May 2005 Archives »
31 May, 2005 6:02 PM
As part of my current research position I get to interview all kinds of interesting emerging church, missional church, church planting, denominational type people. Today my colleague and I went and spent some time with Steve Addison.
Steve is an insightful fellow that I've heard speak on a number of occasions on the topics of 'movements' and 'church planting'. I've always found him to be someone with something helpful to say. Today was no different as he brought together in a concise and productive way some of the messages I'd been hearing in my research.
After our interview I found out that Steve recently started a blog. So now you can share in his wisdom also.
Recent posts include:
I know that many of the readers of this blog will find Steve's insights helpful and strongly recommend you stopping by to say hi.
25 May, 2005 1:46 PM
Over the past week I've had a number of interactions with Christians that have left me feeling a little downhearted.
In each case I've had people asking questions about LivingRoom and 'churches like it' in a way that was verging on attacking.
Now before I write any more - I will say that I don't mind questions about LivingRoom - in fact I welcome them. I actually believe that questions from outside our group are very helpful in keeping us on track and developing a community that doesn't evolve into something that is unaccountable and disconnected from the mainstream theologically.
However questions can be asked in a variety of ways - one of which is aggressively.
The actual questions asked were the normal ones that I tend to get presented with - things like:
- Why don't you sing?
- Why don't you meet on Sunday?
- Who is your pastor/minister? Why don't you have one?
- Why don't you have a Sunday School program for kids?
- Do you have a building? Do you want one? Why not?
- Why don't you have an evangelism program?
- How many converts have you had?
Again the questions are not bad ones - but the tone with which they were asked seemed to be getting at whether we were legitimately a 'real church' or not - and in most cases the implied undertone was that the answer to this question was 'no we were not'.
I don't particularly mind if people want to work out if we're really a church or not - its a good question and one we seek to answer at LivingRoom. We believe we are a church - we believe that we're not a perfect one, but we're on the road and seeking to know what God would have us be in our context and hopefully are responding to this.
These conversations have left me wondering what would happen if every church were asked questions like these.
I have to say that when I worked in my last church (300 or so people, meeting in a largely mainstream way) that i never got asked any of these questions - in fact I don't remember ever being challenged on our model of doing church at all.
The reason for this is obviously because the church I was in was largely doing what was generally accepted by most Christians as 'doing church'. They met on Sundays, they had a pastoral team, they met in a building and had offices, they had established programs, they had contemporary worship services etc.
This would be an opportune time for me to weigh into the 'established vs emerging church' debate and to deconstruct and critique the 'established/mainline' church. Perhaps in a previous time I would have done so - but in the past 12 months I'm realizing more and more that such a debate isn't really helpful. My personal opinion is that there is room for a multitude of models and expressions of church. My previous church is a legitimate expression of a Jesus centered faith community for the context that they are in. I doubt any of their members would say they are perfect - but they, like us, are seeking to hear God's voice and respond to it.
I guess what I'm saying here (in a round about - not very well thought out way) is two things:
1. When we ask questions about models/logistics/styles of doing Church - perhaps we should first consider the tone of voice and the agenda that we have in asking the questions. Neil Coles words of 'if you're going to base the bride you better be willing to face the bridegroom' ring in my ears. This is a message that both emerging and establish church people need to hear as they make comment on one another.
2. Perhaps with this attitude in mind the questions should be asked in a dialogical way. You see being asked such questions in a positive tone is helpful for me as someone involved in LivingRoom - it keeps challenging me back to the basics of who we are, what God is saying to us, what our culture is like etc. I think all churches should revisit some of these sorts of questions from time to time.
For example, perhaps it would be helpful for my previous church to be asked questions like I have been this week (not accusingly - but genuinely to assist in their discerning of God's voice:
• Why do you sing?
• Why do you meet on Sunday and not Tuesday for your main gatherings?
• Why do is so much of your giving tied up in pastors wages
• Why do you separate kids from parents each Sunday?
• Why do you have a building? How is it being used?
