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Sexual Misconduct in the Emerging Church

30 November, 2004 12:21 AM

Today was the first day of the last Forge intensive for the year - a week of learning, dreaming, sharing, networking and imagining what the church, mission and Christian spirituality might look like in our different cultural positions. A lot of Melbourne's emerging church scene comes out over the week to catch up and engage with one another. This intensive is on the topic of 'Leadership'.

Today we had a number of good sessions. One in particular remains in my mind tonight as I consider ending my day and heading to bed. I thought I'd mention it here in an attempt to get it out of my head before I attempt sleep....

Anne Wilkinson-Hayes spoke today about Sexual Misconduct/Abuse - particularly of leaders. Here in Australia (and around the world) over the past few years there have been a number of high profile cases where ministers/pastors have been accused of and found guilty of a variety of different sexual misconduct actions. All that I am aware of have arisen in traditional or mainline churches....

Anne talked today about how this is a topic that the Emerging Church especially needs to ponder and grapple with. Sexual misconduct by leaders is not just an issue for larger mainline churches - in some ways the emerging church might even be more vulnerable due factors including (and I'm generalizing here):

- lack of accountability to outside groups/denominations.
- lack of policy and/or thought through strategies in some of these areas due to the informality or lack of resources of groups
- decentralized leadership that often is a little chaotic
- lack of training in these areas due to a laity leadership model
- smallness of groups which can lead to real relational intimacy
- gender imbalances in groups sometimes make it difficult to follow policies

These were just a few of the reasons why the EC might be more vulnerable in this area. Again they are gross generalizations and not applicable to every EC - however even if none of them apply - I still see this as an important issue to grapple with and one in which I'm yet to see any real work or discussion had in EC circles that I have something to do with. I'm wondering if others have anything to share in terms of resources - ideas - suggestions on how you tackle this area as Emerging Churches. Interested in your thoughts...

Blog Day Reflections

26 November, 2004 4:09 PM

Today marks the 2nd anniversary of my first ever blog post.

Two years is not a long time - I feel like I've been at it a lot longer than that. This blog has recorded 1440 moments of time in my life and has recorded a period of real change for me. Not only has it recorded change - but blogging has actually been a change agent also!

Last year at this time I reflected upon the first year of blogging with the words:

'Blogging for me is many things. It started off as an outlet for me to think out loud about my hopes and dreams for the birthing of a little community of faith. Since then it has become many other things. It is a hobby, its a way of connecting with others on similar journeys, it is a way of learning about the world I live in, it has been a spiritual discipline, it gives me a place to get feedback on my ideas, it is a creative outlet, it is a record keeping devise for ideas and experiences and it has been a way to keep my supporters informed of what's happening for me.'

As I've reflected today upon the directions my blogging has taken since I wrote that I realize that things have continued to evolve for me. A year ago I had just launched Digital Photography Blog as a record of one of my other loves and hobbies. Through a number of strange twists of fate, coincidence and/or divine intervention that blog has become the basis for something of an emerging Career - a career as a communicator - a career as a gatherer of information - a career as a blogger.

It sounds strange to say those words - who would have ever thought that in 2 years the twists and turns of life would lead to that statement - but its the way it has happened. I don't say it to big note anything that I do - but rather because blogging has actually opened up a way for me to help put food on the table in our home and to release me to give my time freely next year to my work with LivingRoom.

It is hard to believe that the ugly little blog I first created with a free Blogger template has evolved into something like it has. I now have 13 blogs and am associated and partnering in the life of a handful of others. Blogging has changed my life (did that sound like a religious testimony?) but my approach to blogging has also changed since starting.

To be honest there both good and bad aspects of the change. The bad includes things like comment spam (which took me to the point of wanting to give up a month back), the criticism of others, the lack of time to blog about passions. However the good aspects far out weigh the rest at this point - the relationships that have opened up, the opportunities to be a part of some life giving projects, a stable and generous income, the encouragement I'm given daily by so many of you - these things keep me going.

Also keeping me going is the potential that I see in blogging. Potential not only to keep food on our table, but potential to give the marginalized a voice, potential to provide income to those without, the potential for learning, for community, for relationships. I would never have imagined that the last 12 months would have evolved the way they have for my blogging and I'm very excite about what the next year will bring and about the ideas that are continuing to form in my mind.

Thanks again to those of you who go out of your way to read my scattered thoughts. I'm encouraged by your comments and emails and even by those of you who lurk without commenting but whom I seem to bump into regularly in real life.

