Emerging Church Archives

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Melbourne Emerging Churches

17 January, 2005 12:56 PM

Every week I get an email from a reader of my Blog that goes something like this:

'Dear Darren,

My name is (insert name here) and I am very interested in what you are doing with LivingRoom. I have recently been thinking about church and am coming to a place where I feel it is time to find a church like yours to become a part of and explore some of the themes that you explore.

I live in (insert part of Melbourne that is NOT near LivingRoom) and was wondering if you know of other churches that are like yours in terms of style, values, outlook etc. Can you point me in the right direction?

Thanks - (insert name here).'

I love these emails because it confirms the suspicion that so many people are arriving at similar conclusions about church but it also leaves me wondering how to respond. I know of a number of 'emerging, simple, organic, post modern, liquid churches' around Melbourne but I know there are more.

Just yesterday I met a guy at Soul Survivor who is part of a movement of house churches in the West of Melbourne that I'd never heard of before (called 'West Church') - hi Nathan by the way!

So - I thought maybe its time I began a bit of a list of Melbourne Emerging Churches. I'll let you decide what is and isn't an Emerging Church and invite you to submit the details of any that you know or are apart of below in comments. Please include:

- Name of group (if you have one)
- Region of Melbourne that it is from
- A couple of sentences that describe it
- A website link and/or some way of contacting the group (email, address, phone - whatever works for you)

Hopefully this will be a useful resource.

Here are some to start the list off of some of those that I'm familiar with. Please don't be offended if I havn't mentioned yours yet - these were just some I had websites handy for. I didn't want to add one's without websites because I know some are not as public as others and may not want the exposure at the moment. More than happy to add others with or without websites - submit them in comments:

Name: LivingRoom
Region: Inner North - from Fitzroy, to Brunswick, to Northcote and Thornbury.
Description: Meets in the homes of its members on Wednesday nights for a meal, discussion, community building and reflections. Informal, small and friendly.
Contact: Email Darren

Name: Northern Community Church of Christ
Region: North - Preston, Northcote etc
Description: - NCCC is an interesting church with multiple congregations that meet in a number of locations targeting different groups of people in culturally appropriate ways.
Contact: contact details

Name: The Junction
Region: Outer South East including Berwick
Description: A missional community made up of a number of smaller primary communities meeting in homes, hotels and other public spaces.
Contact: Contact Details

Name: Solace
Region: North/East - from Kew to Northcote and many places between!
Description: Solace meet in a number of formats at a number of times during the week. Contemplative and Creative.
Contact: Contact Details

Name: Cafe Church
Region: Meet at Babel Cafe in Brunswick St Fitzroy on Tuesdays.
Description: Cafechurch is about a group of christians who want to enjoy church and each other through the challenge of community. We meet weekly in a cafe where we share our faith in a forum that is informal and interactive.
Contact: Contact People



Liquid Conference Put on Ice

13 January, 2005 9:25 PM

liquid conference
Unfortunately due to lack of numbers we've put the Liquid Conference on ice until some point in the future.

Instead of the full three day conference that we were planning we will be running a more informal, cheaper afternoon and evening event on 9 Wednesday February. The time will start at 2pm at Northern Community Church of Christ (as previously planned) and will include a few short presentations, some free flowing discussion and lots of interaction around issues of:

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

In the evening (6pm for dinner til 9pm) we'll be opening things up and inviting some of the emerging churches and communities from around Melbourne to come together for a time of story telling, alternative worship and reflection.

We're suggesting a donation of $20 if you're coming for the whole time or $10 if you come for one or the other session (ie afternoon or evening). If you'd like to have some pizza with us bring an extra $5.

I'm sorry to those who had planned to come to a three day conference - especially those who are coming from overseas - a combination of a hard time of year, other competing conferences and other circumstances have made it difficult - but we hope you can still come and be a part of this day together.

16 Church Planting Lessons

12 January, 2005 12:49 PM

Lucas also asked in his email for my thoughts on planting a house church (or a 'simple church' as they prefer to call it). I too resist the 'house church label' - we don't refer to ourselves in that way (see some of my grappling with what to call ourselves at Sexy House Churches, Emerging, House, Cafe, Organic, Post-Modern? and Boxable Church).

