Friday, May 31, 2002
Hey, Kevin, nice icon of St. Alan of Lexington. His veneration by means of cyberspace now knows no bounds...who knows, next stop - the WORLD.
Paul Fromont 5/31/2002 02:11:00 PM
When we pray – “The practice of prayer is essentially political – a matter of attention to events and of intercession and advocacy for the needs of human life and of the life of the whole Creation. Prayer bridges the gap between immediate realities [what we see around us] and ultimate hope, between ethics and eschatology, between the world as it is and the Kingdom which is guaranteed [by the resurrection]..."
William Stringfellow [with slight amendment].
Paul Fromont 5/31/2002 03:54:00 AM
will we be bearers of life,
resisters of death?
all creation ‘groans’ in bondage to death and “decay”, powerless to overcome it or stop it.
in this context of bondage and powerlessness,
God’s “blessing” is God saying “no” to the ‘unhindered’ rule of death, and “yes” to life, by means of the Cross.
God’s ‘blessing’ is God’s “yes” to love in place of hate.
It’s his “yes” to peace in place of war.
It’s his “yes” to freedom in place of slavery.
It’s his “yes” to belonging in place of aloneness.
it’s acceptance in place rejection; it’s the prodigal embraced by ‘outstretched’ arms, welcomed home. It’s tenderness winning out over violence. It’s injustice restored by justice. It’s compassion defeating fear. It’s ‘put-back-togetherness’ instead of brokenness. It’s open hands that give replacing fists which grasp and take. It’s not white instead of black, America instead of Afghanistan ,or Jew instead of Palestinian. It’s God’s love, cruciform in shape, freely reaching out. It’s Jesus the source of life, the way to life, and the one truth that actually isn’t a lie concerning life.
Paul Fromont 5/31/2002 03:45:00 AM
New Zealand shopping malls as "temples - our places of 'worship'."
Thursday, May 30, 2002
Paul Fromont 5/31/2002 12:54:00 AM
"The emerging new culture demands a new way of leading
and a new set of leadership skills.
The new way of leading is based on being rather than doing."
I was re-reading on the subject of leadership by Alan Roxburgh ('Crossing the Bridge: Leadership in a time of Change'; and 'The Missionary Congregation, leadership, and Liminality'). He talks about pastoral leadership in the following ways:
Leads the congregation as witnesses in lands where old maps no longer work.
Demonstrates how to encounter the culture.
Helps the congregation recognise that it is on the margin of culture and is called to both service and resistance.
Atriculates the congregation's experience in culture, identifying and expressing the soul of the people.
Serves as a listener and observer, sensing and experience of the Body and giving that experience a voice.
Knows the congregation and culture cry out for something more than self-development or techniques for success; they are called to be connected to a 'world-being-formed' that calls them beyond themselves.
Begins the process of calling out an alternative visin for God's people, so that, with 'new' ears the congregation hears that their story as God's pilgrim people - a homeless people for the sake of people - a people of a journey home (sounds like the central theme of Star Trek: Voyager!)
Addresses the Word of God directly to the specific, concrete historical experience of God's people.
Provides hope for the community through biblical witness that it exists for the world [Have you read Jeremiah, lately? He's one on-the-mark prophet for our Western Culture at this time! Go Jeremiah!].
Calls forth a different story for God's people, a people who are out there as missionaries - missionaries who are called to freely lay down their lives for others - the ultimate act of love.
Paul Fromont 5/30/2002 12:37:00 PM
I was having a leisurely read through Jason Evans' blog site (check it out if you haven't, and pray for him, his family, and God's call upon their lives...). Anyway I really like what he wrote on the 14th of May, again, in case you haven't already read it, here it is...
"...I think most Christians are socially challenged. Once they become "saved," they become relational retards. Haven’t you found this for yourself?
We seem unable to simply talk and share life like normal people. No longer can we be “us.” Shoot the breeze, gab, chew the fat, whatever you want to call it, so many of us (meaning Christ followers) become completly dysfunctional on a social level when we become immersed in Christian circles. Why is it that I can be hanging out with a bunch of friends at a concert and talk about music, bands, books, movies or whatever for the longest time, BUT, when it is about my life, me and my struggles, sitting with a group in someone’s home… no way, it just does not work.
The ironic thing is that Jesus was the perfect example of a wonderful conversationalist and a true friend. He was always picking up random conversations that he gracefully guided into spiritual concerns. Was he playing mind games or did his genuine love and concern open the hearts of people? I think he truly loved them... he did die for them afterall. As modern day followers of Christ, we often focus so much on his majesty, we don’t see his incredible humanity. We lose touch with the normalcy of his life, his everyday-ness, and the fact that he mixed the sacred and the secular in a very un-orthodox manner. He really cared. He was willing to listen. He liked hanging out with people and it wasn't a once-a-week on Wednesdays at 6:30 type of hanging out..."
Paul Fromont 5/30/2002 01:27:00 AM
Todays a beer ( I can almost see some parallels between beer, pubs, and the practice of many churches...), Viv Grigg, and "Anti-excellence in church life" kind of a day. I like beer. I like beer, talking church, theology, and mission with other 'thinking-outside-of the box' kind of people.
Wednesday, May 29, 2002
Here's some stuff about NZ beer drinkers:
Drinkers are increasingly seeking out more sophisticated brews.
People are drinking more upmarket.
We're not consuming more beer, just better beer.
In NZ beer drinkers are even more sophisticated (than Australians) - premium
brews accounted for 16.7% of all beer drunken last year. Up from 12.2% in 1995.
As you get older, particularly beer, you tend to drink less but drink more
"We want people to drink upstream from the herd."
"Drinkers aren't coverned with image, they're interested in enjoying the
different flavours of the beer and talking about beer."
I almost needed a beer in order to get my head around what Viv Grigg is saying - my head hurts, and I'm a KIWI too, but I'll stick at it and re-read it again tomorrow, and probably the day after too, so that it 'sinks' in. "URBAN THEOLOGY AS TRANSFORMATIONAL CONVERSATION: HERMENEUTICS FOR POST-MODERN CITIES." Enjoyed this article by him - a bit easier on my brain, "Intercessors and Cosmic Urban Spiritual Warfare."
Now for an article written by one of my mentor's Mark Pierson from Cityside in Auckland.
Paul Fromont 5/30/2002 12:41:00 AM
Also found time to read from William Stringfellow today. Here's my reflection on the church serving as bearers of life to the nations (a sense of "blessing" in Genesis 12:3b), in the light of Stringellow's life:
As Church, we bear life to the world in the face of death. We bring both a revelation of what life truly is when we use our freedom, in Christ, to give our lives for the sake of anyone or anything at all, and in that ‘giving’ to celebrate the One who died for all though none were worthy, not even one. We are distinguished as 'bearers of life' by our practice of living and our advocacy of life in the face of all that diminishes and extinguishes the possibility of life.
Paul Fromont 5/29/2002 04:12:00 AM
"....There is no natural basis for the creation of community in our Western Culture..."
Tuesday, May 28, 2002
A thought-provoking little statement that I came across today. My take on it is that where authentic Christian community or 'communion' exists, it serves to subvert, for the sake of the gospel, all that in both our hearts and in our culture estranges people from one another. It serves to subvert all that diminishes our 'humanity-in-relation-to-others', through fear, isolation, intimidation, bigotry, exclusion, suspicion, greed, hate, and domination. Authentic community centred on Christ serves as a beacon of hope in the face of hopelessness. Hope that men, women, and children, given freedom in Christ can truly swim against the culture.
