next week i am headed to australia for 10 days. i'm looking forward to it a lot though it's crept up on me quicker than it should... i am taking part in various things in adelaide organised by craig mitchell and the uniting college and will briefly be in melbourne.
together with cheryl lawrie i'll be helping with landscape of desire [click on image for info] an installation that's part of womad fringe 2010 at which amongst other things i'll have some photos to exhibit...
and then with cheryl, steve taylor and tim hein taking part in a series of workshops and lunchtime talks called spirit of wonder [download pdf info here]. this includes conversation about spirituality and popular culture, pioneer leadership, mission and fresh expressions of church.
taking part in a pub conversation with steve taylor about grace, altworship and church and whatever comes up in the discussion [again click on the image for info]
and catching up with friends, gleaning as much wisdom as i can on teaching from a missional perspective at uniting college, and maybe see some sunshine which has been a little absent from a grey january and february in england!
i think it's a good idea to follow something, one thing to help you reflect during lent. the danger is that we all feel the need to follow too many things and lent just gets busy! so don't feel obliged to follow any of these but they may be of interest...
then lastly but by no means least it was wonderful to bump into gerard and chrissie kelly at cms yesterday who were in for a few meetings from bethanie in france where they have been developing a mission base. gerard's writing has always been brilliant... they are running 40 days of prayershots for europe. you can follow along in twitter...
it was pancakes last night and tonight grace gathers for an ash wednesday service...
i have grown to like the season of lent. it's a time for reflecting on faith and following christ. several members of grace are reading along with maggi dawn's lent book giving it up which i started today. it contains a devotional reflection type thing each day. and if you read the last post you'll see that cms members are using 40 days of yes which i'll also be using (it's going to be long breakfasts i can see).
if you are after resources/ideas for lent i have categorised posts relating to lent over the years so follow the link through to this section
christine sine seemingly gets better and better as a liturgist and seems to particularly love lent and advent. she has posted a couple of lovely pieces. one is a morning and evening prayer that their community are using through lent. this is simple and beautiful. and the second is an ash wednesday prayer that is challenging to pray.
i-church have an online lent program that will be worth visiting each week...
after several years of planning and negotiating and dreaming cms is finally ready to launch out into the future as a community rather than just an organisation. i have alluded to it before that cms has been officially acknowledged as a community of the church of england (in fact this happened in nov 2008) which makes cms an ecclesial community rather than parachurch (never liked that word).
if you want to read about it and digest the info, there are various levels at which you can do that...
there's a membership leaflet here which is the best looking (all the photos are mine!). andrew jones by being photographed by me at a cafe in london has unwittingly become the face of cms community membership!!
the constitution is here - be warned this is long - longer than the constitution of the USA even! but if you are really interested this is actually the key document containing vision and governance issues. i'll highlight a couple of pieces below.
this lent all existing members of the society (as it was) have been sent a booklet 40 days of Yes to reflect on mission over 40 days. this looks really good - concise and focused. you can download that here
and then there is a membership declaration which is the thing to sign if you want to be a member.
