Monday, October 31, 2005

The Waiters' Union

The Spirit of Things: 25 September� 2005� - The Waiters' Union

I haven't read enough about these guys, from what I have heard and read, I'm a massive fan of what they do. Sounds like a very similar concept to the UNOH crew-some more people i can not speak highly enough of.

This is a transcript of an interview with the people who run it-Dave and Ange Andrews on a show called the Spirit of Things-which I think is similar to Compass in its approach of looking at all sorts of spiritual and religious traditions.

Great stuff, give it a read.

The Panacea?

I'm not normally into using big words that nobody understands on my blog, but this one has come up in conversation a couple of times lately, and fits what I'm talking about.

It basically means any sort of cure-all, the answer to all of one's problem, the medicine that will fix any disease.

I do a lot of reading and talking to people about the various issues that churches face, why it is that churches aren't growing (even the larger Pentecostal ones-whose growth rate is often very transference based, and is still less than the overal rate of population growth anyway), and how we might go about rectifying these problems.

It seems that everybody thinks there's an answer, but nobody can agree as to what it is...

Byt he way, these are all gross over-generalisations too.

The Emergent types think that if we can translate our faith around our postmodern culture, faith will make sense again for so many more people and we'll be right. The Forge crew reckon we just need to be more missional, that if we make mission our driving priority-faith and church will sort itself out. The Pentecostals think that we just need more of the Holy Spirit. The liberals will say our view of God, church and the Bible is too restrictive, that our views need to be expanded and be more inclusive, and we'll be right.

The Restorationist movement (out of which Churches of Christ came) reckon we just need to get back to the New Testament church. House church people say if we all know each other, and have closer community, then people won't feel isolated and leave church. The seeker-sensitive people say we need to make our worship services more friendly to outsiders, and back people will come. Some alt.worship people will say we need to broaden our expressions of what worship and church look like.

Fundamentalists will say that our doctrine needs to be tighter, that if we believe exactly the right things, people will be attracted to the Truth we have. Some evangelicals will say that we need more evangelistic rallies, whilst the social justice crew will say that we just need to feed the poor, look after those less fortunate than ourselves.

See I think they're all right to a degree, and all miss the point somewhere along the way. Is there one answer, or is in fact the answer a combination of all of these?

Friday, October 28, 2005

{}: ::Theology - A Kingdom Competition

{}: ::Theology - A Kingdom Competition

A couple of days ago, Steve Said had some great discussion going on over the relevance, impact and power of the term the 'Kingdom' of God-the concept behind which has been taking up a lot of my thinking for a fair while now.

Some of the others he suggests are:
The Lifestyle of God (thanks to Troy Arnott at New Community Ringwood) (Trying to pick up on the "lifestyle" marketing package deal offered by consumer society)
The Dream of God.
God's dream for His creation.
God's transforming agenda.
God's Kingdom agenda.
God's transforming vision.
God's transforming dream.
God's kingdom dream.
The transforming Kingdom agenda.
The reign of God.
The rule of God.

Check it out, some great discussion and comments too.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Jesus and Superman

Adam Duckworth: Interesting thought that I had last night...

This is quite an interesting lil read by a dude from America about the similarities between Jesus and Superman. The analogy is far from perfect, but he does make a couple of good points, as does one of the dudes in the comments.

Anywho, check it out.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Just more like Jesus

Had a thoroughly enjoyable Forge get-together with my fellow interns last Friday night. The once-a-month gatherings are always a totally invaluable time, just hearing each other's stories, journeying together and all those other nice words and phrases we like to use.

It was so good though on Friday to really get re-inforced something that I've totally always known, but realised afresh again on Friday night. We were discussing the worth of theological education, and other various things that we all 'do', things that often make us in no way more or less Christian. A friend just said it so simply, if it doesn't help us to become more like Jesus, then whats the point?

Now I mean how simple is that? Everybody knows that all crap aside, the whole aim and purpose of being a Christian is to be more and more like Jesus. Now I've preached on that many a time before, and brought it up in many a conversation, but I just couldn't get the sheer simplicity of that message out of my head for the next couple of days. It was that splinter in the back of my mind...