Paul Fromont 5/29/2002 04:03:00 AM
The 1995 (pre-blog I think) Mars Hill Forum interview with Eugene Peterson.
Paul Fromont 5/28/2002 12:17:00 PM
Kevin - Thanks for the note and the e-mail. May your section of the "cloth" be blessed as in Christ you bear life to a good but fallen world. Did you ever read Eugene Peterson's article on Annie, "Praying with Eyes Open" in Theology Today, July 1986, and latterly in The Contemplative Pastor? This was the article that 'switched' me on to Annie, then I managed to find a first edition copy of her "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek" in an old Auckland second hand bookshop. I now look at the world with "eyes open" Also the book, The Space Between : Literary Epiphany in the Work of Annie Dillard by Sandra Humble Johnson. Here's Eugene's review of Sandra's book.
Paul Fromont 5/28/2002 12:13:00 PM
New (old - 1997) book arrived today - Prophet of Justice, Prophet of Life: Essays on William Stringfellow, edited by Robert Boak Slocum. Yay - looking forward to reading it, but I notice I've already seen and read a couple of the essays in journals. He died in 1985, but along with Thomas Merton, Daniel Berrigan, Ched Myers, he, for me anyway, wonderfully gives 'flesh' to the resistent, subversive, countercultural, incarnational nature of the gospel. "Words being given flesh" whereas I still have a tendency to major in 'words' and concepts, whereas, Stringfellow radically lived his understanding of the gospel, particularly in the area of justice...
Paul Fromont 5/28/2002 01:36:00 AM
I have a 40 min. return trip to work each day, so I often use the occasion to listen to lectures etc. from overseas and NZ. Over the next few days I'll be listening to Graham Cray (editor of The Post-Evangelical Debate) and his Culture Shock series from the 1993 Greenbelt Festival (thanks for the loan Mark). This morning, I really connected with his statements below (an echo of what people like Robert Webber are also saying):
Monday, May 27, 2002
"...Those churches that have maintained a sense of the transcendent and the supernatural - whether the transcendent presence of God in their worship, or a belief in the supernatural in their praxis, or just simply in their commitment to historic Christian truth. These churches have grown far more substantially than those who have bought to much into a 'secularised version' of Christianity. People are increasingly hungry for the transcendent [ perhaps this is why movies serve so effectively to deeply move us... Paul], for mystery. In a review of recent work by John Tavener [fantastic music - I especially like "Innocence" - Paul] an Orthodox Christian quietly subverting the normal rules of the last 200 years of so-called "classical" music by using the basis of Orthodox worship music for his work...the reviewer wrote, "...the trouble with with all those churches that have got into 'happy-clappy' and gotten rid of the mystery and so on; why would you want to go to church if not for a sense of mystery - a sense our own smallness in the face of transcendence...?" [ Cray continues] "...some of us have been working like fury to make our churches as modern and as relevent as possible, and in the process have made them less and less relevent to the actual cultures that are emerging..."
Paul Fromont 5/28/2002 12:52:00 AM
It's "interview" day today. Here's one with James Thwaites, author of, "The Church Beyond the Congregation" Also, an interesting interview with Mike Regele in Mars Hill Forum, (double click on Volume 11) entitled Death of the Church (Regele has a book with the same title, published in 1996 - still relevent).
Paul Fromont 5/27/2002 12:44:00 PM
Lying in bed listening to the rain and thunder, and watching the lightning reminded me of Jonathan Edwards. In his memoirs he wrote this:
"God's excellency, his wisdom, his purity, and love, seemed to appear in everything; in the sun, moon, and stars; in the clouds and the blue sky; in the grass, flowers and trees; in the water and all of nature; which used to greatly fix my mind. I often used to sit and view the moon for a long time; and in the day, spent much time in viewing the clouds and sky, to behold the sweet glory of God in these things: in the meantime singing forth, with a low voice, my contemplations of the Creator and Redeemer. And scarce anything among all the works of nature, was so sweet to me as thunder and lightning: formerly nothing had been so terrible to me...but now, on the contrary, it rejoiced me. I felt God, if I may so speak, at the first appearance of a thunder storm; and used to take the opportunity, at such times to fix myself in order to view the clouds, and see the lightnings play, and hear the majestic and awful voice of God's thunderings, which oftentimes was exceedingly intertaining, leading me to sweet contemplations of my great and glorious God..."
Paul Fromont 5/27/2002 12:35:00 PM
Lot's of thunder tonight...winter is here!
The latest census was carried out last year, and initial data is suggesting that practicing Christians make up less than 8% of the population. The church is far from the 'center' of society - Faithful grow fewer . We're a nation in transition - we're developing a new identity and sense of who we are - typically with no reference to the Church, an issue which any church that sees itself as a missionary community needs to be aware of the Changing face of New Zealand
Paul Fromont 5/27/2002 03:17:00 AM
I found this section of an article really useful in understanding the context in which we find ourselves as church in New Zealand:
"Douglas John Hall begins his little book The End of Christendom and the Future of Christianity by dividing church history into three primary eras: the early church, Christendom beginning with Constantine, and the present. There have been two major shifts that account for this division. The first was the shift under the Roman emperors Constantine and Theodosius when the church was officially established. The church moved from a marginal position to a dominant institution in society; from being socially, politically, intellectually inferior to a position of power and superiority; from being economically weak and poor to a position of immense wealth; from being an oppressed minority to being an oppressive majority; from being an illegal religion to becoming the only religion of the state; from being resident aliens to a territorial understanding of the faith whereby the Roman empire is considered Christian. This official establishment characterized the position of the church throughout the remainder of the Roman empire and then in Europe. This pattern continued in North America even though the church was only temporarily established in some places. A functional Christendom prevailed in which the church's power is experienced in terms of a cultural establishment (Guder 1998:47-60).
The second major shift is the disestablishment of the church today that is taking place all across the western world. The church has lost the official power it has known for so many years and is again being pushed to the margins of society. This disestablishment is considered to be a positive development because now the church can recover its identity as shaped by the Scriptural story rather than the cultural story.
During the early years of its life, the church understood her identity as resident aliens. There was a redemptive tension between the church and her culture. The church understood itself to be an alternative community that was nourished by an alternative story. This contrast community was not a community that ignored the public life of society by being reshaped into a private institution that provided an otherworldly and spiritual salvation for its members. Rather it was publicly subversive by a life of radical discipleship that existed as a kind of antibody in society. However, with the Constantinian shift the story that governed the church's life and the story that governed cultural development were merged. The redemptive tension was lost as the church became part of the constellation of powers within the empire. Her identity was shaped by her place in culture rather than by the story of the kingdom of God. The end result was cultural captivity. This domestication continued in the modern period as the church took her place in culture as chaplain of society influencing the moral and private religious beliefs of the citizens.
When one sees how the church has been absorbed into culture and deeply compromised by Christendom, it is easy to see the compelling power of the alternative community model. The renewed stress on alternative emphasizes that the church is a community that is shaped by a different story than the dominant cultural story. The word community stresses that the mission of the church is a communal affair; the church is to embody a social order that faithfully points to the coming kingdom..."
