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Australian Weblog Awards - 2004

31 January, 2004 12:33 AM

Congratulations to the Australian Weblog Awards winners as just announced by vlado. Well done to Vlado for all the hard work of getting the awards together. The overall winner was Looblu who has an exceptional blog that has also been nominated for best Aus/NZ blog at the Bloggies.

What is the Emerging Church?

30 January, 2004 11:08 PM

Andrew Jones is trying to define the 'Emerging Church'. I've grappled with this previously also.

I actually have mixed feelings on the term - partly because so many people use it to describe so many things - many of which I'm not sure are really too 'emerging'.

I also don't really like to 'define' things because then they tend to become boxed. The beauty of what I see happening around the world when it comes to communities of followers of Jesus is that there is such diversity, creativity and fluidity. I worry that when we label we perhaps run the risk of institutionalizing a dynamic movement of God.

However - we are human and we seem to like definitions - so in my struggle to deal with the fact that the word is being increasingly used (including here by me) I suspect some loose definitions should emerge (sorry - I couldn't help myself).

The Dictionary defines 'emerge' in a number of ways. Let me list a few and then make comment on each as I see them applying to the Emerging Church

  • 'Movement' - All the definitions below have the idea of 'moving'. Static things don't emerge. The emerging church is a church on the move. It is changing - both position and shape in my observation.
  • 'to rise from or as if from an enveloping fluid : come out into view' (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)For something to emerge it must have somehow been covered or enveloped. This means that it previously existed in some form. I don't believe that the emerging church is a completely new being. In fact it is an ancient movement which we see beginning to emerge 2000 years ago. Yes there is a freshness about much of what the emerging church does today - but it would be arrogant to say that it is completely new. The cliched image might be of a butterfly from a cocoon. It previously existed as a being - but comes forth in a changed form.
  • ' to come into being through evolution'(Merriam-Webster Dictionary) - Throughout history the church has changed shape many times. Movements, leaders and forms have come and gone as the church has sought to make sense of the call of Jesus in a variety of cultures and periods of history. At times the changes have been rather quick - but many have slowly morphed and evolved over time. The 'emerging church' continues to evolve as it seeks to take seriously the gospel in an ever changing world.
  • 'to come out of an experience, condition, or situation, especially a difficult one' (Encarta) - Many studies and much anecdotal evidence shows that the church in the west is under increasing pressure. Many people both inside and outside the church are increasingly dissatisfied and/or disillusioned with the church for a variety of reasons - too many to list here. Out of this pressure is emerging a growing call for change, dreaming and reinvention. Emerging churches are often born out of experiences or situations of pain, discomfort or dissatisfaction with the status quo.
  • 'to rise up from or come out of a surrounding environment or substance' (Wordsmyth) - as already mentioned - the emerging church often develops as followers of Jesus grapple to make sense of faith in a rapidly changing world. The rate of change around us in society has motivated many to consider expressing faith, worship, prayer, teaching, mission etc in new and creative ways in order to be relevant and connected to the wider culture.
  • 'to rise, as from an inferior or unfortunate state or condition.' (Info Please - Whilst I would not want to say that the church is currently in an inferior or unfortunate condition on a global level - often those starting and involved in Emerging Churches feel that the need is dire. I know of numerous new forms of church that have been born out of existing churches on their death beds. This is not always the case - but often new things are birthed after the death of old ones. The image of regrowth after a bush fire springs to mind. Out of the charcoal comes new shoots of green life - and the ecosystem begins a new cycle.
  • 'To reappear, after being eclipsed; to leave the sphere of the obscuring object.' (Webster's) - Some argue that since Christendom many of the core functions of the church have been somewhat eclipsed or obscured. The Emerging church attempts to rediscover the heart of the gospel. It seeks to strip back those things that might distract or cover up the basic calls of Jesus.
  • 'to become known, especially as a result of examination or questioning' (Cambridge) - One of the features of most of the new forms of church that I'm observing is an insatiable desire to ask questions. Virtually no question is out of the question as people seek to discover what church, worship, prayer, mission, community etc really are. Asking questions stretches one's comfort zone - but also leads to discovery and learning.

I'm afraid I haven't really 'defined' anything - I'm still resisting that a little I guess. The only other thing I'll say before I head off to bed is that there is great variety within the Emerging Church. It isn't just about ancient prayers, coffee, art, story telling, cafes and being trendy. It is expressed in many ways in many cultures. I also don't really think it is up to any of us to say who is in, or who is out of the Emerging Church. It probably goes without saying, but unfortunately with definitions (as much as this is not one) often comes boundaries and statements like 'us and them'.

