one of the projects i am involved with supporting is church on the edge. the basic idea is to explore some of the ideas around emerging church but amongst young people and in rural areas (a lot of the emerging church stuff seems to happen in and around cities). richard passmore is the creative drive behind the project. he is one of the uk's radical youth workers and missiologists, always willing to push the edge and very passionate about keeping mission at the heart of what we do.
this wiki site has been set up to track the project so do follow along if you are interested. the about section explains the process. richard has blogged about various stages in it on his blog. one of the really interesting things he observed with the group of skaters he is working with was that they talked about 'flow' as a concept of feeling alive/wonder. so richard has explored this notion of flow with them. these two pieces: in the beginning was the flow and abs and flow are really good and we had some great discussion around them on monday on the cym course i teach on in oxford on monday this term. gospel and culture is an exciting creatuve area always in mission...
this last weekend was the third weekend in the ReSource course that i teach on and help plan. each weekend is in a different location where we interact with a church that is new or emerging or creative or all three. this time it was saint laurence's in reading. 10 years ago it had dwindled to a few people. chris russell arrived as vicar and has transformed it into a vibrant church with mission amongst young people at the heart of what it's about. it really is inspiring. the building has had an incredible makeover as well. i have added a photo set from the weekend to flickr. and there is my last year's set if you are interested.
this photo was from an interactive exercise on the fri evening discussing what are the negotiables and non negotiables of church. for me pretty much everything was negotiable apart from being connected into the wider christian church!
if you are involved in creating church in the emerging culture or have a dream to think creatively about and plant church for a different group of people then seriously think about coming on the course next year.
the network of entrepreneurs is still meeting monthly - this one looks really interesting...
Monday 28th January 6.30pm to 8.30pm on the HMS President.
Mark Riches of Synergy.TV - Mark is a director of Synergy.TV; a Digital Innovation Lab responsible for Radiowaves (A large network of school internet radio stations) and NUMU (a unique platform for young people to publish original music, collaborate and compete in music charts). Mark is a creative and innovative thinker that has brought a number of opportunities and relationships together to create a portfolio of projects under Synergy TV. He also has a sensitive approach to packaging products by making them engaging and accessible to user groups.
Alastair Wilson, CEO of School of Entrepreneurs – SSE now runs in five locations in the UK and one in Ireland and takes developing social entrepreneurs that are committed to affecting change in their situation. The school brings students through a nine month programme which equips the students and develops a support network to launch a sustainable enterprise. Alistair was a student of SSE in 1998 and went on to launch a successful Social Enterprise ‘Homeless Direct’. Alastair then returned and has been CEO of SSE for over three years.
London EC4Y 0HJ
i just had a delivery yesterday of '40' the book. many of you will know si smith's wonderful illustrations of jesus journey into the wilderness. i have used them a load of times in worship. they are fantastic for all ages and perfect for lent. if you haven't seen it the movie is available on proost.
well chris goan wrote a script to go with them and contacted si and to cut a long story short have turned 40 into a book - on one side of the page is one of si's illustrations, and on the other is chris's reflection. rather than using lulu which we have done for the pocket liturgies we have done a small print run ourselves. it's available as a download on proost for free if you are a subscriber but it's the kind of book you will probably want in print. so you can order them through proost as well and it's only £7.
this was part of our january release on proost.
the other new january item is laudamus, an album from karen ward's church of the apostles in seattle. this follows a service of morning prayer and evening prayer. cota have led worship at greenbelt and people have really enjoyed what they have done.
i put a list on the front page of the proost web site of resources that we have that are particularly suitable for lent so you might want to have a look at that as well...
i have just read andrew root's revisiting relational youth ministry. it really is an excellent book. if you teach youth ministry or are doing it or both i suggest you get a copy. his main argument/point/passion is that relationships are not a means to achieve an end goal. they are valuable in and of themselves. to make them about influence (i.e. a means to influence people) cheapens them. this may sound obvious when you say it but as he argues relational youth ministry is often guilty of being a means to an end.
now i must diverge slightly at this point to clarify terms. relational youthwork in the uk has been a term that has been around for quite a while. there were some relational youthwork gatherings maybe 15 or 20 years ago that explored an approach to working with young people that were outside the reaches of the church - the terminology probably shifted to incarnational at a later stage. but this was all about being there alongside and with young people. this book would have been welcomed in those circles i am sure. but andrew picks out some examples from california of what he sees as being called relational youth ministry that is this influence driven approach and it is something completely different. this is going to make this book complicated to cross the atlantic which is a shame. the relational youthwork he describes has a very negative stance towards culture and it's just worlds apart form what has been called relational here. in fact i couldn't understand as a piece of research how he has got away with talking to just 5 youthworkers in one location to build his argument but i guess it was originally a phd or something. in the introduction he says he will show how incarnational ministry has been built from the pillars of cultural engagement.... etc but it badly needs some much more substantial research to carry more weight. it's also a shame he doesn't dialogue with the material written at that earlier time (e.g. the book called relational youthwork). all of that sounds a bit negative but it is important from a uk perspective.
but having said that the argument goes something like this...