Here's a review of Hall's book from Sojourners Magazine for those who haven't seen it, and Donald Millers, "Reinventing American protestantism: Christianity in the new Millennium."
Paul Fromont 5/27/2002 03:17:00 AM
Geoff, here's the interview with Todd Hunter called Re-envisioning the Kingdom . It's a bit dated.
Sunday, May 26, 2002
Paul Fromont 5/27/2002 12:11:00 AM
"...The word became flesh, said St. John, and the church has turned the flesh back into words: words of good advice, words of comfort, words of wisdom and encouragement, yes, but what changes the world is flesh, words with skin on them, words that hug you and cry with you and play with you and love you and rebuke you and build houses with you and teach your children in school..."
Tom Wright (from The Crown and the Fire: Meditations on the Cross and the Life of the Spirit)
If ever there was a word for the church this is it - "recover the critical importance of the incarnation..."
Paul Fromont 5/26/2002 12:49:00 PM
Mission = The heart of God lived in community + The heart of God reaching out beyond the community. It is not an either/or option.
Paul Fromont 5/26/2002 01:07:00 AM
The CS. Lewis Institute, in their Spring 2002 teaching quarterly had an interview with Eugene Peterson (thanks for the 'lead' Jeff). He has some interesting things to say in response to the question, "What are the top three needs of the church today?" (whilst talking about the American context, his comments are equally applicable to us here in New Zealand).
Saturday, May 25, 2002
"...One is that the church must recover its identity as a unique people of God. We have become so acculturated to the American culture that we have virtually lost our baptismal identity; it’s so important that we recover our distinctive identity as a people of God and not as a people of American religion.
Second would be—and it is related to the first—that we have to recover our sense of what leadership is. We have shaped our leadership ministries to a success-oriented culture obsessed with image and power and influence. We don’t find any of these qualities in our Scriptures or the best parts of our history. We have let the culture define what it means to be a leader in a way that is diametrically opposed to everything that is revealed in Jesus and our Scriptures.
The third thing is—and these all hang together in a sense—that we have to be much more attentive to the way in which we do things. What we have been doing in America, particularly in the last fifty to sixty years, is that we have kept the evangelical goals of the Gospel, conversion, evangelism, mission, but we have used the means of our culture. Jesus is the way as well as the truth, but we have continuously given up the way Jesus did it; we have kept the goals and ends, but chosen our own means."
The interviewer (Art Lindsley) also asked this question, "What advice would you give give to believers who want to impact the culture for Jesus Christ?"
"...I think I would question a little bit wanting to make an impact on the culture.I’m not sure that’s what we should be trying to do. The temptation in trying to make an impact on the culture is that we pick our own ways to do it—the thing I was talking about earlier in terms of using the wrong way to do the right thing. The way to make an impact on the culture for the Gospel is to follow Jesus, and that doesn’t seem like it’s making much of an impact. We make a Gospel impact on the culture by living obedient lives of love and witness. Christians have a long track record of failure in this: We decide we want to make an impact, then we mount a crusade, set a course of action and kill a lot of people or bully precious souls made in the image of God and use propaganda and impersonal, manipulative means to achieve what we have decided is a Gospel goal. We try to do the work of Christ while ignoring the way of the cross.
So, we are back to living humbly and doing justice and there’s nothing very dramatic about that. And, it doesn’t look like it’s making a big impact. As you can see, I am pretty skeptical of big answers or big solutions."
Paul Fromont 5/26/2002 01:04:00 AM
The March 13-20 edition of Christian Century has a great interview with Eugene Peterson on the pastoral ministry entitled, "The Best Life"
Paul Fromont 5/25/2002 03:37:00 AM
Found these articles useful for tomorrow's sermon - On Being Silent by Abbot John Klassen; 'Empirical Indicators of a 'Missional Church'; "Threshold of the Future: Reform or Die..." by Mike Riddell.
Paul Fromont 5/25/2002 03:29:00 AM
Nick Cave Again (my favorite album, "No More Shall We Part"). Who are the authors and books that have influenced you over the last few years? I find, with the the time constraints bought about by family, work etc. that I'm reading a lot more work condensed into articles and interviews. Often these provide an extremely distilled and useful authorial perspective, which saves the time of reading a full book. This isn't to say that I'm reading less books (okay, only slightly less then...). You'll still hear about books on this site, but you'll see more links to articles. I spent a bit of time this afternoon looking through my library, trying to 'spot' those texts that have been signficant landmarks on my journey...here's some of the non-fiction Christian authored books. With the exception of Eugene Peterson, in no particular order:
Friday, May 24, 2002
(1) Everything by Eugene Peterson, especially The Contemplative Pastor, and Subversive Spirituality .
(2) Everything that I 'dip' into by Thomas Merton, especially The Seven Storey Mountain and his journals.
(3) The Church on the Other Side (revised edition) by Brian McLaren.
(4) The McDonaldisation of the Church by John Drane.
(5) Post Evangelical by Dave Tomlinson.
(6) Life on the Vine by Philip Kennerson.
(7) Living Faithfully in a Fragmented World by Jonathan Wilson.
(8) The Missionary Congregation, Leadership, and Liminality by Alan Roxburgh.
(9) Crossing the Bridge: Church Leadership in a Time of Change by Alan Roxburgh (with Mike Regele).
(10) AncientFuture Faith by Robert Webber.
(11) The Prodigal Project by Mike Riddell, Mark Pierson, and Kathy Kirkpatrick.
(12) Catch the Wind by Charles Ringma (still available from Regent College Publishing)
(13) Resident Aliens by Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon.
(14) The Other Six Days: Vocation, Work, and Ministry in Biblical Perspective by R. Paul Stevens.
(15) God's Empowering Presence by Gordon Fee.
(16) Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf.
(17) Everything by NT. (Tom) Wright, especially, The Crown and the Fire .
(18) Threshold of the Future by Michael Riddell.
(19) Making Room by Christine Pohl.
(20) All the Business of Life: Bringing Theology Down to Earth by Robert Banks.
(21) Not Religon, but Love by Dave Andrews.
(22) Christi-anarchy by Dave Andrews.
(23) The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris.
(24) Spiritual Theology by Simon Chan.
(25) A Keeper of the Word: Selected Writings of William Stringfellow, ed. Bill Wylie Kellermann.
(26) Seven Days of Faith (reprinted an revised version of Disciplines of the Hungry Heart) by R. Paul Stevens.
(27) Marriage Spirituality by R. Paul Stevens (available from Regent College Publishing).
(28) Letters to A Niece by Friedrich von Hugel (available from Regent College Publishing).
(29) Trumpet at Full Moon by W. Paul Jones.
(30) The Soul's Journey by Alan Jones.
(31) Towards God by Michael Casey.
(32) Everything by Henri Nouwen, but especially The Way of the Heart, the Genesee Diary and Reaching Out.
(33) Revisioning Evangelical Theology: A Fresh Agenda for the 21st Century by Stanley Grenz.
(34) Why Settle for More and Miss the Best by Tom Sine.
(35) Everyting by the English Puritans of the 17th Century.
(36) Worship Evangelism by Sally Morgenthaler.