My thoughts or advice or lessons on Church Planting are only given hesitantly as they are OUR lessons. 'Ours' not because we own them or have a patent pending but because they are what we've learnt in our context in the period of time that we've been experimenting. They may or may not be universal lessons applicable to all. I've previously written quite a few of these 'lessons' and rather than rehashing them all here I thought I'd just provide some links and headings:

The first ten lessons were written after one year of being established. They were perhaps a little more 'theoretical' than the last five. We were very much testing and experimenting in the first year.

- Church Planting Lessons - Part A

1. Get your DNA right

- Church Planting Lessons - Part B

2. Make Mission Central
3. Read Shaping of Things to Come

- Church Planting Lessons - Part C

4. Multiplication rather than Addition
5. Make it Simple and Replica-table

- Church Planting Lessons - Part D

6. Incarnation
7. Sending vs Attractional

- Church Planting Lessons - Part E - 8. Participation is Key and 9. Community is Central

8. Participation is Key
9. Community is Central

- Church Planting Lessons - Part F

10. Have Fun

If that wasn't enough I also wrote More Church Planting Lessons from the LivingRoom after another 6 months of meeting. These tips were perhaps a little more out of our experience. They are:

11. Go Slow
12. Make it as connected as possible to people's real lives
13. Don't just meet in Houses
14. Don't let Church Dominate Life
15. Be Shaped by the Outsider

I'm sure there will be 'even more Church Planting lessons' that I'll write at some stage after a little more reflection but this will have to do for the time being. I will however add one more brief one:

16. Be careful what you blog about - whilst blogging is a wonderful tool for communication, learning and networking it can also be used inappropriately. It might be worth having a brief conversation with your group as to what you can and can't blog about.
- I personally have chosen not to identify by names people in our group.
- I have posted a few photos from time to time but limit this. I also choose not to blog about decisions we're making in much detail until they have been made.
- I do not blog about our disagreements or about what individuals said unless I get permission first.

Whilst I want to be transparent with the world through this blog about who LivingRoom is - there is nothing to hide - I also want to keep in mind that our community is made up of real people who are entitled to privacy and a safe space to express themselves and their journeys. They are also entitled to not have our dirty laundry (not that there is much) aired publicly. This is just my position - I know other bloggers have taken different approaches - some it has worked out for, others it has caused some massive problems for. Just be careful.

I'm interested to hear your 'lessons' or advice to a group of people just starting out.

The 'Rules' of Church

27 December, 2004 9:07 AM

Darren (the other one - or one of them) has written a post titled Rules were made to be broken about a workshop he's running. He's asking readers to name some of the 'Rules' of Church:

'This made me wonder, what would those of you in the blogosphere list as Rules of Church? Those in the EC scnene have been redefining the rules for quite some time and I was wondering if there was anyone out there paying attention to my new blog who might be interested in listing some of their rules and some of the old rules of Church.

Some of the rules that I think have been dismantled include:

- A church doesnt not look like a coffee shop
- A dance party is outreach, not Church
- Music in the Church should be played on an organ
- Uncomfortable pews are a necessary part of Church
- There is one definition of Church
- The minister preaches, I listen

Of course, there are hundreds more, but I wonder what your old rules were'

Head over and add your 'rules' to his list.

Emerging Church Question from Maryam

21 December, 2004 3:53 PM

Maryam over at A Dervish's Du`a has posted some excellent questions and reflections on the Emerging Church. The cool thing is that she's not only asking questions from outside the Emerging Church but also outside the Church. As a Muslim woman who we've actually had along to share with us at LivingRoom I'm very interested in her observations and thoughts. She writes:

'However, it struck me that EC would be difficult to 'enter' as a non-church-goer or non-Christian just interested in checking things out. You know... tasting the aperitifs before comitting to the twelve-course meal. Sometimes it takes quite a few aperitifs before you're ready for the roast beef and yorkshire pud, so how do you approach that in your EC congregations?

