Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Space, Permission and Validity

   A new initiative, new form of church or a missional contextual ministry with young people rely on the interplay of [3] things if they are to have any chance. While we live in a western post modern, post church environment with all it's related challenges, there is an opportunity to join the missio dei [God's mission in the world].
  Outward focused, spirit inspired, gift harnessing creativity will always allow people to come up with amazing ministry with young people BUT unless the existing 'church' makes room for this it is always a bigger challenge than it needs to be.
   Space, permission and validity are all needed to give things the best chance of meeting 'the hurts and hopes' of people in your community. 

SPACE includes facilities [and the keys or access] but also attention, support, resources and awareness
PERMISSION means genuine approval to 'be' without 'gate keeping' and unhelpful constraints
VALIDITY is taking something seriously and understanding it as creating new forms of 'church'

   New initiatives or contextual missional activities are often fragile, fringe or experimental ideas. It can be a contest of ideas around 'what is the gospel?', focus, share of attention and 'open or closed set' thinking. That's all great jargon but it means we are not always good at allowing experiments.
   Young people often encounter low or no expectations and are not taken seriously in faith shaping and discipleship. Faith communities can be afraid for the future or guilty of seeing young people as 'the church of tomorrow.' Sometimes SPACE is clearly not free and complaints about how it's left or padlocks on cupboards make that clear. PERMISSION can be conditional on meeting generational or committee expectations. Lots of things are barely tolerated and what we do know is that leaders and young people have good 'antennae' for sensing whether or not they are included.
   St Laurence, Reading is the best example I've seen of all these things being evident just from entering their building and hearing their story. It's not about the billions of pounds spent but the space, permission and validity given to their mission. The same could be done with a flat screen TV, a coat of paint and a set of keys.

- Healthy School Breakfast Programs
- Computer Game Parties
- Homework Centre
- Social Justice Club
- Holiday Clubs for Kids
- Missional Contextual Worship
- Leadership Programs
- Hall Games
- Sports Comps
- Skaters
- Bible Study Groups
- Day Camping
- Theme Nights
- Big Screen Movies
- alt.worship
- Art, Craft & Photography

Thursday, September 22, 2011

UCA NSW/ACT Synod Meeting #02

I don't know about others but I'll be borrowing the VicTas hashtag #synod2011 for twitter during the 18 monthly meeting where the Mod is Installed here in Newcastle on Friday night and business kicks off Saturday at Newcastle University... based on the maintenance mode Reports so far I hope there's more innovative material to come... between the pre-reading our corporatised thinking on structures I'm hoping to at least have some good conversations with some of the younger attendees and looking fwd to their non boomer generation take on the challenges ahead!! Stay tuned I guess... unless our procedures ban social networking, which I doubt will have been considered... and is just an opportunity to flout the rules if it has!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Coldplay Done!!

OK, so you've missed it now... but download it from youtube soon no doubt!!

Coldplay LIve on Letterman NOW!! 1pm AEST

   Watch Coldplay streamed live on the net from David Letterman's Late Show NOW!!! here
The internet webby thingy is amazing!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Re-reading "The Shaping of Things to Come"

   Yes, I'm re-reading the Frost/Hirsch 'textbook' exploring innovation and mission for the 21st C! It's helpful because it's thorough, grounding and references the original works from which most of our current popcorn versions draw their inspiration.
   The challenges of contextual mission and ministry and the ideas here are some of the reasons people tell me I speak a different language to them in some workshops and presentations... that won't be changing... but hopefully more people are beginning to grapple with the issues an increasingly irrelevant institution is facing.
   This is diametrically opposed to the 'good news' we believe we share and our hopes for a world lived differently. If people don't see 'the church' as a place to explore their spirituality and life then we are going to find 'attractional ministry' difficult... being seen and helpful , connected and serving communities of people is actually doing and being our faithful selves differently and opens up opportunities for people to encounter God on their territory.
   That said, I laugh every time I read about San Fransisco's 'Subterranean Shoe Room' knowing that he was trying to get a message to Michael Frost, asking him to stop telling the story. The shop ends up being full of Aussie and Kiwi backpackers 'cramping his style'!! whoops... keep it to yourselves!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Event Cinemas: Anything to Learn?