(37) Powers, Weakness, and the Tabernacling of God by Marva Dawn
Paul Fromont 5/25/2002 03:19:00 AM
I turn back
Hone Tuwhare (from Shape Shifter)
Paul Fromont 5/24/2002 03:20:00 AM
Oh Yeah. Forgot these articles with a children's / all-age focus. "A little Child shall lead them" by Steve Collins. "Housechurching - Children" (blogged by me on...I don't know when, the dates have disappeared). I 'skimmed' through this interesting book the other day in a book shop (as you do) called "Grandma, I need your Prayers" by Quin Sherrer and Ruthanne Garlock. It's the kind of book that should do the rounds amongst the older saints in our churches. Amazon's 'blurb' says it all, "Quin Sherrer and Ruthanne Garlock (who have 10 grandchildren between them) instruct fellow grandmas in the art of praying for their grandkids' spiritual growth, family life, education, health, etc. The best parts of the book are the stories about special intergenerational relationships, deepened by prayer and time spent together." This is a thought provoking article, "Inclusion in the church: When to be or not to be politically correct" - How do we include people (in this case children) with disabilities?
Paul Fromont 5/24/2002 01:49:00 AM
A few things on my mind over the last week. The first has been a good 'ol 'wrestling match' with the whole question of "what the good news of the gospel is in my Western/New Zealand culture?" How do we deeply connect the significance of Christ's life, death, resurrection, and glorification with the various 'cultures' of which we are parts?" "How, from the margins or fringe of society do we find a 'voice' which speaks the truth both prophetically and compassionately?" I think the issue of contextualisation (meaningfully translating and incarnating the gospel) is a significant issue facing the church down here - we're just not connecting, with a few notable exceptions. "Church as Ghetto," an expression used by Jan Johnson is all to true! (thanks for the link Jordon). Other ways of talking about church have some possibility for reflection and exploration - "Church as a subversive community" (thanks Mike, you can see your article is 'working'), "church as a missional community," "church as a parable," "church as a counter-cultural" community, and "church as scripture formed" (thanks Richard Hays).
Wednesday, May 22, 2002
Other articles I've found useful on this topic are: "Discerning the Presence of Christ at the Centre of Culture" by Julian Jenkins (while you're at the Macquarrie site, have a read of "Leisure and the Christian Life: Relaxing into the Glory in the Ordinary" by Mark Hutchinson). The other church/culture article was Jonny Baker's article called, "Alternative Worship and the Significance of Popular Culture."
Another of the subjects on my mind in the last couple of days has been Amber Bishop's blog (21st May / but it's vanished - I couldn't find her comments tonight) on the inclusion of children into the whole life of church. (Amber, you're not alone...we hear what you're saying :-). Hers is a hot topic for Kathryn and I with our two small children. But more than that, I wonder about how embracing church is of the whole "compartmentalisation" thing - we send our children off to this room, our teenagers to another location, our elderly somewhere else, and our parents with children somewhere else (I'm talking about church in general)...how much of a reflection of western society is that? I'm sure that the gospel should engender a more 'subversive' approach on the part of churches.
Paul Fromont 5/24/2002 01:13:00 AM
You'll find this article"Gospel and Cultures: Newbigin's Missionary Contribution" by Mike Goheen, and many other thought-provoking articles on New Zealands, Deepsight Trust site.
Paul Fromont 5/22/2002 12:27:00 PM
"Most of us walk around with insulation. We are insulated from the weakest, voiceless and poorest parts of humanity."
Paul Fromont 5/22/2002 02:24:00 AM
Listening to Aussie (now in London) Nick Cave - Fantastic lyrics.
Tuesday, May 21, 2002
A couple of good articles appeared before my eyes today: Viv Grigg (Aucklander) - Servants Movements: Protestant Missionary Orders with Vows of Non-Destitute Poverty. A great article by Andrew Shepherd called (Hamilton), "The Myth of "Postmodern" Mission or the False Hope of "Postmodern Mission" Hopefully to be published in the TSCF 'newsletter', CANVAS (I'd forgotten how easy it is to become a dualist in practice!); and Andrew Jones, "The Skinny on Postmodernity #4 ::: Postmodern Church: Are We There yet?"
Paul Fromont 5/22/2002 01:43:00 AM
"The little knots of Friends who turn their backs on the “World” are those who really transform it."
Monday, May 20, 2002
C. S. LEWIS, THE FOUR LOVES
Paul Fromont 5/21/2002 12:14:00 PM
Great article, The Church's Job Description - Subversive Community by Mike Bishop. I love the word "subversive". It's seems such a significant part of the gospel and I'd have thought, should characterise the existence and activity of church a lot more than it does.
Paul Fromont 5/20/2002 11:49:00 AM
"Pentecost Sunday is lost in many traditions...celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit doesn't seem that important in the modern church for the simple reason that we probably feel more comfortable in running the church than we do in being lead by the Holy Spirit."
Whose felt from time to time like they're in a "spiritual rut"?........I have! Discovered a useful little article by Gary Thomas. Not the whole solution, but I find it's useful to get some perspective...
Paul Fromont 5/20/2002 11:39:00 AM
Here's some good stuff from "ThirdDayChurches" on incorporating children into housechurches...
Sunday, May 19, 2002
Paul Fromont 5/20/2002 02:56:00 AM
A couple of good sites / articles: Morling College's (Sydney) The Centre for Evangelism & Global Mission. Mike Frost (Seeing God in the Ordinary: A Theology of the Everyday and Lessons from Reel Life: Movies, Meaning and Myth-Making (with Robert Banks).). I read Mike's, "Preaching in a Post-Literate Age"
Also, on the "Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Association" site, a copy of a lecture given by John Drane, called "Rebuilding the Household of Faith: Being Spiritual, Human, and Christian In Todays World" (Click on "John Drane" on the CTBI site to get the lecture). The lecture was presented during the week, 26th Feb. to 1st march, 2002. Very thought-provoking content.
Paul Fromont 5/19/2002 11:44:00 PM
You do not need to know precisely what is happening or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognise the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment and to embrace them in courage, faith and hope.
* * * *
"The secret of seeing is to sail on solar wind. Hone and spread your spirit till you yourself are a sail, whetted, translucent, broadside to the merest puff". (Pilgrim at Tinkers Creek)
* * * *
I posted this yesterday amongst the clutter of words, but it just needs some space...
"...When the forms of an old culture are dying, the new culture is created by a few people who are not afraid to be insecure."
* * * *
Paul Fromont 5/19/2002 12:44:00 PM
Have really been enjoying catching up on Steve Collins', Small Fire columns...a late discovery, but well worth it. Am looking forward to those who went to Search Party 2002 sharing their experiences and insights for the sake of those of us who weren't there...
Paul Fromont 5/19/2002 12:38:00 PM
I forgot to mention it. Kathryn just reminded me. Andrew S. asked one of the more interesting questions that we've been asked in a Christian context, "How has having children affected your Spirituality...?" Great question, and one we'll reflect on for some time. A reminder that our 'journey' has a number of 'life' stages and phases..
