Emerging Church Archives

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Old words

28 March, 2003 4:15 PM

Rachel found an old thing I posted on a previous church online discussion (scarey how the net records your every word even from other places and times!!!) I thought it was interesting to see some of the earliest things I was working through when it came to 'Church' - its actually not that different from what I feel today - here it is...

I'm a strong believer in 'church' I think its an awesome thing when
operating in a relevant way to its culture. The church has been an
amazing place of growth into wholeness for me and many of my family and
friends. Its a place that I love dearly because it is where I met Jesus
- the one who authored and perfected life!

However, I've had an increasing frustration with the church in Australia in
that I wonder if its really being and doing what it should!

Studies show that 85% of Australians believe in God, over 66% pray
regularly and over 60% believe in some type of afterlife - yet less that
20% attend any type of church regularly. (figures for 1999 - talking
with people in the know it seems that this 20% figure is continuing to

Exit polls of those leaving the church have found that the major reasons
that bring about this decrease in numbers is not because of theological
or belief issues. Rather it is about how people are being asked to
belong to and participate in the community that is the deciding factor
for them. So much of what we DO in church is so foreign to such a large
part of our society. How many of our non churched friends would
regularly gather with a group of people to sing for 30 minutes and
listen to someone give a 20minute (plus) monologue?!? Many of us who
have been brought up in this environment have come to love singing and
listening, but not too many of the young people I work with in the
warehouse at wishlist would get off on it!

Studies have shown that only 10% of the non churched population are
comfortable with and open to 'contemporary worship' style services. (ie
Hillsong style singing - preaching etc). Yet the same study shows that
up to 90% of churches are moving towards this type of service. By my
calculations that leaves around 90% of the unchurched population without
a church presenting the message of Jesus in a culturally relevant method
for them.

I believe that the time has come where the church needs to seriously
face the fact that if it continues down its current path that it will
find itself in serious trouble. The time has come for a variety of
models of church to emerge. This will and should include the
'contemporary worship' model similar to our services, but it
should also include a myriad of others that attempt to present the
person of Jesus to our multicultural society.


27 March, 2003 11:49 AM

Anyway — I don't want to get caught up in all that too much — I have no intention of feeding a flame war — thanks for your positive comments and emails but I'm ready to move on.

What I'm really interested in the conversation a few posts back entitled A Question. The comments there are really stimulating — lets keep that conversation going.

New Voices

20 March, 2003 9:02 PM

I've been talking of late to Rudy about getting some new voices added to the global emerging church conversation. The observation that many have made is that there is is limited diversity in those contributing to discussions.

So Phuture through Rudy has invited a number of people from different minority groups to submit pieces that will add valuable insights to emerging church discussions.

I'm really excited to see what will be submitted for publication. The first of these pieces has just been submitted by DJ Chuang who is DJ Chuang is an Asian American of Chinese descent who is living near Washington, D.C. Check out his article called 'Where are my People>' here.

Stinky Update

14 March, 2003 10:59 AM

After a bit of a dry spell StinkyConvolutedPast has been updated with some interesting info. Al Hirsch has left some great comments on what he calls 'remissioning the church'.

The Death of Outrage

13 March, 2003 8:09 AM

I just posted this great article on Phuture written by New Zealander Mick Duncan.

He argues that we need to get in touch with a sense of Outrage. He writes:

"Without a sense of outrage we run the serious risk of being an ordinary person. But God created us to be extraordinary people. Outrage makes you do things that are out of the ordinary. Without a sense of outrage you run the risk of becoming nice person. But God only gave us ten commandments. There is no eleventh commandment that says, �Thou must be nice.� And without a collective sense of outrage, a church runs the risk of fast becoming a nice church. But Jesus, the Head of such a Church, was and is no Mr Nice Guy. It seems to me that Christians have bought into the sickening idea that niceness is the essence of goodness. There are more important things than being considered nice!

Check out the rest!

'Church' - 'Christian' - the baggage

3 March, 2003 2:39 PM

Just had a stimulating conversation with a fellow Living Roomie about what we are doing. As per usual we covered every topic under the sun including the struggle that we both have with the name 'Church'. As we sat in our local cafe we asked ourselves the question - 'what barriers (cultural or otherwise) would a local community of Christians have in mission in our context?'

One of the big ones is the name 'Church' or even the name 'Christian'.

In the inner city suburb where I live the attitude of the average person towards the Church is not very positive. So much baggage is attached to the words 'Church' and 'Christian'. Do we put ourselves behind the eight ball by even using the terminology?

If I were to put a sign up on the wall of our cafe (which is covered with such notices) advertising a new community/co-operative focused upon the growing of organic vegetables, eating together, exploring spirituality and sharing a common life I'm almost certain that we'd receive calls and visitors within hours! (we live in a pretty alternative part of the city) However if I was to put up a notice advertising a new Christian Community or Church who was going to do the same things - I doubt the notice would still be on the wall at the end of the day!

So how do we respond? Do we remove the word Church from our vocab, do we attempt to find words with less baggage? Do we soldier on and forget the cultural barrier - letting our actions debunk the baggage that people have? Do we continue to use the words but try to explain our terminology every time we use it? Are their other alternatives?

