it was such a magical evening hosted by friends in earlsfield on saturday night exploring the theme of roots. so glad i went...
if you're in london maybe see you there? it's also open all week at various times. a few of the guys involved are training with us at cms - wonderful to see their creativity.
i appreciate that this blog is currently something of a slow burn, such is my busy life! but a massive thank you to those of you who still patiently hop onto the flow whether via a feed, twitter, facebook or the occasional digital drop in. i hope as you look back on 2014 you have some consoling thoughts and find hope for the year ahead even if it is against the odds.
a while back i posted a tale of two bookshops in which purchased four books at the ICA bookshop. i have enthused about two of them so far - feral (my book of the year i think and george monbiot is the person i would most like to be put in charge of running the country), and exploring everything.
well the third of the four is radical imagination. i bought this because i can't resist anything about imagination - one of the most underrated and undervalued aspects of what it is to be human. but i didn't read the small print - it turns out it's a book about social research amongst activist movements. but i ended up loving it and learning a load. there is a web site related to it that aims to study, broadcast and celebrate the intelligence, passion and creativity of social movements. of course the church is a social movement (though of course it is curiously part of the establishment in places too!). this book has lots to say to those of us interested in the transformation of society especially seeking to imagine a different kind of society and world that does not have to be the way it is now, and as part of that those of us seeking to effect change in and through following in the way of jesus christ (one heck of an activist!).
the single idea that has stuck with me the most and anyone who knows me well will have been subjected to it over a meal conversation or a work discussion is prefigurative research. what the authors mean by this is to design the present on the basis of an imagined future that is not already here. in their case they are based in universities and don't like the way the academic world is configured so they imagine how the university might be and design research on the basis of that - i.e. it prefigures it rather than settling for the current status quo. brilliant eh?
so on the first day of the year what kind of world, society, economy, neighbourhood, community, business, or church do you imagine might be possible? and how can you live in the present in a way that flows from that radical imagination? i feel challenged about the training of pioneers i lead at cms - have we done enough imaginative work of what is possible out of which to design our training? we do love imagination but i am stirred up to do some more. i am sick the culture of greed in the wider powers that be and the systematic grinding down of the poor and it seems to me that here more than anywhere we need this radical kind of approach.
i also like the positive and yet honest way that haven and khasnabish talk about social movements. it's interesting to overlay this with whatever networks or movements yoiu have been or are part of such as transition towns, emerging church, pioineering mission or whatever. here's a few notes and quotes i jotted down for myself when i read it...
Take social movements seriously as fecund ecologies ripe with possibility
Movements can be alternative spaces of social reproduction, places where individuals and communities can re-create themselves and find support for doing so.
Social movements are driven by and co-create the radical imagination: shared landscapes of possibility and contestation that confront and contradict the reigning imaginaries of capital and power.... It is not something individuals have but is something networks, groups, movements do. It emerges from and guides collective doing...
Hope is important to balance struggle - fun, joy, celebration, acceptance, humour...
it reminded me just how important communities are in which conversation is happening about the world and change. three things i do that this has helped me continue to value are meet with friends over a meal most weeks one evening to linger at the table, talk, share life, dream and pray; a couple of times a year through the team i work with host a 24 hour dreaming space in which we go away and take on a theme or idea and explore it; and connect/network with others who share similar vision and passion around transformation. this is all part i guess of building infrastructures of dissent as they are described on the web site (i love that phrase - reminds me of the great mission thinker john taylor's notion of cells of dissent).
the book is also a reminder of how valuable research is. they see research as part of how movements are carried forward and propose the idea of a solidarity research strategy that opens up a commions for the imagination through community and participation. so their research involves facilitating focus groups, hosting events, and even a radical imagination festival. one of the issues for activists and i suspect a lot of us in many walks of life is that you get bogged down in the day to day task. one thing research does is pull people together to reflect and talk about what is going on with others. it opens time and spaces in a cycle of imagination, strategy and tactics. the kinds of questions researchers facilitate conversation about are
i have changed politics to pioneering in the questions above to see how it crosses over into mission. i should have said that the project is grounded in the particular - in hamilton canada - so it's not just an abstract set of ideas. it really is involved in a movement for change.
so go prefigure! hopeful new year :)
grace this saturday is a meal with friends - yes it is a meal so don't eat first if you are coming! i have loved the times over the last few years when there has been a table down the middle of the church space at st marys and commnion has been shared in a meal. do come along if you can. i have particularly pleased that steve summers will be curating - his book on friendship is one of the best bits of contemporary thinking about church (as a community of friends) that i have read. so simple, so practical (his book is far from simple mind as it was a phd thesis). really looking forward to it…
thanks to sally for the first review of the pioneer gift which she suggests is both innovative and important with plenty of theology. she actually goes through each chapter so if you want a map to let you see how the book flows and the themes explored it's a good place to look.
