11 August, 2003 5:14 PM
Hamo has been asking What does an Emerging Minister Do?. Some of his responses to his own question are pretty much spot on the money.
Its a question I remember asking early on in this blog as we began meeting as a community. Its a question I still find myself asking on almost a daily basis.
I've been fortunate enough to receive a grant from our denomination that enables me to dedicate 3 days a week to Living Room. Sometimes it feels wierd being paid 3 days a week to lead a community with only 8 (currently) people in it. What do I do with my week?
So far it involves preparation for our Tuesday night gatherings, catching up with group members for care and team building, teaching RE in the local primary school, meeting with other local ministers for prayer and support, networking with other Melbourne emerging churches, spending a fair bit of time in our local shopping strips watching, meeting people and praying, occassional speaking at other churches and occassional meeting people interested in joining our group.
When we get back from our trip I've been lining up to meet a couple of community workers in our local area to see if there is some way we can be more involved in their projects also.
I guess I'm learning that this type of leadership role is very different from my previous involvement in more mainline churches. In those roles program preparation took up alot of my time - so far working for the Living Room has been alot more relational, observational and prayerful. But then again, maybe its just me.
7 August, 2003 6:12 PM
Today I spent another day in seminars and round table discussions with Gerard. I really find him refreshing in many ways. I couldn't help but compare him to other Emerging Church 'experts' who have come down under to do similar sessions and to be very grateful for Gerard's humility, diplomacy, openness and insight. Maybe its that he's speaking out of an European context and not a North American (something that maybe us Aussies can relate to differently?) or maybe its just his personality. Anyway - its good.
There is no way I can synthesize what he's talked about into an easy bite sized blog entry - but here are some of the trains of thought that have passed through my brain the last couple of days. (some are my thoughts (DR)- others are paraphrases of Gerard's (GK))
* 'Gee instant coffee is bad' (DR)....sorry...not on the topic but its been on my mind today!
* 'If you want to know how to run church, learn how to do mission. Asking 'what should church be like?' is the wrong question. Find how you engage with Gods mission and the other details will flow from it.' (GK) Preach it Gerard - top stuff!
* 'There are two jobs in vine (Jn 15) — 1. abide in Christ and 2. go and bear fruit. Therefore we need to be driven by two forces — firstly being drawn in to Christ — but secondly being pushed out by the Holy Spirit. There is some tension and paradox between these two things that we need to learn to live in and grapple with' (GK) Too often we say its one or the other - that one is more important or takes precedence as being 'the way'. They should not be divided. (DR)
*'The question is not 'is the bible the word of God?' — (20th century question) Rather the question is to ask 'is the bible a book?... Scripture was not 'a book' for the first 1500 years - perhaps we need to recapture some of how it was treated in that period today.'
(GK) I loved how he talked about how hypertext has helped us recapture some of the dialogical ways people can interact with Scripture. (DR)
* '20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do.' (Mark Twain...he wasn't there in person...) I've always been inspired by this kind of talk...Tony Campolo talks about a survey of 90 year olds where they were asked what they would do differently. They responded that they wished they'd taken more risks and that they'd invested in more things that lasted beyond the grave. Profound stuff. Very few (if any) wished they'd spent more time at work, or that they'd had a bigger house or earned more money....hmmm (DR)
* 'We need to become 'people gardeners'. (GK) This reignited some of what I've been tossing around in my head of late. Part of my vision for Living Room is that it be an environment where people are nurtured to growth, to bear fruit and to be a part of this in the lives of those around them. I love the biblical imagery of plants, gardens etc. Maybe we should rename ourselves the Glass House. (DR)
Many thoughts. Going back tonight to have dinner with Gerard and a couple of other Forge bods.
6 August, 2003 9:09 AM
The next couple of days I'll be Gerard Kellying it up. Looking forward to meeting the guy and hearing what he has to say. Sounds like the guys in Sydney and NZ had good times with him, hope they didn't suck all his energy out of him!
5 August, 2003 4:36 PM
Is 'Alternative Worship' the best name for..... Alternative Worship?
I was talking to a friend last week about Jonny Bakers book Alternative Worship. As soon as I mentioned the title he began to react against it. His arms crossed, his brow became furrowed and he made a grumpy 'huff' like sound.
