30 May, 2003 4:38 PM
V and I are going away for the weekend with good friends Jac and Luke - have a good weekend friends!
V and I are going away for the weekend with good friends Jac and Luke - have a good weekend friends!
Todd responds to: 'The standard punch line in an evangelistic sermon is:'if you walked out of here right now, got hit by a truck and died, do you know for sure you would go to heaven?'
After a few mainly encouraging comments and emails in response to Part I of my interview with my new Muslim friend Bilal here is Part II (Part III will follow)
What is your understanding of worship?
I see worship as something that we do with our whole life. There are times when it is a focused thing in prayer or fasting, but I feel it is bigger than that. Worship is pleasing God with the way we live. I guess I am lucky that I have ways of constantly being reminded throughout my day that I am supposed live a life of worship to God.
How does your faith impact you in the low times of life?
I think it impacts me in lots of ways. One way is through the community that I am a part of. When my mother died was the lowest point of my life and yet it was the time I felt most loved by those around me. I knew I really belonged and that people cared. They brought food to my father, they sent cards and they prayed for us. It was an amazing time. I feel my community actually helped us to grieve rather than leaving us to do it ourselves.
The other thing that helps in these times is prayer. Because I am praying all day I have a constant source of strength in those times when life gets too much for me. Sometimes its hard to motivate myself to pray and my mind will wander, but because we do it every few hours the next time is often better.
What part do scriptures and study play in your life and faith?
At different times in my life the Qu'ran has meant more to me than others. Deep down I know that it is the words of God revealed to Mohammad and I know that it tells us how to live our lives. To be honest there have been times where I have found it to be hard to relate to but I have never doubted that it is Gods words. Sometimes I'm amazed by the amount of subjects that it covers, it really does give us a basis to live and make the decisions we need to make for life.
I have never studied the Qu'ran seriously, but I do turn to it on occasion and enjoy when the Imam speaks from it and explains its relevance. A number of times its almost as if God has been speaking directly to me through his words.
But in recent weeks senior US officials have begun to lower expectations that weapons will be found anytime soon, if at all, suggesting they may have been destroyed, buried or spirited out of the country. US forces moved so quickly into Iraq, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Wednesday, that the Iraqis "didn't have time" to use chemical weapons. "They may have had time to destroy them and I don't know the answer," he said.
My initial reaction to the pics was that there were alot more males blogging than females. It seems I'm not the only one to come to that conclusion. Bene observes most pictured bloggers are 'young, male and white'.
This has got me wondering why!? Are there more males pictured because that is a true representative of all blogs? Is it a 'God blog' thing? Or does Rachel just read more guy bloggers than girl bloggers?
So I've done a bit of a survey:
My Blog - Links I started by examining the make up of my links page. On my own page I have 120 or so blogs listed. (no wonder I'm spending so much time on line lately) Of the 120 worldwide blogs only 30 have female contributors. (25%) Interestingly the percentage of Aussie female blogs is higher at 39% of 33 links.
My Blog - Comments I then went through every comment I've had since moving to the new domain. Since that time I've had 85 different people comment, 33 (39%)are female. Interestingly,out of the ten most regular commenters on my blog, 8 (80%) are female — so while more men leave comments they tend to be less likely to be 'repeat commenters' whereas my female readers tend to be more committed to ongoing dialogue.
God Blogs I decided my sample wasn't big enough and was probably pretty skewed so i decided to head over to B4G to sample some of their 600 plus 'God blogs'. I spent an hour or so surfing and sampled 345 of their blogs. (I've got a headache now)
I found that 54% were written by males, 26% were written by females, 9% were group blogs and in 11% of cases I could not work out the gender of the author.
Just found some great new blogs (to me).
Future Margins is one: Here Fred asks why we blog? He gives four suggested reasons that he see's Christians blogging for and asks for our ideas. See my reasons for blogging there in the comments. (update Leighton posts on a similar theme.)
Wade Hodges has a great array of posts including reviews on Matrix and Bruce Almighty and comments on how English teachers can help us read the bible.
Also - after a great chat session last Friday, the next Blogger Chat session is happening Friday 6 June. The details are here.
I've just been reading Kim's article Characteristics of Missional Church again (which I think is a good one btw) and am wondering about this word 'missional'. Its a word I'd not heard used until around 2 years ago but since then have been hearing it all over the place. It seems to be a buzz word, at least here in Australia it is, something that gets attached to all kinds of activities, communities, people, programs and strategies.
I don't have a problem with the word itself, but I'm wondering if maybe we're kidding ourselves with the vast array of things we slap it on as a label? I've no doubt that there is some great mission going on around our globe at the moment, but I wonder if sometimes we 'talk' more about it than we 'do' it? Perhaps its just a Aussie problem but in the past year or so I've been asked to do the guest speaker thing at 4 or 5 evangelistic events only to arrive and find that the only people there are Christians. Yet at the end of the night everyone congratulates themselves at having had a great missional activity.
I wonder why we (I) struggle so much with Mission. The way I see it is that it should be central and a natural part of our lives - yet so often it becomes 'an activity' (if we do it at all) and often a very unnatural activity at that. Why do we get it so wrong? Is it fear? Is it that we don't actually know what it is? Is it that we are worried about not being politically correct? Is it because most of us don't even know anyone who isn't a Christian? Or is it that we are just too wrapped up in our own little lives that we don't have the time or inclination to connect with those around us?
UpdateFred asks the question
Has evangelism become more of a communal practice than an individual practice? I wonder if this might have something to do with it?
Through Presurfer I stumbled on this really interesting post on the demise of Google's page rank and the impact of blogs upon it. If you've noticed the new way Google handles your blog this might explain it.
Romanian Astronomers have pinpointed the time of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection.
The details are......drumroll please....
The scientists from Romania's� Astronomic Observatory Institute say, Jesus Christ died at 3 p.m. on the Good Friday, April 3, 33AD and rose again at 4 a.m. on April 5.
So now we know!
Luke has an interesting post about 'working for God in a secular environment'.
His post on Eurovision made me laugh too!
As part of my multi-faith dialogue subject for college I've had the amazing privilege a few weeks back to interview a great guy by the name of Bilal about his faith. Bilal is a 25 years old and lives in Melbourne. He works as a plumber and was recently married. Both Bilal and his wife are committed attendees at their local Mosque and are serious about grappling with their faith. The time that we spent together were most interesting. He went to great lengths to assure me that he 'was not an expert' in Islam and just a 'simple and uneducated man' but what I saw in his life was a rich and challenging spirituality I am incredibly grateful for the glimpse that Bilal gave me of his faith as it greatly informed my understanding of Islam.
Bilal has been really generous with his time with me and has also been gracious enough to let me post some excerpts of our interview here. This is just one question of many that we talked about. I'm happy to post more if there is interest. (Although we had a great discussion I've presented his answer as an uninterrupted monologue so as to give a flow to his thoughts.