Paul Fromont 5/19/2002 01:02:00 AM
Can't wait to see "Star Wars II - Attack of the Clones." Started here in NZ on the 15th May. It's receiving great reviews here in New Zealand. Here's Russell Bailie's review
Saturday, May 18, 2002
Paul Fromont 5/19/2002 12:16:00 AM
Great lunch with Andrew and Ingrid today. Great people! All Black rugby legend Jeff Wilson has decided to retire from competitive rugby and concentrate his sporting energies back on the cricket field. Pentecost Sunday today. Great 'gathering' of the church the morning - the gathering was built around 'symbols' associated with the Holy Spirit: Olive Oil (annointing); A bottle of wine (The Spirit of joy); Fruit (the fruit of the Spirit); wrapped gifts (the gifts of the Spirit; a rubber stamp (the sealing of the Spirit); a fan (the wind of the Spirit); lit candles (the Spirit as a refining fire).
Friday, May 17, 2002
Spent yesterday in Taupo. Read (as you do) some articles on 'alt' worship, lying back, listening to the waves of the lake break on the beach...anyway, I digress...Here's some quotes from articles by Aussie Dean Tregenza - "...When the forms of an old culture are dying, the new culture is created by a few people who are not afraid to be insecure." (Rudolph Bahro)...
"So, what is the emerging church? Well, here is an interim working definition:
It is not another church or simply a church in the future - it is the church now. The "emerging church" is the diversity of people who are not afraid to be insecure. It is the generosity of people that enable a myriad of experimental activities at the fringes of the church - risking time, energy and resources knowing that some will fail. It is the church where people are willing to sacrifice everything that is important to them for the sake of the gospel.
The "emerging church" is the stories of people who are actively taking risks to explore new ideas and opportunities to discover what it means for them to be a community of Jesus Christ. It is the church actively resourcing people at the fringes to help discover the new entry points for the church to creatively engage world God calls us to serve. Perhaps what many people see in experimental things happening in the church are the signs of the "emerging church" - and we name them the "emerging church" because it is stuff we are not used to. Whatever will emerge into the future, it will be the result of the whole church trying to be what God calls us to be."
"Mike Riddell told of his experiences in remodelling his home in Dunedin. He said that he had learned that 'doing the demolition work is often more fun than the building work'. He continued to explain that there is a sense that 'we have become very critical of the old... and that it is much easier to deconstruct the church than it is to create new things." Amen to that. I think we waste a lot of creative energy criticising and descontructing!
You can read the whole article, "The Emerging Church: A Pig in Lipstick" by clicking on the article title.
Paul Fromont 5/18/2002 10:38:00 PM
Check out Jonny Bakers' site - his entry of May 17 and his "compline" link to Epicentre. He says it all. It ties in with what I was saying yesterday in my Oh so loooooooooooooong 'blog' [sorry about that...]
Also, here's Doug Cumming's "movie" site - Chiarocuro. I wondered where he went to. I read a great interview with him some time ago where he talked about movies as parables...it inspired me to look at movies from a whole new perspective..A good interview with him on Jordon Coopers blog site...May 17.
Paul Fromont 5/17/2002 01:07:00 PM
I was watching the surfing from Tahiti on TV last weekend, and it reminding me why I like checking in on blog sites that I connect with. I like 'checking in' because I'd rather surf the 'edge' of the 'wave' than follow in it's wake. These guys and gals keep me connected to what God's doing on the 'edges.' Thanks Jonny, Andrew, Kevin, Jordon, and Karen. (Check them out!). Off on a suprise family day out soon...I wonder where we're going...?
Paul Fromont 5/17/2002 12:39:00 PM
WHAT MIGHT YOU NEED TO BE THINKING ABOUT- AND DOING AS PART OF EXPLORING NEW BEGINNINGS?
Thursday, May 16, 2002
Birthing a meaningful, ‘new’ or ‘alternative’ expression of worship, outside of the context of ‘traditional’ gathered congregational worship, is never easy, but there are some things that can be done:
1. Get a small core group together. Get a mix of voices, experiences, perspectives, and skills. Share resources, read together, talk together, explore together, and pray. Start with a clean sheet. Dream. Work through the process together. You might want to start by talking about what “worship” means to you, and how you worship. Encourage everyone to contribute ideas - there are no stupid ideas! How can you create and ‘curate’ worship out of the ordinary and the everyday? Do it over coffee, over a meal. Have fun. Re-imagining (who are you “re-imagining for?), planning, and ‘curating’ worship takes time so make sure you have a good lead in time before your start - but make sure you start! If you were starting to explore the idea now (May) try and organise three or four worship ‘gatherings’ between now and the beginning of November. Review, re-evaluate and decide whether you want to continue the journey. How regularly will you want to meet during 2003 in order to meet your objectives? How are you going to keep if fresh over the long haul? Are you going to be able to resource it (at every level) over the long haul?
2. Think. Pray. Talk. Be very clear about the motivation for change. Why are we changing? What do we hope to achieve by changing? Is there a consensus with regards to motives? Where’s God?
3. Is there a willingness to explore new ground - new paths - or is this desire for change ultimately nothing more than a desire for slight variations of the familiar and the ‘well-worn’?
4. What might these “new paths” be? Explore some web-sites like www.alternativeworship.org ; www.freshworship.org ; http://ship-of-fools.com/Columns/Collins/ ; www.sacramentis.com ; www.instituteforworshipstudies.org. Surf the net - explore the ‘links’. Visit gatherings like Cityside and Graceway - visit them several times - get a real ‘feel’ for their sense of “call” and purpose, and the ways in which they express that. Visit churches that worship differently - participate in an Anglican worship experience if you’re not an Anglican. Visit a Synagogue. Visit a Greek or Eastern Orthodox Church. How are other ‘gatherings’ responding to God through worship? Read books like: The Prodigal Project; Refreshing Worship; Why Bother with Church? by Simon Jones; A Royal Waste of Time: The Splendour of Worshipping God and Being Church for the World; Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down: A Theology of Worship for the Turn-Of-The-Century Church; The Post-Evangelical Debate; Worship is a Verb; AncientFuture Faith.
5. Think about what you’re wanting to emphasise, e.g. relationships & community, outreach, intergenerational, high level participation…
6. Think about your missional context. Geography, history, sociological, socio-economic, cultural, religious, and demographic data. What are the dominant features & influences in your context(s)? What is the “good news” in that/those context(s)? How does the “good news” subvert the dominant cultural ‘edifices’? How do we communicate and live out that ‘subversion’? What are the dominant communication modes? What music are people listening too? What movies and TV programmes are they watching? Why? What contexts do they meet and relax in?
7. Keep it simple, especially if you’re worshipping regularly. If it’s too complicated and time-consuming to organise, the ‘wheels’ will fall off sooner rather than later. If it requires more than a ‘run-through,’ as Steve Collins comments, you’re probably trying to hard to impress people. This isn’t a worship show.
8. Don’t automatically disregard or throw-out the old/ancient - rewrite it, re-design it, reconstitute it, reinvent it, re-contextualise it, or trash it!
9. Start small. Don’t make big commitments. Try things. Experiment. Make mistakes. Find your ‘voice’ - the ways that connect with, and are most expressive of who you are. Worship out of reality - mountaintop and valley!
10. Leave room for mystery, the absence of an answer, and pre-packaged responses.
11. What resources are you going to need? Art and art resources. Images. Music. Stories. Liturgies. Stage ‘props’ - lighting, screens, candles, OHP’s, slide projectors, data projectors, TV’s, video players, PA system and speakers, CD players (it’s always good to have two if you’re likely to be cueing background music, or music for particular ‘parts’ or ‘stations’) etc. Make sure resourcing your ‘gathering’ doesn’t cost heaps.
