Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Monday, April 25, 2005

UnityFest

Was driving to our church building yesterday when I saw some signs up advertising something calledUnityFest, which I remembered I'd previously seen advertised in the local paper. It was a music and cultural festival promoting harmony by bringing people of different social and ethnic backgrounds together to enjoy the music and cultural performances.

There was this cool as reggae band playing with all these stoned old hippies dancing and swaying about-very cool. And they were selling Dutch Poffertjes-the nicest little pancake things ever!

I couldn't be bothered typing out all their core values and stuff, but check out their site, and tell me thats not totally Kingdom of God stuff happening right there, slipping underneath the radar of the church.

It made me think on so many levels-why were we as a church, not invited to be a part of this? (I wonder whether or not these kinda people would even think we would be interested in this kind of event-because I know a lot of Christians who probably wouldn't) What would it mean for the Church to release and encourage a member to sit on one of their committees instead of the myriad of church ones? (Its that whole 'Shared projects' thing out of Shaping of Things to Come-which is a whole other post of its own)

How would Jesus incarnationally reach these African bongo-playing dreadlocked hippies? I daresay it probably wouldn't be by putting on a 'African bongo-playing dreadlocked hippy friendly' seeker service...

Was discussing with some other members of our ministry team the concept of God already being at work in the community, already doing stuff, already working for peace and justice, already present extending His Kingdom, and we Christians need to be aware of that, find where God is working-and join God in that.

TallSkinnyKiwi: The Grilling of Brian McLaren

TallSkinnyKiwi: The Grilling of Brian McLaren
As many of you know, Brian McLaren has been the most helpful author for me on a whole range of topics, so i'm really looking forward to this interview on May 9th.

Apparently his latest book does a lot of work in deconstructing hell and heaven, looking at what it all really means-a topic that interests me no end. I'll be sure to pose him a question or two.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Whilst on the topic of the Pope, I was reminded of this Leunig cartoon. Interpret it how you will, but either way its very interesting stuff. Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Pope

Now I realise I'm likely to get lambasted for this post, as my knowledge of the papacy and all things Catholic really is quite limited, as is my knowledge of the new pope.

But I do know enough to be able to say that I'm not entirely comfortable with the new selection-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, or Pope Benedict XVI as he is now known. Anybody who is described as arch-conservative, hardline, and who's nickname around the Vatican is God's Watchdog-does not sit comfortably with me.

As Pope John Paul II chose most of the cardinals that entered the conclave, it was highly unlikely to start with that the new Pope would be anything but conservative. This is the dude who used to be the enforcer of the Church's official stance on everything from doctrinal matters to whether or not black really is the new black, enforcing strict rules on women priests, contraception (both of which are Church rules-not Scriptural) and basically reinforcing every stereotype people have about the Church trying to tell them how to live.

Maybe this new pope was indeed divinely chosen by the holy Spirit, and I'm totally barking up the wrong tree, but that's my opinion at the moment.

Although I'm not a Catholic, they're Christians just as much as I am, and I honestly pray that Benedict XVI serves God and His people well.

Pope laughs

If I am elected, my pope name will be:
Pope Atrocious Randy V
What's your pope name?Name:

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Post-Course Blues

I've been thinking a lot lately about the value of courses or programs in anything to do with Christianity. Having participated in a couple (YITS), run one (VETAMORPHUS) , and spoken to heaps of people who've been in them-its got me thinking. I guess I've seen a lot of my friends, and young people I've worked with, just walk away from faith at the end.

Now these courses are aimed at providing a solid grounding in faith, allowing space for asking big questions of faith and ourselves, and doing it all in the context of community, yet something is still going wrong.

Perhaps its the intense experience of God-however that's experienced, then the lack of that. People really find God over the course of the year, but struggle to find that God when life changes. People will often struggle to find a faith that is truly their own, not that of their community.

People will experience the deep comraderie from being on a mission team-sharing life, struggling together, learning and journeying together then they come back to church and their spirituality seems to have somehow vapourised?

I think the Church is a lot richer for programs like YITS, VETAMORPHUS, DDP, Short-Term Mission Trips, even stuff like 40 Days of Purpose, but we're still not getting it right somewhere.

Perhaps if our churches were better discipling their young people we wouldn't need a YITS or DDP or any one of the multitude of programs out there.

Or perhaps its a reflection on the consumeristic nature of our society, that when people no longer feel they are getting the right 'product' they take their 'business' elsewhere?

Some might say that of course, the answer is not a program, but community and relationships. I would agree with this, but many programs are centred around this premise, yet still seem to struggle to do their job.

