Saturday, February 26, 2005

Wasn't going to go there

I have avoided the whole homosexuality debate on my blog, mainly because I'm still working out where I stand on the whole thing, and because of the immature fighting that some people unfortunately got into at signposts.

I'm not gonna go into it, but this guy has made some very easy to read summations on things we need to be aware of when looking at the Biblical texts. I found the article he links a tough one, but check out what he has to say. It certainly makes you think.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Emerging church summary

This dude has given a decent explanation behind the whole emerging church movement. As I've mentioned before, its a bandwagon I'm not totally keen on jumping right onto, but the way these kinda people think does really resonate with me.

For me, its not a case of going 'Hey, here's a new thing, lets do it' but rather my questions and discontentedness with church seems to have been validated, and alternative paths forward have been pointed to.

A simple definition for me is people trying to church in a way that might help the 80% of Australians for whom the model of church offered by 95% of churches is neither culturally applicable, interesting or relevant.

The thing I like about the Missional Church movement, which I guess Forge is at the forefront of, is the good theological grounding it has. The Incarnation is central to all we do, and mission is the first and foremost priority. Model stuff (how and where you meet, what you do etc) is second to getting the missional focus right.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Eco-Spirituality

Its gonna take me ages to blog on all the stuff from Forge, so I'll just work through it bit by bit.

On the Sunday we did a couple of Field Trip kinda things, in the city. I chose to do the culture study one,and the prayer walk, which was brilliant.

The idea of a prayer walk is pretty simple, just walk around an area and pray for a while. Ask God to reveal to you matters of spiritual importance, just be quiet, pray about what you see-whatever. I'm so gonna do it again.

The other was a culture kinda one, lead by Darren. Basically the exercise was to go around Fed Square, llok at the cultural symbols, where God is already present, what connection points to Jesus there are, who's there, what is worshipped there, what the Kingdom of God would look like if it came fully about there etc. Brilliant stuff.

What made it even more interesting was that the Sustainable Living Festival was on. There was heaps of stuff about saving water, living more simply, not selling out to consumerism, saving trees etc. A little bit hippy, but in many ways stuff I totally reckon Jesus would be on about. Whether they realise it, or would name it as such, many of the people there are totally doing God's work I reckon. They're all about community, meeting people's needs, equality and justice, totally good stuff.

I so reckon that these kind of events, and the work they do, is many people's way of reaching out to connect with the Creator. There's a lot of spirituality in amongst the dreadlocks, homemade clothes and meditation.

I said to my group that Christians would pay to care a little more about the enviroment, particulalrly as we claim to worship the dude who made it all! It would be agret way to connect with these kinda people and with God.

There was some kinesiology, whack Chinese massage, Fallun Gong people, yoga, healing tents (which looked very different to hyped up Christian healing events i've seen...) Again people looking for God and not finding Him in church. I reckon its God working htough a lot of those types of events, and theres some parts that are totally not.

I'm not sure what to make of this whole scene, but here's what another dude did. More along ther Mind Body Spirit, but its similar kinda stuff, and a great excuse to link to some great discussion and ideas.

My new quote

"The best critique of the bad is the practice of the better."

One of Alans favourite quotes at Forge. I really appreciated his and all the other dudes respect and love for the established church and stuff, but at the same time still being able to say that there'some big changes that need to be made.

I think this relates to a lot of my thoughts and issues with churches, youth ministries etc. Basically, stop whingeing about what you don't stand for, and start doing what you do.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Church vs Kingdom

Jim Catters did a quick little talk last night, and one of the things he talked about was how the word ekklesia-which we translate as church, is mentioned in the Gospels only three times, whereas the word Kingdom is mentioned 121... Very interesting stuff

The whole Kingdom of God, and how much bigger it is than we can understand, is something explored brilliantly by Brian McLaren in Generous Orthodoxy and A New Kind of Christian. The latter is the most brilliant, helpful faith wise book I've read. Jump on it, it'll rock your world!

So Far

Forge has been going real well so far, only a day and a bit into it but really loving it. Having already read Shaping of Things To Come and hunf out with the Forge dudes a bit, there hasn't been heaps of massively new information or anything, but its just been so cool hearing the stories of others looking to do the same kinda thing I am. There's people planting little churches, and doing really awesome missional stuff all over the place.

There's a few others doing schools work, which although its not my context for doing Forge-no doubt I'll learn heaps from those dudes.

It was really good hearing Deb Hirsch talk about the whole closed vs open set evangelism. It works better if I have a picture but basically it talks about how people used to understand faith as very much an in or out thing. We were in, everybody else was out, and its our job to get them in. She thinks we need to look at it much more like a whirpool kinda shape, with Christ at the centre. So everybody is always somewhere on the whirpool diagram, and either facing Christ or not. Salvation (whatever that means...) happens at some point that only God understands. I'll try and post a picture to explain it. I first heard that at college two years ago, and found it to be a very liberating view of faith and evangelism.

Frosty did some awesome stuff on Christ and Culture, and Mark Sayers was absolutely brilliant on culture stuff. He is one of the smartest dudes I know, and I'll keep you posted as to some other stuff he's gonna be speaking at.

Good times, good times.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Great week

Had a top week this week, school camps are just much fun! Sometimes my job is just so hard...