Sex Talk available for Download

25 November, 2004 3:02 PM

Regarding Sex
A few of you have emailed to ask for my notes from the Sex talk I did on Sunday. I actually don't use notes - I spoke off a powerpoint (actually it was a 'KeyNote' (mac program) presentation which is a very big file. However if you're interested you can actually download an mp3 version or hear a streamed version of it. Yep - you can actually hear my voice!

I'm a bit hesitant to to put this up as its a touchy topic.

In listening to it - keep in mind:
- that this is a talk mainly for young people
- that there is a powerpoint that fleshes some of it out more with visuals (including some book covers from Amazon, my main points, pictures etc)
- that there was another sermon two weeks before this that I'm building on - it talked a lot more about God, bible etc.
- it contains a few explicit words - I'd recommend this for over 16 year olds. (it is about Sex afterall! Have I now guaranteed you'll download it?)
- it goes for 40 or so minutes and contains periods of discussion that are not picked up by the microphone - you might want to fast forward through parts.

Emerging Church Bloggers make it to Wikipedia

23 November, 2004 3:58 PM

Looks like Emerging Church Bloggers are hitting it big time now - Jordon Cooper and Leighton Teebay have made it to the Wikipedia!!! Although by the looks of the 'candidate for speedy deletion' note on the entries they may not be there long!

Post Sex Talk Blues

22 November, 2004 4:25 PM

Last night's sex talk went well - thanks to those of you who contributed your ideas in comments below and via email. One never quite knows how a sermon is received at the best of times - but on this topic and in a church where you know very few people it is even harder to gauge. I enjoyed the challenge though and think no matter how it went down that it was a worthwhile interaction to be a part of.

Unfortunately today this ongoing hay-fever I've got has left me feeling pretty drained. Been in bed most of today trying to sleep it off.

Pleasant Days

20 November, 2004 10:17 PM

Today was what I can only describe as pleasant. LivingRoom friends piled into cars and took off for the hills. Quite literally - we accidentally ended up on a big hill with a dirt track and drove to the top hoping it would take us to the place we were aiming for. Reading maps might not be the gifting of some in our group - but it gave us a nice story to tell the rest of the group next Wednesday night.

In a round about way we ended up at St Andrews market - a market about 50km out of Melbourne where we ambled through the Hippie/New Age stalls, bought some bargains etc. Then we drove onto Healesville for a late lazy lunch and a look through Op shops, book stores and had more coffees and ice cream before heading back home.

It was one of those aimless days where one thing leads to another - where no one felt the need to make conversation but where we got to know each other a little more than previously. Nice to get out of the city - to stop - to yawn - to relax and to be. Only problem was the hay-fever I am getting. Feeling very relaxed tonight and wondering how I'll kick start myself again tomorrow.

I'll find a way I'm sure.

Lets Talk about Sex - Again

17 November, 2004 12:31 PM

I'm still preparing for an upcoming talk about Sex (it is this Sunday).

Thanks to those who have left their tips and encouragement in the previous post - its not too late to have your say.

One of the themes I'm going to be exploring is 'the messages we hear about Sex' in today's culture and in the church. I'm going to break people into age and gender groups to answer some questions including:

- 'Where and from whom did you first hear about sex?'
- 'What are the messages (both positive and negative) that you hear about Sex from Media and your peer group?
- 'What are the messages you hear about Sex from Church?'

I've done the exercise previously in another setting and the feedback time at the end where groups shared their findings were fascinating. Especially of interest was the difference in answers between generational groups.

The other thing that I found interesting from the exercise last time was that the 'messages' about sex from 'culture' were not all negative. In fact when compared to the list of 'messages' that people from Church there was almost an equal proportion of 'positive' and 'negative' messages from each.

So I thought I'd do the exercise here and open this up for discussion in comments. How do you answer the three questions above? If you feel comfortable to let us know your gender, age (approx is fine) and location then that would be helpful too.

Congratulations IdolBlog

12 November, 2004 5:24 PM

Congratulations to Rachel and Regan who have just taken out an the 'Best Youth Site in New Zealand' award for IdolBlog.

Looks like all that hard work has paid off!

Emerging Worship with Mark Pierson

12 November, 2004 12:20 PM

Last night we had the Emerging Worship Night with Mark Pierson at Forge. It was a good night with about 40 in attendance (the rain kept people away at bit).

I really enjoy listening to Mark - as someone who has been involved in innovative church contexts for years longer than myself its very encouraging to hear his stories and experience.

One of the things that sticks in my mind was some of his opening remarks about intuition. He talked about how most of what he did at Cityside was done out of his intuitive nature and not out of books, blogs, theoretical or strategic thinking. This was personally a very encouraging thing for me to hear as I do not see myself as a deep thinker - and work out of that place predominantly also. Phew - I'm not alone.