Its an interesting conversation, interested in others thoughts...

Modern Day Prophets - a Critique - Phuture

2 March, 2003 4:02 PM

Just posted this article to Phuture written by John Wallis - very confronting

They seek fame and fortune. The latest rendition of the prophets of days gone by, spouting off about community and authenticity never even knowing what they are. They pontificate to the masses that will listen with the hopes of book sales and speaking engagements. At times they are brilliant at others ignorant and stupid. Their epiphany expected to be heard, embraced and emulated without question. Yet, late in the night they awake in fear just having seen the emptiness of the message. The sun rises and once again they squeeze into the uniforms of revolution, buttons straining to contain the girth. Damn it shrunk again!, they say without seeing the truth. Guess its time for a new uniform.

Highly Commended Emerging Church Practioners

27 February, 2003 7:45 PM

Tomorrow is the last day of our intensive at college with Tom and Christine Sine.

It was interesting today in class, they did a quick tour of the world of Emerging Church and shared some of the stories of people they've met doing new and interesting things. Among their list was Jonny Baker, Steve Taylor, Karen Ward, Malcolm Hawker and Mark Pierson. I never realised my blog roll was filled with such cutting edge practioners! I feel humbled to be rubbing shoulders with you guys!!! (Of course there are some other people doing some great things in my links that Tom and Christine have yet to meet!!)

Phuture Update

20 February, 2003 7:55 PM

I've added two new articles to Phuture - one from Dave Fagg entitled Prayer, Movements and Belief II and another by Darren Altclass entitled Doing it. Darrens article takes a look at Mission and challenges us to stop just thinking about it and start doing it.

There's also a new discussion forum asking why Phuture articles on worship and forms of Church are so popular and yet articles written on the topic of Mission have largely gone unnoticed!?

UPDATE - Again - if you would like to submit an article to Phuture that would engage people in thinking about issues of Church, worship, justice or mission in the age in which we live, please shoot me an email and we can talk about what scope such an article might have. I'm always looking for good articles - just let me know!

MegaChurch - MiniChurch Conversations

3 February, 2003 2:03 PM

There is some interesting discussion going on in the discussion forum after this book review I wrote over at Phuture.

Greg writes - "I'm a part of a large and growing Melbourne church - you might even call it a Megachurch - and we are growing at a much faster rate than what you said. Every week we have new people looking for a new church coming to our services.We are having to do more building projects just to fit everyone in. In comparison I know of 5 or 6 smaller churches in the same area who are shrinking and who probably will close in the next few years! Almost seems directly opposite to your statistics."

Darls writes - "It would be interesting to see what the correlation is between your churches growth and the churches around you shrinking! Perhaps there is a direct and sad link - perhaps the reason that your church is growing is that it is killing off the churches aroud you. This what I've seen time and time again - I think its really unfortunate - some of the mega churches around the place have a lot to answer for!"

Join the conversation here...

Tribal Meeting

31 January, 2003 8:35 AM

Yesterday was the second day of the national tribe gathering for Forge bods. It was good to spend a couple of days with some really good thinkers and practitioners of Emerging Missional Church. These people are all involved in the birthing and running of pretty cutting edge churches around Australia. Most of their churches you will not have heard of - and that's something that they would probably like to continue - they operate under the radar - but are all attempting to reinvent the 'norm'.

We did a bit of thinking about Margaret Wheatley's book 'Leadership and the New Science' - which was good stuff. She writes about leadership not based upon Neutonian Science as it perhaps has been based upon for decades....if not centuries - but rather she suggests a better approach would be to look at some of the newer discoveries in science as a basis for leadership. Chaos theory, Emergence and Complexity theories have alot to say to us about how we might approach leadership.

I've still got to do some reading on this, but it was a rich topic.

We also were led through a SWOT on Emerging Church which was also very stimulating.

I'd like to get some of the papers that we looked at up on Phuture in the next month or so - will let you know when they are published there.


29 January, 2003 7:13 AM

Today is the first of two days where the people around Australia who work for/with FORGE/DREAMLAND get together for some networking, dreaming, planning and...of course....coffee. I guess you could call it a national conference if you wanted to make it sound bigger than it is. It will be a good chance to hear what others are thinking and doing and to share where I'm at. I usually come home from meeting with these people pretty inspired - they are all into some pretty interesting and cutting edge stuff. Will report on anything that rocks my world!

New discussion topic

28 January, 2003 1:16 PM

Added new discussion topic added to Phuture. The topic under discussion is

how should we evangelize happy moral pagans >> who are unconnected with the idea of sin?

Also - Stinky welcomes our mate Kel to the blog with her first stimulating post.


