you can download it as a pdf here or click on the two images below to enlarge them. i remember that photo of me well - three years ago it was the first photo i took with my 5d mark ii camera when i got it out of the box holding it at arms length in the garden!
i am on the e-mail list for the sheffield centre research bulletin. it's always onto something interesting. but each time you have to download a pdf and then get round to reading it. for bloggers like me if i find something interesting i often want to hyperlink directly to an article and when i download a pdf to read later i often forget. so following the last bulletin which was on larger churches and mission i sent a cheeky suggestion that they put the articles online as well as in a pdf. and to my delight and surprise they have done exactly that in the space of a couple of weeks. so there is now a sheffield centre research blog which links to the separate articles as well as the bulletin as a pdf. thank you for listening!
the summer issue explored larger churches and mission. i really hope this gets read by larger churches rather than those of us in smaller missional communities or whatever.
in his article george lings suggests that what is needed most is the nurturing of the following attitudes...
clare dalpra explores what maturity might look like in sending and sent churches and their independence or interdependence.
beth keith's article caught my attention the most (and yes i think i am probably in her fan club as i always seem to highlight any research she does). she discusses ethics and finds that where there is a tension between the practice of every day life and the church's stance young adults move on rather than finding a safe space to explore questions. she suggests...
The expression of faith embodied by the church was too rigid, too controlled and leader-led for many of the young adults I spoke to. Whilst this style of leadership in part contributed to the growth of the church, it left many people short changed over time. Perhaps a less controlled, multi-congregational approach which allowed for variation in belief and practice, would have enabled the members to move beyond the inflexible faith approved by the church, and in doing so create safe spaces for them to worship and explore.
there is actually a lot of discussion and interest in larger churches in the missional conversation - i think al hirsch for example is apeaking at the new wine leaders conference. there is a genuine desire to turn outwards in mission which has to be a good thing. if that's your interest you might like to dive into something like al roxburgh's introduction to the missional church which i reviewed here
the latest issue explores leadership succession . the overriding thing that comes through that is for pioneers starting something, think about succession and longevity now and not in 5 years time when you about to move on. stuart murray willimas shares some wisdom and clare dalpra makes some great suggestions which also highlight the challenge this poses within existing structures of ordained leadership
Once again, this proposed solution for leadership succession within fresh expressions seems at odds with ‘the system’ which is geared towards finding outside successive leaders for long-established churches. It’s a shame. Our young churches would certainly benefit from more realistic time frames, participation before application by potential successive outside leaders and ways of championing young churches who raise up successive leaders from within (rather than regarding them a strange anomaly). It’s a tall order with so many financial and ministerial pressures facing the wider church. No wonder we have a problem.
anyway have a browse and add this to your selection of feeds and so on....
in the latest survey of church attendance, questions were asked for the first time about fresh expressions. the results of the whole survey are here. the paragraph below summarises the story on fresh expressions
The first ever statistical analysis of the Fresh Expressions movement has concluded that there are at least 1,000 CofE fresh expressions of church or new congregations across the country. These aim to provide new forms of church which are different in ethos and style from the church which planted them because they are designed to reach a different group of people than those already attending the original church. The emphasis is on planting something which is appropriate to its context rather than cloning something which works elsewhere.
Around 30,000 people attend fresh expressions each month who don’t attend traditional regular services, equating to an average of around 40 people per participating parish exploring new forms of church - the statistical equivalent of an additional diocese. These 30,000 are included in the average weekly and monthly statistics. Almost all dioceses have reported fresh expressions or new congregations with over half of these initiatives aimed at families with young children. More information on fresh expressions of church is available on the Church of England website as a Powerpoint presentation.
forgive me a little excitement but we have heard that cms have been given approval to train those selected for ordained pioneer ministry in the church of england in a partnership with cuddesdon.
it's been about two and a half years since our first invitation from the c of e to see if cms with her experience in pioneering mission might be able to help train pioneers. we said yes straight away at the time and wanted to be able to train both ordained and not ordained ministers. we were able to get training those not getting ordained quite quickly which has been wonderful. it's been quite a journey though to seek approval for training those getting ordained with lots of meetings, reflecting, paperwork, rewrites and so on - we won't worry you with the details. but the important news is that IT'S A YES! here are a few more details from the press release.