Over the next few minutes we began to unpack his reaction and a lot of it boiled down to the term 'Alternative Worship'. 'What's it alternative to?' 'Isn't worship....worship?' These were just some of his initial questions - and ones now I think of it that I've heard many times before. When I began to unpack what 'alt worship' actually is he was more than happy to explore it - he even agreed that its something the church needs to explore more - but he kept coming back to the validity of the term.
Its left me wondering if there is a better name? Maybe its a bit of an Aussie thing but perhaps the risk is that people will react against it and throw the baby out with the bathwater purely because of the word Alternative? Not sure what would be a better word though? 'New Worship' could have a similar critique - 'Experiential Worship', 'Creative Worship'....hmmmm
Do we even need to label it? Not sure...just wondering.... thoughts?
4 August, 2003 3:31 PM
I'm really excited to announce the impending publishing of an amazing new book written by two of my workmates here in Australia. It is called 'The Shaping of Things to Come and its written as an agenda/handbook for the emerging missional church and the chapters I've read are spot on. But don't just trust me, here's what Leonard Sweet and Eddie Gibbs write on the back cover of the book.
"For the first time we in the West are living in what has been called a “post-Christendom era.” Most people throughout the western world have seen what the Church has to offer, and they have found it to be wanting. The current credibility gap has made it hard to communicate the gospel with clarity and
authenticity. Paradoxically, this is the case even though it is currently a time of almost unprecedented openness to the issues of God, faith, and meaning. This is a time when the need for, and relevance of, the gospel has seldom been greater, but the relevance of the church has seldom been less. If ever there was a time for innovative missionary effort in the West, it is now.
This raises enormous challenges for God's people in the West. The Shaping of Things to Come explores why the Church needs to recalibrate itself, rebuilding itself from the roots up. Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch build their case around real-life stories gathered from innovative missional projects from the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and England. These spirited experiments of Gospel community serve to point out just how varied a genuinely incarnational approach to mission can, and indeed needs to, become. They present vital nodes of missional learning for the established Church as it seeks to orientate itself to the unique challenges of the twenty-fi rst century.
This book is a bountiful multi-course meal, each serving presented with charm and class. It will satisfy even eclectic appetites, and please the most discriminating palates. Four Stars."
— LEONARD SWEET
"It is especially helpful to have an Australian perspective on the 21st century missional church as these two authors are engaged in church planting in one of the most secularized societies in the Western world. Their contribution brings an in-depth theological refl ection as well as providing a broad scope informed by their extensive reading in theology, culture and mission as well as their on-site visits to missional churches in the USA and the United Kingdom. Furthermore Mike and Alan are not armchair-theorists but are engaged in innovative and risk-taking ventures in church planting and the mentoring of leaders to extend this strategic ministry. Their contribution to the literature is as substantial as it is engaging."
— EDDIE GIBBS
A little about the authors:
MICHAEL FROST is the founding director of the Centre for Evangelism and Global Mission at Morling Baptist Seminary in Sydney, Australia, and he is the author of several books, including Seeing God in the Ordinary: A Theology of the Everyday. He is a leading communicator and evangelist, and he speaks internationally on issues associated with spirituality and mission.
ALAN HIRSCH oversees missional leadership development for his denomination in Australia, and he is also a key mission strategist for churches in the UK andNew Zealand. He is a mission strategist, teacher, and church leader, and is known for his radical approach to mission-in-the-West. His local church, South Melbourne Restoration Community, is a model of incarnational mission and ministry in postmodern settings.
Its being published by Hendrickson and should be available in the US in August and here in Oz in September - keep your eyes open as I'm sure it will be a very worthwhile read.
29 July, 2003 4:31 PM
In the past few days I've been asked (in person and via email) for suggestions on resources for planting Emerging Churches.
I'm not the biggest reader going around so don't have alot to suggest but I thought I'd open it up to everyone to answer. Leave your suggested books, websites, people, blogs etc in comments. The people asking the questions are regular blog readers, so you'll be directly helping people in getting into some planting.
Have I ever mentioned Ignition as a great resource??
28 July, 2003 9:02 PM
How should an emerging church planter financially sustain themselves and their family?