How does your faith impact your daily life?
There are lots of way I see my faith having an impact on my life. Some of them are very practical. Actually it is the practicalness to every day activity that makes me love Islam. Sometimes when I talk to Christian friends they can't believe how much I have to DO in my religion, but I can't believe how little their faith seems to impact their every day life.
Prayer - The main actual impact is through the prayers that we do. I need to arrange my day carefully so that I'm able to pray five times. I am lucky in that I work for myself and determine my own hours, however it can get a little tricky at times. I have friends who have had problems in negotiating with their employers over this issue. On the positive side I find the regular prayer times to be really worth the effort as they force me to think of God during my day and he becomes a part of my workplace, home life and social settings and not just a one off thing in my week. Every time I pray I recommit my covenant with God and seek his guidance. I am constantly working out my faith. I find that even though we recite largely the same prayers every day that they give me a great framework to explore who I am and what my place in the world is.
Diet — Another thing we need to be aware of is what food and drink we have. The main things we are not allowed to eat pork and we are not allowed to drink alcohol. At times this can also be difficult, we have had a few interesting moments when we've eaten with non Muslim friends, but generally this again helps us to focus on God in the everyday of life. I also feel that somehow it represents the purity that we strive for as we relate to God.
Fridays — I structure my working week so that I do not work on Fridays. This is the day that I spend with friends and family at our local Mosque. When we get together we pray and spend time with each other. Often on this day we'll eat together — it has a real community building focus to it. I am able to do this due to my work situation, it is too difficult for others so there are also other times we come together as a community in the evenings and even on the weekends.
Ramadan — Fasting during month of Ramadan is obviously a fairly major focus of the Islamic year for us. In this month we do not eat during the. It sounds like a big sacrifice, and at times it is, but I always look forward to this month because it means a lot to us.
I was really challenged by the commitment and effort that went into Bilal's faith. The logistics of prayer, diet, fasting and community involvement seemed overwhelming to me yet the results of these things were significant to his life and faith. I could not help but wonder if we are missing something as Christians by often allowing faith to become one of the many compartments of life, often explored only for a few hours a week at certain times and places. Bilal has a rhythm to his life which does take real commitment but also is constantly helping him to see and connect with God in the everyday of life.
I was just going through some old files and stumbled upon this. I was speaking at a youth conference in 2001 and in the lead up was praying about what to speak about. Often when I pray I write (or type) my prayers down and then also write what I think God might be saying in response. I don't presume to say that 'this is what God told me' - but I'll post it and allow it to be what it may be for who it may be.
In preparation for State Youth Conference - 4 May 2001
What do you want for these young people Jesus? What word, what message, what thrust? If you could pick them up and put them wherever you desired or make them into the type of people you'd want, who and where would they be?
I already have done what you talk about. These people are already who I want them to be! I put them together in intricate detail to be as they are and not only that, they are already where I want them to be. They are in the schools, the families, the universities and the workplaces that I planned for them to be. They are in the relationships I want them to be in. I wouldn't transport them to another place or time, I want them here and now for a purpose. I desire for them to find me in the places they are — to thirst after me there — to interact with me there, to know me there and to join in the things that I am already doing there! I'm at work in their schools, their work places, their universities, their families and their friendship groups. Tell them to join me in that work. Challenge them to spot me — to know my heart for those places and people and to participate in the coming of my kingdom! Assure them that I created them as they are, in this era, in this place as an essential part of my plan.
Seek me and you will find me. Know that I am God, that I made you and I have plans for you. Join me in these plans, engage with me and together we will impact the places that you find yourselves, in ways you'd never have dreamed of. You are the ones for the job, you are in the place to do it and now is the time to get into it. I am with you — I love you — be with me.
Welcome a new blogger from a familiar face. Chris has been a regular reader and commenter here on my blog and has finally given into the blogging pull to his own blog - The Green Man
If its half as good as his commens around the blogisphere it'll be one to keep an eye on.
I've been dabbling in the Blogshares share market the past month or so for a bit of fun. So far I've accumulated a few quality shares in a good range of blogs. My portfolio so far includes:
Blogger (2800 - thanks Camson for the gift!) :: Dean McKenzie(100) :: B4G(200) :: Dave Babbit(100) :: Clarity amidst Chaos(300) :: Baptist(100) :: Good Dog Bad Dog(200) :: Tracyapps(200) :: Cre8d(1500) :: The Connexion (1200) :: Buzzing Bye(100) :: Avoiding Evil(83) :: As I Said(50) :: Al-Muhajabah's Islamic Blogs(2000) :: Heal Your Church Website(200) :: 83 Re-Invented.net(200) :: A Journey of Faith and Life (200) :: Footprints of my Life(100) :: He Lives(250) :: Ian's Messy Desk(1000) :: John and Genia(100) :: Jordon Cooper(1500) :: King's Kid(2000) :: Land of the Lost(500) :: Living Room(1701) :: mmmlog(100) :: News-Head-O-Rama(100) :: Pro Deo et Patria(100) :: Real Live Preacher(100) :: Redwood Dragon(250) :: Relapsed Catholic(100) :: State Dog(1000) :: Sed Contra(100) :: Sisters' Weblog(100) :: The 7 Habitus (100) :: The Mighty Barrister(200) :: Theologian(100) :: Tribe of Jesus(600) :: What in Tarnation(3000) :: Sakamuyo(100) - There is some great quality blogs in that lot, I read them all regularly.
I just released another 1000 shares onto the market for those interested in making an investment - being a shareholder comes with many benefits....these include...err....well....you can comment for free any time you like on my blog.....ummmm.....I'll take you out for coffee.....(small print...if you come to Melbourne for it)
Rowland Croucher looks at being 'On Fire' as Pentecost approaches.
"When I was a staffworker with students and graduates of our Australian universities, I discovered that about 50% of 'fired-up' Christian students lost that fire within ten years. Why?"
"In the spirit of Where's Waldo, comes the first and only God searching simulation on the Internet, fun for the whole family." Where's Christ?
Although I'm not sure what the motivation is behind this - I think the picture is actually an interesting one - and of course I found Christ straight away!!! Must be a gift.
A Presurfer link.
I just added a good article titled Characteristics of Missional Church by a local guy called Kim Hammond to Phuture. I think it makes some good points.
A taste: "It's about a loving missionary God incarnating the world to save it. It's about mission being at the heart of the Trinity, and many in the church have forgotten it. The missional church is about getting back to the great commission and the great commandment. To go into the entire world while loving our neighbours as ourselves. "
Sometimes God chooses the most inopportune moments to confront you with where you need to grow.
Last Sunday I was in the middle of preaching. I was standing up in front of 200 or so people and was getting really worked up about Matthew 10. I was talking about how Jesus calls us to 'give up our lives', to 'take up our cross' and to 'travel light'. The call is a radical one, its life changing, you can't even attempt to do it without making significant sacrifice or lifestyle alternations from the 'patterns of this world'. I was getting pretty passionate about this.