He also talked a lot about the value of participation that they have at Cityside - something that I noticed about the place on our recent visit. It was great to simply hear the story/ies of Cityside and some of the behind the scenes workings having had so vivid memories of being there.

I love the balance that they have between a structured liturgy and an 'anything goes' approach. Skeletally they are the same each Sunday in terms of liturgy, but because anyone can do anything (within the outlined elements) they can end up with radically different gatherings from week to week.

I also resonated with his talking about how anyone can initiate anything when it comes to mission. Cityside as such doesn't have 'mission projects or programs'. They support mission projects of its members but the primary responsibility and authority lies with the members. This is an approach that sounds rather chaotic and scary - but one which I have seen work very successfully in a number of places over the years.

Mark's concept of a 'Worship Curator' is one I'm familiar with from previous reading and one which has been very formative for me over the years. It was nice to hear him speak about it in person.

I valued the way Mark shares - he is very humble and not pushy. He does not present anything as a model but rather encouraged those there to hear the principles he was speaking about. All in all it was a very encouraging night and one that I'm sure will continue to impact my thinking for many years. Of course the other exciting thing is that Mark now is based in Melbourne and so the possibilities of increased relationship and sharing will no doubt arise over time.

How do you Engage with the Emerging Church?

8 November, 2004 9:14 AM

Life just got busy. Sorry for the lack of action on this blog this week - its one of those weeks where everything is landing on my lap at once. Its all good stuff - there's just a lot of it.

Anyway - question for you emerging church bods out there.

I've been asked to speak tomorrow to an Aussie missions agency about Emerging Church. To give them a bit of a run down on what its all about - but also to share with them as to how they might better connect and partner with it.

The exciting thing for me is that I think a relationship between a mission agency like this one (who is doing some cutting edge stuff in third world contexts) could be a very dynamic and two way one.

I think they could teach us a lot about mission, culture, incarnation etc. After all - most of the principles that many of us use in mission are really taken from the lessons learned in overseas mission. I think that the Emerging Church could also offer back a lot of lessons, creativity, resources and people. Its a worthwhile conversation.

The challenge for groups like them is that many of us Emerging church types are suspicious of institutions, a little skeptical about some of the things that have been done over the years by 'mission organizations' and are often so unstructured and 'liquid' that we are hard to engage if you're a structured and highly organized body.

So - the question I have (and it is a little obscure) - how would you suggest an organization like this fosters relationships with the Emerging Church? What barriers might you see? What ways forward might there be?

Update: unfortunately comments are not working at the moment if you leave a URL. (its my spam protector doing a bit too good a job) Thanks to those that have emailed me responses. Feel free to leave a comment below without anything in the url or 'www' in your comments. Will attempt to fix it soon.

10x10 News

6 November, 2004 11:24 AM

Check out 10x10 which is cool site that scans news sites for the top 100 words of the hour.

It then finds a corresponding picture so you can log in and see a pictorial display of the latest news with the corresponding words. Very cool. (click image to enlarge)

Found via David Krane of Google - who btw ways says this should be incorporated into Google News - would be a great addition.

U2 - How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb Lyrics

5 November, 2004 11:40 PM

Darren has just added lyrics of - How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb - by U2 over at his Alternative Hymnal.

Update - for some reason that page has been taken down - you can get the lyrics at U2 Discography - How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb in the mean time.


Related Links:
- review of U2's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
- How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb Lyrics
- U2 - How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb Information
- U2's 'Bomb' lacks firepower - Review

Track Listing
1. Vertigo
2. Miracle Drug
3. Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
4. Love and Peace or Else
5. City of Blinding Lights
6. All Because of You
7. A Man and A Woman
8. Crumbs From Your Table
9. One Step Closer
10. Original of the Species
11. Yahweh

Lets Talk about Sex

5 November, 2004 9:25 PM

I'm a little worried - it seems that for some reason the word has gotten out that I'm good at talking about Sex.

Let me qualify that - the word seems to have gotten out that if you want someone to speak to your youth group or young adults - that I'm good at talking about Sex.

In my last church we had a four week series on the topic - we called it 'Sex Fest' (the service was called 'Festival' - hence the 'Fest' part). The service was aimed primarily at 14 to 30 year olds and we had a lot of fun with it. In fact some of what we did bordered on irreverent (it got pretty wacky) but the aim of it was to get people talking about a topic that Church often largely ignores - except when its says 'don't do it'.

'Let's talk about sex, baby
Let's talk about you and me
Let's talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be'

I think churches should take Salt-N-Pepper's advice.