  Greater Union have changed their identity to 'Event Cinemas' in most if not all locations and the other bigger companies have their own take on the local cinema being about more than movies. It seems an interesting diversification which no doubt has more than one motive...
1. Movie pirating and quick release of DVDs necessitate movie experiences you can't have at home
e.g. this week along you can catch the Pearl jam anniversary show 'Twenty' and Nirvana 'Live at the Paramount'
2. 3D has sporting and concert possibilities or even just normal projection puts State of Origin Rugby League or the Rugby Union World Cup Semi's and Final on the BIG screen
3. Live Concerts and alcohol licences will soon combine on site to create new venues
4. It's bigger and cheaper than a 3D TV at home

SO, what lessons if any are there for the Christian Church. No it's not as simple as 'how can we entertain people?' We lost that battle ages ago... I mean what can we learn about the kinds of experiences people are responding to? AND what might it inspire us to come up with as diverse uses of our buildings and gathering spaces?

What are experiences we should be offering through our communities of faith, that you can't experience as well elsewhere? How might new cohorts of people be invited to enjoy communal experiences in our space?
What 'mission' could thinking this way serve???

RWC 2011 #05 Where to from here?

   The biggest problem for the Wallabies now in the wake of their World Cup loss to Ireland is the quality of the remaining opposition... unless the USA can bustle them as the Irish did we won't learn too much in their next two games about possible new combinations or players who 'put their hand up' for a forwards spot!!
   My thoughts... whatever it takes Pocock and Moore must play in the big matches!! and the bigger solution to a problem is Berrick Barnes at inside centre. McCabe is OK but Barnes gives another option alongside Cooper, for clearing kicks, point of attack etc.
   They must commit another man to the rucks and work out how to get forward so Genia has space to organise... that was the killer against Ireland. They played really well!
   What of the pathway to the Final... it will be tougher but wow, what a Cup it would be if we make it!!
They can hope for Italy to upset Ireland but on the other side of the draw the French loom as yet again the All Black achilles heel!! Viva La Francais!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

RWC 2011 #04 Four Penalties and a Drop Goal

   That says it all really!! The Wallabies lacked the ability to go to plan B when a spirited Irish side put it to them in the scrum and out enthused them in defence!!
   I have coached only lower grade blokes Rugby [with a little bit of success!] but I can tell you the secret to winning big games is to treat the ball as 'gold' and hold onto it for as long as you can.
   You can overcome rain, bustling defence, poor timing and diabolical refereeing [everything the Wallabies faced last night] and still win those games!!
   We never recovered from the absence of Ioane, Pocock and Moore. Polota Nau was off the pace and though Mcalman tried hard we missed that on the ball scrounging which may have seen an Irish forward sin binned and not just warned for their disruptive play at the rucks.
   The Irish even used their bench more effectively as we left it too late to bring Hinginbotham onto the field. He and Palu may havebeen handy in that charge to the line inside the last 15mins...
   It's a long way to the Final from here... unless 'the Azzurri' play out of their skins and down Ireland... even then the winner of last nights clash has the advantage!! THAT WAS AWEFUL, WALLABIES!!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

RWC 2011 #03 The Ireland Challenge

   It really has been a case of too much rugby too little time for me so far this World Cup but that stops on Saturday night when the Irish front up to challenge the Wallabies. Will it be 12 degrees, raining and windy... probably!!
   The Wallabies should be focused enough to Ireland away unless ill discipline costs them too many 3 point penalties. It's a game the boys in green lift for but if it's 'fair dinkum' we should win by a fair bit.
   In other matches it's been great to see a few sides trouble the northern hemisphere teams. It's a sign the rugby is being played the right way and attractive attack is possible.
   I think the media is right, I expect Rocky Elsom to bounce back from being a bit invisible in the opener against Italy and Will Genia's reputation continues to grow.
   You win World Cups by having [5] world class players stamp their authority on matches. For us it's a group focus on the forwards gaining ground. This will allow our talented but inexperienced backs the room to grow into their reputations. Wouldn't it be great to see Kurtley Beale score three tries on Saturday night.
   Meanwhile if I were the All Black coaches I'd be looking to blow Japan off the park this weekend to get some confidence back into the side. It's time they settled on a winning combo or they risk a soft preparation for matches later on. 'Choking' is not an apt description of their World Cup history, it's been more a case of being too good for their pool and quarter final opponents so when they get to the serious matches they've been untested and underdone... bring it on!!

IKEA Have a Go

 Brilliant!! This is the one...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Where I'd Rather Be...