I was particularly focusing upon how our culture often encourages us to accumulate and to consume and yet how this in these passages seems almost diametrically opposed to the call of Jesus.
I was getting worked up and I glanced down to my Palm Pilot where my notes were and I realised that whilst I strongly believed what I was saying I also represented what I was calling people to move away from. I was...no...I am up there with the best of consumers and accumulators. I drove to that church in my one year old car, had prepared the sermon on my cool little laptop and would go home after to my fully equipped house.
I stopped mid sentence as the reality of it hit me. I'm not sure what the congregation thought of me but after a few seconds I had to look up and admit to them that whilst I was passionate about what I was saying that I really wondered if I had any idea of what Jesus call really meant in practice.
On one level I can honestly say that I genuinely would give anything to respond to the call of Jesus...but also at exactly the same time I realise I have not really even begun to grapple with it.
Jordon Cooper observes some differences between Church going and non Church going bloggers posts. He wonders if perhaps we (as churchy bloggers) get a little obsessed and lack something in our posts. I commented there
I agree and disagree.
I agree that non church goer's blogs can be more a celebration of life than many Christian bloggers that I read. This is why I've been spending more time surfing them of late. There are some amazing blogs out there and I think we (as Churchies) can lead too sheltered a life by just linking to and surfing to each others blogs)
I don't completely agree with your post though on a personal level because I choose not to post about some issues on my blog. This includes potential posts on the parties, the personal conversations, relationships etc that I have. Its not that I don't 'have a life' but rather because
1. I need to keep some distance between personal life and public life.
2. I need to protect my family a little because of their personal situations (ie due to their commitments at work and to other groups I'm not at liberty to post on some issues)
3. The reason I started my blog was because I was exploring what it meant to start a new form of church and I felt incredibly isolated, rather scared and alone and very unsure as to how to explore my dream. The blog was one of the ways I hoped to grow in my understanding of church, ministry, my role etc. It was my hope that through it I'd be able to grow, connect with others on the same journey and perhaps even contribute to what others are doing. I guess this is reflected in what I do and don't post about. As a result many of my posts (I estimate just over half) focus upon church, faith or related topics.
I wonder if you're generalising a little about it - could the same thing be said for bloggers who focus their blogging on politics, or science, or computers? ie they seem to only to be able to think about those issues and 'seem' devoid of other relationships or interests.
What do others observe and think on the topic?
Check out this interesting article on how blogging is changing the web.
On my morning round of the blogs I found some gems.
Leighton comments insightfully on the "Church leavers debate". Laura has a beautiful post about 'time healing all wounds'. Andrew comments on Christians on Survivor - something I'd been watching with interest. Rachel has finally gone nuts and is willing to answer any question (virtually) that we ask her! Thomas talks about leaving for South Africa in the next week. Andrew must have taken some 'funny pills' this morning....as he talks about the prayer of Jael, Jesus action figures etc. Bryan asks if all this authenticity talk is the 'real deal'. Matt takes a look at Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christian. Rob has started writing a book, In Search of Thin Ice and has posted the intro for our comments.
There is some good discussion here a few posts back on the localised focus of church and if its still for today.
I chatted with some of the Living Roomies over dinner last night about it. I guess part of the reason we've come up with the 'bike ride away' 'rule' is that a number of our group choose to ride bikes and not drive cars. Along side of this, we have chosen to meet in each others homes and local cafes - so to lose the local focus would be to run the risk of exluding some.
I can see Steve's point in comments though about how cities now days operate according to the laws of 'the car'. The definition of 'community' changed considerably when people started having the ability to travel quickly and cheaply. Still interested in others thoughts.....its an important conversation.
(This post is also found at Signposts)
Some of us chatted away on msn last week. It was quite an experience chatting online to people who you felt you knew really well. How? Well, by reading their blogs. Unfortunately Msn limits us to five people chatting at the same time in a group.
So, we have set up an IRC channel and are planning a scheduled chat. Depending on how it goes we may even invite certain authors and guests and explore issues with them online.
Date - Friday, 23rd May 2003
Time - 8.30am EST (Australian Eastern Time)
server - aussie.sydney.oz.org
Channel - #whattheblog
If you dont have access to a irc client you may want to check out:
Windows - www.mirc.com
Mac - fire client
If you are unsure of how to use a irc client or want a web based solution then go to here and use signposts web interface.
I am looking forward to chatting on Friday.
update - note the change of time - also Bene has the North American times listed
Just had yet another email from someone using the Ignition course. I met with the other Forge guys today and we are getting really excited by the feedback we're getting about it. One guy here in Australia ran the course in a local cafe and just by having it there has seen the cafe owner and his wife virtually come to faith. He's so happy with it that he's about to start using it with over 100 young people in his church.
There are dozens of groups running here in my state at the moment. We're getting reports of groups being sighted running it in local cafes through our city that we don't even know of. A couple of very large Melbourne churches have just started groups too.
Every day I'm getting queries about the online version. We've heard there are groups running in New Zealand (multiple), Illinois(US), Lancashire (UK) and Alberta (Canada). Heaps of people have been downloading the free trial too.
Its an exciting feeling to know that there are so many people interested in exploring mission - but its also a little daunting!
I'm interested to hear the feedback of any of you who've started a group?
One of the few decisions we've made in terms of who can be a part of the Living Room is that we strongly desire all participants to live in our local area. The criteria is that people live within a bike ride of the rest of the group. (I looked on the map yesterday and we all live within 4-5kms of each other - so its not extremely localised) We've already been approached by a number of Christian people outside this area who have expressed interest in joining us who we've suggested we may not be the best community for them while they live where they do.
Our reasoning for this localised focus is twofold.
Firstly, we believe it will help build community. Journeying together is one of our three core journeys and so we desire to be involved in each others lives on a week to week and even day to day basis. Living in the same neighbourhoods should help in this.
Secondly, we hope it will help us in another of our core journey's - that of the 'outward journey' where we desire to impact our community. Its our desire to make a difference to the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne and think that that can be done best by people living there. Incarnation might be the missiological word, we just think it makes sense.
One of the dangers I have seen with other new forms of church is that they can attract alot of 'tourists' who travel in from other areas to be a part of the 'latest new thing' but who have little committment to stay for the long haul. I wonder if a more local focus will limit this?
I'm interested to hear what others think about having a localised focus? What are the advantages and disadvantages that you see in this? What is your experience of it?
I was talking to a friend last week about Rachel's series of posts on Why I don't go to Church where she asks people who don't attend church anymore a series of questions. My friend, who doesn't go any more, asked if they could answer them. Here is their response....its long (25 questions in all) but very interesting.
