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Thursday, December 11, 2003


I decided that I couldn't write about "positioning oneself to engage the senses" and not as a minimum be able to post text and image. Thanks to Andrew Hamilton for the encouragement, and jonny, Bob, and Andrew Jones for leading the way (from my perspective)....and Rachel for the offer of technical help...

We'll see how things go...

Paul Fromont 12/11/2003 02:27:00 AM
Tuesday, December 09, 2003
Nothing much to say today...sitting here, Vogel's toast and marmite in my hand...coffee just poured...raining outside...nice and warm though...T-shirt weather...catching up on a few blog friends...Father's Creech and Rains have their big fly-fishing adventure this weekend...Steve, Lynne and family are here on Saturday - other friends from church - Maybe Rachel & Regan - Godly Play experiment - BBQ - friendships deepening...

Aside from Baxter, and Riddell, I'm re-reading chapter 8 ('Transition, Culture and Leadership') of Alan Roxburgh's book, Crossing the Bridge: Church Leadership in a Time of Change

Loved this quote on the top of Mike & Amber @ the What is Church site:

When Jesus announced the kingdom, the stories he told functioned like dramatic plays in search of actors. His hearers were invited to audition for parts in the kingdom. They had been eager for God’s drama to be staged and were waiting to find out what they would have to do when he did so. Now they were to discover. They were to become kingdom-people themselves.” - N.T. Wright

Paul Fromont 12/09/2003 11:14:00 AM
Monday, December 08, 2003
Back safely from Wellington. Great time - art (Stanley Spencer exhibition with talk by the curator / Wim Wenders and his amazing photographs - see link / Te Papa) - great food (French / Malaysian / Indian) - wine - movies - reading - relaxation. Thanks to those of you who left a note below. Checked out the cinema which hosted the world premiere of "Return of the King." Watched the final installment of The Matrix, and the UK movie, "Love Actually" (following Andrew Jones' lead). Unfortunately I didn't think it was better that "Notting Hill" but it was a very watchable movie.
I spent part of the weekend reading the script of Mike Riddell's play, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem" published Bucket Press and available from Mike Riddell - what a wonderful play. I would have loved to have seen it acted as the script really moved me. Actually, pretty much most of my reading over the weekend and the week prior has been work either by Baxter or about Baxter - there's something in there, something connecting with my Jesus-following journey. More on that maybe...It's been important, especially Mike's essay, "God was His Problem". Available from Mike website. Thanks Mike.

Made a couple of book purchases - The Collage of God by Mark Oakley, and After Religion by Gordon Lynch.

Paul Fromont 12/08/2003 12:04:00 AM
Wednesday, December 03, 2003
Wedding Anniversary

Today, 10 years ago, in the presence of God, family, and friends, I married my best friend and the love of my life, Kathryn. Wow! Those 10 years have sure flown on by - we've learnt alot, we've lived a lot, our lives have been truly rich. We have so much to be thankful for. We're off to Wellington ('Middle Earth') for a long weekend - some French champagne, fun, and relaxation - some time out together just to rest, to enjoy one another, to be 100% present to each other without all that being parents, working etc. add to the marriage mix.

I love you my darling. Happy Anniversary. May we be blessed, nourished, and enriched over a lifetime of being husband and wife. I'm so grateful for you. We're a fantastic team.

Paul Fromont 12/03/2003 10:26:00 AM
Tuesday, December 02, 2003
Flightless Kiwi - A Sad Decision

Well, in the last couple of days I’ve had to make a very sad decision I was hoping I wouldn’t need to make…but I’ve had to postpone my trip to Kentucky and Cincinnati for “Mayhem.” The key component was the unavailability of seats, other than one seat that was going to cost NZ $3,500 + internal US flights + taxes…other issues entered into my reflection and searching for God’s wisdom. It’s been an insightful ‘journey.’

My HEARTFELT thanks to those who pledged funds towards my airfare. I was deeply touched by your generosity…nothing like that has ever happened to me before…and to think it was expressed through a wonderful group of people who’ve never met me.

I was profoundly excited about moving from virtual friendship to embodied friendship. There are so many of you I was looking forward to ‘hanging-out’ with. Being on Alan and Kevin’s home turf was a wonderful opportunity, but one which will now have to wait a little longer…

God-willing I’m hopeful a future opportunity will emerge…maybe towards the end of 2004 - or Spring/ Summer in the States one other year...

Paul Fromont 12/02/2003 10:30:00 AM
Monday, December 01, 2003
The Shaping of Things to Come by Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch.

