid them all out at a little market and let people pick over them.

It was a strange feeling as we drove to the market - to realise that we had a car packed to the roof with things that we owned that we didnt really need or want. None of the things we took were things we would miss! And that was just a very small proportion of the total things we own! We ended up raising a couple of hundred dollars from it just by selling a few junky books, cds and clothes.

I felt quite confronted by the amount that we've bought into the 'accumulation mentality' of our world! I always thought we lived fairly simply - but really...when it comes to the crunch - I don't know that we really know what simple living is all about at all! The thing that hit me as I loaded all the things we didn't sell back into the car was that our 'junk' or 'surplus' was probably a whole lot more than many people in this world have in totaly to their name.

Blogisphere

6 April, 2003 11:56 AM

Signposts have found a new home. Help them out by changing your links.

Added Rick to my quality links page.

Brand New Mission/Emerging Church Resource!

4 April, 2003 5:19 PM

I have great pleasure to announce that a great new resource from the people behind Phuture (who I do some work for) is now available for online shop you can purchase a variety of different types of licences — the smallest is for one copy for personal use (US$15)— then there are different ones enabling you to copy more depending on how many people want to use it which are even more economical. We rely your honesty in picking the right licence - profits from sales go straight back into mission so your money goes to a worthwhile cause. Even at $15 its good value at only $1.25 over the 12 weeks!

If you're interested there is a FREE TRY option on the site which gives you a look at the first three weeks and the topics that the course covers.

Anyway — I won't be nagging you about it too much — but rather I hope that its of some use to you. Feel free to pass the info along to anyone that you think might find it of use. If you need more info shoot me an email! If you're in Australia and want a hard copy sent to you let me know too!

The Psychology of Weblogs

3 April, 2003 4:40 PM

Well they've started writing about the Psychology of Weblogs at last. I havn't read this series of articles yet but I'm sure they'll be enlightening. Check them out here. Thanks again PreSurfer for the link.

Why Women Smile More

3 April, 2003 4:35 PM

Women smile more than men, except when they are in similar roles Women do smile more than men, but when occupying similar work and social roles, the gender differences in the rate of smiling disappear, a Yale researcher has found. Also, there are large differences in the degree to which men smile less than women depending on a person's culture, ethnicity, age, or when people think they are being observed. More here

A lesson from a Buddhist Nun

3 April, 2003 2:27 PM

Today our 'multi faith' class at college visited a Tibetan Buddhist temple where we spent 3 hours talking with a Buddhist Nun. She talked for a while about meditation and led us in some of their meditations (which I found very beautiful and creative) but also let us ask her questions on pretty much anything.

The conversation eventually came around to the topic of war - as it does so often in these times we live in - and she responded by talking about PEACE. I found her words very insightful.

At the crux of her words was the question, 'do we really understand what peace is?' She made the comment that she sees alot of people demonstrating, waving signs, shouting slogans, calling for peace - but she wonders if those calling for it actually have 'known and experienced' peace for themselves....within themselves.

The dialogue continued around this theme for a little while. When asked what our response should be to this war - she hinted that there was a place for political calls for peace on a global level - but the main challenge was for us to look at our individual situations and ask how we could bring peace there in our own circle of influence. (my words) This starts with our own individual sense of peace and confronting the areas within ourselves that are 'at war'. Once we are able to work through some of this we can begin to raise out eyes and look wider at our relationships and seek peace in them.

When we do this we are in a better place to seek peace on a global level. We shall be more effective, we will have greater credibility and more influence on a global level if we are first at peace with ourselves. If we don't know what peace is and practice it in our own lives how can we hope to bring it to our world?!

This made me think of the words of Jesus - 'love your neighbour as yourself'. If we take these words seriously we need to learn how to 'love ourselves' - otherwise we shall never be in a position to truly love those around us - and in the wider scheme of things, to love our world.

Something smells Fishy

2 April, 2003 9:49 PM

Has anyone else noticed that there are some strange goings on in the blogisphere of late? Maxspeak has had his site mirrored in a few remote locations. Signposts seemed to get hacked yesterday and Boynton has also had her template, blogroll...everything stolen.

Smells fishy....is it a conspiracy???