1. What is your definition of church?
In a general sense the Church is made up of all those who follow Christ — both those who choose to gather together in a formal way and those who do not. The church is not buildings or clergy, it is people who love and are moving towards Jesus.
2. What do you feel is the purpose or aim of church? What should it be?
I may be cynical but in my experience of churches there is a vast difference between what I feel the purpose is and what it should be. Unfortunately I get the feeling that the church is losing its way. This is why I have chosen to remove myself from most elements of it.
To answer the question — I believe the purposes of the church should be numerous.
It should be in the business of creating spaces for people to connect with Jesus in a dynamic way. The church is not responsible for if people do connect or not, that is the individuals responsibility, but the church should be exploring relevant ways to help people on their journey. It should be a place that resources, supports and inspires people in their love and relationship for God.
The church should be in the business of growing community among its believers. Unfortunately this is an area where things often break down. If it wasn't for the fact that we are all human it would work brilliantly!
The church should be in the business of impacting the world we live in. Call it mission, service or justice — I don't care — but do it! Jesus constantly called his followers to impact their world — to preach, to heal the sick, to cast out demons and to accept the sinner and ostracised.
As I said — I think the church has become distracted from its core call in all these areas.
3. What issues do you think the church is failing to deal with adequately?
It is failing to grapple effectively with its purposes. I think it often names them. Every church I've ever been to has had a wonderful mission statement — but I'm yet to see one that is living it out — or even really attempting to.
I think many churches are paralysed by fear. They are afraid of change, afraid of the world around them (that they are called to impact), they are afraid of 'sinners' and they are afraid to commit to real community.
One of the big failures that I see is that they are called toinclusivity yet time and time again are exclusive. It staggers me that we follow a man who entered into community with the most 'repulsive' people in his culture, yet most churches are unwilling to even consider such an act.
4. How do you see the church operating in the future?
inclusivity yet time and time again are exclusive. It staggers me that we follow a man who entered into community with the most 'repulsive' people in his culture, yet most churches are unwilling to even consider such an act.
4. How do you see the church operating in the future?
I wonder if the church will exist there. If it doesn't make some fundamental changes it will end up being an extreme minority.
5. If you were to change one thing about church, what would it be?
I would infuse it with love. What's love got to do, got to do with it? Love casts our fear. Love is at the core of everything Jesus talked about. Love, love changes everything. Hands and faces, earth and sky. Love, love changes everything. How you live and how you die
6. What do you believe to be the necessary actions/behavior of a Christian?
A Christian is a person who is in relationship with and moving towards Jesus. They are not someone who has it all worked out and they have not 'arrived'. They 'sin' but they continue to seek God and allow her transformation and healing in their lives. They seek to live lives of love for God, others and self.
7. Why are you a non-church-goer?
Complicated question. There are many reasons, let me try to sum up some of them (watch out, this could be messy!)
After years of church going I became frustrated by the way it has become institutionalised. It frustrates me that it has become so rigid and closed to change and fluidity. Jesus gives a radical call to follow him, the majority of churches have become too comfortable, they have become like clubs and they have lost the passion. Like you (ed: Darren) said last week on your site, read Matthew 10 and compare the call of Jesus to his disciples with the way your church operates. Read Romans 12 and tell me where there is a church in the West grappling with that stuff! We've lost the plot — I have become disillusioned with being virtually the only person in a community of faith that wants it to be more than a nice and safe place to come and feel all warm and fuzzy with my middle class privileged life. Attending church sucked life from me — I figured that it was not healthy for me to continue to go.
8. What role did those who were in the church have on your decision to leave?
I wasn't asked to leave, although I've heard since that some people are happy that I did. I attempted to discuss my frustrations with others in the community including leadership. They just asked me to 'tone it down'.
9. What or who finally 'pushed' you?
The church I was a part of began to talk more and more about money. It was subtle, but it became more and more obsessed with raising money for its new building. The current building wasn't being utilised, we were not growing, and it was proposed that the reason was we needed a new flash looking building. A campaign started to raise the millions needed to make it so that our community would flock onto our turf to be saved. Related to this was the topic of money in sermons. Our pastor read the book called 'You need more Money!' written by a prominent Australian pastor. Some of these ideas of prosperity began to gradually creep into his sermons. I cannot remember Jesus telling his disciples to accumulate resources, buy property and get all the latest and greatest technology in order to further the kingdom. It all made me feel physically sick.
The church rejected one of my friends who was brave enough to tell a pastor that he was struggling with homosexuality. He was told to either leave and not associate with anyone in the church or to repent and change. There was no offer of counselling, there was no understanding that he needed time to talk through what he was going through, there was no acknowledgement of God's love for him — he either had to change instantly or leave. I felt physically sick.
10. What did you find most hurtful?
I watched my church slowly become obsessed with money. I also watched my friend reject God.
11. What feelings accompanied your decision to leave?
I left feeling broken and emotionally burnt out. I still feel drained years later.
12. Do you think you connect with God more, less or the same amount now as you did when you attended church?
I go through stages of closeness to God, but this is no different to when I attended church. Overall I feel more connected to Jesus now.
13. Do you still regularly meet together with other christians/groups/organisations? If so, please describe.
Not formally. I regularly connect with Christian friends for meals, to see movies, to pray and to talk about faith issues. But it is not formal. I would call it church though.
14. What other groups, organisations do you now go to to meet the needs that church did....if any.
I am very involved in community groups. I volunteer considerable time to local groups that have a social justice outlook on life. I will always serve my community — not just because I'm a community minded person, but out of my faith. I also am involved in a book club which is a place of community building and where we often talk about issues of faith. (although I'm only one of two Christians in the group)
15. How has this changed your relationship with non-christians?
I have so many more relationships with non-christians (I hate that term). I now have more time to connect with them as I'm not totally consumed with church activities. I also feel more free to talk about faith without them worrying about me trying to drag them to church to be saved. Since leaving the church I have had three non Christian friends become Christians. Two have joined churches, one meets regularly with me and another friend to pray and learn.
16. What do you miss about church now?
I cannot honestly think of anything. I feel so much more free now.
17. What is it about church that doesn't connect with where you're at?
I've said it all I think. Oh...I hate singing, I always found it to be an experience that stressed me out and made it difficult for me to connect with God. Why can't church have 'bush walking worship'?
18. Would you go back? Why or why not? Would anything make you go back to church?
I've considered it. I actually feel that one day I may go back, not because of what I'll get out of it but for what I can offer. Not that I feel I have anything much to offer, but I see some little new churches starting in my city that I'd like to support. It scares me though.
19. Which would you prefer - people inviting you to attend church, or leaving you alone in your decision not to?
My old church friends do not talk to me any more because I associate with unacceptable types. So I never get such an invitation. It doesn't bother me.
20. What are the most important/effective ways for you to sustain your christianity as a non-church-goer?
Prayer, service to others, eating with others. I celebrate life in the small things and see God in them every day.
