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book launch - out of bounds Church

28 April, 2005 10:59 AM

I'm looking forward to this upcoming event here in Melbourne. It'll be a great night and something worth adding to your diary as Steve's a wise man who I respect greatly even though I've only spent a short hour with over a beer one time.

'On Wednesday 11th May at 7.30pm, Northern Community Church of Christ and Forge are launching Steve Taylor’s book - Out of Bounds Church. This is an event not to be missed if you are in the vicinity of Melbourne.'

Read more at book launch - out of bounds Church

Spam Evangelism

26 April, 2005 2:45 PM

The past few days I've been getting random invitations to group instant messaging conversations on my MSN Messenger. I'll be happily blogging away when suddenly a window opens up with a group conversation going on with 10 or so others. They have been a pretty friendly group who randomly invite people to join their conversations which range from the gross, to the deep to the disturbing. My initial reaction to them was not a positive one but I decided to try and be a little gracious and hang around the other day to see what they were doing.

I was particularly interested in how others reacted to the invitations to the chat. You see I was not the only person to get an invite - they were constantly inviting people to join in and on the whole the reactions from those dragged into this conversation ranged from the mild displeasure to outright outrage. It seems people don't like like being approached by strangers randomly on the internet - in some ways what these MSN chatters were doing was SPAM.

I watched this cycle of invitation, attempt to engage and rejection over and over again. As I worked I left the window open and I saw the same process repeated many times. Only occasionally would anyone stay for a chat (perhaps 5% or less) - even when they did they didn't usually last long and probably stayed more out of curiosity than anything.

As I watched the cycle repeat itself - seeing angry people leave the conversation every minute or so I found myself remembering a similar cycle in real life. It was a couple of years ago when I was in the CBD of Melbourne waiting for a friend to go see a movie. I was sitting on a bench on a busy city street/outdoor mall. I was early (as usual) and settled in for a 20 minutes of people watching (one of my favorite hobbies).

It was lunch time and a lovely day so the mall was busy and people were milling about. One person caught my attention the most - he was a middle aged guy who had strategically stationed himself on a street corner where he had a prime view of those coming towards him from a number of directions. He systematically scanned the crowd as people walked towards him and after spotting a target would shuffle across to them and put himself directly in their path.

Whilst I couldn't hear the conversations I could tell from the body language that this guy was selling something. He interrupted the person's journey - making it very difficult for them to continue - attempted to engage the with words (and a pamphlet). The person usually looked very defensive and quite annoyed, usually trying to physically edge around the guy - sometimes they simply side stepped him and continued on but often they were forced to stop and listen to his sales pitch.

Very few stayed with him for more than 10 seconds - the majority of them left obviously angry or with more negative body language than when they'd first been approached. The cycle was the same as the MSN conversation I was observing - interruption, invitation, rejection, anger - with only a tiny proportion of those 'interrupted' responding and most leaving angry.

Of course the guy doing the selling was, on closer investigation, a Christian doing evangelism.

In a sense I came away from my observation of his style feeling I'd just watched a Spammer at work.

Whilst I don't doubt the earnestness of the heart of this guy I wondered at the overall impact that his strategy was having - was the Kingdom of God brought about in any fuller way through his efforts? I certainly hope so - however I wonder if the fruits of his labors left more people further from the Gospel than close to it.

It's easy to pick on Spam Evangelists like this guy - but as I pondered his actions I wonder if more of us are guilty of it than we might think - in more subtle ways.

Evangelism training these days talks more about 'relationship or friendship evangelism' but I still wonder as I flick through the books on the topic if there is something a little manipulative about the process. Is befriending someone because we'd like to see them converted just a slightly more subtle way of doing what our Evangelism spammer was doing?

I agree its probably more of an effective way of doing it - but something about the process leaves me feeling like its still manipulation - an interruption - with ulterior motives.

I'll be honest with you - I haven't worked out a nice answer to these feelings and hunches that I get. I take seriously the call to make disciples - but I wonder whether there is another way?

These are half finished thoughts - interested in others experiences and ideas.

Emergent - Key Issues

26 April, 2005 12:23 PM

Stephen Said has some good discussion going on at his blog about some of the key issues that are facing the Emerging Church - he'd like your thoughts. His initial post is Emergent - Who's doing what... and the follow up one with a list of issues that have been submitted is Emergent - Issue from the street. This issues list is quite good:

  • Effective Mission/Faithsharing
  • Sustainability (in terms of employment, paying the bills etc)
  • Sustainability in terms of spirituality.
  • Discipleship in a po-mo consumer based context (including a comnsumer based Christian context).
  • Community building and development.
  • Theologising.
  • Thinking/Imagination
  • Relating to the traditional/conventional church

Head over and add to is in Stephen's comments section.