in many ways i think the wave of creativity that has happened in the last 25-30 years in the church began in youth ministry, with youth ministers aware that the gap between youth culture(s) and church was a huge chasm. youth ministers began to look at cross cultural mission for clues as to how you might take a different approach. emerging church, alt worship, fresh expressions, pioneer ministry all followed on in due course. all that by way of saying that it seems great that richard passmore and jo dolby have dreamed up three days in the year to explore pioneering youth ministry. under the heading the table, the first is on oct 13 in bristol. cms are a partner and i'll be there and then at the pioneering spirituality day the next day! you can book here.
inhabit is a new gathering/conference in the uk. it has a life in the usa with a focus on community and neighbourhood transformation. i know tim sorens well who is involved and a great guy. i'm also delighted that several cms pioneer students are taking part who are doing wonderful things in their neighbourhoods - berni, kim, sue. and shannon who leads our missional entrepreneurship module is there as is the amazing sue (butler). so whilst it may be something of an unknown it should be good! click on the link above for details and you can book here. for me i am speaking at a cms event in cheltenham on the saturday and it clashes with a ReSource weekend in london... maybe i'll make it on the friday?
i am looking forward to october 14 when we have a day at cms on pioneering spirituality. this follows on from the day we had last year. that was so good we ended up producing the pioneer gift. there are several speakers and workshop leaders. i am particularly chuffed that steve bevans will be with us as he is one of my heroes... the idea of the day is to push out conversation and thinking about pioneering mission about which we are learning lots and have lots more questions. i hope too that we will simultaneously begin to pull together some resources around pioneering spirituality. we'll keep you posted.
this year's resource weekends are up - a great way to learn by visiting a place and seeing what people are up to in pioneering mission. these stand alone or even better do all three - a great way to learn about mission and also a good taster for the pioneer training at cms. the first one is moot in london and is in october so book soon!
i feel like i still live by a school year! the beginning of september is the new year... don't know if you are the same? i hope you have had a good summer anyway. so a few posts about the year ahead and especially in relation to some training and things you could connect with.
first up we will be starting a new year of pioneer mission leadership training in a few weeks. this will be the fifth year. it's a challenging one because we are switching accrediting universities to durham and will have a new dilpoma and ma and still have students in the current university. these build on what we have done before but the ma is completely redesigned and i think it's an exciting mix of mission, theology, leadership, reading culture and so on. but it's a bit late to sign up now! however a lot of people audit modules and you may want to have a look around and join in something. i think we are set for our biggest intake so far which is exciting. this is of course a biased view but if you are into pioneering in mission do look at training with cms - what is unique about us is that we are solely focused around pioneering and that cms as a mission comnmunity is such a great place to locate it!
some time in the next few weeks the pioneer gift will hit the shelves which i am excited about. the book is a series of reflections on the pioneer gift. i wrote the first chapter reflecting on what pioneering is and what the nature of that gift might be. the book arose from a day we hosted at cms last autumn and the things presented were so good that we thought we should pursue publishing them. i'm happy to say that canterbury press also tought it was a good idea. on the day i video interviewed 5 of the people presenting and to celebrate the launch of the book we will be adding one a week to the cms pioneer blog and they'll be located on vimeo. first up is doug gay who has started a new remix of the church in glasgow. wisdom as ever from doug...
we had an amazing day last tuesday at the first graduation celebration of cms pioneers. four years ago we had an open day. somehow from that day a pilot group was born that began the cms pioneer training course in september 2010. i have extremely fond memories of those early weeks as we began to discover just what kind of adventure we had got ourselves into. i’m not sure any of us knew exactly what was ahead or indeed the challenge of the journey. in the four years we have run a foundation degree, a certificate, added in an m.a., and gained approval from the church of england to let us train pioneer ordinands in a partnership with ripon college cuddesdon. in that time over 80 people have done something with us by way of a module or more. and about half have done something more substantial (several modules, a university award etc.).
it is the most rewarding work i have been involved in for my entire life. more than anything i have loved the gift that is the pioneers - dreamers who do - those who follow christ’s call in mission to see and build beyond business as usual with imagination and courage. it was incredibly exciting to get to a point of celebrating our first graduation.
we gave those finishing an object to takeaway that would symbolise the journey, a unique piece of art created by sculptor iain cotton - it’s a stone landscape in which a new unique journey has been hewn to make a way where there is no way. making a way in rock is tough but the path also looks like a letter or script and I love what iain has done by playing with this notion of a new language that is found in the journey. he describes it on his write up as a speaking in tongues, a language of the spirit (which of course was a language given so people could understand in their own tongue).
thank you to everyone who has shared the journey and supported it in any way, encouraged me through the blog or in conversation. we have an amazing team, cms is a great community to host it, and i am so inspired by and grateful to all those who come and train with us. we are proud of everything they have achieved and indeed the gift of who they are.
i attended am amazing day last week with leaders from black majority churches in britain. there were some amazing presentations issuing a prophetic call to engage imaginatively in mission. during the day i doodled away to capture some of the things that struck me. i have added those doodlings to facebook...