• Why do you have so many programs?
• How many converts have you had?
Please hear me as asking these questions in a loving way - I know that the answers can be legitimately answered - some of the answers will reconfirm the choices that this church has made - but perhaps some of them will challenge paradigms that need a challenge and perhaps would identify a new expression of what God might be wanting to do in that place.
Interested in others thoughts.
19 May, 2005 6:34 PM
I wrote a week or so back about how at LivingRoom we are testing our theory of Multiplication. When we first started as a group we wanted to grow by starting new groups rather than growing into a larger one - the time has come for that as a result of some numerical growth over the past year.
The question we were left with was not one of 'should' we multiple - but one of 'how' do you multiply?
After over two years of journeying with each other we find ourselves in an interesting place - a rich mix of people from different walks of life who've been sharing a few hours together each week in order to resource them for the rest of their lives together.
In thinking and praying about this dilemma I began to realize that the process of choosing how to multiply could become quite complicated. The choice of 'how' to form new groups could be based on many factors - but three main ones seemed to emerge in my thinking.
Logistics - whilst we all like to be postmodern and liquid in these types of communities the fact remains that sometimes we need to consider the life situation of people when making decisions. It's not very sexy I know - but factors like where people live, families (sometimes its easier to meet at the homes of families with younger children) and time availability come into play.
Relationships - there are a range of relational factors to keep in mind. On one hand people would like to be with people they feel comfortable with, that they share interests with, that they are in similar life circumstances to. People like being with people like them - I guess its part of who we are as humans. On the other hand we don't want to just split into homogenous, comfortable, like-minded groups. One of the things we've enjoyed about the journey so far is that we are a bit diverse - by gender, age, work situations, students, families, singles, marrieds etc. We all expressed a desire to find a balance between having diversity but maintaining relationships.
Mission - a couple of weeks ago we had a conversation where people shared their missional heart - the places that God was stimulating them to join him in. One of the suggestions that we've been playing around with was about forming communities around some of these passions, ideas and interests.
So two weeks ago I shared these three areas with the group and we began to sort through the different issues associated with each. The general initial feeling was that all were important, but that most of us were probably more leaning towards the missional and logistical side of things than the relational. I guess we realized that two years ago when we started we didn't know each other as a group and the relationships looked after themselves over time.
That night we came up with three draft lists of possible new groups to think about for a couple of weeks. In the mean time I invited people to give feedback and reactions to these groups via email or in person.
Last night I brought the feedback to the whole group and we tweaked two of the groups to align them even more towards along missional and relational lines. We now have three pretty firm groups!
So - I'm excited, apprehensive, curious and really looking forward to how it all goes.
Next week is our last week before splitting up - at which time we'll move into a new cycle of meeting separately most weeks and then coming back together as a larger tribe semi regularly (maybe monthly initially and then transitioning to every 6 or so weeks).
We still have to address some issues of leadership - but as I look at the three new groups I'm really excited about the mix of people in each. We've managed to keep an element of diversity yet some threads of commonality in each group and each group is made up of wonderful and capable people - each of whom could lead it in their own right.
15 May, 2005 7:59 PM
Got to love these survey/meme things...
| You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.|
What is Your World View?
created with QuizFarm.com
13 May, 2005 6:02 PM
Someone pointed me to a post written by Mark at the First Epistle of Mark titled Behold, I am making all things stale and boring - a critique/observation of the Emerging Church - or at least its blogs. You can probably tell that Mark is a little disalussioned by the EC blogging scene by his title - his post is worth a read. I both resonated with it and reacted against it a little. Here is the comment I left on his blog which has some of my initial thoughts:
Good post and a topic I've written on from time to time.
I personally read a lot less blogs on the topic of Emerging Church (and have written on the topic myself less) these days for a combination of reasons:
1. I have less time
2. a little frustration (similar to yours) of an insular group talking about the same stuff
3. perhaps less need to keep talking and a desire to start doing more
4. I've felt a nudging from God to get involved in the wider blogging community and be a little more outward focused in my blogging.
