i have written a reflection for this month's youthwork blog. it seems as though there is a mood in youthwork circles that some change s needed so i share a few thoughts gleaned from work with pioneers on how newness might come through a cycle of grief, dreams and building.
anyway it's over here - only grief leads to newness [HT brueggemann for that title lifted from his book hopeful imagination]
More is up for negotiation than we might at first think, and unless we cultivate innovation we risk getting stuck and ultimately extinct. In every group there are always those who see the world differently and dream of new possibilities. They need to be celebrated and encouraged to dream their dreams. They do not need taming and sapping by a tired culture of risk-averse pastors, desperately claiming against all the evidence that fluency in their archaic practice is essential for ministry in the 21st Century. If in their pursuit of Jesus’ vision for his bride and kingdom your dreamers are perpetually scrutinised by defensive guardians of the status quo who perceive them as a threat, the chances are they won’t be around for long.
i was blown away when I read the first issue of a new journal missio africanus this morning. it's available free online as a download and the articles are so interesting. and don't think it's only relevant if you are african or working with africans. it will spark your imagination about mission regardless. there are so many interesting explorations going on around theology, post colonialism, migration, leadership, who jesus is. these are questions every church should be reflecting on to move beyond their own cultural ways of doing and being. harvey kwiyani is the editor. he has become a good friend in the last year and has joined in teaching at CMS on the pioneer course. anyway download and have a read…
it was great to get an email from tallskinnykiwi and catch up with his wanderings - now across europe. he has written a really brilliant reflection being human being present. he says he is interested in chasing down the stories behind the stories of what has and is happening in mission. in doing so he unearths something from max warren in 1958 - max warren was a cms general secretary so great to see a pice of cms treasure being dug up with some nice prophetic challenge in it...
loved this reflection by richard rohr on who would want to be a prophet? in which he suggests prophets are on the edge of the inside combining tradition with iconoclasm and usually are trained in the system so they know how to work it...
You have to know the rules of any tradition, and you have to respect those rules enough to know why they do exist--and thus how to break them properly, for the sake of a larger and more essential value.
i stumbled across an article by graham cray on not knowing the end at the beginning which i rather liked. it probably didn't tell me a lot i didn't know but there is so much anxiety in the church about wanting to know outcomes and results (often in a short space of time) that this sense of not having a blueprint as people pioneer into the future really needs re-iterating. i also like the naming of the tension between contextual approaches to mission and being rooted in a living tradition. see what you think...
it's from the journal of mission practice which has had two issues so far online. this article by babatunde adedibu and this response on mission and black majority churches opens up some extremely interesting themes in mission in britain today.
i have written three articles on pioneering for youthwork magazine. the first is in the current (sept) issue and the next two will be in the following two months. i decided to write for youthwork because a lot of pioneers begin in youth ministry, i learned about mission and pioneering while doing youth ministry and youth ministry is the back door to renewing the church - what happens there happens in the church about 10 or 15 years later! i'd love to know what anyone thinks if you see the articles. give me a shout. at cms pioneer mission leadership training we have a few people who have done training with cym over the years who are joining us for modules or to do an MA. so if you are in youth ministry and excited about the notion of pioneering give me a shout. in oxford we actually have a great combination going on because oxford cym and cms pioneer training are in the same building so there is lots of opportunity for collaborating. the articles are not online - you have to get the magazine...
there is also a grove book on pioneer youth ministry out written by richard passmore and jo dolby which is excellent.
what kind of world, what kind of society do we want to live in in the uk? as you probably know if you read the blog regularly i have made more comment in the last year on the political than for a long time. it's because we seem to have a government that is increasingly trying to re-organise the world we live in horrible unjust ways whilst trotting out rhetoric of the so called big society. we need another imagining, dreaming, constructing of what a possible world looks like. i want to be part of a society that cares for the least well off, those with virtually nothing, not one that priotects the wealthy and hits the poor the hardest.
the latest piece that struck me in the guardian that had some brilliant imagining was from george monbiot in a piece property theft and how we must breach this scared line. he proposed a couple of years back a simple tax on the top owner occupiers - the 1% who on average have 15 million pounds of property - yes you read that right! instead of the outrageous policy of moving people with a spare (read second) room out somewhere else - the bedrrom tax - often hundreds of miles away in the country away from family and friends. of course the right hates this suggestion and george - but this is precisely the kind of thinking we need right now.
this is a brilliant piece by george monbiot that says it how it is on neoliberalism and economics. it's what i have been trying to say a few times but less eloquently. it's the kind of thing i suspect the old testament prohets would have said - like amos.
How they must bleed for us. In 2012, the world's 100 richest people became $241 billion richer. They are now worth $1.9 trillion: just a little less than the entire output of the United Kingdom.