The weekly gathering I attended had a group of extremely and genuinely warm and welcoming people, but of course with a small group of a dozen or so people in someone's home, a newcomer stands out like the proverbial sore thumb. There is no mouthing along with the hymns up the back at EC!!

Also, how do you deal with the 'member' / 'non-member' / 'official status' / 'you have to join up to be a part of it' / 'you have to believe X theological creed' etc. issue? Read more at A Dervish's Du`a': Emerging Church Question

So where does one start in answering those questions. Here are a few reflections:

1. I've felt similar feelings as I've observed LivingRoom and othe ECs.

2. Whilst I've felt similar things I've reminded myself that LivingRoom has not set up to grow LivingRoom. Our purpose is not to build our community in numbers, or even 'the Church's' numbers - rather we exist to build 'the Kingdom of God'. Whilst this distinction doesn't fully answer Maryam's questions it is an important distinction to make. In previous church circumstances I think the mindset was often to get people along to church, to make it as accessible as possible to people, to break down the barriers for people to come in and belong so that they could become one of us. With LivingRoom we actually have in our DNA that we are not as interested in building our numbers by getting people to come in to us - but we're more interested in us going out and joining God in his work in the world.

3. Having said this there does sometimes come a time when people want to come to LivingRoom - both people who have church experience and people who do not. On most occasions that this has happened so far these people come along on a Wednesday night out of some sort of relationship with a LivingRoom participant. Its not a rule - just the way it happens. Whilst this also doesn't completely answer Maryam's question I find that it does help people make the transition. Very rarely have we had total strangers rock up to LivingRoom - usually there is at least one meeting with people first - if not many months or years of relationship with people. Often they've already met a number of the group before coming.

4. Despite all this wonderful theory I still know that the format of how we choose to meet (and its just one way of many within the Emerging Church) CAN be a little (or a lot) threatening to some people. This is due to our size, our meeting in a private home, the format of our meetings (interactive, sitting in a circle) etc. On the flip side this format and style also makes things more accessible for other types of people. I guess what I'm coming to believing is that Church should take a variety of forms - each with its own strengths and weaknesses in connecting with different types of people.

Anyway - those are some of my reflections - wondering what others think? Leave your comments over at Maryams.

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...

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.

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.

Emerged Church Blogger

11 October, 2004 12:34 PM

Just spotted a new emerging church blogger on my News Aggregator - or should I say he seems to think of himself as an 'Emerged Church Blogger' if his last post is anything to go by. His name is Travelling for Jesus' sake Donovan St Claire and he writes:

'Spent some time today looking through some of the so called emerging church blogs. There are some good people out there but on the whole it was a bit disappointing. Some of them seemed to be caught in a bit of a time warp. I think that from now on I will refer to stuff that we are doing as the emerged church. So how can the emerging church catch up with the emerged church. Here are Donovan the man's rules.'

His 'rules' are interesting to say the least. He talks about:
1) Pop Culture and celebrity culture.
2) Good bye Community
3) Vocation, Vocation, Vocation!
4) Who do you go to?

Reactions to Shapings of Things to Come

5 October, 2004 11:07 AM

Just stumbled upon a review of an event in London where a couple of Aussie colleagues of mine from Forge spoke - and it seems caused something of a stirr. Check out this commentary at small ritual for one opinion of the 'blah' event.

'it made me angry because thrown together/ordeal/deadline/risk/survival is my everyday work experience, and it's no fun when it happens all the time. it burns. and this 'communitas' as described by frost sounds remarkably like the conventions of team-work and team-building within large corporations.'

Emergent Like Slime was impressed with the teaching:

'Actually I found that Frost and Hirst's enthusiasm for innovation and a church in 'proximity' to the community, 'practicing the presence of Christ'won me over; the final appeal to us to stop expectingcongregations to be evangelists and start enabling them to be christlikealmost made me cry as well as laugh, though of course I'm a sucker for rhetoric blended with sincerity.'

Si (no permlink?) took some good notes of the different sessions which look pretty similar to our Forge Intensives.