I'm not saying all these courses are bad, but I'm just wondering how we can better encourage people to translate their 'program-faith' into a 'life-faith'??

Sunday, April 17, 2005

the rev: The Church part six

the rev: The Church part six

I think I've linked to this guys blog before, but its a good one, and this is a very interesting post on church and consumerism. Just something to keep you going until I can be bothered blogging something myself!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Does God require worship?

Popped into Faith Wrestling Federation (brilliant name hey!) at CCTC and had some great discussion on who\what is God. Fascinating discussion which I won't do justice to here, but the question 'Does God Require Our Worship' was one that really triggered me into thinking.

What is worship anyway? Does it matter to God if we do or don't worship God? Does God really want us to sing nice love songs to him anyway-and is that really worship?

One of my favourite explanations of worship is simply 'Offering our lives back to God' which I reckon means saying 'God, you gave me life, and I want to give it back in service to you and your people'

A friend once said that they really struggled aligning their image of the humble servant, down to earth Jesus with the high and mighty God we seem to sing to in church. A great point, and one that really forced me to challenge my conceptions of what worship is really about anyway.

I still don't know if it really matters to God whether or not we worship Him (I mean, I really don't think it affects his ability to be God or anything) but sometimes I think it is the only appropriate response. I look at nature and to what God has done in my life and the lives of others, and He almost demands my respect.

Not in an authoritarian 'I demand you respect me' kinda way, but in the same way that a great footballer or musician demands respect. A great footballer doesn't need to be told how good he is to continue being a great footballer, but when he walks off the ground after having just dominated a game, the only approprite response is to sit back in awe of his efforts.

Without asking for it, he demands our respect because of how good he is. I think thats how I view God and worship at the moment too.

backyardmissionary: Enough excuses

backyardmissionary: Enough excuses

A great little snippet from esteemed Australian social researcher Hugh McKay. A great kick up the bum for those of us who are a little less than satisfied with any aspect of the state of the world we live in.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

The role of community in spiritual formation?

Have we placed too much importance on the role of the community in somebody's spiritual formation? I think not, but let me explain what brought me to ask such a question?

Over my relatively short years in church life and ministry, I've just seen far too many people lose their faith when they lose their community. Whether that be a church, small group or bunch of mates. Without those people with whom many found or nurtered their faith, people seem to struggle to assimilate that faith into their own daily lives.

This is perhaps part of the reason that nine out of ten young people who finish school and youth group are no longer a part of a church by the age of 25. (They're official statistics from NZ, but the situation is pretty much similar here) Its great when young people have a solid base of friends walking the same road they are, bu they need to learn to walk it alone.

Of course, just because somebody has left the church does not mean they have left their faith, but from my experience a great deal do.

I think we need to encourage people to live out and explore faith with others, but their faith also needs to be sustainable enough to survive losing their community...

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

No Big Brother

Well, after three months of a massive selection process, five lots of auditions, interviews and questionnaires, I can finally say with certainty that I shall not be entering the Big Brother House in 2005!!

I was meant to have received a call by last week, but didn't, so its all over! I'm actually a little more disappointed than I thought I would be, I mean having made the final 300 I thought I was in with a good chance.

I really thought the young minister card would have worked a treat, not being your stereotypical minister, and also being a little different to your average 22 year old footballing yobbo.

Judging by the amount of quite sexual games they tried to make us play in all of the auditions, I seriously reckon the fact that I wouldn't have had sex on the show may have dimished my chances.

Its funny, because I had no real specific driving reason to go on the show, I guess just being such an attention-seeker, the idea totally appealed to me. I would have loved breaking down a lot of the stereotypes of what Christians are like, but that totally wasn't my main aim. I think the producers may have been worried about me wanting to go in there and try and convert the housemates, as they asked me heaps about that.

I reckon my main concern would have been how they portrayed me, as its so easy for them to manipulate the footage however they want, and try and show me as some drinking swearing heathen, or as the real prick, or the really dodgy guy trying to pick up all the time. Although I'm totally comfortable with my own integrity, and the fact I'm none of those things, I was thinking a lot about how easily little actions can be taken out of context.

The other thing that I reckon would have really done my head in would have been being aware of how much of a role model for a lot of young Christians I would be, particularly teenagers. Just that feeling of all of your actions and words being totally scrutinised, all of my totally incomplete theologies being broadcast to the world, it could have been a very scary thing. Something that would have been made even harder by the fact that I wouldn't have been able to journal any of my thoughts, or talk them through with somebody with whom I see eye to eye on spiritual matters.

So so many dilemmas, luckily none of which I have to face this year, but maybe next year....