Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Five Values for a Missional Church

FIVE values for a missionary church:
[from various C of E sources]

A missionary church is focused on God the Trinity
Worship lies at the heart of a missionary church, and to love and know God as Father, Son and Spirit is its chief inspiration and primary purpose…
A missionary church is incarnational
It seeks to shape itself in relation to the culture in which it is located or to which it is called…
A missionary church is transformational
It exists for the transformation of the community that it serves, through the power of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit…
A missionary church makes disciples
It is active in calling people to faith in Jesus Christ…it is concerned for the transformation of individuals, as well as for the transformation of communities.
A missionary church is relational
It is characterized by welcome and hospitality. Its ethos and style are open to change when new members join.

Greenbelt.UK.US Trip continued

Tiredness and thoughtfulness dominated my trip out of Cheltenham! I was a little lonely I think... in a crowd like most classic introverts. We travelled to Stratford Upon Avon [the birthplace of Shakespeare... and a lovely if touristy village. The laundromat and a stroll through town were a welcome distraction...
I continue to think about the nature of leadership, my own faith community connections and ideas and the cost of trying to reinvent an institution scarcely able to grasp its dilemas.
I still have three options in mind i. a new faith community project at home around say a Saturday monthly experience or ii. contributing to the Adamstown Dungeon congregation more regularly or iii. focusing on helping a few places more long term in my work than fleeting connections with lots....
Its about actual experience rather than consultancy... where helping others with ideas is not inherently flawed but it has to be more effective, powerful and informed to be actually engaged with your own local community in this way. I suspect I feel the disconnect a lot more since stepping back from rugby and not yet being able to give full attention to Lucy's school or other neighbourhood aspects while living and working at dustance.
We spent time at the 'local' talking about highlights and it was good to hear other peoples stories...

For me this included:
Remembering the first afternoon 'Panel' at GBelt and the affirmations
Conversations with people beyond the superficial including Meags, Collard, 'Sarah' and Jen!!
The diversity of the Greenbelt program

We explored 'Ironbridge' the location of the beginning of the industrial revolution with hints of the smoke and heat which would have been present. The 1797 built bridge was amazing and we heard about how it still had dovetailed joints like timber because when you think about it how would they have known any different being the first one.

We met with Mark Berry over a meal and began to hear about:
The story of moving to Telford to pursue a new faith community and missional connection
A sketch of the path into 'pioneer ministry' as part of the 'fresh expressions.'

This is where a flexible pathway is offered to leadership/formation/ordination. I began to reflect on the poor record in the UCA of moving to such 'flexible pathways' and it's my view that our existing system and to some extent Faculty would be incapable of moving to this change on their own. There is a huge barrier in evidence from previous history mixed in with stories of great insight, wisdom and care. But essentially students are often treated as anything but adult learners, MEC guidelines are scapegoated for being sticklers to the rules, requests for exemption due to past experience are treated as 'trying to get out of something' and youth ministry is clearly not understood and regarded as a lesser discipline.

People will be surprised by the capability of those who transition to ordination via a recent decision of our Assembly. The experience in pastoral care, planning and things like Funerals will surprise.

On Wednesday 27th we spent time exploring the centre of Telford [a town since the early 60s] and then the evening with the 'Safespace' community at Mark and Lou's home...

The 'town centre' concept reminded me of Rouse Hill in Sydney where the Courts, Police, Shopping Centre and Park are somehow envisaged as the 'heart of the community.' In this case more than one local from Safespace confirmed that they would have preferred one village being developed for this and that they don't like to shop there... While the sheer number of us made space tricky it was still a good night of conversation and it was clear once the locals found space amongst us that they were really good at relating and showed the benefits of being authentically connected with each other and their activity. I had a great time chatting to Ian who found the group online and still can't quite believe his less than satisfactory exploration of conservative Christian books has given way to being part of this amazing group... he lives 3 mins away....

I like Mark's story about connecting with the Telford football club over anything from sweeping the grandstand, being asked to join the Board and writing a history of the Club and how its handled adversity and a few damaging experiences.

This is 'servant leadership' giving away power as transparent as possible connected, available, NOT church.

MEDITATION not worship

Broadly consensus in planning

Mark would listen to feedback about his role but is 'in charge' of his own time and agenda!!
Mark shares others concerns about the term 'mixed ceconomy'. Pete Rollins talked about the risks of the church 'domesticating' activity from it's edge and Mark worries about the consumerism of 'mixed economy.' There just are unintended consequences of this otherwise inclusive term.