21. What is the vision God has given you for your life?
In the normal things that I do, every day, I have the ability to be a light, to help others connect with the life that God offers. I always try to find what God is already doing in the world around me and to join him in it.
22. What do you say when people ask you "What church do you go to?"
'I don't go to A church'.
23. What question don't you like other Christians asking you?
Is your belly button an inney or an outy? Mine is a major outy...they always want to see it.
24. What question do you wish other Christians would ask you?
Nothing springs to mind. I think I've said enough!
25. Is there anything else that you'd like to mention?
No — thanks for the questions.
The past 24 hours has been a big one for movies. Yesterday I saw Matrix Reloaded with Luke. Today V and I saw Whale Rider and tonight we decided to get out Harry Potter — Philosophers Stone. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by it all — each movie was rich with symbolism, meaning and rich imagery. A lot can be and has been said about each already. In each the theme of love emerged for me. In each there is a leader depicted who is both very human but also one who is able to rise above their situation to be a part of redeeming their people in some way.
The imagery of the 'Mirror of Erised' in Harry Potter has staying with me tonight. For those who've not seen it there is a mirror that shows the greatest desire of the person who gazes into it. Harry sees himself with his dead parents alive in it. His friend sees himself as head prefect. Harry finds how wonderful it is to gaze into his greatest desires in the mirror but is warned that many have wasted away as they gazed into it and have been unable to pull themselves away from its reflection. People mesmerised by their dreams.
As I watched I found myself wondering what I would see if I stood in front of such a mirror. I was surprised to find myself wondering if perhaps those of us who blog about emerging church could be gazing into a such a mirror. I wonder if in the process of our reading the latest books, going to the latest conferences, blogging our latest theories whether perhaps we actually can become mesmerised by the idea of a reformed church. Is one of the temptations to be too busy talking the talk to walk the walk?
I don't want to presume to accuse anyone — but rather tonight ask the question of myself. I strongly believe there is a time and place to dream, investigate, hypothesise, but I wonder if we can over do it. What do you think?
Jan (16.05.03) has posted her powerful story in response to the conversation at Rachel's which by the way has been commented upon widely through the blogisphere. I recommend you read through her posts and related links - its an amazing collection of thoughts for those of us thinking through what church should/might/could look like!
Size doesn't matter...its what you do with it that counts!
Last night I was reading our state denominational magazine/paper and noticed an article and an advertisement for a conference, both focusing upon Large Churches. The article, entitled 'In Celebration of the Large Church: Part 1 (written by our denominations president who is senior minister of one of our largest churches) lists four ways that large churches can help the whole denomination family.
His four points were
1. Large churches can afford to risk and fail. (so they should take more risks and we can all learn from their lessons)
2. Large churches can lift moral. (of other churches around them)
3. Large churches can be 'used'. (under this he talked about how often families utilise such churches youth programs when in times of need)
4. Large churches can put the denomination on the community map.
I found the article interesting and look forward to the second instalment. I appreciate his statement also that he doesn't want to exclude smaller churches....however I wonder if there might be a follow up article on what small churches can offer the denomination? As I've written previously, I think that there is a place for churches of many shapes and sizes in the world we find ourselves in at the moment. There are strengths and weaknesses that are unique to the full spectrum of sizes of congregations.
I explored some of these in a book review I wrote last year which is published here. It was interesting to see the variety of comments that the review generated - the debate is still going months after it was posted.
Anyway, if you were to write a follow up article looking at what small churches have to offer, what would your points be???
Susan (permalinks not working) has a great list of 'what makes a good blog'. Her main headings are:
1. Updated frequently
5. Author Information
Check out her post to see what she says under each one.
What makes a good blog for you?? Leave your comments and I'll collate them all if there is enough response.
What do you think of the Flash introduction to Josh McDowell's latest campaign?
Leighton feels ill observing the way it plays on parental fears and questions the basic premise of Josh's campaign.
For me it triggered some of the the arguements put forward in Bowling for Columbine which had the idea of 'Fear leading to Consumerism' as a central them. Interesting that its not just secular media and goverments that are using the strategy.
How does faith become a whole life thing?
This Sunday morning I'm guest speaking at Wattle Park Chapel. The topic I'm working on is to challenge people take the step away from 'Sunday faith' and towards 'whole life faith'. I'm going to talk about Mudcake Spirituality and explore the idea that Jesus calls us to this type of passion not only for those special times of worship where we gather together 'at church' but in the day to day of life.
Two passages have been ringing in my ears the last two weeks. Firstly Matthew 10 and secondly Romans 12. In the first Jesus calls his disciple to a new radical life of following and serving him. Its a life that calls for sacrifice, interaction with their world, significant investment in others, travelling light, danger, persecution and giving up virtually everything. Of course coupled with the sacrifice and hardship is the reality of a God who knows the numbers of hairs on your head who will provide everything you need on the journey and who will speak in your defence in times of trial. Jesus calls his followers to a radical life that impacts every aspect of life.
In the second passage (Rom 12) we read a similar call to 'offer your bodies to God as a living and holy sacrifice'. What a powerful call. The rest of the chapter (and those that follow) flesh this call out. Such a life is one of humility, where gifts are exercised, where love and serving others is grappled with, where others are honoured and where prayer and hospitality are central to life.
Sometimes I look at my life and I wonder if it resembles Jesus call at all. In a world of compartmentalisation its so easy to slip in and out of 'spiritual life'. In a world where consumerism promises fulfilment and identity its so easy to tie oneself down by the weight of what we accumulate. In a world where 'I' is central it is so easy to ignore the call to community and serving the other. In a world Reality TV, 24 hour sport and lifestyle programs its so easy end up living vicariously through others, becoming numb to ones own life and loosing the child like spark that we're called to enter into life with.
I feel like I'm constantly shaking myself out of my apathetic state to remind myself of his call. How do you go about making faith a 24/7 thing?
Update: Here is a series I've written about Holistic Spirituality which presents a framework (or model) for thinking it through. Holistic Spirituality - Part 1
Since my call for other bloggers to have a chat on MSN Messenger I've been fortunate enough to have 'conversations' with some of my favorite bloggers (its like meeting blogging celebrities!
So far I've chatted with:
Its interesting to communicate with each other via another medium than blogging. It does add another dimension.
As I said last time, if you want to chat my MSN Messenger ID is NB, this is not an email address I check so use my other one for email communication! See you online soon.
A few years ago our national government held a gun amnesty where people brought their illegal firearms to local police stations to hand in. They could not be charged with possessing illegal weapons as long as they handed them in. In some cases the government even paid for these weapons in a 'buy back' scheme.
In continuing my last posts thread of conversation - I want to suggest that maybe its time for a Church Building Amnesty!!! Maybe I'm getting a little carried away....in fact there is no 'maybe about it'....but perhaps if churches who were not utilising their buildings well would all sell their buildings then we could get on with the Great Commission in earnest!