Today I worked another shift at the warehouse that I've been picking up casual work at for the last few years. This morning my boss pulled me aside and asked me to consider taking on full time work there. I knew immediately that it wasn't going to work at present for several reasons. Firstly I study a day a week at bible college (just 1 year to go now!), secondly I work for Living Room a couple of days a week and thirdly warehouse work is slowly killing my back, knees, neck, sinuses, feet...etc.
However its got me thinking about where I'm headed 'career wise'. In 12 months I'll have a bachelor of Theology and at the end of next year the grant that funds the Living Room runs out. I'll have time on my hands and will be looking for a way to earn a living that has the potential to keep a family going.
So how does an emerging church planter make a living? I'm not expecting or even wanting to be rolling in cash - but one has to live somehow. I can't see how the model of church we're developing is going to fund a full time minister (and I'm not sure I'd want it to). I wonder if there will even be a place for paid 'ministers' (I don't like that word so much these days) in emerging churches?
I'm a little confused - thinking on my feet here - do I take on a warehouse job or something in a local cafe or bookshop - do I find a position with a para-church organization - do I keep trying to pick up speaking engagements and weddings where I can - do I go to university or tafe and get another qualification. (or do I start charging my blog readers big bucks to log onto this site and read my ramblings!)
I'm not really asking for advice (although if you've got some feel free to comment) - just thinking out loud - wondering - dreaming - stressing - hmmmm.
17 July, 2003 1:11 PM
This morning I met with three other local Baptist ministers. (hi guys) We meet every second Thursday morning for prayer and support. There is an increasing amount of co-operation between our groups. One exciting prospect is that it looks like we'll be sharing office space/resources soon which will mean we will be bumping into each other on a daily basis. This emerged out of my Emerging Lonelienss.
It's fantastic to find other local people speaking a similar language.
Yesterday a Melbourne friend MSN'd me to tell me that he'd just been thinking about virtually the same stuff that I wrote about in Village Life - and then the next morning he logged onto my blog to see my post. (maybe God's trying to tell you something mate!)
Every couple of weeks lately I've been hearing of new groups starting around the city to meet to talk about forming new communities. Some are using resources like Ignition, others are doing it their own way. In the past month I've had two Melbourne churches email me asking for help/information about how to 'reinvent' themselves.
My bible college is even planning on running a subject next semester titled 'Emerging Church'!
A few minutes ago I also received an email from another guy involved in leading an emerging church who wants to meet weekly for an hour to swap notes, encourage each other and pray. I lept at the opportunity.
Add to this the weekly time I spend with the guys at Forge and my online and real life interaction with other Melbourne groups and individuals who are thinking about experimenting with new forms of church - I feel very fortunate to be not going this alone.
Something is happening in our city which inspires me!
Of course I'm seeing similar stuff happening around our country and globe also. Are we living in the early stages of another Reformation?
17 July, 2003 1:10 PM
Hamo says some good stuff about Preaching that takes my post on the topic a bit further.
9 July, 2003 8:49 PM
"Do you want to be a mourner, lamenting the passing of the church as you knew it, or do you want to be a midwife, helping to birth a new Christianity?"
I love this quote from Herbert O'Driscoll which I've heard before but never knew who said it til I saw it on wanderer :: worshipper :: lover of leaving (one of my new favs on my daily blog run).
9 July, 2003 11:26 AM
This is an extract from a great essay on the state of the church in the West that I had emailed to me last year written by a guy named Kevin Ward from NZ. He writes:
"I decided to research the backgrounds of those now attending my church. The results were even more marked than I had imagined. What it showed was that 87.7% of those attending the church had been attending another church as adults before they came to this church. Of the remaining 12.3% who had not attended elsewhere as an adult, 5.2% had gone to Sunday school or youth group at the church, 3.1% to Sunday school or youth group elsewhere, and only 3.9% came from a genuinely nonchurched background. Interestingly the largest group of attenders at this church, 33%, came to it from mainline Protestant churches. I then wanted to find out if this pattern was true of other churches that had experienced growth over this period. I researched 3 other churches that had grown significantly. A charismatic Anglican church, evangelical Presbyterian church, and Pentecostal church. The results were similar with in all cases at least 75% having come from other churches and only between 2.7% and 4.0% having a nonchurched background. Interestingly with the Pentecostal church the pattern was similar to the Baptist church in that the largest single group were those from mainline Protestant churches, in this case 38%. In terms of the percentage from a nonchurched background there was no difference between the Pentecostal and mainline churches.