This is not the result of chance. The rise in the fortunes of the super-rich is the direct result of policies. Here are a few: the reduction of tax rates and tax enforcement; governments' refusal to recoup a decent share of revenues from minerals and land; the privatisation of public assets and the creation of a toll-booth economy; wage liberalisation and the destruction of collective bargaining.
The policies that made the global monarchs so rich are the policies squeezing everyone else. This is not what the theory predicted. Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and their disciples – in a thousand business schools, the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD and just about every modern government – have argued that the less governments tax the rich, defend workers and redistribute wealth, the more prosperous everyone will be. Any attempt to reduce inequality would damage the efficiency of the market, impeding the rising tide that lifts all boats. The apostles have conducted a 30-year global experiment, and the results are now in. Total failure.
what's more we have created a narrative that suggests the rich deserve it! it does not have to be this way. another world is possible, another way of doing things, another way of running a society. something's got to change. yet all we hear is about scroungers, people on welfare, cutting benefits, healthcare, the arts and so on! it's madness.
he concludes the piece
As I say, I have no dog in this race, except a belief that no one, in this sea of riches, should have to be poor. But staring dumbfounded at the lessons unlearned in Britain, Europe and the US, it strikes me that the entire structure of neoliberal thought is a fraud. The demands of the ultra-rich have been dressed up as sophisticated economic theory and applied regardless of the outcome. The complete failure of this world-scale experiment is no impediment to its repetition. This has nothing to do with economics. It has everything to do with power.
it actually reminded me of kate tempest's poem parables which says the same thing but in the voice of the poet. we have colluded with the beast and are reaping what we have sown.
maggi dawn has written a really good piece exploring inclusive and expansive language in liturgy. being inclusive of course sounds a great idea (and is) but maggi suggests that the practice of it can lead at times to other issues and even other exclusions. she suggests expansive language might be a better way to explore...
Rather than make our capacity for naming God smaller, then, perhaps it would be better to explore the breadth of the ways God has been named; to reflect on the refusal to articulate any name for God as a way of acknowledging holiness and mystery. We might rediscover, from the scriptures, and from two thousand years of Christian theology, some of the many names of God: helper, Lord, servant and friend; compassionate father, a mother who breastfeeds her children and who knits for them, a tigress, a mother hen, a shepherd, a rock and a tower, a shield and a defence, a landowner, a housekeeper, a baker of bread, a mighty ruler and a powerless infant, the light that lightens the world, and the darkness that is above all light; the God who is both love and wisdom, and at the same time the God whose name, however close we try to get to it, will always elude us.
we had a grace service a couple of years back where we explored some similar ideas - follow the links to see some of the prayers we produced taking this approach.
i was asked to write a guest post for boats without oars, a blog run by someone i met in austin earlier this year. he asked if i could come up with something using a metaphor for church so church as network is the result which is a reworking of a couple of posts from my series riffing on clay shirky's here comes everybody...
mark scandrette has written to his twenty-something self. probably because i am in my forties, i strongly related to it. there's some real nuggets of wisdom in there. i loved this thomas mertom quote in the mix...
Many poets are not poets for the same reason that many religious people are not saints: they never succeed in being themselves. They never get around to being the particular poet or the particular monk they are intended to be by God. They never become the person or the artist who is called for by all the circumstances of their lives
letters home is a bulletin aimed at those like CMS who are in new mission communities or orders or sodalities (yes jargon I know but probably useful as a term) and definitely aimed at pioneers. it is edited by beth keith and this is how she describes it...
Letters Home is a collection of thoughts, struggles and dreams; it is in fact a collection of letters home. A collection of letters written by pioneers who have followed the call to go beyond the Church as is. We chose Letters Home because they want to stay connected, stay in touch, and because home is not just where they’ve come from but a family they still belong to.
When we were putting it together it felt like an odd mix combining research, theology, parable and meditation. But it felt important to mix it up. It’s in the mix we find ourselves, combining gut instincts with rationale observations, thought through prac- tices with missional spirituality. The exploration we’re involved in requires all of this.
the first issue explores the tensions pioneers experience as they go beyond the existing church. it is totally brilliant. pour a cup of coffee or something, and sit down and chew over the contents.
beth present's what she has called elsewhere the pioneer's journey. this shouts so loudly to me that pioneers are really well advised to connect with a mission community or network (a sodality).
i really loved a piece by simon sutcliffe reflecting on the pioneer as guest. he creates a map of pioneering that has three types - pioneering in existing structures, creating fresh expressions and the ministry of wandering or being a guest (or sodal pioneer). this is a really helpful piece. i suspect that many in the church think of pioneer as either one or two but life becomes more complicated if you want to pioneer in the last category and dare I say more exciting, unknown, and wild...
then there are a few other pieces as well.
i found today's experience: i tried to cure gay people in the guardian weekend magazine very moving. it has an honesty and vulnerability about it and courage that models the kind of conversation the church needs to have.
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