I get together regularly with some good mates to hold each other accountable in life stuff, and we're currently reading through The Shaping of Things to Come, the best book on mission, evangelism, missional church I've read. If you haven't read it, get onto it. Anywho, I was thinking about how we're all about talking about mission, and wanting to see what we can learn from this book and such, but really, if we truly learnt what it was to live like Jesus (about which most of us really have little idea) then, and only then, would we learn what it is to be missional.

Reading books, writing and reading blogs, going to church, going to conferences and all that stuff we do, is meaningless unless it helps us to become more like Jesus.

Sunday, October 23, 2005 U2 : Bono : News U2 : Bono : News
Great article and interview from Rolling Stone with Bono, one of the best musicians/social activists in the world. Here's a sample

What is your religious belief today? What is your concept of God?

If I could put it simply, I would say that I believe there's a force of love and logic in the world, a force of love and logic behind the universe. And I believe in the poetic genius of a creator who would choose to express such unfathomable power as a child born in "straw poverty"; i.e., the story of Christ makes sense to me.

How does it make sense?

As an artist, I see the poetry of it. It's so brilliant. That this scale of creation, and the unfathomable universe, should describe itself in such vulnerability, as a child. That is mind-blowing to me. I guess that would make me a Christian. Although I don't use the label, because it is so very hard to live up to. I feel like I'm the worst example of it, so I just kinda keep my mouth shut.

Do you pray or have any religious practices?

I try to take time out of every day, in prayer and meditation. I feel as at home in a Catholic cathedral as in a revival tent. I also have enormous respect for my friends who are atheists, most of whom are, and the courage it takes not to believe.

How big an influence is the Bible on your songwriting? How much do you draw on its imagery, its ideas?

It sustains me.

Great stuff, great read, and a great bloke.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Spirituality Smorgasboard

Whilst I'm in the mood for plugging events, here's another that looks really cool.

Recently a few Churches of Christ people got together to work out some ways to pull together the various young adults ministries around the place, and have come up with the basic concept of putting on a different themed night every two months or so at various locations, to try and draw on the experience and skills of lots of different churches, rather than one church trying to do it all. So I' a big fan of the concept, and particularly this event.

Spirituality Smorgasboard

“Experience diverse, practical ways to deepen your connection with God”

Alternative Prayer
Images of God
Stages of Faith
God in the Everyday
Dream Interpretation
Our Personal Stories
Silence & Contemplation

Saturday October 29th
2pm – 5pm
Southern Church of Christ
2-12 Chesterville Road Cheltenham

To find out more, check out the hyperlinked title of this post.

Upcoming Forge event

My picture uploading skills are somewgat lacking, so unfortunately I am not able to directly post the little picture that should go up here to advertise to everybody the most excellent upcoming Forge post-cards event. These events are basically just little insights into different aspects of what it means to live missionally in todays world.

The speaker is an awesome dude by the name of Mick Duncan, a man who really knows how to cut away the froth and bubble of Christianity, and get down to what it means to follow Jesus. I've heard him speak at the UNOH conference and read his latest book, and it is most excellent stuff.

I highly recommend all that can attend, to do so. The link up the top will take you to some info.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Prayer letter and updates

If there is anybody who would like to go on my semi-regular/pretty irregular prayer and updates list, then that would be most appreciated. Nothing too massive, just afew prayer points related to my schools work and church planting stuff, plus afew updates to keep those who are interested informed. Just drop me an email, which you can find up in the corner under the my details bit, and I'll put you on there.


The celebrity sell-out - People - Entertainment -

The celebrity sell-out - People - Entertainment -
This kind of thing, the whole celebrity endorsement culture, pisses me off enormously. It really just irritates me massively that our culture is so shallow that we buy so much stuff just because a celebrity gets paid to appear in their ads.

I particularly like the little Tim Costello bit at the bottom.

Whats in a name?