Since doing this research I have found the pattern is very similar in other western countries. Sally Morgenthaler in the US asks "How do we explain the growth of the megachurch? Simple: musical chairs - church hopping growth. And it represents more than 80% of the people who have come in our doors in the past decade.. The megachurch's feeder system is the smaller church, and disgruntled believers who have quit their churches." In Canada additional research by Don Posterski and Irwin Baker has found that 5.5% of church attenders come from an unchurched background, and that there is no difference between mainline and conservative churches. Finally in Australia the NCLS research has found that 7% of church attenders are newcomers, of which 4% are returnees to church life after a period of time away, and only 3% are actually involved in attending church for the first time. "
I have a copy of the full article if anyone would like it.
8 July, 2003 8:08 AM
Yesterday our landlord, Mrs C, (who occupies the ground floor of our house) invited V and I for coffee. Mrs C is an elderly Italian lady who speaks very little English — her daughter came to translate for us as my year 7 Italian doesn't get me very far at all. She is very friendly and has made us feel very welcome.
The inevitable question came 5 minutes into our 'coffee'. 'What do you do Darren?' It's a question I often think twice about before answering — you never know how it will come across saying that you've just 'started a church'.
The conversation that followed was truly bizarre. Not only was I trying to explain 'Emerging Church' and 'Post modernity' (something that I find hard enough to do with some of my closest friends) but I was doing it through an interpreter, to someone from my grand parents generation who was born on the other side of the world and has always belonged to a little local Catholic church.
I'm not sure Mrs C will be joining us at Living Room any time soon. She's probably downstairs right now wondering what she's gotten herself into with the wacko couple she's got living upstairs and wondering why this priest is married! However despite all this she seemed happy that there were young people 'in the church' — something she'd given upon seeing.
I really enjoyed the challenge of having to explain what we're doing across the cultural divides. Interested to hear how others go about explaining what they're doing to friends, family and elderly, Catholic, Italian ladies!??
7 July, 2003 12:11 AM
What is the place of Preaching in the Emerging Church?
On the weekend I had an email arrive in my inbox that asked me to complete a survey for someone who was doing a survey of Emerging Churches. The guy asking the questions is doing a doctoral study of preaching in the emerging church. I found it to be an interesting research topic and am also wondering what 'preaching' looks like in the EC's around the globe.
At Living Room after 4 months we are yet to have a 'sermon' (in the traditional sense of the word), there have been no monologues and nothing that resembles preaching in the sense that I've previously seen it in the churches that I've worked. The only times I give a sermon these days is when I'm guest speaking at a church or a camp — and even then it often ends up more like an brawl (workshop might be a more correct way of saying it) than a 'sermon'.
Having said that, there has been a lot of group learning, teaching and exploring. Scripture has been opened and expounded virtually every week. People have been challenged and stretched by God through the worlds of those sitting around the table with them. Whilst some weeks I do prepare something for the group to grapple with, most weeks the group itself is responsible for each coming prepared to participate in the learning experience.
The way the survey was worded, I'm left wondering if what we are doing is weird? The questions 'seemed' to assume that the recipient of it was the one doing 'the preaching' and that they were solely responsible for preparing a sermon. The questions focused largely around topics and preparation of sermons.
I had presumed that in the post modern world we live in that methods of 'preaching' might be undergoing some change. Are we weird, maybe even heretical in the approach we're taking?
Those of you actively participating in or observing EC (or any community of faith for that matter) - I'd really be interested in hearing about what you're doing in this area. Does your community do 'preaching'? If so, what does it look like from week to week? In what ways is preaching changing shape in the church today?
30 June, 2003 10:31 PM
Today I spent the day at a Forge intensive. Forge is a mission training network here in Australia that runs training for people wanting to explore innovative mission and church planting. It was great to sit in a room with 40 people today, many of whom are experimenting with new forms of church across Australia (and one from New Zealand and three from the US), and to share stories of faith and emerging church. The teaching is pretty fantastic also!
13 June, 2003 1:07 AM
I love Fred's latest two posts.
First he posted on the shifting values in approach to evangelism.