I read three things this morning that made me ponder...
Where would I rather be?
It's been a long week, well two weeks actually, well four weeks...
And I'm not quite at the point where I can stop...BUT...
I'd rather be in:
1. New York City
Exploring more of the other four boroughs....
Brooklyn to begin with as well as catching 'Spiderman' the musical
2. New Zealand for the whole Rugby World Cup
Mind you somewhere actually warm would be better
I guess I'll settle for the week of the Final in Auckland and actually going to the game
3. Doing Laps of Lambton Pool or Homebush or the Cook+Phillip
Woke up after Mondays session at the Cook+Phillip Pool with a terrible throat so that's it for a week
4. Getting Acupuncture on my Sore Foot
It's getting better but not fast enough
5. Taking Photos around Newcastle for my latest Project
I have started and the weather today is magnificent
Maybe I'll take the camera when I go the Chiropractor
It's all manner of therapies here...
6. At the Movies
A couple of new films start today so there'd be something I haven't seen that I'd like to...
Jonny English could be great or could disappoint, next on my list though is 'The Guard'
7. At Bills 2 in Crown St for Breakfast
Mmmm corn fritters and honeycomb pancakes
8. Reading a book
Oh to have the time to stop
9. At the First Assembly for Sydney Alliance at the Town Hall tonight
One of the things this last two years has cost me is the energy and opportunity to fully participate in the community development made possible by the Alliance... I just feel I'm in a dead end with no idea where to next and so while I'd enjoy the interactions and be motivated to contribute I have no idea where it'd be heading... so I just have to wait...
Fortunately I don't need an organisation to teach me what I've done for years in terms of 'relational meetings,' deep listening and mission...
10. Driving to Sydney to see a Play at Bevoir St
Or Sydney Theatre Company
11. At a 'Midnight Oil' gig
Time machine required... Back to Selina's at Coogee!!
Packed in like sardines... too hot really, and the Oils working flat chat through 10,9,8...
And Diesel and Dust

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"RU OK? Day" 15th September 2011

   Tomorrow my time is RU OK? Day here in Oz which is inspired by Gavin Larkin and the story of his own father's suicide. He was a top flight business entrepreneur who took his own life as a result of depression which he hadn't really been open about or sought or been given help...
   Sadly Gavin himself has had his own share of illness and family struggles which are well told in an 'Australian Story' on ABC TV which you could currently view on ABC iView.
   RU OK? Day is about asking friends and relatives that question... not so much just those at risk BUT all people... you can check out the website here
   Schools and students have become involved in NSW through the 'Reachout' website and a group of young people were those who suggested ways to connect including video, facebook etc

"One Day" Movie Mistake


I must have been weary as I trudged off to the George Street 'Event Cinemas' in Sydney last night!! I had read [for read you mean skimmed] a recent article about the project where people contributed youtube styled videos to hopefully be included in the "Life in a Day" movie!! I also noted the session times for "One Day" and turned up ready to go... only trouble... "One Day" is the Ann Hathaway, Jim Sturgess film and not the one I thought...
   That said I really enjoyed it... many won't... it's a small story with big themes and is told in a really interesting way. I didn't get up and leave because I had seen the David and Margaret speil on it a week or so ago and knew they thought it interesting...
   Essentially the story tracks these two people who surprisingly become friends out of University from Graduation Day [15th July, St Swithins Day]and it picks them up on a number of following July 15ths to see how their lives and friendship is going or not, over 20 years...
   The script was quirky but could have been better but the story had some timely themes for me and an emotional setting just about right!! [3 stars].
   I would write a discussion guide or more thorough handout but I can't be bothered...

It did remind me of the Billy Bragg song though, so there is that..

St Swithin's Day
Thinking back now,
I suppose you were just stating your views
What was it all for
For the weather or the battle of agincourt
And the times that we all hoped would last
Like a train they have gone by so fast
And though we stood together
At the edge of the platform
We were not moved by them

With my own hands
When i make love to your memory
It's not the same
I miss the thunder
I miss the rain
And the fact that you don't understand
Casts a shadow over this land
But the sun still shines from behind it.

Thanks all the same
But i just can't bring myself to answer your letters
It's not your fault
But your honesty touches me like a fire
The polaroids that hold us together
Will surely fade away
Like the love that we spoke of forever
On st swithin's day

Funny IKEA Advert

I saw a great IKEA advert at the movies yesterday and came across this short lived one on youtube!! I'll post the other [completely different advert] when I find it... simple but funny!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11th 2011 Ten years...