I don't believe 'Emerging Church defines a specific group of communities - rather it perhaps should be used more as a descriptive term of something that is happening in the church as a whole - as a movement (or may its just that its 12.16am here and starting to see double - time to stop I think).

I suspect this post will be a living one. I'm not satisfied with what I've written and suspect I may never be. Interested to follow the discussion over at Andrew's blog - but also keen to hear other's comments here if you'd like. How would you define the Emerging Church?

Mike Rowe Settles with Microsoft

30 January, 2004 4:42 PM

During the 24 hour blogathon last week (or was it the week before?) I linked up to an amusing story about Mike Rowe who was battling with Microsoft over the name of his website (mikerowesoft.com).

The latest is that he has settled with Microsoft out of court. CNet takes up the story:

'In the end, Microsoft and Mike Rowe came to an agreement. In exchange for transferring control of his domain name, the software maker has promised to help Rowe set up a new Web site; pay for a Microsoft certification course and subscription to the Microsoft Developer Network Web site; and pay for his family to visit Microsoft Research Tech Fest in Redmond, Wash., in March. To top it all off, he will get an Xbox with some games.'

It seems that Mike has captured the imagination of a lot of people with over 700 having already signed up for his new website.

I wonder if I should start up www.darrenrowsesoft.com? doesn't quite have the same ring to it I guess.

Creative Worship Reader

30 January, 2004 11:14 AM

As regular readers will know - I'm involved in running a subject at a local college this semester in 'Creative Worship - in Postmodernism' (I still don't like the title, but we have to run with it now).

We are currently putting together a list of readings and texts for students and I was wondering if anyone reading this might have any suggestions? We're taking a look at the emerging culture in the first week or so and then looking at some of the ways that the church has responded to it in the last few decades (ie contemporary worship, seeker sensitive services, alt worship, ancient future worship etc). So we are digging up readings on these topics (both pro and against), but also ones on 'tips for creative worship' etc.

We're after books, journal articles, online essays etc. Whatever you may know of. Please leave your tips below - I'm happy to publish the list (giving you credit for your suggestions) here on the blog - perhaps we could all learn something through the process. Some of what we're going to use are:

- - Riddell, Pierson and Kirkpatrick
- - Jonny Backer
- - Sally Morgenthaler
- What is wrong with Contemporary Worship - Stephen Said
- Is this the next new worship? - Andrew Jones
- Tech Cathdrals

There is heaps more - but am running out the door. Any suggestions?

Paid Content and the Lazy Web Reader

30 January, 2004 10:53 AM

Blogopoly asks the age old question of can Bloggers charge for content?

I tend to agree with his argument that its highly unlikely. I think there are other ways that are more likely to earn a blogger some dollars from their blog (although I don't think many of us will get rich doing it).

Personally speaking I rarely read any blog (or online newspaper for that matter) that even asks me to subscribe (for free) before reading the content - let alone anything that will charge me for the privilege. There are just too many other free options and it is too much hassle to go through the rigmarole of having to sign up, risk being spammed etc. It isn't that I'm cheap - rather I'm just a lazy web user.

Take out the barriers to me reading your content and I will - make it slightly hard to access the content and I will avoid your blog unless the content is staggeringly good or interesting to me. That is part of the reason that I struggle to interact with LiveJournal bloggers - to leave a comment (that isn't anonamous) on their blog is just too much hassle.

I suspect that I'm not alone in my lazy approach to reading online. It is strange though - because if I hear of a good book or even article in a magazine or paper I will go out of my way to purchase and read it. But online I have never paid for content. Why is that?

Instant Messaging

30 January, 2004 9:48 AM

Rachel would like your help in answering a question about Instant Messaging. If you use it (ie MSN Messenger, Yahoo etc) head over and leave your answers to two simple questions in her comments.

- How many are on your list?
- How many of these have you never met in person?

I'm going to be interested in her results.

Blogging Applications

30 January, 2004 12:19 AM

Tonight was fun, we had friends over for dinner. Among other things we talked about blogging - a completely new concept to them. They were really interested, he might even get into it himself! It is the first dinner party I've ever been to where I've been asked to get my laptop out to explain blogging for the guests.