I'm pretty over all the different little titles and names that people try and give to new churches, it's like the whole music genre thing. In the past people pretty much just made music in the style they wanted, whatever they thought sounded good. It wasn't until music journalists started to try and describe the music to people that were reading about it in the paper, that people really got into classifying their music as a certain genre.

Now people have just gone overboard, with say house music-which is in itself a type of dance music, being further classified into another 10 or 12 styles. Now people pick up on the latest genre, then try and play that style of music, and so the name and style of the music dictates how the music will sound, instead of the main thing-the music, dictating terms.

I reckon it's the same with the emerging/postmodern/alternative worship/missional/house church thing. Just do whats most relevant to your people and who gives a crap what other people call it.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Look out Sean Eadie!

I think there's only room for one bearded cyclist in Australia, and thats me! After knocking off the Around the Bay in a Day (well half of it anyway!) I think the stage is set for me to take my cycling career to greater heights...

If anybody feels they would like to sponsor me with a new bike for this assault on the title, then that would be great. The $20 job I'm on at the moment is OK, but some gears that actually change would be awesome!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Wild Ones: A Green Christian . . . what the? JIm Reiher, Melbourne

Wild Ones: A Green Christian . . . what the? JIm Reiher, Melbourne

This is one of many interesting posts on what I can see fast becoming one of my favourite. With contributors like Ash n Anji Barker, Steve Barro, Jim Reiher, Mick Duncan and Darryl Gardiner I reckon it totally deserves the title of Wild Ones. No doubt I'll be linking to it again.

I'm totally not into politics and don't have the time of day to think about or debate it, but I like Jim's reasoning behind why he as a Christian is a member of the Green Party.

The only other political comment I'll make is that I read an article in the Good Weekend about the Family First guy Steve Fielding, and he seems pretty cool, and his wife is a good lecturer.
Matt Glover, a good friend of mine from Forge, has started up a blog and is posting up some really good honest reflections on the book Manhood by Steve Biddulph, who I think is an Australian guy who writes a lot about men's issues. I read this book a while ago, and whilst it had some really good stuff, I held a few reservations. Anywho, check it out.

A rich school Christian club?

I was chatting with a student at school the other day about a few life issues, and things, as they sometimes do, turned to matters of God and Christianity.

For those of you who don't know much about my context, the school where I work two days a week as a Chaplain/Youth Worker is a low-fee non-denominational Christian school on the very Anglo Mornington Peninsula.

Basically, she was talking about al these Christian words that people at the school used that she didn't understand-stuff about accepting Jesus and if you didn't do that you'd go to hell. She said this really messed with her view of God-she had thought He was all good and nice, but this God seemed a little bit mean and exclusive.

She understood that because she'd heard about Jesus and God, she could make an informed decision. But her big gripe with this God she's learnt about at school was that he seemed to discriminate against all of her friends, who are from a slightly poorer area, and don't go to our school. And the only reason he seemed to discriminate against them was because they were too poor to come to our school where they could learn about God. She stressed repeatedly that her friends knew absolutely nothing about God or Jesus, so why should they be sent to hell by this supposedly loving God, just because they've never had the oppurtunity. And all this from a Year 10 I didn't think was that 'deep'. Goes to show how much more kids think about these things than we often expect.

I talked a little about some of my understandings on all of this, and brought up some other things that Jesus said. I had to be honest with her and share some of my questions and struggles about these kind of issues, about the wrestles I've encountered. I could have just 'answered her questions with the things that all the popular books say I should say, but where would the integrity be in those answers if they were not truly my own?

I went on to talk about what it meant for me to have faith in spite of all the things I don't know, in spite of all the negative experiences of Christians I've had, in spite of all of my doubts. I shared a little about John 10:10, and what it would look like if God's Kingdom came to her area, what it could look like if people weren't judged by which people they were friends with, if it wasn't just all about the different crew people are with.