Maggi was also less than impressed with the sessions writing:

'I'm a lot less than excited about the Hirsch and Frost vision of Church. It's too much hard work for the wrong kind of ends, in my opinion. No time to pray. No space for the kids. No time to visit the hungry, the elderly, the sick. In this vision you'll be too busy giving away the gospel to have time to contemplate what it means. You'll have no energy either if you buy into the macho, gangland-inspired Fight-Club vision of Church.'

update - it seems Maggi was not writing about the talk (she wasn't there) but the book.

Nouslife doesn't seem to have been there either but bounces of Steve's comments and writes:

'I am concerned that liminal and risky are considered normative. I think I know where that stuff is coming from; I've served my apprenticeship in church growth circles and in circles where faith is spelt R-I-S-K. But to seem to encourage continual hyped-up-ness is not going to help burnt-out church leaders [or memebers come to that]. I once took over in leadership at a church where the constant sdginess had been a norm. It's great for a while; really exciting, encouraging, giving a sense of direction, of purpose that we are changing the world. Then we run into the wall: we go emotionally numb, all the old tricks don't work any more at enthusing us, relationships that had been put on hold start falling over though lack of maintainance and everything begins to feel tired. People start leaving; they can't keep up the pace and their lives have been wrecked. Our paralimbic systems are not supposed to be switched on all the time. We need times of normality, of consolidation of -God help us!- Sabbath.'

I've often suspected that what is happening in 'Emerging Church' circles around the world might have different accents - I wonder if some of these reactions reflect that. I'll be interested to continue to follow how the reactions are from other bloggers as they get back to their computers. Andrew Jones was there but is yet to update - and Jonny was too but is probably so busy organizing and trying to keep Alan and Mike out of the pubs that he hasn't yet given much of an opinion.

Great conversation - following it with interest.

emerging church = hillsong?

3 October, 2004 10:16 PM

Steve has an interesting post titled emerging church = hillsong? that reminds me of comments I've heard increasingly at the mention of the term 'emerging church' recently. I'll let you head over there to ponder Steve's question and read my response.

Emerging Church - Theological Position?

1 October, 2004 1:04 PM

I've had a few people email me in the past weeks asking me to describe 'Emerging/Emergent Church' theology - particularly on issues of how open-theistic we are. I've responded with a number of comments that can be summed up in these sorts of points:

- In my experience of EC it is very difficult to make general statements about theology because it tends to vary as much in these circles as it does in the wider church. Some communities could be described as being more open/liberal in their understanding on some issues, but others could be described as a little more fundamentalistic in their approach with of course there being plenty that would fall in between.

- In my experience in Melbourne EC circles most churches/individuals probably fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum - perhaps even erring on the side of conservative in their understanding of Scripture, God etc. Maybe this is just a Melbourne thing? Most in my experience are perhaps a little more radical/open when it comes to mission - but less so on their theological thinking.

- In my limited experience of interacting with people in Overseas contexts I would reflect that there seem to be different strands/accents of the EC in different regions. I suspect EC means something a little different to those in the UK to the US and then again different again in Australia and NZ, Asia etc. I'm not experienced enough to make any real statments on this - its just a suspicion. If anyone wants to buy me a round the world ticket I'd love to do some research into that! :-)

Interested in others thoughts and experiences on the theology of the Emerging Church

What is the Emerging Church II

21 September, 2004 6:44 PM

In response to an older article post that I'd written in January titled What is the Emerging Church? - a reader (Drew) has kindly left his thoughts on the question. He went to a bit of effort to leave his answer so I thought I'd highlight it here in the hope that it might re-stimulate the conversation. Here is what he wrote: (Thanks Drew!)

'Having just debated the whole 'What is the emerging church?' with a work colleague (who then directed me to this site as he felt he couldn't adequately argue the point), I would have to say three things:

1) Don't think this hasn't been done before. Disillusionment with any human attempt to nut out and put into practice what Jesus taught and lived is age old.

Everything is a pendulum swing. The disillusionment with the fundamentalism of my parents generation (I'm 34) brought about the Pentecostal movement. Disillusionment with that is bringing about a group who believe it's time we got back to some solid Bible study and move away from emotional 'lobstering'. Disillusionment towards both perchance forms something of the 'emerging church' movement.