For the first time, candidates for ordained pioneer ministry in the Church of England will be able to train on a course that has been designed entirely for pioneer leaders by Church Mission Society, one of the country's leading mission agencies, in partnership with Cuddesdon. The Church of England's ministry division has given the CMS Pioneer Mission Leadership Training course its official seal of approval as a training pathway. C of E mission leaders and pioneers alike have expressed delight at the news. Rachel Jordan, National Adviser for Mission and Evangelism for the Church of England, said CMS was "uniquely qualified" to train pioneer ordinands. Jordan said:
The roots of pioneering ministry are in the missionary movement and therefore CMS is uniquely qualified to train Church of England pioneer ordinands for the urgent missionary task in the UK. CMS pioneer ordinands will benefit from the years of experience in cross-cultural mission that is CMS's expertise and the Church of England will gain many well equipped and specifically trained individuals for 21st century mission."
Pioneer ordinand Johnny Sertin, who leads Earlsfield Friary in southwest London, said he was "overjoyed"
It is a watershed moment, from which many will benefit as we re-imagine the future together
The Rt Rev Colin Fletcher, Bishop of Dorchester and a co-chair of the South Central Regional Training Partnership, said,
I am delighted. It is great for Pioneers and for God's mission in this country.
CMS has teamed up with Cuddesdon to make the course available to those training to be ordained pioneer ministers. Students preparing for ordination will be involved in pioneering mission and learn 'on the job'. They will attend a day a week and two residential weeks with CMS pioneers and six weekends a year and two residential weeks with Oxford Ministry Course students, who are training for parish ministry. Rev Canon Prof Martyn Percy, principal of Cuddesdon said
This is a unique partnership between a major mission society and a leading Anglican theological college. In offering this new training route for pioneer ministers, CMS and Cuddesdon will be able to combine their resources together, making this venture one of the most innovative, rich and ground-breaking courses in the country.
Canon Tim Dakin, the executive leader of CMS, who is soon to become Bishop of Winchester, saw the approval of the course as significant for CMS and for the wider church.
Through the training and deploying of pioneers, ordained and lay, CMS will continue to offer prophetic mission in partnership with the wider church both locally and globally.
so if you are selected for ordained pioneer ministry or in the process come and talk to us. and if you are not getting ordained, that is the case with the vast majority of pioneers who train with us. we are training both! i didn't add a quote for the press release but it's been a lot of work to get to this point so I just want to add a quote from jonny baker -
i love richard passmore's embodied enactment of protest at the uneven cuts. not sure how long he will be sporting the new look?!
andrew jones (who i haven't seen for sooooo long!) has written an excellent post - 9 reasons not to plant a church in 2012... which i am sure is meant to spark conversation and it certainly has in the comments with people (like peter dominey) making some good case for suggesting why some intentionality about starting a church might not be such a bad thing. i guess as ever it all depends what you mean but go have a read and join in.
i confess i have a busy few days ahead so book reviews are going on hold but i do intend to add a few more within the next week. onme a day was perhaps a bit optimistic to keep going for long...
day 4 of reviewing a book a day!
bevans and schroeder's latest book prophetic dialogue is wonderful. steve bevans articulates for me better than anyone else i have ever come across what my sensibilities are about both mission and theology in a global context. with no disrespect to the previous books i have reviewed it's a step up a few gears academically in that he is someone who is so immersed in the community and literature of missiology and theology that there is an inevitable depth, and it's a depth that is fresh and engaging rather than dry.
constants in context is a very fat book by bevans and schroeder on mission - it's brilliant but fat. the last section in it looks at mission in today's world and suggests (from memory at least) three ways of thinking about that - as particpation in the life and mission of the trinity, proclamation of the kingdom of god, and prophetic dialgue. in many ways the last was the most original though the other two are equally good. and that section provoked lots of conversation and feedback. bevans and schroeder found themselves reflecting further and responding since to that conversation that was opened up. these reflections have been condensed into this (much smaller and more easily readable) book - prophetic dialogue. it's about what it says - dialogue - essential in today's global and multi religious and multi cultural context, but also dialogue that is prophetic - speaking out of the tradition and imagination of the prophetic gospel. they suggest (rightly in my veiw) that if you have just dialogue or just prophecy you have a much weaker sense of mission.