24 January, 2003 4:45 PM

A book review that I wrote on 'Multiplying Churches' by Stephen Timmis has just been posted here on Phuture
Since posting this book review I've had a number of emails requesting more information/blogging on the topic. At this point I don't have alot of time to write much more but would invite your comments on it either here or in the comments section after the article as some of you have already done. A couple of quotes from other pages that might stimulate your thinking are as follows (these are taken completely out of context - but have a look at them to get their full drift)

Eric Stanford writes"A not-so-big church isn't focused on growing bigger and bigger and offering more and more programs. A not-so-big church is concerned about the pagans in their community being subverted by God, onceborns into twiceborns. Beyond that, there's not a whole lot that not-so-big churches have in common with each other. They're tailor-made (Spirit-made?) for their place. They're gloriously individual. ... "

Stephen Lim shares: "On nearly all relevant quality factors, larger churches compare disfavorably with smaller ones."1 Christian Schwarz came to this startling conclusion after the most comprehensive study of church growth ever conducted, covering over 1,000 churches on 6 continents. The research and observations of others, along with my experience, confirm its validity.
In spite of fewer people, staff, facilities, resources, and programs, the average small church produces:
- better fellowship.
- better pastoral care.
- better discipleship.
- more involvement in ministry.
- more persons called into Christian service.
- more spiritual harvest.

Multiplying Churches

24 January, 2003 3:18 PM

Thanks Mark

Sundays a better way - the conversation continues...

23 January, 2003 8:31 AM

Some interesting conversation is happening in this previous post still - the pros and cons of meeting Sundays...

Birthing Advice

21 January, 2003 1:20 PM

In response to my Living Room update post a day or two back I had a number of good emails which have confirmed the direction I was thinking of taking. Steve from Emergent Downunder and I have been conversing on the topic - he posted this on his blog - great advice from someone who has done and is doing it! Some of it is similar to Phil's article. Steve's main points for someone wanting to birth a new community are:

1. Have fun.
2. Planters will shape it.
3. The hardest thing will be letting go.
4. Serve the culture.
5. Don't push too hard the dualisms between church and community.

There is lots more detail in his post.Thanks mate.

Sundays - a better way??

18 January, 2003 8:08 AM

I'm off down the beach this morning with V and some friends to celebrate a good mates 30th birthday. We're staying down there overnight - should be good fun - apart from the fact that we have to come home again early tomorrow for church.

This gets me onto one of my 'pet topics' - does anyone else wonder whether Sunday is the most appropriate day of the week for church? I can only speak for my part of the world, but for most people living in the streets of North Fitzroy Melbourne, Sunday is an important day. Its the day of the week that the majority of people are home relaxing. Many people spend it with family, many use it to connect with friends and participate in their local community. Its a day for bbq's, sleep ins and coffees at the local cafe. Its a day for day trips with friends, a day for laying under a tree in the park with your special friend and a day for getting ready for the week ahead.

As I look at the way many of my non churched friends spend Sunday - I would describe the way they use it almost in the biblical terms of the Sabbath. My reflection is that in many ways its a very 'spiritual day for many - even if they don't step through the doors of a church. It is a day of rest for them. In comparison I look at my churched friends and see people who are racing from a service where they are participating in something, to a luncheon, to a meeting for their ministry, to another service, to a supper etc. Sure along the way they connect with friends and may have moments of relaxation - but often at the end of it they look like they've run a marathon - a day of rest....I'm not so sure.

So why do we as church drag people away from our cultures day of rest, day of relationships and day of opportunity to have an impact on the community and make them so busy? Why are we so obsessed with filling 'the sabbath' with programs? Why is it a day when our volunteers often have their most demanding day?

Perhaps there is another way? Maybe its in simplifying what we do on Sunday so that it becomes more relaxing and less demanding? Or maybe we should release our congregations to their own devices on Sunday. Let them have brunch with friends rather than have to show up to music practice. Let them see a movie and discuss it over coffee with a non churched friend. Let them go hiking in the bush and connect with God through creation. Instead of Sunday meetings perhaps there is a better time where we can gather to do what we do presently on Sundays.

I'm thinking the Living Room will meet Tuesday or Thursday nights for these reasons. I'm interested on others thoughts on this? Does your church do things differently? Any ideas on how to tackle this?

Lessons from an Emerging Church

17 January, 2003 1:48 PM

Just posted the second part to Phil McCredden's article on Phuture here. If you didn't read the first part read it here. In this article Phil articulates the lessons he learnt in establishing a new form of church here in Melbourne. He reflects upon 11 lessons which are titled as follows.

1. Remember this is Church not a small group
2. A square peg in a round hole
3. Spiritual Practices
4. Make sure there is need and you are not just following a fad
5. Engaging in each others lives
6. Ensure that the leaders facilitate and don't preach
7. Face the inevitable opposition
8. Adapting to the environment
9. Focus on health and not size
10. Never underestimate the power of food to create community
11. There are no boundaries

Of course you're going to have to read it to get the gist for what he's saying - its worth a look! Interested in your thoughts, leave a comment after the article on the site.


15 January, 2003 2:38 PM

Spent this morning with Mark, Kel and Kamahl talking about Dreamland. we spent some much needed time sharing whats happening personally and ministry wise in our lives. We've each had an incredible time of change and I get the sense are all feeling tired and a little fragile! It was good to pray together, something we need to do more of.

Kel, Mark and I then spent more time thinking through some big issues which have the potential to make or break us as a ministry. Sometimes its all a little overwhelming! We'd value your prayers at this time as we are in a position where we feel quite on the edge and vulnerable.

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