2) Whatever the 'emerging church' movement brings to fruition will become, over time, institutional itself, whether that be cafe churches, home churches, small groups, community based meetings, etc.

Such is the nature of social (even spiritual) communities. Like-minded people band together and settle on structure and format. This is not a bad thing. This is a way of ensuring growth (however empirical you want that to be) and also encouraging maturity and depth. (Jesus didn't pick 12 new apostles every day!)

Of course, there will be some who then become disillusioned with the 'emerging church' movement and what it is attempting to achieve, and they will form the 'post-emerging church' movement.

But... and this leads me to point 3...

3) Be encouraged. Dissatisfaction is what moves along the hyperbole of change. And a constant evaluation of our spirituality and our institutions in light of what we understand Jesus was on about is essential to the continuing life of the Church.

Just as youth, by its very nature, seeks to test the boundaries of the social and parental structure it grows up in, so too should we continually evaluate our spirituality--without, and I stress this, necessarily condemning or feeling the need to tear down what currently stands (a point argued with my work friend).

Seek the new. Chart new territories. Discover who Jesus is to you and the community you live in.

And while some may condemn a belief in spiritual things (as evidenced in this blog), I must confess that I will applaud any person's attempt to find a truth that calls them to a higher understanding of love, mercy, grace, hope, peace and the part they play in the greater community. When the Bible talks about the Fruits of the Spirit (the best attributes we can have as humans) it was said, Against these there is no law.

Once again, be encouraged. Debate. Stretch. Grow. Create. Embody.'

Emerging Church Gatherings

17 September, 2004 6:09 PM

Have been working today on the Liquid conference that a group of us are helping to run between 9-11 February next year.

It will be 3 days focussing upon giving insight and training across the three interconnected streams of Christian mission
- Engaging culture & community
- Spiritual formation & discipleship
- Compassionate living & social justice

'Liquid will help you create a holistic framework of faith that integrates your entire life.� At the one event you�ll be encouraged to go deeper in your personal relationship with Jesus, actively care for the poor, and connect with people from various cultures.� It�s about learning how the spiritual, social and culture streams can work together.'

This will be a great gathering that is being put on by a number of groups here in Melbourne including Forge Missional Training Network, Frontier Servants, Living Room, Northern Community Church of Christ, Scripture Union, Soul Survivor, Tabor College and TEAR.

Also running in February is an intensive week looking at themes of emerging church run by Forge. It would be a good few weeks to be in Melbourne if you're interested in a trip. Maybe some of your northern hemisphere readers could escape your winter for a few weeks of networking, learning and sun! Let me know if you want more information.

xtreme faith

15 September, 2004 12:56 PM

I really like Steve's post on xtreme ways. He talks about having seen xtreme worship, xtreme community but wants to see xtreme discipleship. He writes:

'I want to see xtreme discipleship. In a world where the passion of Islam includes a willingness to take up one's cross to death do us part, it is time for xtreme worship and extreme community to be entwined with xtreme discipleship. It is time for radical peacemaking and keen environmental concern and social justice to enter the regular praxis of the emerging church.'

I especially like his statement:

'xtreme worship + xtreme community + xtreme discipleship = xtreme ways of the Kingdom of God'

I've been thinking the same sorts of things lately. In my travels through the wider Christian community over the years I've seen individuals/groups/me concentrate our efforts upon one or two aspects of the life and teachings of Jesus. To some degree I think that that is natural - sometimes God chooses to work on us one step at a time - but I worry at times when I see lopsided looking churches that have a long history of only exploring one thing.

To use our DNA/Core Values to put language to this - I've been involved in groups that have almost solely focused upon the Inner Journey, others who have almost exclusively worked at the Outer Journey - and others who focus on the Together journey almost to the exclusion of the others. In my experience it is when we allow the journeys to collide that we actually find that the sparks fly - one journey impacts and enlivens the other - to remove one is to limit the potential we have to know, experience and respond to God.