(after two opening chapters tracing the historical development of relational youth ministry in the US that you might want to skim read if you are not in the US)
the evangelical world that youth ministry grew up in has a negative view of culture broadly speaking and part of the role of youth ministry in that world is to influence young people positively by modeilling something different for them and persuading them to join an 'in' group by converting and finding their identity in that sub culture. relationships influence them in that direction. (pete ward's insights about evangelical youth ministry running under the logic of safety - youth minister's are employed to keep kids safe - has some parallels here) this has very little in fact to do with the incarnation even though the word incarnation gets used.
root then uses bonhoeffer (bonhoeffer is really his only theological source) to suggest that the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection of christ could give a theological framework for understanding relational youth ministry as 'place sharing'. god is already active and present in the world - we don't need to relocate somewhere else to find god. relationships are the presence of god in the world - transcendent - rather than an end to a third thing. the goal is simply to be faithful to the humanity of the young person who is of course made in the image of god. the crucifixion means that we should follow christ by being prepared to both suffer and share in the suffering of the young person. the resurrection means that in that encounter there is always the possibility for newness though it is not forced.
it reminded me of a quote that cathy ross used at grace last week on hospitality from henri nouwen:
Hospitality… means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place.
so transformation is longed for, hoped for, prayed for - that we all become more human. but it is not forced on anyone...
there are some case studies/stories at the end that are helpful to show how this works and then a suggestion for how a church might develop a ministry that encourages adults and young people to develop these kind of relationships. andrew himself has done one to one relational work with tough young people and the book seems to be born out of that experience. the skill to develop relationships of depth and trust and vulnerability is not an easy one and takes a maturity on the part of youth ministers.
anyway it's a good book even if the semantics are confusing for uk readers. i did find it a helpful challenge on what we mean when we describe ministry as incarnational - that patterning it on jesus isn't enough.
this is a typical blog post for me in that i have to write something quickly having read the book or i know i'll never get round to it. but it could be a whole lot better (my review that is) if i took more time that i don't have! i have just looked andrew up to add a hyperlink above and realise we have met a few years back at an iasym conference - great book andrew if you read this...
i'd be interested to hear what anyone else thinks if you have read it...
last night we went to a charity auction on the hms president to raise money for the shooting star hospice. amazingly there is no state funding for looking after children who are dying. lydia was born with aicardi syndrome - she is now one and has regular seizures. we don't know how long she will live but every day is a gift. the shooting star hospice is wonderful at providing support to lydia, mark, anna and oscar. so it was a delight to be able to share in an evening to show solidarity with them and raise money for the hospice. the vision behind it was originally jane foster smith's who sadly died before christmas so it was a kind of tribute to jane as well. jenny ended up being the main organiser along with a team of volunteers and did a brilliant job. not sure of the exact figures but about £16 000 was raised.
mission shaped intro is a six week course that has been developed by fresh expressions. the background to the course is that it was originally written by sally thornton and tony hardy to give people inspiration about mission. through bob and mary hopkins it was introduced to fresh expressions who employed jenny (baker) to work on/adapt/improve/rewrite the course material to get it into a good shape. she tells me she has done a good job!
the good news is that the course is free and you can download all the leader's notes and powerpoint presentations from cms who are a national partner (or fresh expressions or any other partner probably). bob and mary are part of the team i lead at cms and their time is cms' contributuon to fresh expressions.
anyway at cms we are suggesting this as a course for lent for a church looking to do something. lent is always a good season for this sort of thing. there are also some other lent resources cms are encouraging as well but more about them on another blog post... to run the course you don't need an expert (is there such a thing?) to come in and lead it - just download, find a couple of enthusiasts and do it your self.
this course is suitable for a typical church congregation. it's not particularly aimed at the edge. so if you are familiar and involved with mission already you may want something a bit deeper or edgier. this course will of course be available beyond lent - it just seemed good to connect it with that season.
if you use it i'd love to know what you think or how it goes or what it catalyses
jason clark has posted a draft article on recovering liturgy. what's interesting about this is that jason is pastor of a vineyard church so this is not his background so it's fascinating to see this turn/shift. i like what he says about formation in a consumer culture - that there is a liturgy of formation going on and we need to recover an alternative formation which liturgy and the church calendar affords.
details on the moot lent art exhibition and events are now on the moot community arts pages
Moot Community Arts in association with the SW1 Gallery, Victoria bring BEYOND THE WILDERNESS.
Identify your hidden desires, your soul's yearnings and your long held hopes and dreams in the heart of the city.
Join us for BEYOND THE WILDERNESS - LENTEN JOURNEYS - an edgy collection of visual and performance arts taking you on a Lenten voyage of discovery.
AND IF YOU WANT TO BE THE ARTIST - it's your chance to unleash the poet within, the artist inside and explore your spiritual hunger with others on a similar path.
BEYOND THE WILDERNESS comes from Moot Community Arts and contains:
* A two-week Lent spirituality course, Tues 12th Weds 20th Feb 08
* An Art Show, 14th to 21st Feb 08
* A performance Cabaret, thurs 21st Feb 08
* A Poetry Workshop day, Sat 16th Feb 08
For more details and to book places, see Moot Community Arts Website
saturday was the first grace of the year concluding our reflections on hospitality. the centre piece was a nativity with the separation wall in the middle which you can get through amos. cathy ross shared some thoughts, and then we used the story of the visit of the magi and stations of gold, frankincense and myrrh. it was the largest crowd we have had for some time with numbers bolstered by 25 visitors from calvin college.