following my book dilemma within a few hours i had been sent a copy of out of bounds church by steve taylor free to read/review (thanks jay). steve spoke at a blah... two years ago entitled postcards from the missional edge and i now realise that was a sneak preview of the material worked up into this book. steve says that he is drawn to the border country or the margins - the edges are seedbeds of the future, where culture proliferates, places of great creativity (and i would add places where trickster likes to hang out in the mythologies).
steve is running a site connecting to reviews etc on the book, the most comprehensive of which is darren's. i have also recently read steve's thesis from his phd which obviously goes into some stuff in much greater depth.
i like steve's style of writing and thinking - lots of metaphors and creativity fusing culture, theology and missiology sparking your thinking and imagination. the book is really worth getting. i think i'll compile a must read list of books on all this stuff at some point - this would make that list...
my favourite stuff in the book is on spiritual tourism and how that interfaces with building communities of faith. while some people are quick to rail against consumerism (and it surely has a dark side) steve suggests we need to incarnationally go with the flow and produce products/resources that fuel individuals' spiritual search - art, postcards in cafes, installations, objects to takeaway from worship services and so on. whether we like it or not people are making meaning and constructing identity by weaving things into their lives. alt worship has generally been instinctive about this sort of stuff for years - the labyrinth is perhaps the best example we have come up with at grace. after a discussion on community steve brings the two together asking what i think is a very significant question:
perhaps the greatest question facing the emerging church is how to integrate spiritual tourism with the notion of redemptive community. how do we create communities flexible enough to weather the constant influx of new people and ideas, yet stable enough to provide consistency for those who commit themselves to those communities? how do we create communities taht are open enough to welcome the tourist, yet orthodox enough to remain grounded in the trinue god?
he then uses sociologist zygmunt bauman's notion of peg and ethical communities to challenge various emerging church genres to be more missional. he manages this in a way that is affirming of what those groups do but nudges them in the right direction. grace fits in to what steve describes as alt worship as an art collective model that offers plenty of peg community (for spiritual tourists) but struggles to move people to more commitment (ethical community) unless they get involved in the core planning group. steve (the other steve) has this diagram that captures it well on small ritual as i blogged yesterday. we are in the middle of a discussion about precisely this issue at the moment so this is a pretty timely chapter for me personally which is possibly why like darren i think that is the best chapter in the book. (there is also a suggestion in this chapter of festival spirituality as a model for creating a missional community/church that is crying out for someone to pick up and do).
i also like the stuff on sampling and mixing and DJing as metaphors for constructing church and worship - in my dissertation i used similar ideas (somewhat more pretentiously) with the idea of bricolage... steve also draws heavily on de certeau who i found a real inspiration for my dissertation as well.
the book ends with a good call to keep the home fires burning (smallfires?). i think often these expressions of church can be small, vulnerable and fragile. but i was encouraged to keep on the journey, keep creating and keep developing the missional impulse outwards into the world/community/culture...
thanks for taking the time to write a book steve and put your thoughts out there.