It ended up going well, but has still left me asking some really massive questions all over again.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Who needs the money

Found another great post from Christop on his experiences at the Urban Seed city walk. As I said before, I love these walks, but have never really got around to blogging on them. Anywho, check out here for their take on the story of the poor woman who gives all her money to the Temple, and how that relates to our casino.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Goths and significance

Have been doing a little bit of theological reflection on the whole dressing as a goth experience from Saturday night.

It probably goes without saying that people look at you heaps more, but I think there's a tremendous power in the looks of fear that you get from people, and the effort that they go to to avoid getting in your way. I've never really understood the Goth culture, but I think I got a bit of an insight into it the other night.

For many people, particularly teenagers, life is often one big story of powerlessness, rejection and fear. People feel insignificant, that nobody cares about or notices them, and so turn to subcultures to try and validate their sgnificance in life. This is not only true in goth culture as well as sports clubs, bands, computer gamers etc.

From what I've heard the goth culture is just really accepting, they don't care if you're any good at sports, are smart, good looking or what background you're from. I think in that culture we see a glimpse of the Kingdom of God, and a bit of an idea what churches should be like...

I reckon people get an enormous sense of power through looking all black and scary, they get to put on a persona that is maybe not all them and forget about the troubles beneath the makeup (which is very similar to a lot of friends of mine in the clubbing scene actually), they feel like they are the tough and scary ones for once.

People want to be seen and heard-even the shy ones, they want people to notice when they enter the room- and you should have seen the reaction I got when I walked over to the cricket club later that night!

I could be totally wrong about all of this, as I'm totally not part of the goth scene, so if I have any goth readers please feel free to correct me.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Happy Blogoversary!

Well today is the first birthday of my blog! Woo-hoo! Happy Birthday to me!

I'm pretty amazed to be honest to look back over how much drivel, with some occasional helpful stuff, that I've written. All that after starting a blog by accident, after wanting to comment on Cutlers blog-which he wrote on three times! Looks like I'm the one that got sucked in!

People ask me why I blog, and there's a number of different reasons really. One, I just really enjoy it, there's something about the vulnerability of putting your thoughts out there, opening up some of your biggest questions to all and sundry-and sometimes getting some replies.

I find it a great tool for theological reflection, for disciplining myself to sit down and process certain events, to try and find where God is already at work in my life, and to work out how to respond accordingly. Often my understandings have been challenged and deepened, and sometimes reassuringly confirmed. Sometimes its good just to know you're not the only one out there facing certain questions and coming to different answers.

I also find it helpful in forcing me to articulate what I'm thinking, to actually try and put it down in a form others will understand. One of my biggest mantras is that new information is worthless unless you pass it on to somebody else, and often blogging gives me a forum to try and do that.

I absolutely love reading, commenting on and interacting with other bloggers. I've made some new friends, meet some great people, and learnt SO much that otherwise would have slipped underneath my radar. There's so many smarter people in the world than me, and blogging gives me the opputunity to hear some of what they have to say. The same reason I read lots of books, but blogs are often heaps easier to read and digest.

There have been times when blogging has taken up way too much of my time, but really thats just me using blogging as an excuse for procrastination! I try not and read too many blogs these days, as you can only take in so much information, but its hard when you keep discovering new and different ones.

I would like to read a little more widely outside the Christian circles I move in, but once again, you can only read so much. I do have a couple that I make sure I read, people that I know see the world differently to myself. One of my big things is that everybody should try and read at least one book a year they know they will probably disgree with. If our faith can't stand up to challenges like that, then its hardly a faith worth having I reckon.

I do like to link out to others often, anything that I've read that has stimulated my thinking will likely do the same for others, which is why I'm always linking to stuff all over the place.

It is easy to get caught up in it all, to make sure you're posting regularly, seeing how many people comment, how many people visit each day (it does constantly amaze me how many people read this-but its far too easy for that to become an ego thing, and luckily I'm over that. But it does still give you a kick when you know people are interested in, or have had their thinking stimulated by, something you've written.

Anywho, its been a fun first year-who knows if I'll still be here a year from now!