I know its laughable, I know I'm 'dreamin', I know its stupid, but imagine if it actually did happen. If for some reason the government decreed that churches were not allowed to own buildings any more and that they should all be sold!
How would we operate...what would happen...what would YOU put the money that would come in into?? How would you spend it? Not asking a rhetorical question here....tell me what you'd do!
This morning three of us spent a couple of hours delivering brochures and posters for the upcoming Postcards from California day we're holding. We got around to about 10 or so eastern suburban churches, a bible college and Christian book store. It was a fun morning with the guys, but also quite interesting to get a snap shot of Church in the East of Melbourne.
One of the main things that struck me was the vast amount of dollars that must be tied up in buildings in our city (and around the world). Five of the churches we dropped by were either undergoing or contemplating multi million dollar building redevelopments and most occupied prime real estate. However in every case except for two we came across virtually empty buildings, occupied only by office staff and ministry team members.
I sometimes wonder about the way we as 'the church' spends its money. Jesus told parables about wisely investing the things we've been given. His point seemed to be to invest in things that bring about multiplication of the harvest.
I have no doubt that the church building projects we saw today all would say that 'mission' is part of the reason for their upgrading their facilities - however I wonder if there is another way?
What impact would tens of millions of dollars have upon our nation if it were channelled into other avenues? What if rather than building mega churches we funded community development programs, working with fringe minority groups? Or what if we invested in experimental mission programs by setting up gallery spaces? Or what if we funnelled the money into caring for third world victims of Aids or people in our communities struggling with abuse? What if we were not so obsessed with building bigger and better buildings and were able to free up some cash for connecting with people in the places we live, work and socialise?
What do you think?
Today is my first taste of RE (Religious Education) in a local primary school with children. I was asked to be a part of a team (of 2) to go into the local primary school once a week to do a half hour class of Protestant Christian RE. The school also runs a Catholic, Muslim and a Jewish RE class for other children.
Our class will have about 16 children ranging in age from 5 through to 11 so it will take a little bit of effort to be relevant to the full age spectrum.
We have decided to develop our own material and look at the topic of 'What is God like?' Over the next term of 7 weeks we're going to get the kids to make their own TV program on the subject. Each week they'll do an activity and we'll video it, (ie act out a bible story, paint a mural etc). We'll also get them to interview each other on the topic and in the last week will have it all edited into a 'TV show' where they'll see themselves telling themselves 'What God is like'.
Should be fun. Its a great exercise to have to think through some basic elements of faith at a level that a child would understand. I'm looking forward to this afternoon!
If anyone has any ideas or thoughts on doing RE with primary aged children (including any fun but meaningful activities) just let me know.
Spend a day with John Jenson.
John is a veteran emerging churcher (he's been a part of planting 6 so far), who has shared the gospel amongst various fringe cultures artist, punk rock, and no rules fighters. He currently runs a community in pomona california called the breakfast club and is a artist, father and professional no rules fighter as well as being a minster.
Where: Balwyn Baptist Church - 517 Whitehorse Rd, Balwyn (Melbourne)
When: Saturday 14 June, 10am to 4pm
Cost: $20 pre register or $25 on the day
Registeration and Enquiries: Email Julie
John is an amazing guy who will leave you thinking....did we mention he's a professional no rules fighter...that he used to be a bull fighter....good preparation for church planting I guess! Come and hear him speak!
Rachel just emailed me an article titledFirst bombs to pulverize army, now sermons to 'save Iraqi souls' which adds to the conversation that Richard is having over at The Connexion. It begins:
Baghdad -- First came the bombs, pulverizing the Iraqi military. Now come the Bible brigades, intent on saving Iraqi souls. At least that's how it looks to many Muslims, who say their worst fears of a latter-day Crusade are being realised by the plans of the Rev Franklin Graham - son of the Rev Billy Graham, confidante of President Bush and unabashed critic of Islam - to send relief workers into Iraq... More here
The Connexion comments upon a group of conservative Evangelicals who've come out saying we should heal 'rifts' with Muslims that threaten missionary work. While all in favour of reconciliation Richard makes an excellent point about the motivation behind it:
I may be nit-picking, but let's not condemn assaults on Islam because of the effects it might have on evangelism, or the potential threat it poses to lives and livelihoods. Let's condemn the rubbishing of Islam because it's wrong in itself and contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I couldn't agree more. We shouldn't love others because it might open a door for them to become one of 'us'. We should love them because they are made in the image of God, because God loves them and because it is a call at the heart of the message of the one we follow in Jesus. Any other reason I feel is somewhat manipulative.
Check our Rob's (the guy who blog sitted Living Room while I was away) new blog at King Gibber Bob. He's currently in the UK at a global mission conference and will then be travelling in Vietnam.
Update: Read all his entries (there is only 7 or so so far), his reflections upon theconference he's at are worth the read!
What the blog ettiquette is in delisting people from your blog?
I ask because of late I've had a number of emails from people letting me know that they are delisting me because they don't agree with some of the 'multi faith' postings I've been doing lately.
Not sure how to feel about it....got another one this morning.
Oh well - I guess my self esteem and self worth shouldn't come from my blog so I shouldn't take it personally.
Update: It does make me a little concerned that the way people deal with reading something they disagree with is to 'delist' or turn ones back on that person. Generally when I disagree with another person I would leave a comment and try to engage them in a conversation to explore the tension. In fact I find that when I do its something that helps me to grow and develop. If we only interact with and support those who we agree with do we run the risk of limiting our own experience of life, faith and personal development?
I like what Jan writes in comments below....in fact it deserves to see the light of day here on the main page!
She writes: "What's the point anyway? I would be the poorer if I read only blogs by those who shared the same viewpoint as I have. I also link to blogs occasionally where I have little in common with the author. I'm not afraid of looking beyond the comfort zone or of hearing something which might challenge the holy huddle viewpoint."
Rachel has posted the first of three responses from a friend on why they don't got to church any more. I found it to be quite a powerful response.
Most of you will know by now that I'm doing a subject at bible college at the moment on Multi faith Dialogue. (hence my posting on Lesson from a Buddhist Nun, Jihad, Muslim Blogisphere and Interfaith Dialogue...to name a few recent 'multi faith' posts.
This morning I've been reflecting upon the experiences that I've had in visiting a Mosque, Buddhist temple, Synagogue and Hari Krishna temple and having one on one conversation with a Melbourne Muslim man. Its been an amazing experience, one in which I feel like I've had my eyes opened incredibly.
One of the main differences I've noticed between Christianity and these other faiths is the level that we connect faith to the every day of life. (forgive me for the gross generalisations I'm about to make!)