Having said this - I still value EC blogs (despite them sometimes going in circles a bit). The reason I value them is on a number of fronts:
1. They are often written by people early on in their EC journey and are a thinking out loud, learning experience - testing ideas, learning from each other, experimenting with theories and even testing them in practice. This is vital for their own personal walk and the communities that they are a part of.
2. They are part of an important dialogue in the wider church. Whilst you and I may have heard all the arguments, been convinced (or not convinced) and perhaps are thirsting for something new - so many others have not. I spent a day today with 100 or so church people, many of whom have not heard of the EC movement (is that what it is) and who were incredibly stimulated and moved by what they heard about some very very basic Emerging Church thought from one of the EC Bloggers that many look to as quite prominent. I didn't hear anything new (although it did remind me of a few things that I'd pushed aside) but the basics were rich for most in the room. I wonder if this is true for the EC blogging community also which I believe plays an important role in awakening a conversation that needs to happen in the wider church today.
I also have been challenged recently by the idea of 'new' and our need for it in society. You write no one writes anything 'new' - I wonder if anyone ever did. Most conversations in all areas of the church today are reshapings of previous conversations.
I can't remember where I heard this - but in a book I've read in the last year or two I was challenged to think about the growing need that western culture has for 'new things' or 'novelty'. In previous generations and centuries the main 'needs' were for food, shelter, relationship etc. Today we live in a world where we 'need' new things. The latest gadget, car, book, idea, theory, paradigm etc. Whilst I don't have anything against new things - I wonder how healthy this obsession is with new/novelty and whether the church buys into it.
I too thirst for a new conversation - but perhaps God's calling us into an ancient discussion. I don't know - maybe I'm wrong - but I'm going to sit with that for a while.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not having a go at you Mark - I resonate with your post - but I guess I'm also seeing the value in the EC blogging scene.
Lastly I'll point you to an interesting post by Anil Dash - one of the people behind the MovableType and Typepad blogging systems who wrote an interesting piece on the blogging cycle and some of the observations that he's made about a variety of blogging communities. Perhaps what you're describing is part of one of the steps that he writes about.
11 May, 2005 11:57 AM
American Idol this year is hotting up after a great competition last year when Fantasia Barrino became the American Idol Winner in front after 65 million Americans cast their votes.
This year the American Idol Results will make the winner either 21 year old Carrie Underwood from Checotah (OK) or 29 year old Bo Bice from Helena (AL).
The competition to be the American Idol Winner is hot - with internet polls at American Idol Blog neck and neck. At the time of publishing this Bo Bice was just edging out Carrie Underwood - but really the American Idol Crown is anyone's!
Update - The Winner of American Idol this year is Carrie Underwood.
Last to leave American Idol this year was 20 year old Vonzell Solomon from Fort Myers.
'A postal letter carrier, Solomon endeared herself to fans with her emotional openness. Always an underdog, she had tried out once before for "Idol" but was rejected. This time, she made it all the way to the top three, which is sure to yield her a recording contract.
"My 'American Idol' journey has been crazy - a lot of emotions balled up into one. But it's been all worth it," Solomon said in a video montage played after host Ryan Seacrest announced that she had received the fewest votes.'
8 May, 2005 9:54 AM
New house is clean.
Kitchen is moved.
Linen is moved.
Today we move all other miscellaneous bits and pieces.
Tomorrow the movers come to get the 'big stuff'.
Tuesday we clean the old house.
- Sneezes from dust - 124
- Packing boxes used - 39 (and counting)
- Trips between North Fitzroy and Preston in last week - 23
- Guests at new house - 5
- Bench space in new kitchen - 30cm
5 May, 2005 5:25 PM
I just picked up the keys for our new house (left) and over the next few days we begin the process of shifting the accumulated things (too many) from our abode of the last few years to our new place.