here's a quote on dialogue
When we speak of mission as dialogue we are about as far away from imagining mission as 'conquering the world for Christ' as we probably can get. There has indeed been a radical shift, both in the world in which the church does mission and within the church's own consciousness of the goodness and even holiness of that world…
… But the deepest reason for mission as dialogue is because of the nature of God as such, and because mission is participation in that divine dialogical nature.
and on mission as prophecy they make this amazing statement (which is actually a quote from michael amaladoss)
Prophecy might be the best single word to describe the reality of mission in today's world
that takes a little bit of thinking about but in cms it's what tim dakin (the community leader) has been encouraging us to reflect on for some time and i find it a very exciting notion. in fact i'm gripped by it. i articulated my sense of this in my talks at breakout if you are interested. and i intend to review another book or two on this theme if i find the time.
the standout chapter for me is on on the spirituality of inculturation. inculturation is a term for describing the process of embodying the gospel in a particular cultural context. this is how they describe what they mean
When we speak of a spirituality of inculturation we mean a whole complex of ideas and practices that can open people up to the Spirit in such a way that there emerges an understanding and expression of Christianity that takes its form in a loving, creative, and sometimes critical dialogue with a particular social or cultural context.
they then go on to explore how that spirituality will take very different postures for outsiders to a context and to insiders and this is a brilliant insight that everyone involved in crossing cultures in mission would do well to chew over. the challenge for the outsider is letting go
Outsiders need to let go of their certainties regarding the content of the gospel. They need to let go of cherished practices and ideas that have nourished and sustained them in their own journeys towards christian maturity. They need to let go of the symbols that anchor them in their human and christian identity and let go of the order that makes them comfortable…. One of the hardest and yet spiritually enriching tasks of the outsider is 'taking leave of the gospel' so to speak for the sake of the gospel - so that the gospel can be understood in a radically new and meaningful way among new peoples and in new circumstances.
but for the insider it is speaking out and being bold, almost the opposite
Insiders need to focus on God's immanence, God's nearness, God's presence in normal everyday realities.. One needs to look for God in places where one might not look ordinarily. God is in the cracks, the corners, the neglected places - the very warp and woof of a context…
… courage to risk, to experiment, to test new formulas, try new rituals, explore new symbols, be willing to come under suspicion from those in power…
… to have pride in their culture, and their self identity, to practice the difficult task of articulating that identity proudly, to risk going too far in terms of the resources their culture or social location can bring to christian identity…
'the positive discernment of the presence of grace'.
both are important as is the dynamic relationship between the two. as ever with these guys it's eloquent, offered humbly as a gift to the church and it really is a gift - simply wonderful!
continuing on books that explore what it means to be missional i really loved mark scandrette's latest practicing the way of jesus: life together in the kingdom of love. mark is an inspiring artist-mission-poet-theologian - my description not his. based in san fransisco together with his family he has consistently oriented his life around mission locating in a poorer district to share christ in the community. [his last book soul grafitti was excellent - two things still linger in my mind from it a few years on - his take on jesus as artist, healer, mystic and companion; and the amazing story of emperor arcadia as an example of an experiment in truth]
the basic deal in mark's take on being missional in the book is that it's no good just thinking, theorising and talking about it. it needs to be lived, embodied or practiced.
What if, instead of talking about prayer, we actually prayed; or what if, in addition to studying about God’s heart for justice, we took action to care for needs? Or, what if, instead of just telling each other about our struggles, we committed to a path for change? It seemed like the missing ingredient was a context that would encourage honesty, invite us into community and move us from information into shared actions and practices.
the metaphor he uses is the jesus dojo, an environment of active participation and contribution together...