After each of the above inter faith experiences I've come home challenged by the way that there are inbuilt rituals built into the every day activities for those practicing these religions. For Bilal (a Muslim man I interviewed) it revolved around the 5 daily prayers, the dietary regulations and the visits to the Mosque. For the Jewish student rabbi we met yesterday it was the three daily prayer times, the cap he wears, the way he prepares food and the different aspects of his clothing, for the Hari Krishna we met it was the food that he ate and the various prayer times throughout his day and for the Buddhist Nun it again was her food preparation, regular meditation times and dress.
In each case there were tangible, rituals or symbols throughout every day that meant that their spirituality was constantly being explored, stretched, developed and exercised. In each case a rhythm of life was being lived out that allowed regular connection with God. At times the rituals were incredibly sacrificial and showed extreme commitment but in every case the person sharing told of how their ritual brought incredible richness to their faith.
Before I go on I need to say that in some (although definitely not all) of the above cases we were talking to leaders and people who perhaps took their faith to the extreme where as some of the people they worked with did not - but none the less I was still impressed and challenged by their commitment.
I have been a member of three churches in my life time and a minister/pastor in each of them. Yet to be honest I've never seen faith related to every day life to the extent that I did in these other religions in any of my churches. That's not to say that I haven't seen Christians living out their faith in the everyday, rather I have not seen a church give their members practical ways to encourage them to find Jesus in the nitty gritty of life. Its often talked about as being the ideal, but practical tools, rituals and methods are rarely suggested.
As protestants has our fear of ritual actually gone too far and been part of the reason that so many of those that attend our churches find it so hard to live out what they hear and do on Sunday in the rest of their lives? Where are the tools that help us explore our connection with Jesus from Monday through to Saturday? Why have we watered down faith and thrown out so much of our rich heritage of ritual such as the practices of those such as the early monastic tradition who sought to create a rhythm of live connects faith to every day experience through methods like Comments (1)
How many times have you logged onto your blog wanting to post something that sums up your apethy, boredom and laziness but havn't been able to find the words? Try this Apathetic Online Journal Entry Generator! Hit the button at the bottom of the page and you'll have a quality apathetic blog entry instantly that you just have to copy and paste over to your blog. For example:
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If it doesn't quite fit with your mood, click again for another random bored entry.
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Rachel is asking for your questions.... No not questions about her, but questions to ask three people around the topic of 'why they left the church'. Leave your questions in her comments.....there are some good ones there...if I do say so myself!
If anyone is interested in chatting on MSN Messenger at any time I'm happy to 'meet' you. My ID is firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to add me. Pleae note this is not an email address that I check, just my messenger ID. Might see you online!
UPDATE: There is some talk of a virtual bloggers meet...via messenger...if you're interested in it let me know. We'd have to find a suitable time for us all to log on and join the one conversation, but it could be fun!
Examen was developed by St. Ignatius Loyola whowas a practical kind of person which is reflected in this daily method of prayer he recommended to his brothers. They prayed it numerous times per day as part of their daily rhythm of life.
It is is a prayer where we try to find the movement of the Spirit in our daily lives as we review our day. There are five simple steps to the Examen, which should take about 15 minutes to complete. Many people make the Examen once around lunchtime and again before going to bed. This prayer can be made anywhere�on the beach, in a car, at home, in the library.
The following is just one interpretation (of many) of these five steps to discerning the movement of Gods Spirit in your day.
Before you start: Try to be in a place where you are least likely to be disturbed, and where there is the least amount of external noise.Perhaps you light a candle or change the lighting when you pray to symbolise the start of this activity. Then sit comfortably and still yourself. Relax, be aware of your breathing, your body and how you are feeling.
1. Recall you are in the presence of God
We are always in God's presence, but in prayer we place ourselves in God's presence in an especially attentive way. God knows intimately. He loves you in the deepest way possible and desires for an intimate connection with you. In John 15 Jesus says 'abide in me and I will abide in you' — his invitation is to make our HOME in him. As you still yourself be aware that God is present with you, in creation of your surrounds, your body, in those around you. Remind yourself of his presence with you and desire to BE with you. Be still and know that you are with God.
2. Look at your day with gratitude
After a few moments, begin to give thanks to God for the gifts of today. Special pleasures will spring to mind: a good night's sleep, the smell of the morning coffee, the laugh of a child, a good meal or lesson learnt. As you move in gratitude through the details of your day give thanks to God for his presence in the big and the small things of your life.
3. Ask help from the Holy Spirit
Before the next step of reviewing your day, ask that God's Spirit might help you to look at your actions and attitudes. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to understand the motivation of your heart, to see the gifts of God and how you've responded to them. Ask that you'd learn and be shaped as your reflect. Remember, this is not a time to dwell on your shortcomings rather, it is a gentle look with the Lord at how you have responded to God's gifts. It is an opportunity for growth of self and relationship with God.
4. Review your day
This is the longest of the steps. Here you review your entire day, watching it like a movie that replays in your mind. Be sure to notice the details, the context of what happened and how you acted. As you look through the day, notice especially your motives and feelings. This is not psychoanalysis, rather it is a time for you to discern your daily motives, actions and reactions. Don't try to fix everything in this stage, just examine how conscious you have been of God's presence and actions in your life.
As you review you may wish to ask yourself some of the following questions.
When did I fail today? (why?)
When did I give love today?
Where did I receive love today?
What Habits and life patterns do I notice in my day?
In what ways did I notice God in my day?
When did I feel most alive? Most drained of life?
When did I have the greatest sense of belonging? Least sense of belonging?
When was I most free? Least free?
When was I most creative? Least creative?
When did I feel most fully myself? Least myself?
When did I feel most whole? Most fragmented?
As you review your day allow your thoughts to wander through the situations you've been in and allow God to speak, challenge, encourage and teach you.
5. Reconcile and resolve
The final step is our heart-to-heart talk with Jesus.
Here you talk with Jesus about your day. You share your thoughts on your actions, attitudes, feelings and interactions. Perhaps in this time you may feel led to seek forgiveness, ask for direction, share a concern, express gratitude etc. There may be an area you've felt challenged on or some action you feel you need to take out of this time. Resolve with Jesus to move forward in action where appropriate.
You might like to finish your time with the Lords Prayer.
Compiled by Darren Rowse 2002
As I said earlier, this is just my interpretation on the steps having drawn upon a number of online sources and put them all together. Once you've done Examen a few times you will find your own rhythm and method. You might like to add some music, candles or images to help you pray.
I was amazed by some of the conversation we had last night after doing this exercise as a group. I think we all enjoyed just spending some quiet time, reflecting on the small things of life. I was personally challenged to remember that God is even in the 'normal' and 'mundane' and to realise just how 'rich' my life is although I so often take it for granted.
I'm interested to hear how others go with Examen
For another 'ancient prayer' method check out my entry on Lectio Divina
Have you ever wondered what impact blogging might be having on your life?