Some quotes from Michael & Alan’s recently published book that made me stop, reflect, imagine, and pray. They are from the introduction and chapter 1 (“Evolution or Revolution?“)

Right up front we want to confess our belief that the planting of new, culturally diverse, missional communities is the best way forward for the church that views itself in a missional context…While some established churches can be revitalized, success seems to be rare from our experience and perspective. We believe that the strategic focus must now shift from revitalization to mission, i.e. from a focus on the “insiders” to the “outsiders”; and in so doing we believe the church will rediscover its true nature and fulfill its purpose. Perhaps an established church can plant a missional congregation within its broader church structures. Others might sponsor and support the planting of new congregations on their doorstep to reach those not interested in the conventional church. But it does seem to us that the real hope lies with those courageous leaders who will foster the development of alternative, experimental, new communities of faith. (Introduction, p. X)

We open this book with our impressions of the Burning Man phenomenon because it and festivals like it around the world seem to be saying something important to the world in general and to the church specifically… It’s a cry from an emerging postmodern generation for a community of belonging, spirituality, sensuality, empowerment, and liberation (p. 5)

[There is a] desperate yearning that has been unleashed in the Western world over the past ten or so years. During that time, the advent of postmodernism has raised within the West many expectations for an experiential, activist form of religious, mystical experience. (p. 6)

The Gospel and Our Culture Network (GOCN) says, “The missional church represents God in the encounter between God and human culture. It exists not because of human goals or desires, but as a result of God’s creating and saving work in the world. It is a visible manifestation of how the Good News of Jesus Christ is present in human life and transforms human culture to reflect more faithfully God’s intentions for creation. It is a community that visibly and effectively participates in God’s activity, just as Jesus indicated when he referred to it in metaphorical language as salt, yeast, and light in the world.” (p. 7).

“…Such a church makes its mission its priority and perpetually asks itself, “What has God called us to be and do in our current cultural context?” The issue of cultural context is essential because the missional church shapes itself to fit that context in order to transform it for the sake of the kingdom of God. By definition, the missional church is always outward looking, always changing (as culture continues to change), and always faithful to the Word of God. (p. 7)

“…Boxlike thinking simply cannot solve the problems of the box…” (p. 7)

The missional church is incarnational, not attractional, in its ecclesiology. By incarnational we mean it does not create sanctified spaces into which unbelievers must come to encounter the gospel. Rather, the missional church disassembles itself and seeps into the cracks and crevices of a society in order to be Christ to those who don’t yet know him. (p. 12)

The missional church adopts an apostolic, rather than a hierarchical, mode of leadership. By apostolic we mean a mode of leadership that recognizes the fivefold model detailed by Paul in Ephesians 6. It abandons the triangular hierarchies of the traditional church and embraces a biblical, flat-leadership community that unleashes the gifts of evangelism, apostleship, and prophecy, as well as the currently popular pastoral and teaching gifts (p. 12)

We believe the missional genius of the church can only be unleashed when there are foundational changes made to the church’s very DNA, and this means addressing core issues like ecclesiology, spirituality, and leadership. (p.12)

The church is worse off precisely because of Christendom’s failure to evangelize its own context and establish gospel communities that transform the culture (p. 14)

Says John Drane, “No persecutor or foe in two thousand years has wreaked such havoc on the church as has modernity.” (p. 14)

It is time to move on and find a new mode of understanding and engagement with surrounding contexts. We can no longer afford our historical sentimentality, even addiction, to the past. Christendom is not the biblical mode of the church. It was/is merely one-way in which the church has conceived of itself. In enshrining it as the sole form of the church, we have made it into an idol that has captivated our imaginations and enslaved us to a historical-cultural expression of the church. We have not answered the challenges of our time precisely because we refuse to let go of the idol. (p. 15)

It will require that we adopt something that looks far more like the early church in terms of its conception of the church (ecclesiology) and its core task in the world (missiology) (p. 15)

What is happening now [in the cultural milieu] is entirely outside of any discernible Christian influence (p. 15).