Update
eliacinandricci has also got salmon like smells eminating from his site. If you take the 's' out of the blogspot in his URL you'll end up on a mega Christian prophecy site.

Update
Roy worked it out - someones registered the domain 'blogpot'...no 's' in it and its siphering any such mispelling of blogspot off to the Christian Prophecy site. Main thing is to spell your domain right and it won't effect you - it still does peeve me off a little - not sure about the ethics of this as a hit getting strategy!

Hmmm....maybe we could cash in on this.....I might go out and register some domains....'bogs4god.com'....'tallskinykiwi'....'lovingroom.org.au'.....'bendictionblogson.com'....hmmm

Week 3 in the Living Room

2 April, 2003 11:00 AM

LR met for the third time last night - I'm really enjoying our Tuesday night meals together. Great food, great company and great discussion.

Our discussion last night focused in on Core Values again - we basically each shared the important aspects of what Church means for us with one another.

As with last week there were some interesting common themes that emerged and from my perspective some real potential for connection between us all.

Our homework this week is to each take the list of our collective thoughts away to spend some time praying with, discerning and looking for the central themes. Its our hope that we'll be able to refine it into something that will give us a framework to move forward as a community of faith.

As we prayed together last night I got a strong sense that as we do this exercise we need to continue to not only look at 'our' core values - but really focus in on seeking what God values. I am going to spend a bit of time this week taking another look at some of Jesus teaching on the Kingdom of God - I am continually challenged by it and strongly believe that it should inform the way we do church. Afterall Jesus didn't really talk much about church - rather the Kingdom was central to his preaching.

Entertained People

2 April, 2003 10:55 AM

Had a conversation with a friend a few days back about the media coverage of the War. He had read an article in a journal in the past week that reported that the day after the war broke out here in Australia - the amount of people that took sick days off work was over double the normal rate! The analysis of the data was that many Australians actually took time off work to stay at home in front of their televisions watching the 24 hour coverage of the bombings of Iraq.

I was staggered by these figures. The live, blow by blow, reports from reporters 'embedded' with troops on the front line and on the scene in Baghdad have added a new element to this war. As I caught a snippet of such coverage this morning and saw the multi million dollar set that the Coalition forces give their media briefings from I asked myself - "is there an element of Entertainment in what I'm watching?" As I watched the bombs hit in the darkness of Baghdad I had to remind myself that I wasn't watching a harmless fireworks display but rather I could be watching the demise of fellow human beings live on air right before my eyes.

I wonder if their could be some correlation between the way this war is being reported and the changing public opinion of the war. Since the day it officially began there has been a rise in Aussies supporting the war. The polls say our country is still split almost evenly on the issue but there has been increasing support for our PM's stance.

I wonder if perhaps for some, watching the conflict live has had some sort of a 'numbing' experience which has influeced their opinion.

Prayers for Peace

1 April, 2003 4:36 PM

Josh at Blogs 4 God today posted about the US Congress passing "a resolution urging the president to set aside a day of fasting and prayer for divine protection of US troops in Iraq and a population threatened by terrorists."

I had mixed reactions when I read it (as per usual). Great....the more prayer the better...but the focus of the prayers seems somewhat incomplete to me if this is its focus. Perhaps Josh's interpretation of the resolution is a little more narrow than the resolution itself. I would hope that such a day of prayer and fasting might also include prayers for the Iraqi people, their soldiers, leaders and the region around the country.

Phil from Signposts told me about these prayers for peace gathering that they had recently which to me is perhaps little more inclusive in its focus. Check it out.

A Question cont.

1 April, 2003 4:08 PM

Spent a great morning with Steve, Mark and Kel from Forge/Dreamland. We spent a fair bit of the time working through the question I asked here on the blog last week about the core values or aspects of 'what is church'.

It was great to really get back to basics again and talk this one through. We came up with some similar conclusions to some of the comments that were left on the previous post.

Whilst we wern't too tight with our definitions and thoughts there were a number of recurring themes that our discussion floated around including : Christ Centredness....Community and Relational focus....Outward/Mission focus....Worship/Prayer/Inner Transformation....Scripture

Still interested in others thoughts.....we're talking through this topic more tonight at Living Room.

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