Spirited entrepreneurship

25 April, 2005 7:31 PM

I've just had one of my adapted posts here at LivingRoom adapted and published over at Spero News. The article is titled Spirited entrepreneurship.

In it I talk about my recent grappling with a tension between Ministry and Business. Here's a taster:

'If a disciple is someone who loves God, loves the world they live in and loves their fellow believers; then I can't see why someone exclusively focusing upon doing church based ministry is responding in a more dedicated way than anyone else.

I'm starting to realize that especially when it comes to mission (or loving the world), it can be more advantageous to actually be in business than locked away in church ministry.

I'm not wanting to put down the idea that God calls some to full time, church based ministry. No way. I know many people who I genuinely feel that God has gifted for and called to work with Christians in churches. What I'm describing is a rebalancing in my own mind and life.'

Read more at Spero News | Spirited entrepreneurship

Another Spirituality Tour

21 April, 2005 12:02 AM

Good night tonight again at LivingRoom. We did another Everyday Spirituality Tour of one of our community's members. Going from home, to local shopping strip, to child care centre to work place for a tour of where he spends his days.

I am always amazed at the things that these little tours reveal about people who do them that none of us would ever know without them.

Theological Bachelor

15 April, 2005 11:18 PM

Tonight I graduated from my Bachelor of Theology Degree.

I am happy about that.

It took me 10 years to get there.

But I got it.

London Bound

12 April, 2005 10:20 PM

I forgot to mention in my last post that I'll be in London in June and am going to try and fit in some time to catch up with bloggers. I emailed Jonny a month or so back and mentioned it and he said that an informal get together might work rather than seeing everyone separately like I tried to do last time - perhaps a drink one day or night somewhere in London. We're only passing through for a few days on the way to and from a holiday in Turkey so it'd be great to meet a few people at once.

I'm not sure where would be best but if there is anyone who would be interested in meeting leave a comment below - if there is more than one or two perhaps someone would be kind enough to do a little co-ordinating of logistics.

If no one is interested that's no problem - I'm sure I'll have no shortage of things to do and see.

The Life and Times of D Rowse

12 April, 2005 5:44 PM

All has been quiet here for the past few days - life continues to be busy. Let me give you a quick update.

LivingRoom - continues to bubble along. I am really enjoying the increased participation of others in leading the group this year having stepped out of a paid position with the group. Its exciting to see people exercising their gifts and following their passions. We have grown numerically this year and are thinking through how we will grow. In a few weeks time we will be discussing the possibility of starting a second and possibly even third group.

Home - since buying a new home which we will move into in a month's time life has been busy with all the logistics of mortgages, paperwork and the admin of moving. We're excited about the move but a bit daunted by the logistics of it all. It will be nice to move into a place that we shouldn't have to move out of for a while.

Research Project - I've taken on a part time position doing a research project for three of the denominations in our state. The project is to look into how the denominations might best support and encourage missional emerging churches. I'm really excited by the project and am enjoying the many interviews that I'm conducting with missional church practitioners but of course am feeling a little overwhelmed by the massiveness of the task at hand.

Business - My blogging business continues to grow in the spare time (LOL) that I have. I am still amazed that blogging has become a way to sustain what I do with LivingRoom and life in general. Its enabling me to give more time to different life giving projects as a volunteer and also in other ways which is really wonderful. I'm coaching a number of bloggers now from around the world to think about entrepreneurial blogging and am especially excited by the opportunities to work with a number of bloggers from third world countries who I've been able to join in helping them to find a way to help put food on the table of their families.

I'm really exploring at the moment how business can not only sustain me so that I can 'do ministry' but how business can be a life giving thing in itself. I am really excited by the way blogging has the potential to give a voice to those who are marginalised am working on a couple of projects which I really hope will explore this idea and give such people a way of being heard in some pretty needy places. I am hoping and praying that these approaches might actually make a significant difference in many people's lives. The possibilities are exciting and I'll share more as they come to be. I write about my blogging mainly these days over at ProBlogger for those of you who wondered why I don't write about blogging here any more..

So life is busy - its full - its stimulating - its tiring - its keeping me on my toes. I am wearing many hats but am amazed at the way in which they come together and that God is opening up ways to join him in what he's doing around me.

By the way I'm off to Sydney in the morning for a few days so if you're waiting on an email from me it could be a few days as net access could be limited.

Postcards from the Corporate World Reminder

5 April, 2005 10:44 AM

Just a reminder to Melbourne readers that Thursday night is Postcards from the Corporate World. Hope you can make it along.

Pope Read his Last Rites

1 April, 2005 8:20 AM

The breaking news is that the Pope has just been read his last rites. Looks like a pretty hard week for our Catholic brothers and sisters.

Update -

Of course in the last few hours the Pope has sadly passed away. I'm tracking the news at the Pope Watch Blog if you want to get the latest news or if you'd like to leave a message, memory or prayer in memory of the Pope.

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