We propose that what will emerge from the chaos of the current social-historical shift to the postmodern is likely to be a second reformation as the church rediscovers itself as an apostolic movement. In fact, we suggest that if the church in the West does not embrace such a radical recalibration, it will find itself increasingly imperiled (pp.15-16)

The church should abandon its role as a static institution and embrace its initial calling to be a missionary movement…Whereas Christendom has unraveled because of its seduction by Western culture; the emerging missional church must see itself as being able to interact meaningfully with culture without ever being beguiled by it. This is the classic task of the cross-cultural missionary: to engage culture without compromising the gospel (p.16)

Forging apostolic movements…requires a different kind of thinking that innovates new modes of doing and being church and recasts its notions of leadership, structure, and mission (p.16)

Christology determines missiology, and missiology determines ecclesiology … it is Christ who determines our purpose and mission in the world (discipleship), and then it is our mission that must drive our search for modes of being-in-the-world (p.16)

This is not a time for evolution, as if another desperate reworking of the old model is going to fix our problems and start a revival. It is time for a revolution in the way we do and are church p.16)

Paul Fromont 12/01/2003 10:39:00 PM
Sunday, November 30, 2003
The Ooze have been kind enough to publish an essay I wrote in the third quarter of this year. A bit rough in places, and the first section has been subsequently (prior to me knowing the Ooze were going to do anything with it) re-worked in the Next Wave essay "Kama Sutra."

The “Body Art” Of Emerging Church

Paul Fromont 11/30/2003 10:03:00 PM
This quote from 'The Shaping of Things to Come' by Mike Frost and Alan Hirsch (Follow the link, pdf contents page, sample chapter, and introduction) was something I tried to communicate in yesterdays sermon - I feel encouraged...I'm not on another planet...

"To contextualize is to understand the language, longings, lifestyle patterns, and worldview of the host community and to adjust our practices accordingly without compromising the gospel. Many churches change the style of their Sunday services without any research into the host community. We often change things because we want the change, not because of a heart for cross-cultural mission in our own context." (p.85) - "The shaping of things to come")

Posted as comment by Darryl on Darren's blog.

Paul Fromont 11/30/2003 11:50:00 AM
Incubators of the Emerging

We watched an interesting television programme last night about "Business Incubators"

A Business Incubator is a facility designed to assist businesses to become established and profitable during their start up phase.

They do this by providing:

shared premises
business advice
business services
a full time manager
The incubation period for an individual business is normally one to three years.

US statistics show that Business Incubators increase the success rate of start-ups from 20% to 87%.

So, do we need to have church incubators, networks that intensively work to nurture, nourish, and fund creativity; that resource new and emerging expressions of church? That fund and resource spirituality?

I'm grateful to have a good friends down here that incubate my spirituality, my sense of church, and mission - Mark and Steve, Andrew, and Mike, an " Invisible / distant friend" (These people often remain at the distance unaware of any connection with us. These are the people, living and dead that inspire, teach, and encourage through the example of their lives, their writing, their art, their music, or their teaching) who fund me, encourage me, and enable me to better incarnate and earth my Jesus-following life in this land.

Paul Fromont 11/30/2003 11:24:00 AM
Today (1st Dec.) is the world premiere of "The Return of the King," 6 hours drive south from where I am now, in Wellington, the capital city of Aotearoa-New Zealand....I'll be down there next weekend - 10 wedding anniversary - but am really disappointed that the movie doesn't publically open for another 2-weeks, so we won't be able to go and see the movie in the cinema that it premiered in.

Paul Fromont 11/30/2003 11:02:00 AM
Friday, November 28, 2003
Are "we" the problem? Part 1

“…Our God is a God of beginnings. There is in him no redundancy or circularity. Thus, if his church wants to be faithful to his revelation, it will be completely mobile, fluid, renascent, bubbling, creative, inventive, adventurous, and imaginative…”

Jacques Ellul

We can tell a lot about our theology of God by the ways we “do” and “are” church. I can tell a lot about the unspoken theology of my church by sitting back and listening, by watching, by asking questions, by listening to conversations over lunch, by listening to conversation at small group gatherings, by listening to questions being asked, by watching for what is being read, by listening to sources and people of influence in people journey’s, by listening for the music that people are listening too…by looking for the ways they distance themselves from the world within which they are called to serve, and with which they are called to engage for the sake of the gospel.

Given yesterdays post (Alan Jamieson’s research), if church = “people”, and churches are shallow in their format and approach, poor listeneners, conservative to the point of actually squeezing out life, too inward looking, boring, superficial, dull, numbing, narrow, a hindrance to connecting more deeply with God, and a hindrance to fully and creatively expressing a relationship with God; does it follow that we’re all these things as individuals because we are church?

If we are, “Why are we?” ‘What does it say about our Spirituality?” and “What are we going to do about it?”

Paul Fromont 11/28/2003 10:07:00 AM
Thursday, November 27, 2003
Why People Leave Churches

A section from my sermon notes for Sunday - Broadening our reflection on Acts 15:1-35.