In Japanese the word dojo means “place of the way” and is used to describe a school or practice space for martial arts or meditation. Theoretically, a dojo could be created for any skill or discipline. You could have a knitting dojo, a cooking dojo, a karate dojo—or a Jesus dojo. The important distinction is an active learning environment, where participation is invited and expected.
he then nails exactly what is involved in a jesus dojo as follows - it is (1) an experiment, (2) inspired by the life and teachings of Jesus, (3) in which a group of people commit time and energy to a set of practices, (4) in conversation with real needs in our society and within themselves, (5) and reflect on how these experiences can shape the ongoing rhythms of life. simple eh?!
he then goes on to share inspiring examples, outlines how to go about setting up such experiments in truth, and suggests in a way that is imossible to argue with that leaders should clearly be practitioners in tis way who are able to invite others into a common journey and that this might be the best way to help grow disciples. he suggests five areas in which jesus focused and suggests these as areas for developing practices - identity, purpose, security, community, freedom and peace. it's intensely practical and hard to resist.
mark has a new website devoted to the jesusdojo. and on that is the first chapter as a taster along with a movie of mark talking about it and a section to add experiments which i think is a great idea and hope it strirs people to acton and to then share those experiments with mark to add to his site.
compared with the other books on missional i reviewed over the last two days this is the most practical. if you want to transition a regular church go for al roxburgh - this is probably a bit too scary! though he says the kinds of people who engage with them in their experiements are church goers wanting something deeper, post church people, and people who are starting new communities so you never know. i really recommend this and think again it's a book that would do well to be read and discussed by a community or group of friends to then put some experimentation into practice!
to be honest get any of these books and get people reading and talking about them and then refelct on what to do - you surely can't go too far wrong... i am hopeful that these books are signs - signs that there is something fresh in what has been deconstructing and reconstructing faith as alt worship, emerging, emergent, missional community and so on - a recallibration around living out a life of mission amongst neighbours and in communities in creative and risky ways to follow in the way of jesus.
i want to stick with reviewing a few books around mission. and for starters a few more that deal with this word missional as a descriptor for the way the church should be or lean, or how it should have its imagination shaped.
one of the people who has written and worked tirelessly in this area for decades is al roxburgh. i remember reading and being inspired by his book on leadership and liminality years back now. he has a whole swathe of books and i want to briefly mention three...
the first introduction to the missional church does what it says. but here's it's edge. a lot of the books on missional church or communities are pitched at those staring new small communities reimagining what it means to be a christian community which is great - we need those. however al's books are more pitched towards a regular church that wants to rethink and go on a journey towards joining in with god's mission. he gives an overview, a take on what the whole missional thing is about but most of the book outlines a process for a church to go on to explore this shift. it's a journey al has taken many churches on so its tried and tested.it's also pretty savvy about how churches work and who in the church might be placed to get people talking and create space for imaginative ideas. essentially where al wants the church to head is to give permission to voice feelings about church and mission that are honest and real, to spark imagination about engaging in the neighbourhood, and then identifying some experiemnets in truth that some groups in the church might begin.
i haven't got the book on my shelf at the moment. i was talking with a friend who runs something out on the edge of church - already very missional. but her church doesn't understand what she is doing. i thought this was the kind of book for a congregation like that so she has leant it to one of the church leaders. the beauty of what al is encouraging is to say that any bog standard church can go on this journey - you don't need to be radical, trendy, young, postmodern or whatever you might imagine is required!
a couple of others he has written fairly recently - missional map making is pitched at leaders who sense the shifts in the world are such that the maps they had to navigate no longer map the new terrain. for me there wasn't a lot new in this but it's certainly a good metaphor and way into thinking about it. again it's pitched more at a church leader than a pioneer. and then the other one i have looked at is simply called missional (by mission al?!) with the subtitle joining god in the neighbourhood. i think i'm right in saying this is the most recent. in it al takes luke-acts with a particular drilling down into luke 10 as a text that might shape a new set of practices. this is very easy to read, the sort of book a church or community group could read and discuss together. in a nutshell al is saying - shift your focus away from church as what you do together and get involved in the local neighbourhood - with friends, local groups, sharing food and life and watch what emerges. this is the book of the three i am most likely to come back to personally. luke-acts is becoming the text i am seeing and reading that is inspiring people everywhere - it's a text for our times (if you want a good few takes on it try luke johnson prophetic jesus prophetic church whose whole book is on that, david bosch in transforming mission and steve bevans in constants in context - that will keep you going!!).