12. You’ve got your idea for a service, now what ? What kind of ‘space’ is going to be needed? (if it’s intending your gathering will be small and intimate, a cavernous building or room might not be appropriate…) What kind of atmosphere does your theme suggest? How will you go about creating that ‘feel’? What kind of a layout will be most useful? Lighting? Visual images? Tactile objects? Is there something interactive people can do? (Don’t overdo this at the beginning until people become used to it - some people might just want to hideaway in the dark and ‘soak’ it up). Do you want communion to be a part of the gathering? Scripture reading - how might you communicate it? Music (background, chanting, choruses, accapella, hymns)? Do you need to project images or words? What else will help you communicate your theme - poetry, art activities, stories, meditations and reflections? Aroma (one Midnight Christmas service I went to had a large urn of frankincense ‘burning’)? Do you want coffee etc. for afterwards? Is your location warm enough or cool enough - if not, what might you need to get the temperature right.
Paul Fromont 5/17/2002 12:46:00 AM
Steve Collins in talking about VAUX [pronounced "vox", situated just south of the Thames in central London] makes some great points which 'speak' into the context I mentioned yesterday - a group of friends thinking about curating an experience of church outside of the normal sunday congregational environment. He writes, "Vaux are seeking an urban [in our case 'small town" or suburban] spirituality." The inherited forms of Christianity come out of another 'world'; an inherited context [which isn't always 'bad'], but one which doesn't always connect with where people are at in their "following-after-Christ" context. They're looking for fresh ways of experiencing God, and of giving 'flesh' to his call to follow him and partner him in ministry/mission. Steve continues, "...they believe that there is an urgent need to reframe the faith [passed down to them] for an urban technological culture. One place they look to for clues is contemporary art...there is a sophisticated use of computer-generated video and graphics. And yet the worship feels as ad hoc, homely, unslick, as if it were taking place in someones living room. Church treated as a living room - no sense of leaders and led, team and congregation - just a bunch of friends at a mate's house, some of whom have prepared something. Be yourself, relax. But there is an underlying seriousness - God taken seriously, the Bible taken seriously, looked at hard as an instrument of liberation and social justice [remember the context...urban/inner city]. New forms are being sought to punch home old truths, still relevent . This is a place to get your head [and heart] straight, find new resources for the battles of urban faithfulness..." Good stuff Steve!
Paul Fromont 5/16/2002 01:33:00 PM
Alternative Beginnings:Establishing an alternative worship service within an existing congregational environment was never going to be easy by eddie chapman. A group of friends are thinking about "curating" an experience of church outside of the normal sunday congregational environment. Steve Collins' article, "Alternative worship: some notes on getting started" would be worth a read...forming alternatives is a journey...frustation needs to be channelled into creativity...what's here today probably won't be there tomorrow...moving out of the familiar is necessary in order to transition to something different...read the prodigal project...go on...read it!
Paul Fromont 5/16/2002 01:41:00 AM
You guessed it. I like to read...read this today, "Ancient Modern Ministry:Medieval Methods to Attract the Unchurched" on Youthwork.co.uk. Add this site to your favorites - emergent ...has some good resources, which will hopefully expand...
Wednesday, May 15, 2002
Paul Fromont 5/16/2002 01:16:00 AM
Read an interesting article/interview in Challenge Weekly (July 18, 2000) called, "Alternative worship "way forward" for church." Good background to some of what's happening...Found it on a site belonging to Studholme Street Fellowship in Christchurch. This event in Christchurch over easter 2002 looked good - missed it - hope they do it next year - Easter 2002: The Fine Art of Raising the Dead
Tuesday, May 14, 2002
Paul Fromont 5/15/2002 01:59:00 AM
Oh yeah, my copy of Pete Ward's (editor) book Mass Culture arrived today. Published in 1999. Everyone will have already read it, but I say, "better late than never." I'm looking forward to reading it...soooooooon. Same goes for Sue Wallace's (from "Visions," in York. Was there last August. Pity it was summer and nothing was on...) book, "Multi-Sensory Prayer." I thought I was new, but Mark told me it was 'old' and so it was. Anyway, my copy's on the way...
Paul Fromont 5/14/2002 01:32:00 AM
Back from Gisborne. Wish I was in St Louis, Missouri for "Searchlight 2002." I love what Len Sweet says in his blurb, "...Today the gospel must be incarnated in a postmodern culture where people are not so much craving "belief" as "experience." People are longing for a genuine experience of God. It is no longer enough to simply give Christ one's intellectual assent. We must "taste and see that the Lord is good." The church must come out of its cognitive, conceptual bias and into more experiential, perceptual modes of worship...." Music to my ears! Andrew Jones (as is his custom) captures nicely what I've been thinking about how we transition the church without alienating the 'old' or limiting the 'new' expressions of church because of a fear of 'hurting' those for whom the 'old' is a legitimate way of being church. Here's what he says, "...Here is the challenge: To allow the new without threatening the old. To preserve the old without hindering the new. Those without wisdom choose one but not both..." Read, "Housechurch: The Time of the Turtles"
Sunday, May 12, 2002
Paul Fromont 5/14/2002 01:09:00 AM
Back from the beach. Here's a great read by Dallas Willard from Vineyard's publication, Voice of Vineyard. The article's called "Life in God." The issue isn't whether we have a deeper life or not. The real issue is, "what kind of deeper life do we have...?" He makes some very good and needful points, Well worth reflecting on.
Thursday, May 09, 2002
Paul Fromont 5/12/2002 01:54:00 PM
Jus a couple of quick things. I'm rushing this morning. I mentioned yesterday about the need to 'wrestle' with what the "good news" is in the context within which we find ourselves. Here's another question to reflect on. In his first letter to the church(s) in Corinth, Paul wrote, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing (1:18)...has no God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (1:20b)...God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe (1:21b)..." The question: "What makes the gospel "foolishness" into our various contexts?" "What assumptions does it undermine?" "What 'public' truths and views of our 'world's' does it subvert?" The word "foolish" has that sense of something that 'contrasts,' 'undermines,' 'subverts,' and looks 'ridiculous' in the face of accepted understanding, theory, and 'truth' (small "T"). These are questions we need to wrestle with if we are going to be both faithful to the broad sweep of the gospel, what at the same time allowing it's "truth claim" to speak into our coultures and context, albeit that it will sound foolishness to those with eyes that cannot see and ears that cannot hear Let's wrestle!
The other 'note' I wanted to make was to draw attention to a great little book that I picked up yesterday on behalf of Geoff (our pastor). It was called "Sacred Pathways" by Gary Thomas, and essentially was about our various temperment's and 'leanings' and how these affect and influence the various ways in which we 'find' and like to spend time time with God. I'm looking forward to reading it.