"People leave churches; people have damaging church experiences. For all kinds of reasons this is a reality. In drawing attention to the struggles that people have, what I'm trying to do is to encourage the kind of communal reflection that really listens to the life-quenching experiences that many people are having in churches; listens in order to better love, change, and serve the needs of people who want to grow in and deepen their relationship with God revealed in Jesus, who want to become more fully human after the likeness of Jesus, who want to nurture the diverse work of the Spirit in their everyday lives, who want to more authentically and creatively engage with the renewing work of God in Jesus in the world."

"Like Paul and Barnabas we should "protest fiercely¨ (The Message, Acts 15:2) when the outcome of belonging to church is brokenness, rather than wholeness and life more fully lived."

In Friends Exploring the Frontiers of Faith: A study of post-church groups in New Zealand, Alan Jamieson lists a number of reasons people leave churches. Here's a list of several:

The structure and orientation of the churches

 The shallowness of the format and approach
 The church was dysfunctional
 The church was too inward looking
 The church was boring
 The church contributed to people's burnout
 They wanted to explore new ways of 'being' church

Personal growth and the spiritual/faith journey of individuals

 They had grown beyond [their] church
 Church was like a stuck record
 Church hindered their connection with God
 Church provided them with no support
 Church was too narrow
 They had too many questions
 They were not heard
 They wanted to be freed to make contact with non-Christian people
 They wanted more contemplation
 Church did not scratch where they itched
 They wanted a more intimate and participatory environment

Most people spoke of a combination of church related concerns and personal issues of growth or needing something 'different' for their own spiritual development."

Kathryn and I were reflecting on the list last night, and talking about how many of these "symptoms" were true for us........hmmmmmmmm

Paul Fromont 11/27/2003 10:25:00 AM
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
Mindful, contemplative and compassionate

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." - Matthew 6:33 (The Message)

Read this on Chris Marshall’s site. A couple of weekends I did a “mindfulness” retreat – a retreat creating space to recognise God and his gift to me in the “sacrament of the present moment;” creating space for me to discern the “wind of the Spirit,” trusting the Spirit to form meaning and significance out of the “chaos.” We call the giving of our “entire attention to what God is doing right now,” contemplation. Listening with ear and heart. Contemplation – wondering, marvelling, revelling in God encountered in the present moment, encountered in the “right now.” It’s that simple. It’s living “mindfully”, it’s slowing down, it’s looking, listening, touching, feeling, smelling. It’s “breathing in” through our senses the still small voice of God, God’s loving wink, God’s smile, and God’s loving embrace. It’s “breathing out” of our lives joylessness, fear, a lack of trust, self-hatred and loathing, our unwillingness to allow God to forgive us, our unwillingness to let God love us

Contemplation, gives rise to proverbs, draws skill-for-living (‘wisdom’) from the simple act of noticing – noticing our environment. Noticing what we overlook, which we pass-by everyday.

Andrew Pritchard writes “we grow in contemplative living by taking time to reflect on our experience of life. Block out time in your diary for 2004, register a booking for space in a monastery, register for a workshop on contemplative prayer, organise your own retreat – a good book to use as a help is Emilie Griffin’s, “Wilderness Retreat: A Guide for Spiritual Retreat” or Brother Ramon’s “Seven Days of Solitude: A Guidebook for a Personal Retreat.” If you struggle to hear the invitation in Scripture, listen to culture, as Nike exhorts us, “Just do it!” We often say we ‘learn from experience’. Unfortunately, all too often that is not true. We actually learn by reflecting on our experience.”

Again, Andrew Pritchard, “Compassionate living grows out of contemplative living.” In living contemplatively, “giving attention to what God is doing right now,” we learn to listen to God, we learn to listening deeply to the lives of others. We listen for their need for healing, their need for love, their need for forgiveness, for hope, for a sense of identity and meaning. We listen first, then we embody God’s love, God’s healing – acts of kindness, taking time to care, to send a card, to gift some flowers, sharing the Jesus-story, meeting for ongoing conversation over a beer or a cup of coffee, pray. Be the solution to a practical need: something to be fixed, a lawn to be mown.

Paradoxically, if we gave “attention to what God is doing right now,” if we saw in the present moment an opportunity to encounter God, self, and neighbour, if we listened and felt first, perhaps then we would have something to say about Jesus, something to say about God’s gospel gift.

Paul Fromont 11/26/2003 09:42:00 PM

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