On Thursday 28th I had time for scones and coffee and to reflect on two aspects of Mark's sharing:
Excerpt from documents....

"Mission goes out from God. Mission is God's way of loving and saving the world...”
(Lambeth Conference 1998, Section II p121).
As Christians we follow Jesus who said “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20.21). We are called to serve God's mission by living and proclaiming the good news.“It’s not the church of God that has a mission, but the God of mission who has a church”.
For Anglican Christians God’s mission is about transformation – transforming individual lives, transforming communities and transforming the world. As we follow Jesus Christ, we believe that God’s mission is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit in three ways: through the Bible, through the tradition and life of the Church, and through our own listening, praying, thinking and sharing as we respond to our own context.
Five marks of mission
In 1984 the Anglican Consultative Council (http://www.anglicancommunion.org/) began to develop a “mission statement” for the worldwide Anglican communion, and the bishops of the Lambeth Conference adopted these “Five Marks Of Mission” in 1988. They were then adopted by the General Synod of the Church of England in 1996.

To proclaim the good news of the Kingdom
To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
To respond to human need by loving service
To seek to transform unjust structures of society
To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and to sustain the life of the earth

The Anglican Consultative Council notes,
“The first mark of mission… is really a summary of what all mission is about, because it is based on Jesus' own summary of his mission (Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:14-15, Luke 4:18, Luke 7:22; cf. John 3:14-17). Instead of being just one of five distinct activities, this should be the key statement about everything we do in mission.”

or 'all of life' balance... integrating faith, life, justice and mirroring the writing of Tom Sine and others [Mustard Seed writings] and rising to prominence with people like Shane Claiborne who seem to be able to make 'living simply' simple!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

"Life in Technicolor" Coldplay

Did a presentation at the annual synod meeting today using this great Coldplay track behind the pics... more later!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Where is Matt Harding?

Colleague Chris reminded me this week of the Matt Harding video I first saw on TEN TV here in Oz on 'Rove Live' I think...

The premis is that Matt started with a video camera and either a travelling mate or by putting it on the ground and video-ing himself doing a slightly quirky 'dance' in various locations all across the world.

'Stride' chewing gum have since sponsored Matt and sent him out again including blogging his upcoming locations so as to gather a crowd who joined in...

It's just a great celebration and shows how kicking off 'authentic community' isn't exactly 'rocket science' it only gets tricky after that!!

Catch Matt at http://www.wherethehellismatt.com/videos.shtml?fbid=b0AMm6s_YVX and download high quality clips here

Row M Seat #30 "Freedom Writers" rated M

We watched this film last night as a discussion/study in 'leadership' and seeing strengths emerge at our two day staff Retreat in Mt Victoria. Despite so much work to do for the weekend it was a good 'time out' working on strengths, foundations and teamwork. This film was inspirational, mostly well made, full of symbolism and helpfully based on a true story!!

Hilary Swank plays Erin Gruwell, a new teacher inspired by her fathers 'freedom riders' experience in the 1960s, to sign up for a school with the cultural integration program. She ends up teaching in a neighbourhood at war with a class on 'freshman students' who are hard to crack.

She hangs in, hits on a plan and uses music, the holocaust, related books and the Museum to open up the students and empower them. But at what cost?

A real key to building relationship with the students was an exercise in inviting them to journal and leave their books in a lockable cupboard if they wanted Erin to read them.

The film's website includes access to some discussion resources and extends the story to the true life experiences of Erin and the students [who were in a genuine life and death struggle]. Find the info here.

Erin was: vulnerable, used gifts and wisdom, empowered the kids in their struggle, threatened the status quo and was in stark contrast to the Subject Head and other staff. The District Officer played a key role, going beyond his authority to empower the classes excursion and brokering the discussion about what happened to the class from 3rd year onwards.

Friday, September 19, 2008

"8 Track Church in a CD World"

I've been doing some crash course re-reading of some material which formed my early thinking about the challenges currently facing the church and our need to engage in the culture and context we find ourselves in. It's all in preparation for my upcoming report to our Uniting Church Annual Synod [State] Meeting. We are putting forward some results of work done this last year towards a 'blueprint' for the future of ministry with young people in our sphere.