I've been thinking a lot about the different applications for blogging lately. There is quite a bit of talk about 'business blogging' and a few people writing about 'educational blogging' - oh and of course some politicians are using blogs for their campaigning. People are blogging for all kinds of reasons - some purely personal, others commercial... I'm wondering what other applications people have seen it used for - or think it will end up being used for? Would love to hear your thoughts below.

Blogger Idol - Week 2 - Judging Time

29 January, 2004 9:26 AM

It is time to take a look at the 62 (so far) submissions for this week's Blogger Idol. Remember - it is not a competition and there is no overall winner or official centralized judging - rather its an opportunity to have your blog read by a few new people and to find some great new blogs.

So link up however you wish, whether it be with a 'Top 5', your own personal awards for 'best new blogger', best 'humorous post', 'best personal post' - whatever you like. Be as creative with the 'judging' as you are with submissions. Have fun.

This weeks submissions are here

No more text messages from Jesus

28 January, 2004 2:22 PM

'A service promising to answer people's prayers with a text message apparently sent by Jesus has been shut down after complaints by Finland's mobile services watchdog.

The heavenly service offered answers from Jesus in response to a text message prayer at the cost of a hefty 1.20 euros ($1.52) per message'

Link

The Tribe Gathers

28 January, 2004 8:32 AM

Today I'm hosting the Forge National Tribal Gathering. Sound pretty primitive doesn't it! There will be no rain dances or human sacrifices - don't worry.

Forge is a missional training network that helps people to rethink church and mission. Out of the network many new forms of churches (like Livingroom) have been birthed around Australia. We are the people behind Phuture (which is a site that no longer exists).

The core of what we do is a year long internship in which interns experience intense times of learning, 20 hours a week in missional contexts, peer learning groups and individual coaching. We also run 3 intensives and a variety of other half day events throughout the year. We're also involved at speaking at festivals, conferences and camps and are getting more involved in the bible colleges in Melbourne. We also do consulting with churches - helping them to think about mission in their own contexts.

Anyway - today and tomorrow the key stake holders from around the nation are gathering in our livingroom for story telling, learning and planning. Its always a fun time.

Melbourne Emerging Churches

28 January, 2004 8:24 AM

Eddie has put together a list of 'alternative-worship/emerging churches' in Melbourne. Good idea.

Dear Harriette

27 January, 2004 11:21 PM

'Dear Harriette: When my wife gets mad at me, she writes on her Web site what I did wrong that day. We are in counseling, but sometimes my words will be twisted around on the site. She tells me not to go to the site, but I know one of our neighbors does and I want to know what is being said about me on a public Web site. Any advice? -- Tom, Texas' See Harriette's Reply

I wonder if this might be a problem we'll see more of in future.

Cafe Church

27 January, 2004 10:12 PM

Hamo has come to stay with us for a couple of days - he arrived tonight just in time to come to Living Room (as depleted as we were in number tonight!) We had dinner together, shared stories, some good Western Australian wine and ate vegetarian spaghetti.

After dinner we went to one of our member's boyfriend's place. He is part of Cafe Church which is an interesting Melbourne church experimenting with gathering in cafes. They were having a film night in a backyard where they invited those in the local neighborhood to come and have dinner and watch a movie together.

Hamo and I had an opportunity to speak with Steve the leader of the group - Hamo asked about what lessons they had learnt in the three years that they had been going. Steve answered by saying that two of the key things were that

1. People wanted to grow closer to God. Without this key desire in people such a group would become just an empty social group.

2. A core group of committed people living out the faith was important for them. He talked about how they were not 'directive' in style - but rather more fluid - and it was therefore important to have faith modeled by the core group.

Good reflections.

Blog Promotion 101

27 January, 2004 4:43 PM

Tristam from Blogopoly has posted an interesting post entitled Blog Promotion 101.....

This post has been moved to Pro Blogger - Blog Promotion 101.

Creative Worship

27 January, 2004 1:54 PM

I spent this morning working with Mark on the upcoming subject we're running at Tabor College on 'Creative Worship - Postmodernism'. I'm really looking forward to the semester ahead. We're going to tackle the topic in a fun and interactive way.

We've got readings, topics, assessment - now all we need is some students! Apparently there are a few who are interested already which is promising - should be a good year of learning.

Blogory

27 January, 2004 1:43 PM

Blorgy is a newish blog venture that aims to rate individual blog entries. Here is how they describe it from their FAQ:

What is Blorgy?
Blorgy is a post rating system for weblogs.