over the last year i have read quite a lot of books and i have also been sent quite a few books. i never ever guarantee to review them but usually would like to. there's only ever been two that i have thrown in the bin as i thought they were so awful (which shall remain nameless). my problem like so many others i suspect is busyness. but post christmas and before terms kicks off fully with students i am under the illusion i might find time to review a few. i'm going to try and do one a day for a few days and see how i go. some reviews may be a sentence, others more full - we shall see.
so first up the road to missional by mike frost. i've become more and more a fan of mike's work over the years. exiles is definitely up there as one of the best books on mission in the west in the last ten years. it's been a favourite book of cms pioneer students and that's in spite of it being rather ominously large.
i quite like the word missional but mike is at pains to point out in this (much more distilled and slimmer than exiles) book that anyone and everyone is now using the word to describe their church or what they are doing. and it's in real danger of losing its bite and being domesticated as a way of tweaking a church to make it better and to make it grow. i suspect this is more of an american problem...
what mike wants to do is it use it to describe a whole paradigm shift that reorientates the church around mission. that mission is then focused on transformation in the world and not obsessed with church for church's sake.
with a hefty influence from david bosch and lesslie newbigin he opens up with a chapter on the missio dei calling for mission to be much more than evangelism. the metaphor of the kingdom of god is closely aligned with what mission is about. he suggests a core question is what the reign of god might look like in our own neighbourhood and where we might see evidence of it and join in with what we sense god might be up to.
evangelism is then unpacked some more. i think lots of us have had bad experiences of evangelism so i welcome conversation about it that shows that there is nothing wrong at all in good news, and nothing wrong in sharing good news. but it does require a rethink of what the gospel is and what might be ways of sharing that story with friends and neighbours.
then he tackles head on the church's co-optedness into the logic of the market - with faith individualised, commodified, pacakaged and sold by ceo type church leaders running churches on the lines of big businesses attempting to grow market share. this seems to be addressing a particular segment of the church in north america (it is an american publisher) but we have all experienced and to some degree been co-opted by this kind of thing i suspect. mike paints a vision of a different kind of church that is quite inspired - it did remind me of his chapoter on missional community in exiles which i also loved.
other chapters explore the cross as a paradigm - counter to a culture of success; shalom - such a brilliant way of thinking about justice, beauty and healing; and simply being neighbourly - i.e. focusing outwards to neighbours and community as the heart and locus of where christian faith is embodied and make flesh.
he concludes the book explaining in a long sentence that he is going to keep using the 'm word'...
to describe the wholesale and thorpough reorientation of the church around mission, a mission that includes evangelism but more: a mission that is anchored in alerting people to the rule of God through Christ and which can never be reduced to the recruitment of new attendees at our meetings; a mission that hopes in the ongoing work of God to redeem all things and set everything right in accordance with his will; a mission that by its very nature must be lived out incarnationally, in close proximity to those to whom we've been sent; a mission that is cross shaoed and calls its followers to the disciplines of sacrifice, service, love and grace; and a mission that delights in beauty, flavour, joy and friendship, that lifts us up and fills us with the same fullness of life we see in Jesus.
if you like that sentence you'll like the book. it's a good distilled summary. it's a meaty popular style of book. i'm still not sure it's up there with exiles and the shaping of things to come but that may be because i am more oriented around being missional now myself so the impact has lessened than when i read those two books.
ok so that is not the most catchy title ever for a blog post - congratulations if you made it this far!!!
anvil is an evangelical anglican journal of theology and mission that has been revamped and made digital and free and at cms we are very much seeing it as a mission journal into the future. you may remember i had an article on curation in the first edition. well the second edition is now online and is basically a response to steve bevans wonderful book introduction to theology in global perpsective which i review here. for me it's the best book i can think of that articulates what i think an approach to theology should be in today's world.