We had a lot of fun, but in the process took a good long look at what our culture says about sex (the truths and lies), what the bible says about it, the realities and pressures that we face with it, some of the health issues etc etc etc

Anyway - since that time I've had calls from a number of people who've heard about it and wanting me to do something similar in their churches/camps/youth groups.

I've got another one in the next week or so and I thought I'd open up the topic for discussion here and ask you if you've seen any creative ways of teaching young people about Sex? Have you seen any good resources? Any ideas or thoughts? Anything goes (well almost). Looking forward to your thoughts and experiences in comments.

Update - here is a starting point that I've already found. It is four MP3s of a record (remember them?) from the 1970's of a Christian educator. They are quite hilarious. Here are the links - its worth the download.

- How Babies are Born
- Girls and Menstruation
- The Problem with Growing Boys
- The Marriage Union

Liquid Conference - Registrations Open

5 November, 2004 3:19 PM

The Liquid Conference is now taking registrations online.

It will be an amazing few days of exploring the themes of:

- Engaging culture & community
- Spiritual formation & discipleship
- Compassionate living & social justice

Its being held here in Melbourne between Wed 9 � Fri 11 February 2005.

Both the organizations that I work for (LivingRoom and Forge) and supporters of this event (as are many other wonderful groups from around our city). Apparently we've already got a few registrations from overseas (including one or two readers of this blog I've heard) as well as a growing number of local registrations. I'm going and will be involved in running a few workshops and am coordinating some evening worship times. Would love to have you come along.

Emerging Worship Workshop - With Mark Pierson

4 November, 2004 5:18 PM

Thursday 11th November will see the next Forge Postcards from the Edge event held in the upper room of the Retro Caf� on Brunswick St.

Presenter Mark Pierson will be presenting on the topic of 'Emerging Worship'.

'How is worship evolving in these increasingly sceptical, and secular times? What is the role of art in our worship? How can we make worship more that just a spectator sport? Is we've always done it this way, really a good reason not to do it differently? Innovation, creativity, and relevance in worship.'

Mark has many years of experience in thinking through issues of church, mission and worship and is a sought after presenter on this topic. He's the co-writer of the book 'Prodigal Project', pastor at Cityside Baptist (Auckland) and has recently taken up a position heading up Urban Seed in Melbourne. We�re looking forward to an enjoyable and stimulating evening of learning and discussion with Mark and hope you�re able to join us.

As always � feel free to bring a friend, partner, small group, worship team � whoever you think will benefit from this time.

Where: Retro Caf� (upstairs) - 413 Brunswick St Fitzroy (Melbourne Australia)
When: 11th November
Time: Either 6pm (ish) for dinner (an informal dinner in the caf� downstairs with some of the Forge network) or come at 7.30pm for the start of the night upstairs. The night will finish before 9.30pm.
Cost: $10 for students/pension and $15 for everyone else. There will also be food and drinks available for purchase during the night at normal caf� prices.

There is no need to RSVP but you may contact me if you would like more information on this evening.

In Blog we Trust

4 November, 2004 2:09 PM

warcrycover.gifThe Salvation Army's War Cry magazine did a feature story a couple of weeks back on Christian bloggers. They are based in Melbourne and so as a Christian, Blogger and Melbournian I was the lucky guy to get photographed for the cover. Anyway - the article wasn't online until just now when Bene typed it up at Connexions (great job Bene). So now you can head over and read the full article which features comments from Bene, Martin, Gordon and myself.

8 Year Old Blogs for a Horse

4 November, 2004 8:03 AM

_P1010024.jpgI just linked up to the best blogging story that I've seen for ages over at ProBlogger and I couldn't help but post it here also. I'd like to introduce you to the blog of 8 year old Professional Blogger - Delaney who is blogging over at Horseshues.com.

The blog is an attempt by her to earn enough money to buy a horse. The concept is simple - she takes old horseshoes and she decorates them and sells them from her blog for $15US. Its quite the little cottage industry.

She's already made enough to pay back her parents for the set up costs and now she's saving for the horse!

What a great idea - head on over to Horseshues.com and leave some encouragement and buy a horse shoe!

And we're home.

2 November, 2004 10:26 PM

Back in rainy Melbourne on Melbourne Cup day.

The trip was great - we saw some great stuff but also did some very worthwhile work. NZ is well worth a visit - hoping to return to tour that South Island one day! Now its time to catch up on some blogging that's been a little on hold this past two weeks.

I'm Superblessed

1 November, 2004 3:54 PM

Thanks to Ganns at Superblessed for a Christian Blog Award - I appreciate the encouragement Ganns - you really are an encouragement to so many of us.

Thanks to Bene for letting me know about it - I'd missed it while traveling over the past week. Congrats also Bene for taking out the top award!