In doing this I have dug out my copy of "8 Track...." a reference to the shortlived recorded music system popular in some 1970s/1980s vehicles that went the way of beta max video players. It's a reference to the church's outdated way of 'being' and the challenges of engaging in a post modern world. It's not a deep philosophical or academic examination but the first half sketches the challenges and the second half offers some hints and hunches of ways forward that in the late 90s and early 2000s were pretty landmark and insightful!! It's always good to go back to these books and remember where the first 'namings' of your own inklings came from...

This one is very much in that primer category and will be valuable in the next week as I frame an important introduction to some shared stories and some Proposals for real change. I will write more about this once the talk is fomed. I will also be designing a scripted piece around the tag of "Imagine..." in relation to the future of ministry with young people and an audio-visual with Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" as backing track.... that's the plan anyhow!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Greenbelt.UK.US Trip GREENBELT #2

'Greenbelt Festival' is an amazing part of the UK Festival culture with 20,000 people of genuinely all ages bunkering down for the August Bank Holiday Weekend at Cheltenham Racecourse. The theme for 2008 was 'Rising Sun' and the feature Speakers included: Brian McLaren, Frank Shaeffer, Sarah Miles, Pete Rollins and Phillip Yancey!!

The weekend includes: bands, art, worship, workshops, food and 16 shower units for 20,000 people at was it 3 or 4 pounds a 15min timelsot. It was cheaper to share...

What did I learn [there are more than one or two aspects of my Greenbelt experience I'm still thinking about and won't have time to reflect on further until after our annual Synod meeting in a week and a half]:
A. I was reminded by Fuzz Kitto and several others of the great gift to the church that are Youth Workers [good ones anyhow]... bringing:
i. Contextual skills
ii. Relational skills
iii. Ability to adapt and change
iv. POMO perspectives on culture, arts and media
They will make excellent leaders in missional contextual faith communities. I'll pick this up later about places we visit and the 'fresh expressions' concept of 'pioneer ministers.'

B. "Mission shaped church" is as simple as it can be boiled down and I prefer to think about this cf 'the emerging church.' Faith communities engaged in their world and location, aiming for authentic relationships and striving to tackle life, questions, to call people and systems on the rubbish that goes on and intent on recognising and fostering God where they find God will shape a future.
The EDS advert about building the plane while its flying is a helpful metaphor for thinking about changing the existing church. I need to be on about helping the existing church make space for new things with permission, resources and encouragement.

C. The Friday night forum was almost enough input to keep me going for the weekend. This is where my thinking about my own 'faith community' connections began, leading me to have one of three choices to follow in terms of what I want to build on rather than always be helping others 'in theory land'. In terms of what I have been 'banging on about for years' it was empowering and affirming to hear the conversation from the various leaders about the communities they represented/are part of...

D. The mix of music at Greenbelt with plenty of so called 'secular' performers was an affirmation for things I've hassled about with NCYC and other 'events.' Michael Franti and Shlomo were my musical highlights but I was too tired to listen to Seth Lakeman properly and have done so since and enjoyed it.

E. I had more than one significant conversation about stuff I hold as important with friends old and new...
I am indebted to them for giving me their time and look forward to more chances to chat in future!!

F. The emerging church in the UK as we've encountered it is very much built around worship gatherings where some at home would be built around a specific mission...

G. We simply have to do 'new things' not just keep banging away at changing what exists

H. Enjoyed McLaren on the scripture being written by the conquerors and the danger of reading it in the modern context. "You will always have the poor" was a great example often taken out of context with Jesus quoting Deuternomy that goes on to say you must do something about it... not vice versa.

I. Didn't get to much alt.worship but did pick up some ideas from a variety of sources. I have written up some NCYC relevant ideas about portraits, couches, participation, signage etc

J. I will be ordering a few talks mp3s to go further on ideas that struck me...

More on 'fresh expressions' we visited later...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Greenbelt.UK.US Trip BACK TO THE START #1

Despite some posts from England it's time to go back over details, add pictures and videos and use this medium as a way to process the many and varied valuable experiences from our trip.

23 hours in transit is still just as tough 10 years on from my last London sojourn but an 'Exit Row' seat and entertainment on demand mean I have no reason to complain. Six films and two TV shows later we arrive and gather at Heathrow 'Starbucks' to process the sad news that Niall's mother in law has passed away. We organise ourselves and sort Niall for a return flight home at lunchtime. It's disappointing for all the obvious reasons but we feel a little sad at the missed experiences that await.