� observing v�s participation � � Blog Archive � Signposts

� observing v�s participation � � Blog Archive � Signposts

Phil has made some interesting points here about the level to which people can observe or participate in church, particularly in relation to more discussion-based smaller churches and the more traditional SSS model (Sermons, Songs, Sitting in rows) with some good discussion in the comments too.

My thoughts are pretty much all in the comments there, so check it out there-saves me rewriting everything here!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Who's the addict?

Layer that May Be Described as Emergent: Who's the addict?
Christop has just posted up some short reflections on one of my favourite things to do in the city-the Urban Seed City Walks. If you don't know much about them they're well worth checking out.

One of the things they talk about really well is asking the question: Who's the addict? They take you past their back laneway where a quarter of the citys drugs are done, whereas out the front people addicted to shopping spend thousands on shirts and ties. Raises some interesting questions as to who our culture see's as the ones with the problem...

Anywho, check out his site, check out Urban Seed and go and on one of their walks the next oppurtunity you have.

Switchfoot's Band Page

Switchfoot's Band Page
Last week I was lucky enough to score myself a few free tickets to a Switchfoot gig in the city at the HiFi bar and ballroom, a quality venue right in the heart of the city.

Managed to squueze my way into the second front row, which afforded me a pretty good view. And man did they put on a good show. You could tell they were really tight, sounded awesome, even had all the jumping around and off stuff in time with the music and that. Got to shake the lead singers hand, as well as make him laugh and have to delay starting a song due to a gag about airline socks-ya had to be there.

Not only am I into their music, but I really dig their outlook on life too. They're more your Christians-in-a-band than a Christian band kinda group, which I tend to get into more, and their songs just ask some really good questions and have a lot of themes that really connect with where I'm at.

Thanks to Mase for pointing me to this page on their site, kinda relates to my previous music post. Some really wise words from some pretty switched on dudes.

It was interesting looking around at the crowd and seeing how much they really got into the music, and seemed to really connect with the band and the lyrics of their songs. Definitely a very spiritual connection point for a lot of people, what Steve Taylor would call a peg community . Thats a topic I'd need to learn alittle more about myself, but sounds like an interesting idea.

Anyway, check out their site, and see them in concert if at possible.

Monday, October 03, 2005

And another Posted by Picasa
Trying again Posted by Picasa

My Goth photos!

Had a mates 21st on the other night so decided to goth it up-and I was pretty happy with the results I must say. Managed to freak a few people out. Had a lot of fun walking up to random people, tapping them on the shoulder and just staring at them with my best death-stare! Will definitely use that costume again!

Church planting books

I'm pretty sure I've linked to Steve Addisons blog before, but its a good one. If I only I could work out how to permanently put links and stuff on my page. I really suck at this computer code stuff!

Anywho, he's got a list of his top eleven books about church planting for those for whom that topic tickles your fancy. He then goes on in another post about character traits, and personal spiritual life too! And I thought all I had to do was read the right books!

No wonder church planting is hard work for me-I've only read one of the books!!

When good music goes bad

I was shattered today to learn that one of the most terrible songs on radio, (apart of course from the freaking crazy frog)My Humps is by the same crew who sung one of my favourite songs, Where Is The Love-the Black Eyed Peas.

I just lose so much respect for bands that sing crappy meaningless pop songs, particularly chick singers who just sing about their tits and arse, and having sex with lots of men-as Fergie does in this song. I just feel it demeans them as artists, and reduces them to sex objects. Many people, including the artists themselves, may disagree, but hey.

I think its an interesting insight into our culture, that one minute bands can be singing about world peace and asking big questions about life and our existence, then the next minute talking about their humps (who calls them that anyway?!). We seem to be being told that we can just pick and choose which morals we adhere to, and which don't suit us. Very postmodern and pluralistic.

Another good example would be Kanye West's quality album College Dropout. One minute he's got one of the most open and honest songs about Jesus I've heard in a long time-Jesus Walks, and the next its your standard bitches and hoes. Some very interesting cultural juxtapositions.