And then he posted an honest post titled The Hurt of Who Am I and Where Do I Go which is a great post about the current place he finds himself in on the emerging church journey. Reminds me a little of some of my own recent feelings
They are both well worth the read.
9 June, 2003 11:44 PM
I've been feeling lonely of late - I'm wondering whether it might be something will be effecting others exploring new forms of church?
Its been 3 months since my last Sunday of working at DCCC (my last church). A few people have asked me lately how the transition has been from a fairly sizeable, mainstream type church to Living Room. The transition has been pretty smooth, I'm really enjoying the change for so many reason. However in the past week or so I've begun to notice a change in my emotional state. On a number of occasions in the past two weeks I've found myself feeling very low.
Its taken me a while to be able to put words to my feelings, but after a lot of prayer, some good chats with V and quite a bit of thinking I've realised that one of the main differences between the two ministry roles is that the isolation I now feel. For one of the first times in my life I've been feeling incredibly lonely.
At DCCC and in other positions I have always worked in ministry as a part of a larger team where I had daily interaction with colleagues. We had weekly meetings for prayer, planning and support plus all those inconsequential chats over the photocopier and coffee machine. In addition to that there was a weekly rhythm of meetings, services, bible studies, outreach activities and other programs which thrusts one into relationships with hundreds of people every week.
Living Room is so much different to that. There are only 8 of us in the group, I'm now working from home and our weekly rhythm is a lot less program centred. Whilst I'm enjoying the change from a program based ministry to a much more organic experience of Church, I realised this week that I'm grieving the loss of daily contact.
I guess this is magnified a little by the small numbers of others on a similar journey here in Melbourne. There are hundreds, if not thousands of ministers and pastors in our city, but only a handful that wouldn't stare blankly back at me as I share what we're trying to achieve with Living Room.
Its a strange feeling realising that you're a lonely 31 year old minister.
Anyway, now I know what I'm feeling and why I've started to make some changes in my week. In addition to the amazing people I'm connecting with through this blog, I've also decided to be a lot more intentional with the way I spend my week.
Is this an experience that others are finding also as they explore new forms of Church?
9 June, 2003 9:55 AM
Leighton writes about 3 Fallacies of the EC.
1. The emerging church types are just a bunch complainers criticizing from the sidelines.
2. here is no such thing as perfect church. (Which usually implies, the church has always been like it is today)
3. All we need to do is repackage the gospel for a new generation.
Each is expanded here.
28 May, 2003 12:46 AM
I've just been reading Kim's article Characteristics of Missional Church again (which I think is a good one btw) and am wondering about this word 'missional'. Its a word I'd not heard used until around 2 years ago but since then have been hearing it all over the place. It seems to be a buzz word, at least here in Australia it is, something that gets attached to all kinds of activities, communities, people, programs and strategies.
I don't have a problem with the word itself, but I'm wondering if maybe we're kidding ourselves with the vast array of things we slap it on as a label? I've no doubt that there is some great mission going on around our globe at the moment, but I wonder if sometimes we 'talk' more about it than we 'do' it? Perhaps its just a Aussie problem but in the past year or so I've been asked to do the guest speaker thing at 4 or 5 evangelistic events only to arrive and find that the only people there are Christians. Yet at the end of the night everyone congratulates themselves at having had a great missional activity.
I wonder why we (I) struggle so much with Mission. The way I see it is that it should be central and a natural part of our lives - yet so often it becomes 'an activity' (if we do it at all) and often a very unnatural activity at that. Why do we get it so wrong? Is it fear? Is it that we don't actually know what it is? Is it that we are worried about not being politically correct? Is it because most of us don't even know anyone who isn't a Christian? Or is it that we are just too wrapped up in our own little lives that we don't have the time or inclination to connect with those around us?
UpdateFred asks the question
Has evangelism become more of a communal practice than an individual practice? I wonder if this might have something to do with it?
23 May, 2003 1:41 PM
I just added a good article titled Characteristics of Missional Church by a local guy called Kim Hammond to Phuture. I think it makes some good points.
A taste: "It's about a loving missionary God incarnating the world to save it. It's about mission being at the heart of the Trinity, and many in the church have forgotten it. The missional church is about getting back to the great commission and the great commandment. To go into the entire world while loving our neighbours as ourselves. "
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