Scenario 1 - You are at a party where you see a friend you haven't seen for a few weeks. You engage them in conversation. You ask the 'what have you been up to?' question. They tell you their latest news and do the polite thing and ask you, 'what about you, what have you been doing?' You try to list off your latest news only to be cut off mid sentence each time you tell a story with the words....'Yeah, I read about that on your blog.' They jokingly say 'I don't need to catch up with you in person any more, I'll just read your blog!' You both chuckle but know deep down that in some respects they may be right.
Scenario 2 - You and your wife are catching up with friends together. Mid way through the conversation it becomes obvious that the one of your friends that reads your blog knows more about some of the things you've been thinking about during the day than your wife does.
Scenario 3 - You meet an old ministry associate at a conference. He seems slightly more 'distant' than normal and less willing to engage in conversation than he has been on previous encounters. You think he might just be having a bad day until you later hear he thinks you've joined the 'liberal faction' of the denomination after someone forwarded him your blog address and he read a one off post out of the context of an ongoing conversation with a group of other bloggers.
Scenario 4 - You are the guest speaker at a church. After your sermon you are approached by someone who you've never met before who procedes to tell you your life story and interact with you as if they're life long and intimate friends because they feel like they know you so well after having read your inner thoughts on the net.
Looking forward to Living Room tonight - we're going to take a look at St. Ignatius Loyola's Examen of Consciousness method of prayer. Its a way of seeing God and connecting with him in the everyday of life that I've found really helpful over the years. Will post more later...
Has anyone else used it in their communities?
I've finally added some new 'Quality Links'. I've been visiting most of them for ages and am embarrassed to only be updating my links now. So when you've got some time for some good quality blogging check out:
Also check out recently added Aussie Blogger wwWestlake
Bibleopoly combines the fun of a board game with remarkable cities of the Bible.� Players start IN THE BEGINNING and journey through Bible cities, Meditation, Community Celebration, and occasionally, the Abyss.� Once players have earned their Cornerstone by helping a fellow player or by doing Community Service they may make Offerings in order to earn the bricks and steeple needed to build a church.
In Bibleopoly good deeds are always rewarded, but sometimes Faith cards intervene.� The final object is to be the first player� to build a church on one of the Bible cities.� Will you be the new Paul?� Play Bibleopoly with family or friends and find out!
Thanks to Presurfer for another great link.
Interesting article in the Age's Sunday magazine today on the New Age. (sorry no link to article) In particular it focuses on the 'self-obsession' of it all. One person interviewed said:
"I've spent hours and weekend doing courses on kinesiology and working on positive affirmations, but I feel like I still need to work on myself a lot more."
The article examines the growing numbers of people who are willing to pay increasingly large sums of money to 'find themselves'. One of Australia's fastest growing festivals is the 'Mind Body Spirit' festival which tours nationally, the Psychic association estimate that they did over 1,000,000 readings last year and people are paying big bucks to get in on the action.
I reacted in two ways to the article. Firstly I'm amazed and encouraged by the spiritual openness of people today. The article confirms a lot of what I've been noticing in conversations with people I've met locally, people are more than happy to talk about spirituality and explore what it all means. There is a huge opportunity for us as followers of Jesus to be a part of this growing conversation.
Secondly at times in the article I felt like I was reading something about Christianity. This week I was in a local Christian bookstore and was amazed by the vast numbers of 'Christian Self Help' type books on the shelves. So much of what was available for purchase was about personal spirituality, improving oneself and reaching our potential. Of course in a dark back corner of the shop I found a small section of books about mission and making an impact upon our world, but the predominate focus was SELF. Of course, like with the New Age, people are obviously spending big bucks on Christian Self Improvement too!
There have been some really interesting comments posted on my previous post on the disappearing of Males in many churches.
I've been wondering if perhaps part of the problem for the declining number of guys in church might be the types of activities that many churches ask its participants to take part in.
Not many guys that I know feel that comfortable getting together to sing some songs, listen to an expert tell them how to live their life and then to get together with a small group of others where they'll sit in a circle and share their inner most feelings. In fact I can't think of any three activities that would alienate an Aussie guy further than those three!
In my experience guys are willing to talk about faith issues and even share what's happening in their lives, but often this happens best while they are doing some other activity. Some of the best conversations I've had with guys is while playing pool, or at the football while watching the game or in the gym during a workout. Perhaps the passivity of church takes some men into an uncomfortable zone.
I wonder what would happen if churches started to experiment with church around shared active experiences. Golf, wood working, gym, jogging, football, video editing, beer drinking, pool, auto workshop....just to name a few.
I'm not sure about all this, but as I've said before, we've got to grapple with it. Thoughts anyone?
Tonight is my 61st birthday party!!!
I know most of you thought I was a little younger than that....and its true that I am. But last year I had to cancel my 30th party because half of my face was paralysed and I was a very unwell 30 year old. So tonight we're getting together to celebrate both my 30th and 31st in one. It'll be pretty informal stuff.
If you're in Melbourne feel free to drop by the Deco Bar after 7.30pm for a drink....seriously...all are welcome!
On Tuesday night at Living Room we had a rich discussion about Community.
We started by examining Zygmunt Bauman's notion that Community no longer truely exists. That while its something that we all yearn for, its unfortunately not available to us in the world we find ourselves living.
It was an amazing discussion - we really got our teeth into some cultural observation and fleshed out how Individualism, Consumerism, Transcience, Globalisation etc have all made building community a difficult thing.
I think we all came to the conclusion that we agreed with Zygmunt in many ways. In its purest form perhaps community is unattainable.
Yet, perhaps paradoxically we also all feel strongly that it is a call of Jesus and therefore one of our three core journeys for the Living Room. Its one of those Kindgom principles that we are called to strive for in the present, but that won't fully and purely be realised until the Kingdom of God is fully realised.
Its a strange feeling to make a strong committment to something that you believe will never fully be realised in this life.
The past day or so I've been Lusting. Wander-Lusting that is.
Click the left hand side of this button and you'll be taken to a random blog linked to Wander Lust...you never quite know where you'll end up, some destinations will leave you amazed, others confused and others disappointed. I have been amazed by the vast quantity of blogs that are out there - and the amazing creativity of the Blogisphere. Sometimes its easy just to stay in your own little corner...to only surf Christian blogs or even just the 'Post-modern' Christian blogs.... maybe its time we widened our horizons a little.
I logged onto the blog from the dodgy internet cafe today and had a very quick look a peek at what a few of my favourite bloggers were doing. I started at the top of my blog roll as I usually do with Rich who was blogging about new forms of evangelism. It's a really interesting topic — one that I've been thinking a lot about this holiday for some reason.
Darren and Corrie from Third Place communities (as blogged about previously here)told us of a missional experiment that they are doing as they do the Ignition course (which is selling well....get your copy here...sorry...shameless plug).
To me this is evangelism — I'm not sure it's a 'new' approach as such — sounds like what my parents have been doing for thirty years actually — but I suspect this is a worthwhile approach to evangelism.