anyway all that by way of saying it's a really good edition of anvil. i think this could prove to be an exciting journal in an ongoing way. steve bevans reflects looking back at the book and what he has attempted to achieve in a brilliant reflection. the ephesian moment is a term from missiologist andrew walls. here's how steve describes it in the article
our globalized church today is in situation in which it had only been once before, in the community of Greeks and Jews in Ephesus. There in Ephesus, Christians of two very different cultures could have formed two separate churches, but they did not. Christ was the peace that tore down the wall between them, and they became not two, but one (See Eph. 2:14-22), and in that give and take they caught a glimpse of the whole Christ. Neither, says Walls, ‘was a form of Christian faith complete and valid in itself, apart from the other. Each was necessary to the other, each was necessary to complete and correct the other; for each was an expression of Christ under certain specific conditions, and Christ is humanity completed.’ Now that ‘Ephesian moment’ has come again. Today, ‘new Christian lifestyles…have developed or are developing under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to display Christ under the conditions of African, Indian, Chinese, Korean, and Latin American life.’ The Ephesian moment demands a global theology.
in other words we only see who christ is as we see christ's many faces and theologies and embodiments in his body represented around the world. this is a bit of cms jargon and something of an internal joke at times. so i blame steve's time with cms a while back for him picking up on this! but it is an exciting idea. he concludes his piece by saying
We need a theology adequate to the Ephesian Moment in which we find ourselves in today’s world, and we need a theological education that helps students who will minister in a church that, for the first time in history, is conscious of the fact that Christianity truly is a world movement.
timothy tennant has a piece on theological translatability - again this is essentially arguing that we need to become conversant with other theologies especially from the majority world, that we need to realise our own is partial and not universal and that if we are open to it a global exchange will highlight our own heresies and blind spots!
atola longkumer reflects on partnership's opportunities and challenges in another really good piece -
Globalization, the growing divide between the rich and the poor, human rights abuses, fundamentalism, violence, secularism, environmental degradation, and migration are some of the challenges that require creative and healing attention. The global Christian community must respond in unison by transforming the world into a better place — the Kingdom of God. Despite the vastly different contexts with a variety of challenges, Christians around the world are called to be partners in building God’s Kingdom, speaking the truth in love and witnessing together to the Gospel. And in the partnership between Christians of the global south and the global north in carrying out our missional task of witnessing to the fullness of the life in Christ, may we heed the directions of the mission scholar Cathy Ross who has perceptively given the ingredients for a productive and fulfilling partnership: mutual trust, acceptance of responsibilities and willingness to take risks among the partners.
there is also an interview with miroslav volf, a tribute to john stott and a poem by rowan williams.
congratulations to the editorial team - this really looks set to become a good online journal. i haven't added hyperlinks to articles because you need to register and login to read them - it is free which is also amazing judging by the price of most academic journals!
eight or nine years on (or whatever it is) ReSource weekends are still one of the simplest and best ways to learn about mission in today's culture. food, conversation, experience with people working it out in practice in their communities.
this is a photo from the advent grace on saturday night - a simple cube where we were surrounded by four characters (ht si smith for the illustrations) from the christmas story waiting for god to come into the world.
in newport today discussing pioneering mission.
are you in wales and if so do you know of mission activities, pioneering, alt worship, missional communities, emerging churches?
i remember richard sudworth produced a report maybe a decade ago which indicated lots of creative mission at that time in south wales from what i remember. but that was a while back...
leave a comment if you are or know of things - love to know more!
we had a wonderful resource weekend in bradford...
thanks for visiting my blog. i realise it's a bit old school to expect you to actually come to my world, but subscribe to the feed or select the relevant presences from the middle column and hopefully i'll come to your world and tweet or whatever to save you the hassle of coming back :-)
there are five broad areas of content - click on the buttons below to delve deeper. or below is a list of all the categories i have posted under.
hope it all makes sense. do say hi either here or where our digital presences collide, send me an e-mail, leave a comment...
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.