Paul Fromont 5/09/2002 01:11:00 PM
Have read a couple of very interesting articles in the last few days. One by Vinoth Ramachandra (thanks Andrew for the introduction). Vinoth lives in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He is the regional secretary for South Asia of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students. His article is entitled "Because God First Loved Us … Jesus came to us" The other article is in the most recent edition of New Zealand's Stimulus journal (Vol.10, No.1 / Feb. 2002). It has a great sub-title "Finding categories of Connection in a Culture without a Christian Memory" It's by Kevin Ward. Titled, "Christendom, Clericalism, Church and Context" Basically it's talking about the incredible challenge of seeking to convert people to the faith who have not been part of it. The importance of the article for me is summed up in this sentence, "We need to see new forms of church developed that are not shaped by the values and forms of Christendom, but by a genuine mission encounter between the gospel and culture of 21st century New Zealand..." Finally, there was also an interesting article in the April, 2002 edition of "NZ Management" magazine - "Faith at Work: Managing the Spiritual Renaissance" by Sue Weston
Wednesday, May 08, 2002
Paul Fromont 5/09/2002 02:12:00 AM
Two thinks got me thinking yesterday: A column in the NZ Herald (can you tell I at least scan it each day?) by Tapu Misa, entitled "Be Proud of Our History? Better Learn about it First" and an over-lunch-conversation with Andrew who teaches for us at the Bible College of New Zealand (Waikato). In her NZ Herald article Tapu made this great point: "Coming to terms with our history, warts and all, is an important part of growing up" How effective are we at teaching 'history" in our churches? In other words, how effective are we at connecting our people into the BIG story of God-at-work; of connecting them to the great traditions, history, practices, and heritage, that is theirs in Jesus Christ, and by virture of their God-created humanity? A good understanding of history - the high's and the lows would help them 'frame' and make sense of their worlds today, whilst at the same time strengthening their sense of who they are, and the significance of their calling. I suggest a grasp of history would help resource us on our journey's ('practices') - It would help to be able to bring to bear the perspectives and life lessons ('wisdom') of those who have preceded us. It might help us realise that history didn't begin with us, nor did the history of the church begin at the Reformation - ouch!
Tuesday, May 07, 2002
Andrew, in discussing "mission in a postmodern world" reinforced the importance of churches wrestling with the big questions: "what is the good news ('the gospel') in our world today?" That's not as simple a question as it might appear. It's partly a missional question which understands the importance of both understanding the broader cultures within which we live and have our being, and the importance and significance of how we communicate that the Christian gospel such that it is "good news" within that particular context - "what "good news" does the story (and it's significance) of Jesus' life, death, resurrection, and glorification bring to the people of Tauranga? How important for the truth of that "good news" is the way's in which we live out it's significance, both corporately and individually? Here's a thoughtful article to reflect on..."Embodying the Gospel: Communal Interpretation and Witness" by Inagrace Dietterich. Tw thought-provoking books to read on this subject of "giving flesh" to the truthfulness and significance of the gospel are: "Embodied Holiness" ed. Samuel M. Powell, and "A Community of Character" by Stanley Hauerwas. If you wanted to grapple with the recovery of an understanding what the "gospel" is, and how to communicate it, a good starting point (albeit in a North American Context) would be, "Confident Witness - Changing World: rediscovering the Gospel in North America" ed. Craig Van Gelder.
p.s. Andrew, I look forward to reading a copy of your article on mission in a postmodern world.
Paul Fromont 5/08/2002 01:51:00 PM
Last night we went to a "Hot Tips for Parents: Parenting with Confidence" seminar. It was really good to be reminded of the importance of our vocation as parents. Learnt a few things and will put them in the practice. Families are a part of the church community as well - they're not the only 'component' of church, but they're part of it, and as with any group it's a fair assumption (I think) to assume that the 'holistic' health of the family unit, is a significant part of having a healthy, dymanic, vibrant, loving, faithful, go forward, get-out-there, creative church community...We need creative, interactive seminars on how to instill Christian identity and world views into the lives of our children, it's not easy when they get bombarded by media of every description trying to conform them into the latest cultural mold - buy this - be this - do this - get a credit card - drink COKE - get you navel pierced - get life on the worlds terms - "just do it"...Many children get less than one hour of Christian input a week - how many typically waking hours are there in a week...? Tom Sine made that same point while he was in town a couple of years ago, p.s. if you haven't read his book "Mustard Seed versus McWorld" you should...Christine and his latest book, "Living on Purpose: Finding God's Best for your Life," is also a fantastic place to start in terms of helping to establish Christian identity, priorities and values in the 21st century. I heartily endorse both books...whilst agreeing somewhat with the first reviewer on the AMAZON.com site's 'customer review' of Living on Purpose.
Monday, May 06, 2002
Paul Fromont 5/07/2002 12:26:00 PM
Have been thinking about Church of the Saviour and their approach to 'doing' church...getting the emphasis right in terms of growing as a follower of Christ, building Christian "communion" and serving in the world as followers of Christ...you decide. Two great articles:
Rediscovering Essence: What I Learned from the Church of the Savior in Washington D.C. By Mike Bishop, "whatischurch.com" editor, and the Vineyard newsletter, CUTTING EDGE Article entitled, The Journey Inward, Outward, and Forward: The Radical Vision of The Church of the Saviour, by Jeff Bailey (available in pdf. format). Talk about your impressions, share the articles - let's get some informed, creative debate going...the future is out there, and we're a part of it!
Paul Fromont 5/06/2002 01:35:00 PM
Here's a thought-provoking article by John Wimber, The Church that Jesus Builds (pub. 1997)
Paul Fromont 5/06/2002 01:24:00 PM
John Pilger's Eyewitness to war in South East Asia is on at the Auckland museum at present. Saw an overview on TV news last night - I still struggle to see how unbelievably inhumane we are to one another - NO sense of the sacredness of life...A reminder of the influence of "death" in the world.
Sunday, May 05, 2002
Read this quote on the Vineyard Central site. Amen and Amen. The practice of authentic Christian community - intergenerational - multicultural - connectedness across socio-economic 'lines,' worship preferences, varying levels of wholeness and wellness...It's all so important to a faithful, powerful witness to the truth of the gospel. The autheticity of a church can always be seen in how it relates to one another, the mix of the 'community', the degree to which 'masks' are off, the degree to which worship and prayer resides at the heart of it's relatedness, the degree to which the unusual and the outcast fit in....Community, community, community. The future of church rests in your hands.
"The future of the
church depends on whether it develops
true community. We
can get by for a while
on size, skilled communication, and programs to meet
every need. But
unless we sense
that we belong to
each other with masks off the vibrant church
of today will become
the powerless church
Good article by Steve Taylor, Graceway Baptist (Auckland) in an old edition of REALITY Magazine (subscribe now...). Article called, A New Generation leading the Church in a New Millennium. Hopefully you've already read it and are thinking about its implications.
Paul Fromont 5/06/2002 12:06:00 PM
Here's the anthology I was reading, The Art of Prayer : An Orthodox Anthology
Paul Fromont 5/05/2002 01:20:00 PM
Well this morning the 'golden' tree is now decidedly 'undressed'..."Fall" is in full swing and winter waits in the 'wings.' Was reflecting on the value of celebrating Passover and reflecting on a column in the Herald which I read sometime over the last fortnight - The title was "Ritual of Anzac Day restores sense of community" by Sandy Burgham. I got to thinking about the rituals and traditions that help constitute us as a Christian community - that help provide us with both a sense of identity, and help 'nourish' and 'nurture' that identity. I could only think of "communion," and that isn't always that often, and the singing of "praise" songs. Do I feel nourished and nutured by these 'rituals'? "Is my identity as a Christian strengthened?" I don't know! How do these rituals help on the one hand 'stimulate' identity, whilst at the same time helping me inculturate (a missiological term) my Christian faith? Again, I don't know, but I suspect not always. Perhaps I'm expecting too much of the 'gathered' Sunday experience...? Anyway, just some musings out loud. I'm sure lot's of Christians reflect on these types of questions as they seek to meaningfully navigate these transitional times. Using the term "navigate" reminds me that the Christian life at the start of the 21st century often feels like being in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight - we could 'land' anywhere depending upon the forces of 'nature' and our ability to navigate.