Was great having the oppurtunity to come back for a Communities That Care meeting(sponsored by council money, its just a whole bunch of locals volunteering to get together and help out the young people in our community) There's some good programs going ahead, and I really enjoy connecting with other like minded people in the community-particulalrly schools people.

Heading off to Forge this weekend, which i'm so totally pumped about! Its gonna be awesome! I've heard a bit of their stuff before, but am looking forward to the whole experience. If any of you are around, I'd totally recommend coming down for the open nights on Fri and Sat. Michael Frost is a brilliant communicator, totally inspirational. Its at 8 at Northen Church of Christ, 81 High St Preston. Thorpie says its fully sick.

No doubt I'll be blogging heaps more about my experiences there!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Just Footy Church?

As many of you know, i have long been frustrated by the cultural gap that exists between the footy club and my church. It just irritates me that people seemingly have to jump over that cultural divide just to follow Jesus. And my dream for a long time has been to create a church that is focussed on, and relevant to, that culture. But now I'm not so sure.

I seem to find myself chatting to increasingly large amounts of people who are totally keen on continuing their spiritual journey with Jesus, but are increasingly frustrated by most of the models of church available.

They all sound interested, and said they wouldn't mind checking out the new church that I'm planting this year. But, would a church full of footy players be relevant to them? I'd hate for any of my friends to not feel comfortable coming to my church, just because they don't fit in with the footy crowd. Of course I wouldn'y say 'na you can't come because you don't play football'-but the unsaid pressure might still be there.

I remember talking to Dave Fuller, an awesome dude who does some great stuff with the God Squad ( a Christian bikie gang) and he was saying that they don't actually believe in bikie church, they believe the Body of Christ should be much broader than just a bunch of blokes of similar age, with similar interests.

I tend to agree, where would the diversity be? What oldies could they gain wisdom from? What kids would be around to inspire them?

I kinda think the same about creating a footy church, and the whole question is really bugging me at the moment? Any ideas anybody?

G'day Grant

For all you Sandgropers (where does that name come from? Who is sand? Why does everybody want to grope her?) who have stumbled onto my blog, you will be glad to know that your man Grant was warmly welcomed into our community yesterday.

He seems like a pretty good bloke and will fit in well I reckon. I'm off to ameeting with him this arvo to see if he can help sort out the mess I've made of our youth ministry!

His first srmon in the morning was so one I'd preach, great stuff about us all being everyday missionaries to our own friends etc. Then at night we presented him with some moccasins-true Frankston culture!

The bit I was most impressed by was that he took up my challenge to preach his first sermon with no shoes! A fine tradition I was glad he could uphold!

Saturday, February 12, 2005

More on spirituality

Garth has once again posted some great stuff on spirituality, its a top blog-check it out.

He talks about the stuff that nourishes our spirit as being way more than what we would normally think. Many Christians seem to be able only to nourish their spiritual lives through expressly Christian activities, and limit their spiritual experiences to those that happen when in church.

Walking the dog, watching a great movie, having an in-depth conversation, can all be things that nourish our spirituality. These things may seem to have nothing to do with God, but i believe God can speak to us through these experiences-if we are open to Him. A crazy, most inspiring as dude called John, has written this, a bit of his perspective that kinda relates to what I'm talking about.

A mate once said that anything that refreshes or relaxs you is time with God-I don't know if i'd go that far, but its an interesting point. I still think that on some level we need to refer back to God on some level in our minds, otherwise its just a relaxing surf, or a cool picture to look at.

Dunno if that makes sense, but if it gets you to think about what spirituality is, then thats OK :)

Thought provoking site

This site will challenge everything you think you know about Jesus. I totally don't agree with most of what he says, but I've always been keen on reading stuff that challenges my thoughts and opinions, not just affirms them. From my experience, its way hard and seems like too much sometimes, but can only serve to strengthen your faith in the long run.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Does Youth Alive play a part in a postmodern ministry setting?

Caught up with a fellow friend in ministry this morning for a drink, which was cool.

He's on the organising committee for Youth Alive (a big evangelistic rally) here on the peninsula, which has been something I've never really been a fan of-for a number of reasons.

The first is that I just don't think its a particulalrly effective method of evangelism. I often wonder if all the time spent organising such an event would be better speant actually hanging out with kids in the community?

Theologically I have issues with the whole assumption that making one decision on one night actually achieves anything of spiritual significance? I know for many people it can be a good start, but i don't like the assumption-stated or not, that if you come down the front tonight you'll get into heaven.

I don't feel it allows for a great deal of diversity in terms of how people undertand/experience God. But then again, as part of a well grounded youth ministry program, that will have follow up discipleship stuff-it might have a place.

I've always reacted very heavily against the way they do things, but am softening on that a bit.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Me and a good mate of mine TJ Posted by Hello

Friday, February 04, 2005

Taking this land...?

Was having a discussion with a certain young person in my ministry and he talked about one of his desire being 'to take this land and give it back to Jesus-to who it belongs'

He's a very evangelistically passionate kid, a bit too 'convert everybody at all costs' for me, but a good kid. But there was just something about that staement that really irked me, and i still can't work out exactly what it is.

I dunno, but the whole notion of taking something for Jesus has a whole lot of connotations about power and a feudal, land-owning concept of lordship that doesn't really sit with me.

I think it also invokes images of a fire-and-brimstone preachers shouting about 'winning' this land for the Lord (another concept that doesn't resonate with me). I can't work out what exactly it is, but it just makes me uncomfortable.