It is a rather odd feeling - to actually have a little patch of land that we'll not only live on but that has a document saying that we 'own' it. Along with the feelings of excitement, relief (no more moving every year or two!), weariness (the logistics of it all are a killer) - I've been feeling a little pain over the past few days about leaving North Fitzroy.
Not just because of the cafes, coffee, park, wide streets, fun lifestyle (although I'll miss a lot of that) but mainly because this place has become home for us - for me - at such a formative time of my life.
Since moving to North Fitzroy I've gotten married, planted LivingRoom, made some significant relationships with local, started a business and had more paradigm shifts than a mind can handle. Whilst none of this ends as we move - I'm surprised to feel some grief attached to it.
Last night at LivingRoom we had a time of sharing where our 'missional heart' was - or where we were feeling God stir around us and perhaps inviting us to join in his work. I realized that for the past three years my 'missional heart' has been my neighborhood - particularly a local cafe where I've spent time virtually everyday sharing life with those who work and drink coffee there - this cafe has become central of my daily rhythm of mission and an important proximity space for me.
Whilst we're only moving 7 kilometers away to Preston - my daily rhythm will no doubt change - and my time in this local cafe will not be such a regular feature of my life. A new rhythm will emerge - but in the mean time, amidst the excitement is a little sadness and a growing 'wondering' about what may develop in our new neighborhood.
5 May, 2005 9:48 AM
Last night at LivingRoom we met to talk about how we should grow.
Since starting just over 2 years ago we've grown numerically from a group of 7 (including one child) to a group of 25 (including up to 5 children).
The dynamics have obviously changed in this time - we've gone from meeting around a table to meeting around a lounge room. We've gone from an easy to organize meal to something that requires a roster. We've gone from an intimate group where all can quite naturally find a space to be heard to one where some personality types find it more difficult to speak.
These changes are not necessarily bad - they're just different and have led us to go back to rethinking some of the founding values that we started with.
This week I went back through the notes we made when we first started meeting and was interested to discover that we'd actually named 'smallness' as a value.
Ok - it never made it into our three core values - but it was talked about a lot early on.
I shared last night a little of why we initially valued smallness and as a result named right up front that we wanted to grow by multiplication (starting new groups) rather than by growing into a large group:
- Previous Experiences of Large Church - We were all pretty honest about our previous experiences of church in the early days. While most of us had had pretty positive experiences of churches of all sizes - one of the themes that emerged early on was that we'd seen things in larger churches that left us thirsting for something different (including some of the following). I don't think any of us were (or are) 'anti' large church - we just wanted to experience and try something different.
- Intimacy - We all desired to be in a group that was connected and able to share on a deeper level.
- Community - There was a real sense that people longed for an experience of shared life
- Local Focus - We all initially lived reasonably close to one another and had a real heart for the local area
- Commitment and Participation - Whilst we were keen not to let 'church' dominate and take us away from the rest of our lives - we also desired to be a community committed to one another - to participation (not just attendance) and to unashamedly growing in and exploring our core values.
- Accountability - The group felt that out of the intimacy, community and commitment would come a level of accountability between one another.
- Logistics - There was a desire that we not become a group distracted by the logistics of staff, buildings, resources etc. 'Simplicity' was a word that was used early on a bit.
These things are not impossible in a large church - and they are not guaranteed in a small one. However our theory at the time was that perhaps in a small setting these elements would be a more natural thing. It was an untested theory - but it was something we wanted to test and out of it we made a decision to be a multiplying group.
Nice theory - but is there any truth to it?
Last night we had some good discussion around this question and the general feeling was that as we've grown, these things have become more difficult. Of course as we've grown other wonderful things have happened (there is a sense of momentum, variety, freshness, diversity etc) - however there are some costs to these things also.
So the decision has been made to multiply.
I'll post at some point in the next few days about the dilemma of 'how to multiply'.
1 May, 2005 5:24 PM
Darren (the other one) is writing a chapter by chapter review of Steve Taylor's Out of Bounds Church. He's written 5 chapters so far. Looking forward to getting my hands on my own copy next week at the Melbourne book launch.