Saturday, May 04, 2002
Whilst on the subject of 'resourcing' our journey's, I think a distinctive of my journey home is my need to draw deeply from the past whilst attempting to live faithfully in the present, with an eye on the future - I 'dipped' into a Russian Orthodox anthology on Prayer by Igumen Chariton of Valamo (one of the blessings of having a good library). In it, he draws together the extremely practical and wise advice of great Russian, Greek, Syriac, and Latin (one, John Cassian) Christian 'teachers.' Wow! What a resource. The life and traditions of prayer seems so much richer than we often hear or understand. I feel very small. Imagine being able to draw on the experience and insights of people who've committed their lives to prayer, from the 5th century to the 19th century. These guys have been there done that, and indeed, "there is nothing new under the sun" (Ecc. 1:9). Perhaps our willingness to have the likes of St. Makarios, Theophan the recluse, Gregory Palamas etc. (cool names) share our journey's, as 'companions' and friends, would strengthen our ability to serve Christ, and faithfully represent the Kingdom of God in our historical and cultural contexts? I for one and going to invite them along for the trip. How could I not, after drawing from the 'wells' of their experience of our God, who never changes, and is the same today, as he was yesterday...how could I not invite them to accompany me...
Paul Fromont 5/05/2002 01:05:00 PM
I really need to discover how to put my e-mail on my blog site...tis a mystery...but it might let me interact more with the 'one' person who reads this...you never know, it could start a conversation...two or more people sharing their journey and the landmarks along the the way...a bit like Star Trek- "this is the Captain's personal log..."
Paul Fromont 5/04/2002 02:24:00 PM
I think I'm writing to myself...
Paul Fromont 5/04/2002 02:16:00 PM
Just caught up with what Andrew Jones is 'saying,' 'doing'. Loved his expressions for "Apostle" and "Prophet" - Tree and River. Very 'image' laden. (no relative of "Bin Laden"). I feel an affinity - is it because he's a Kiwi? Is it because he hasn't got a 'Mullet'? Is it because, I guess, we're similar ages? Is it because he's out there doing it, and I'm not - much? Who knows. He talks a bit about the Kingdom of God being like a party in your house. Reminded me a bit of last night. Wished we'd pumped up the music and danced...Here's what he said anyway, in case you don't feel disposed to look it up yourself:
"The Kingdom of God is like a party. According to Jesus and his Kingdom parables, the Kingdom is like a house full of poor people partying. Churches in the postmodern world look more like parties. They are often in houses, there are multiple rooms, food flowing out of the kitchen, people chatting, celebrating (like a birthday), grieving (like a funeral), dancing (like a dance party). This is all very good. But more and more, the party is in THEIR HOUSE and not in OUR HOUSE. Instead of bringing new believers into our houses/churches/parties, we are sending people to THEIR house to help them throw the party and build the community. Matthew the Tax Collector, when he decided to follow Jesus, threw the party in his house. Lydia's heart was opened to the gospel and the church met in Lydia's house. Church needs to be missionary as well as missional. We need to act our our "being sent" by actually going out to THEIR HOUSE and bringing church with us as we go."
Thanks Andrew. Look forward to the next 'tracks'.
Paul Fromont 5/04/2002 02:00:00 PM
Last night we had some of our friends and their children over for a 'cut-down' and well past the actual date for this years Passover Passover - really cool. Great to hang out with everyone. Great conversations. Hopefully it'll stick in the childrens mind and contribute to the building of their identities as followers of Christ.
Friday, May 03, 2002
Paul Fromont 5/04/2002 01:38:00 PM
Another morning, another blog. Was talking to Geoff yesterday morning - he's just got back from a retreat at the Franciscan Monastary in Hillsborough, Auckland. His comments on "silence" versus noise reminded me of an article I read in last weeks Weekend Herald written by Geoff Cumming (no relation to "Geoff" above) - "It's the Weekend - Lets Get Rowdy" Thanks Herald. An eye opening article on the hazards of noise - it's opening line, "Many people spend their weekends yearnong for the peace and quiet of the office." Noise has been linked to increased "irritability, argumentativeness, anxiety, reduced sex drive, insomnia, and loss of appetite...it can lower productivity and reduce our willingness to help others. It can work with other causes of stress to make us more aggressive..." Really thought provoking. I started to think about my need for "quiet space" - space to pray, think, listen, and be silent before our mighty God. I also got to thinking about the ways in which our "gathered" experience of 'doing' church might contribute (or not) to the problem of noise pollution, and, in that sense, add to the problem, rather that looking for creative ways to subvert a dominant aspect of our suburban lifestyle - noise, and our fear or uncomfortableness with silence. I think Cityside might be onto something with their reasonably well attended monthly "Quiet Services." (approx. 30 people last month).
Thursday, May 02, 2002
I also read this great interview with Kiwi Mike Riddell last night (while listening to Moby songs, "Novio" and "God Moving over the Face of the Waters" (both 'looped') Bliss! Anyway, Mike's response to the question "Have your Thoughts on Church Moved since [your book] Threshold of the Future?" included this comment, "I think church as gathered group and fixed congregation is in its last stages..." 'Liquid Churches' - Provocative? Read the brief interview here If you want to explore the issue of "Liquid Churches" here's a good place to start, "Liquid Church: A Fluid Future" An dicussion between, Pete Ward, Simon Hall, Steve Adams, and Anna Robbins in the UK.
Paul Fromont 5/03/2002 01:31:00 PM
I woke this morning with a question weighing heavily on my mind, "How come that all the creativity, leadership, commitment, vision, innovation, and passion is in the workplace...?" This led of course to other questions, "Why is it those of us that work in these kinds of business language find it easier to speak the language of business and economics, than church, theology, and worship?" Why can people demonstrate more discipline in reading business books, journals, magazines, Reserve Bank economic projections etc. in order to stretch their minds, educate themselves, keep up with the latest trends in people management, teams etc, than the discipline to stretch their minds (and hearts), keep up with 'trends' and practices in church structure, mission, and community?"
Wednesday, May 01, 2002
In church, we struggle to speak the same language, we struggle to effectively communicate vision and mission, we struggle to nurture creativity, we struggle to build Christian community, we struggle to make commitments, we struggle to push the boundaries of what it means to be church, we struggle to biblically engage with the world...WHY?
Paul Fromont 5/02/2002 01:04:00 PM
It's great starting a new day. Sitting here in the study - a pink haze to the sky, and a tree of golden leaves. Life is truly a gift. Thoughtful article by Kevin Rains, Sacrificing Mission on the Altar of (False) Community Leonard Sweet and Brian McLaren have a new book soon to be published. From what I can gather it's about communicating and preaching the word of God. The title is "A" is for Abductive
Paul Fromont 5/01/2002 12:46:00 PM