proost now has a us site at proost.us!
for years we have had this cool little thing in the uk called proost which is home to wonderful inspiring resources that have been produced from artists and communities doing creative things. this includes movies, books of authentic liturgies, music, experiences such as the labyrinth and so on. but to access the resources you no longer have to come to the uk site and negotiate foreign currency of pounds - it's all in dollars.
the big deal (and you guys love both big and deal) is that you can subscribe for a hundred dollars for a year and that enables you to log in to the back end of the site and download anything you like.
we have some friends in the usa but not enough! so if you know about us do spread the word - in many ways this is still a hidden gem. but thought you'd like to know...
it was good to meet some presbyterians from the usa this week including darrell guder who has written on missional church for many years and been involved in american missiology and gospel and culture networks. i actually met a similar group about a year ago sharing stories of what we are up to and how to cultivate mission at and beyond the edges of the church. there are now around 200 new church communities or mission projects under the bold vision of 1001 new communities in 10 years. roger dermody is one of the drivers behind it and was in the group.
it was lovely to meet erin dunigan and hear about not church, a community exploring faith and spirituality but seemingly started at the request of seekers and athiests. in trying to find it i googled 'not church' and found there are several communities out there who can be found under the identifier of not church!
it was also good to hear yeseterday of a new initiatiove starting in nottingham - the sunday service - a club night at rock city. sounds like the good old days of alt worship...
a week today we have an open day for the cms pioneer training. we are in the process of transitioning to being accredited by durham university and should get final confirmation of that this month. you can do modules, certificate, diploma, or an MA. it's a fantastic learning community - do come along and find out more. let us know if you are coming...
if you are planning ahead for easter have a look at proost's resources for easter. there's some classics there and a few new things.
on the subject of new it's wonderful to have a new artist or two on proost - steve leach (who is also training on the cms pioneer course) has an ep gardens with three electronic tracks responding to the three gardens of eden, gethsemane and paradise.
restless: evening prayer for restless hearts also looks and sounds really beautiful - from tim snyder and aaron strumpel - both also new on proost! the sample track on this page is quite amazing...
i have neglected to blog about proost here for a while. we have had a bundle of new resources of late. lent has become a really strong season for creativity in worship and spirituality for those on the alternative/emerging end of things. we have gradually built up quite a collection. anyway here's the latest proost news which outlines some resources old and new…
Lent was once described as the "bright sadness". It's a season which embraces every human emotion and every spiritual experience. In this time we learn to hope in pain, to become at peace in turmoil. At Lent we learn to find God in all things. We hope some of the resources available on Proost will help you in this journey.
This month we're launching a wonderful new book by Tim Watson. Old Lost and Broken Dreams is a beautifully moving journey through pain, disappointment and loss through poems, litanies, blessings and prayers. This is a wonderfully inspiring book to help you through Lent as Tim's inspiration is St. John of the Cross' idea of the Dark Night of the Soul - that somehow at our weakest point we learn new maturity in our understanding of God. Tim writes
"And as we journey through life as people of faith we will face all kinds of challenges. Perhaps we will find ourselves feeling like isolated prophets. Perhaps sometimes we will feel like Thomas after the resurrection. Sometimes we will have more questions than answers. Sometimes we will have to wait doggedly for the voice of God or for the leading of the Holy Spirit."
I want to recommend this book to all of you. I found it deeply inspiring as I read the manuscript before publication and I've come back to the poems and prayers again and again since then. I'll be looking to use a poem or prayer each day to help me through Lent. Do take a look.
As well as Tim's new book there are lots of resources in our Lent section of the website. A particularly popular resource is Si Smith's 40 and it's accompanying 40 Book by Si and Chris Goan. These are two inspiring interactions with the story of Jesus in the wilderness with moving words and beautiful illustrations. Each Lent we find loads of people download this resource and love it, coming back to it each year.
Another great resource is Cave by Harry Baker. This is all about seeking God alone and echoes the yearnings and challenges we all find in solitude and isolation. Harry's poetry is incredibly popular and this one is a Proost favourite.
At Lent we often find people seek out Pocket Liturgies on the site to help their community or church travel through the season together. Making Communion from Grace is one of the most popular in this line of Liturgies. Making Communion is the second set of Liturgies from Grace but specifically explores Communion and is packed with creative, innovative approaches to the church's most ancient rite. It also has a long introduction which helpfully shares Grace's story and how they have negotiated a creative approach within the Church of England.
As well as these individual resources you may want to explore the other areas of the website. A Get it Allsubscription is a great way to do this, enabling you to get your hands on everything on the site for one whole year. Why not sign up today?
This is the first of two updates you'll be getting from us this Lent as we have more new resources to launch shortly. Watch this space.
The Proost Team
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where i come across creative ideas, liturgies, movies, music tracks, service outlines or anything that strikes me, i add them as worship tricks. i started these in april 2002 when i first began blogging and they have built up over the years so that i am now on the third series. this has proved a pretty popular feature of the blog.