How does it work?
Blorgy relies on its viewers to read posts, and vote on them. By doing this, we can rank the posts so that other readers will know what the best sites to read are.

Nice idea, although for it to work it will probably need quite a few people contributing posts and voting. So far its small - but it is an interesting attempt to help identify quality blog posts.

BTW thanks to whoever nominated the Blogger Idol Posts.

Australia Day 04

26 January, 2004 8:12 PM

Well it is Australia Day (public holiday - yay!) and I probably should write something deep and meaningful on what it means to be an Aussie - but I'm afraid inspiration has not come knocking on my door. So I thought I'd link up to those that have written on the topic.

Jan decides to take a positive spin on Australia this year and writes - 'There is much I would like to change about government policy, but I am glad I am an Australian. I am glad I live in this ancient land of sometimes harsh beauty. I am thankful for our relative free way of life. I find it hard to envisage living permanently anywhere else. '

Tim Blair links up to a column written in a Jerusalem paper about Australia. Go figure! :-)

Dogfight at Bankstown celebrates with a poem - 'Surely God was a Lover...'

The Spin Starts Here takes a good hard look at the 'Australian of the Year' awards.

Kick and Scream renames the day with his post 'Happy Invasion Day'.

Back Pages takes a close look at our PM's words in relation to Steve Waugh's Aussie of the Year award.

Marty's Insight takes the traditional approach of drinking beer and cricket - a true Aussie!

John Quiggin reopens the Republic debate.

Finally Red Wolf sums it all up with the Australian Manifesto.

Amazon Restaurants

26 January, 2004 4:48 PM

Pretty useless for us Aussies - but I'm sure someone out there will benefit from it.

Redecorating the LivingRoom

25 January, 2004 9:39 PM

Welcome to the new look Living Room. You might say we've redecorated the room. Firstly let me say a bit thank you to Rachel the best web designer I know. She's exceptional.

Secondly I'd like your feedback on its design and useability. The brief I gave Rachel was for a warm and inviting look which will make people feel welcome, comfortable and want to pull up a chair, grab a coffee or wine and stay for a while.

What you see is Version 1.0 of the new design, there are a few new things in my mind that will come soon and a few things that we need to tweak — but what do you think so far? What works well, what doesn't? What are your first gut reactions? How do you find navigating around?

I'd love to hear your constructive criticism, thoughts and ideas in comments below. What do you think?

Blogger Idol - Week 2

25 January, 2004 7:21 PM

Blogger Idol

NOTE: Please do not leave comments on this post unless you are doing so to enter Blogger Idol.

Week 2 of Blogger Idol has arrived. This week 110 bloggers have joined up to all explore the one theme. This should be fun.

Blogger Idol is not a competition, rather it is a celebration of diversity and creativity, a chance to showcase your blog and to find some new quality blogs.Last week's entries on the 80s were fantastic but now it is time for something different. Hopefully this week will leave a little more freedom for individuals to put their own spin on things.

The Theme for Week 2 is 'Freedom'

Interpret the theme in anyway you choose.

Anyone with a blog can enter this round by following these simple steps - remember unlike the TV Idol shows this is not a competition:

1. Post something on the above them on your blog in the next three days. Anything goes including a photo, rant, poem, story, art etc. Be as creative as you would like and interpret the theme in any way.

2. Include a link in your entry to this page. Maybe introduce your readers to the concept of Blogger Idol so they know what you are doing.

3. Leave a comment below (this will automatically post a link to your entry in the main section of this page). To make this automatic (and cut down the work I have to do) leave your blog or personal name in the 'Name' field, the 'email' field blank, the URL of your 'entry' in the 'URL' field and a short description of your entry in the 'Comment' field. PLEASE DON'T LEAVE GENERAL COMMENTS BELOW.

4. Come back over the next few days (they should be all in by Thursday) and start reading others posts. Take part in the 'judging' (there is no winner) process by linking to your favorites on your own blog. I suggest you pick your 'Top 5' to showcase - highlighting the posts that you resonate with or those that have grabbed your attention the most.

Have fun - be creative - celebrate diversity - meet new bloggers.

If you would like to receive future blogger idol themes via email leave a comment saying 'email me' here. If you didn't get an email this week and thought you should have you may have previously left the wrong email address - try again.

blogger_idol-1.gif

So without further ado let me introduce you to this weeks Blogger Idols!


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