   My favourite place in the world to travel is New York City and I've been lucky enough to travel there three times. We went in 1998 for 5 days of a 9 week holiday from London, through Europe and then across the Atlantic!! It was a warm Spring/Summer and the city was magnificent. We spent lots of time around Broadway, Times Square and many of the usual sites.
   This included a trip to the top of the World Trade Centres Observation deck. We went to a Yankees game [my team] and most of the usual spots. Two returned tix saw us catch 'The Lion King' musical as well.
   Again in the winter of 2000 Simone and I returned to join in celebrating 'Thanksgiving' and to see the Christmas Lights turned on in Rockefeller Plaza. It was soooo coooold!! This was our trip before starting a family.
   In 2008 I was fortunate enough to go back as part of a 'study tour/work exploration trip and checked out a few 'new forms of church' alongside taking in the 9/11 Museum and Walking Tour led by people directly effected by the collapse of the Trade Centres that terrible day. As someone who values stories it's quite difficult to describe the depth of that experience.
   Today people across the world will reflect on the event which has in many ways defined the times. That day when four passenger aircraft crashed in New York, Washington and a field in Pennsylvania.
   Some will be mindful of terrorism, fundamentalist religious distortions and/or where they were!! Others will think about many lives lost in war, in the campaigns since and through violence in all it's forms.
   I will be thinking about the postcards in the basement of the 9/11 Museum and the messages of hope, prayer and support offered to all effected by this tragic turn of events. I will marvel at the thoughts and symbolism which has gone into the design of the Memorial Garden and the new 1 World Trade Centre.
   They will remind me of the importance of faith practices, reflection and creative spaces in which people can grieve, remember and move on... in their way and at their pace!!
   I will be thinking about Tommy whose story I heard walking around the 'Ground Zero' site as told by his mum!! He was an FDNY Firefighter who selflessly raced up the stairwell of the building in the hope of rescuing people and was there when the building collapsed. His parents fundraise for a scholarship in his name and run an annual golf charity day for the Foundation. I will remember that the week I was there in 2008 there was a news item about how one steel beam had importantly been placed in the footprint of the former buildings, because despite recent wet weather at that time it meant the reflective pools would be able to be finished by today... one more weeks delay and probably not!!
   I will ponder God's place in the sorrow, regret and lament and in the faces and lives of all who pause and pray or remember!!


Monday, September 05, 2011

RWC 2011 #03 Sydney Farewell


 I happened to be in Sydney working today so I attended my third ever Rugby World Cup team Farewell at the Town Hall Square. It was an autograph session as well so my cap that will make it's way to Auckland in October got a workout... I wanted to tell Quade Cooper to 'cut out the bad kicks' but he was too distracted laughing at a team photo of Kurtley Beale from someone's poster they were getting signed.
   They looked fit and ready to go and I even managed to jag a word with and signature from the coach!!
I told them I'd see them in Auckland at the end of October... on the Sunday rather than the Friday!! 

Cook + Phillip Pool Return


   It's been a while but after last week's false start I have finally returned to the pool for Spring/Summer and in particular those days when I am seemingly stuck in the city. I know I'm doing well when I can get my act together and head to the pool and so dragging myself through twenty laps today was a great reminder of how slack I've been letting my former 32 kg weight loss slip backwards and I'm desperately trying to get back on track... despite events and moments conspiring against me... anyhow!!
   That's another tick on my Sydney list... now for Homebush and finally a return to outdoors [heated] at Lambton when the weather genuinely warms up!!

Friday, September 02, 2011

"Meaningful Soles" Installation

Do you have or know of someone with a story to tell and a pair shoes they could give or lend to the cause of creating an art/installation/space made up of the shoes and people's stories on paper, with a backing track and a purpose designed space so people can come and circualte and engage with the stories.
The aim is for people to share their values, what's made them who they are or what shapes who they'd like to be... people of any faith or none!!
The space will be used at events and Festivals where young people and others gather and with 'at risk' youth to help them think about life and issues they face!!
The shoes will not end up on ebay...

I have sent almost 200 hundreds letters to people 'cold' when I've heard their story, found a contact or know who they are in the world of sport, movies, celebrity, politics...

I have shoes from:
Matthew Hayden cricketer
Dave Andrews writer/community builder/activist
Lisa Gorman telling her own journey
Geoff Smith and that sense of call/vocation

Who said "great idea but no"
Natasha Stott Despoja
Peter Garrett
Tim Flannery

Who said nothing:
Nelson Mandela
Nicole Kidman

I am now chasing Matt Noffs [Street University] and Juan Mann 'The Free Hugs Guy' [who said he was keen] BUT what's your story and who do you know that has one worth sharing... get them in touch with me.... I can talk postage, lending donation etc etc...

DO IT NOW!!!!!!!
Can you help out???