What I'm feeling a renewed call to at the moment is a place of balance between all three. I'm talking on a personal level here - its easy to be side-tracked.

However I've also noticed something else - sometimes (and I stress sometimes) in aiming for 'balance' or a holistic approach it is tempting to lose the edge, to become complacent and to be a little 'wishy washy'.

I wonder if perhaps its easier to be 'xtreme' in one area than it is to be in two - and even harder to be 'xtreme' in three?

I wonder if it is easier to keep one's 'edginess' if there is only one cutting edge rather than three? (hmmm..... that makes me think of a knife - can a knife stay sharp with more than two cutting edges?... I'm getting side tracked now).

Now I'm not wanting to make excuses here to just focus upon mission, or worship, or community or whatever aspect of the call of Jesus we feel predisposed to respond to. I'm convinced that the commands of Jesus to love 'God', 'Neighbor' (and self), 'One Another' were not three options but rather something of an intertwined package. And the example that he gave us to do so was 'xtreme' to say the least.

However I think we have to acknowledge that its a complex thing we're striving for (although at times - in moments of clarity - its remarkably simple) in the midst of a chaotic world of change. How it manifests itself in each of our lives and communities will also be remarkably different from one another due to our contexts.

I'm thinking out loud here again - writing on the fly again so please forgive me while I attempt something resembling a point.

I'm wondering if we need to learn to see the call of Jesus as a more integrated, single focused call again? Whilst using language like, 'Inner, Outer and Together' journeys can be helpful to unpack his message and help us respond - perhaps they also limit us in someway. Maybe our knife does have three edges, perhaps even more? Maybe its time to try to get our head around a more integrated life of faith again.

Interested in your thoughts - feelings - reactions - experiences to some of this.

Emerging Church Resonance

14 September, 2004 6:44 PM

The last few months I've seen an increased interest from a number of groups that are searching for information on and learning about Emerging Church. Today Kim and I from Forge had the privilege of sharing a session about our respective churches at a bible college that has a whole subject dedicated to 'Emerging Missional Church' this year. Last week I did a phone conference call with a class of pastors from another bible college. Its so fantastic to see people genuinely interested in what we're doing.

When we first started I'd had a few weird reactions to what we're trying with LivingRoom from other churchy types - I'm not sure if we were perceived at heretics, threats or just plain crazy - but as time is going on I'm finding more and more people resonating and comfortable with what we're doing. Of course there are still some who give a bit of a quizzical look or who ask questions that seem to be attached to iceberg like agendas (not much showing but loads under the surface) - but in general people are incredibly supportive and encouraging.

Interesting times.

Discipleship Workshop - Melbourne

13 September, 2004 10:09 PM

FOR005 Postcard 0904-2.pdf

Here are the details of an upcoming event that Melbournian readers might be interested in that Forge (who I work for part time) is running in October.

John Jensen (formerly from California - now part of the Forge team in Victoria) will be sharing on the theme of Discipleship in a New World. We've chosen this theme as a result of having a number of requests for a more practical night of sharing some tips and strategies for helping people to grow in their faith in the chaotic world we live in.

John is a gifted communicator and will share some material that he's actually used and seen implemented very successfully in a number of contexts. This would be a great night to bring a small group or community to so feel free to invite anyone who might be interested.

You'll see the details below in the brochure above (click to download pdf - feel free to print it and use it in inviting others). The basics are:

Where: Retro Cafe (upstairs) - 413 Brunswick St Fitzroy.
When: 7th October
Time: Either 6pm (ish) for dinner (an informal dinner in the cafe downstairs with some of the Forge people) or come at 7.30pm for the start of the night upstairs.
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 cafe prices.

"They are not a church!"

9 September, 2004 5:46 PM

Phil over at signposts has an interesting post that sounds vaguely familiar. Its a comment that someone made about his church....

""They are not a Church. They do things in a cafe and in homes. They do it during the week too and not just on Sunday. At some of these things that they call 'worship' they have a meal together and they call that communion! Jesus told us to meet on Sunday and to go to Church. They are not a Church!""

Read more at signposts: what they think:

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