Cheltenham is a haze of stretching the legs, shopping, rest, sleep, briefing for the Tour and fine Italian dining and a terrific group meal. What on earth did happen to that butterscotch sauce?
I'm more than a little annoyed that work at home for the Report at Synod is still to be completed and this gets emailed before we head into Greenbelt Festival so here's hoping it all goes out in the mailing and the actual Presentation will be waiting to be sorted in the week or two after getting back home!! This last minute work here and at home beforehand have me a little weary and stressed as John and Nic could attest... later this will mean I'm tired and overwrought more than I should be.... but we pull it up just before it 'crashed and burns'!!

Is it just me or have all small English [maybe add tourist] towns been overrun by the global trend of consumerism and franchises... Greggs Bakery, Starbucks, Car Phone Warehouse, HMV, etc etc in all the small historic main street buildings. The point is I think the emerging mission paradigm out of the spirit of the current age is one that will be dominated by globalisation, accelerating the post Christian nature of our culture/s and context/s. Sounds like a flamin' essay to me...

As we headed into 'Greenbelt' I was mindful of it being an event I became aware of in the early 80s and might have attended in 2000, 2007 and finally here I was. The description 'Blackstump Festival' on steroids works at first sight but the genuine 'all age' feel is qucikly a striking difference. The UK Festival culture means people will adapt to camping with ease, we'll see mainstream acts on mainstage and they'll be OK with being here...

To be fair, after catching Brian McLaren sans PA and then an 'Emerging Church Forum' I probably have enough material, affirmation, challenges and ideas to last the weekend... seriously.

The simple descriptions of contextual missional communities of faith and the challenge to me to be involved in a new venture are loud and clear... I will still be working this through by the end of the trip!!

McLaren's intro sets out the premise and encouragement of his "Everything Must Change" book and focus on 'kingdom values' and our call to be change agents in that pursuit seems self evident but there are some really strong underpinnings you need to put it into action. It does seem it'd be more reacted to in the US where many here are 'on this page' and the vibe is a bit 'yep, and....' The book came along at a great time in helping me add some depth to stuff I was already working on around the theme of HOPE and so I'm impressed to be hearing more...

Michael Franti does a great mainstage set and we're underway!!

OK my next few posts will cover more ground... I'm just getting back into my journal!!

Unreliable Idea : Ball of Whacks

The Ball of Whacks [created by Roger von Oech] is a creativity tool for innovators, artists, engineers, writers, leaders and students. The Ball consists of 30 magnetic design blocks which can take many shapes including the "beautiful 30-sided rhombic triacontahedron."
More versatile than a puzzle and lots more fun than a brain teaser.

The Ball of Whacks comes with a 96-page illustrated creativity guidebook that provides you with tips, stories, exercises, and insights into the creative process.

Each individual piece of the Ball of Whacks is a "golden ratio" rhombic pyramid. Held in place by 180 rare earth magnets, these design blocks fit together to form a perfect 30-sided rhombic triacontahedron — geometry's most beautiful shape.

Available in Red, Blue, and Multi-Color. Get all three!

I bought one in New York and plan to explore how it could be a good dynamic leadership training tool or a toy for getting people in creative mode... not cheap at $30US each!!

Greenbelt.UK.US Emerging Church Photos

I'm back from the trip to the UK and US exploring 'emerging' churches and Greenbelt Festival. It has been a week of recovering from jetlag, chest infection and interupted sleep BUT I'm getting there.

It's going to take me a while to wind through my journal and post some insights and photos so I thought I'd promote the Flickr links here so interested photofiles can check out the trip... I am yet to add my 1min videos!

Flickr photo sharing site:

There will be others on the Tour with photos on flickr, blogs etc and some may be added here for a full record of the Tour
Other Official and contributed Greenbelt Flickr pics here

New York here

I visited some missional faith communities and initiatives

Origins which has just this week changed it's name to Trinity Grace Church and expanded its network to four centres

Trinity Wall St 'Portraits of Our Neighbours' Life sized photos

WTC Tribute Center 'Ground Zero' and Walking Tour here

I'd like to think, rather than gawking at this amazing site like a tourist and certainly with no idealised view of the USA and its world perspective, my storytelling interest [and previous visits to this site when the WTCs were standing] compelled me to come and experience the stories from families directly effected by 9/11 through the Tribute Centre Gallery and Walking Tour. Much more on this later...