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Showing posts from March, 2011

on neighbours

How easy it is to get so wrapped up in what's going on for us, how the world is affecting us, that we don't see our neighbours until it is too late.

On the slightly more positive side of that observation, last night my sister and I were invited to join our neighbours on our shared drive way for the celebration of their wedding with a feast. We were hesitant, knowing no one, not really knowing the bride and groom, not knowing what was expected. In the end I heard an echo of a conversation I'd had recently, in which I was reminded that it is not so much how we offer hospitality, as how we receive it, that is our participation in the mission of God. How we receive hospitality. So I went out there grateful for the opportunity to receive my neighbours' hospitality, and found myself wishing I had got to know them better sooner, as we'll not be living here much longer. Still, I am grateful for the chance to share in this celebration, and to have received a most generous, …

in other news

In other news, amidst the turmoil that is my current church pioneer experience, I have received a scholarship covering the registration, accommodation and food costs for the International Network of Biblical Storytellers' Festival Gathering in North Carolina in August this year!!!

I am very excited - I will have the chance to meet a whole range of storytellers, hopefully be pushed further in my craft as a biblical storyteller, and also hopefully meet some people engaging in studies in performance hermeneutics.

Now to find the end of the rainbow with the pot of gold that will cover my airfares!

And I think I'll look for what else is happening in North America around that time, since it would be a shame to travel all that way for five days. I will barely have enough time to get over the jetlag before I get back on the plane if I don't stay for longer than the gathering!!

alternative church - asking the hard questions 5

the hardest question of all - one with an answer you don't want to hear

when all the questions have been asked, when we've wrestled with them, when they've kept us awake, made us uncomfortable, and perhaps even moved us further into God's realm of loving kindness, what remains is a question that

does pioneering really have to be such a lonely lonely road?

and of course the answer is yes.

pioneering by its very nature is stepping out of the known, it is experimenting with the new and untried, it is taking risks and holding a crazy dream others are yet to imagine their way into.
pioneers are by nature, out there where others are not - are by nature, in many ways, on their own.

there is a question whose answer we do want to hear - what can we do? from the shore line as the pioneers launch off into uncharted territory, give us seaworthy vessels (what carries us safely is the tradition, the Christian story), keep the lines of communication open (stay in touch, listen for …

alternative church - asking the hard questions 4

what are the rules?

I've explored the question of the relationship between the inherited church and fresh expressions of church in an earlier post.
This is similar, but a little more technical.

The question that emerged out of a conversation recently is, where do these new forms of church fit within the heritage and theology of the Christian Church? How are they accountable? To whom? And for what?
The person with whom I was in conversation had concerns about the theological soundness of new church communities - were these a bunch of heretics, rebels, not living out the tradition faithfully?

I got a little defensive at first - I am an ordained minister leading this new church community, what is your problem??
But on reflection, it's actually an important question to ask. Not because there is one theology to which true Christians should all ascribe. I don't believe that for a second. No, it's because there is a stoyr here, there is a thread that continues back to Jesus w…

alternative church - asking the hard questions 3

fresh expressions - What are we naming as a fresh expression? Or, when is a fresh expression not a 'fresh expression'?

When we're thinking about fresh expressions of church, what are we thinking of naming as a 'fresh expression'?

When is a fresh expression not a 'fresh expression'?
When it is alternative worship.
When it is a church plant.
When it is a misional activity of an established church.

Why are these things not fresh expressions?
Alternative worship is not alternative church because it is an alternative way of gathering for worship for an established community of faith who are seeking to re-invigorate their expressions of worship.
A church plant is not a fresh expression of church because church plants take an existing model of church and plant it in a new location.
A missional activity that seeks simply to be a missional activity, not to form a new, independent community of faith, is not a fresh expression of church.

These things might be diff…

lenten beginnings

it's the first week of lent, and though the protestant tradition doesn't have such a strong tradition of giving up. we are, at Belair, going to give things up, and we will donate the money we don't spend on little luxuries towards projects that bring hope and life into the lives of some of the poorest people in our world. we're also giving our time and attention to their stories, all of which are acts of friendship that transform our lives as they also transform the lives of others.

I'll blog our progress through Lent at Belair on the Belair website.

alternative church - asking the hard questions 2

the relationship between the established church and emerging church communities

The relationship between the established church and alternative models of church - at an individual congregation / faith community level - has been described as a parent / child relationship (in conversations around 'fresh expressions' in the Uniting Church SA context).
Why is that?
Perhaps it is helpful to think of the established church as a parent who has been around for a while, with some experience and wisdom, that can help guide a growing child? A parent protects, provides shelter and nourishment - pays for things.
So an established church congregation might provide space for an emerging church to use for gathering as a developing community.
An established congregation might provide wise people to help guide, to tell the story of this family - the Christian Church - as the child, or fresh expression, experiments and explores who they are becoming.
The established church might pay for someone…

alternative church - asking the hard questions

part one - financial support for leaders

There's something about the way the Church looks after its ordained leaders. It's at the heart of why we ordain people, it's rooted deeply in Judeo-Christian history. It is forgotten when it comes to 'fresh expressions' of church.* 
The Church has processes to ensure a(n established) congregation provides for the minister's living, study leave, etc. But for a fresh expression of church – which by its very nature is not established for the first 5 - 8 years of its life at least, is an exercise in forming relationships beyond the Church and being open to forming alternative kinds of Christian community – who is responsible for providing for the living, welfare, of the leader? If we do not ask this question and continue without an answer, fresh expressions of church will have no chance of achieving our hopes and dreams for them, and our leaders will burn out.
Right from the early Christian church – no, earlier, in ancient …

finding the words I want to say

well, life has been a little tough lately, with changes to The Esther Project (watch this space for more as a new era unfolds), still on a low income, driving a car that barely makes it up hills (and my house is at the edge of the foothills, while my life is up the hill), sharing the stresses of sisters, and looking for a new house (up the hill).
I have been talking to as many people around the traps as I can, in various positions within the church, to see if together we can reduce some of this stress.
the congregation in which I serve, Belair Uniting Church, and its council, are the most wonderful community of people. not only have they welcomed me warmly so that I feel immediately at home, they are able to offer support and advice that have helped me find some solutions to some of the problems - and there is much enthusiasm for The League of Extraordinary Storytellers (formerly The Esther Project) moving its base to Belair and becoming a vital part of the life of that congregation a…