by adding this here i am not wanting to say hey join cms! i have been part of cms for about 8 years and lived into a global mission community that has really changed my understanding of god and how i live my life. i am also developing leadership training for cms. so it's inevitable i want to join. i think the shift to community makes sense and is exciting for all sorts of reasons. but cms community will be best if it starts small and grows with people who really identify with the core vision to live out a mission life locally and globally. so please don't feel any sense of obligation or pressure. but the invitation is there to consider... as well as being a member you can also be a friend of cms which i was really pleased to see for those wanting to connect but in a lighter touch way
[i have actually uploaded these files to the blog as i can't work out the direct urls from the cms membership page but they are all available there]
so what's at the heart of it? well back to the constitution for a moment and a few headlines
Follow God’s lead
Put prayer first, money second
Success depends on the quality of those appointed
Rely on the Spirit of God
Organisation to Community
Missionaries to Missional
Partnership to Networking
(i could say lots about these but won't make this blog post longe than it already is - perhaps i'll come back to these in future posts. this doesn't mean that there are no longer organisation, people in mission or partnership but the emphasis is shifting)
(again i'll come back to that in another post i think)
I want my life to be about mission
I believe God is still working in this world
Mission isn’t someone else’s job, it’s mine
I want to live for Jesus every day
I realise I need fuel for my journey
I want to help my local Christian community keep mission a priority
I want to regularly renew my mind and spirit
each member’s daily witness in living out the seven Promises
groups of members working together and supporting each other in mission
missional congregations who adopt the CMS values and vision and mission practice
mission pioneers called to contextual or transcultural mission around the world
mission houses which have a mission goal and lifestyle that is transformational
mission projects which the whole community adopts from time to time
advocacy and prayer by the community as a whole for a particular time/focus
there's plenty more (pages of it) including the life and governance and so on. but hopefully that gives the flavour of what is happening.
one thing that has come up and is bound to come up as it has in several internal conversations is cms' ethos statement which is at the back of the lent booklet and in the constitution as an appendix. i won't spell it out here - you can read it - but it was set in place by trustees several years ago originally in relation to european law. i have tried unsuccessfully to get it changed as i think it's now being used for something it was never intended for. i don't like it. it reminds me of evangelicalism of the seventies that was obsessed with signing statements of belief. but cms isn't just about me. it's a cmmunity and those governing it have enshrined it in the constitution. as a member i am asked to affirm it. here's why i can: it's in two parts - the first section opens with the words 'as a community...' and the second section 'individuals are committed to...' the first section i am interpreting as saying that the community has agreed/affirmed through its governing bodies that... it's a bit like being part of a church that has decided certain things some of which i may not personally agree with but i am still fully part of the church. i am committed to those things that individuals are asked to be so i'm in. i have put this at the end as it's the only negative thought i have about the shift to community but i'm not making it a stumbling block. i suspect it will be changed in the next ten or twenty years anyway and that can only happen through being part of the community...
cms has made some radical and brave moves to reposition itself here. it's exciting to see what possibilities will unfold into the next 50 years. apologies if this is a technical post that seems a bit internal to cms but if you made it this far i guess you were interested.
to celebrate this shift to community at pentecost there is a celebration day50. do join us for that. there will also be a number of community events and meals around the country. again i'll say more about that separately...
grace on saturday was amazing... when you arrived you were given a set of home made glasses with either red or blue filters. an exhibition was hanging with a set of images and texts to look at and you had to keep your filters on. a discussion ensued and people found they were looking at the same things but seeing something totally different. for example one of the texts if you looked with red said blessed are the peacemakers and if you looked with blue said i have not come to bring peace but a sword
taking off filters isn't a possibiity so we need people with other perspectives to help take our blinders off, to open up a fuller view of who god is, of the world.
it concluded with an invitation to reflect on being and doing like christ in the season of lent with an invitation to take a red or blue marked wafer to signify that you needed the whole body of christ and not just the parts like you...
plenty of photos will get added to the gracelondon group on flickr no doubt. steve gave it a nice touch by donning the minor propherts with sets of specs
the art work was all done by joel and it looked and worked better than any of us had dared imagine.
i am making the whole idea worship trick 83, series 3
[update: this service was expanded and developed for the big top grace service at greenbelt 2010. it included dyeing bread red and blue and picking up on andrew's suggestion in the comments here of having a liturgy in red and blue - see purple for links to those pieces]
kate tempest spoken word poetry is a whirlwind. harry and i went to see her at the albany last night in with a mix of other spoken word artists with the amazing applesandsnakes who i first came across at the big chill festival. last night i jotted down the themes touched on by poets
poetry gets to the issues more than anything i know. i have never been in a church environment where there is the same level of truthful speech about the way things are. it's not that church isn't truthful. it's just that poetry is a different kind of speech. many of the poets remind me of that sense you get of the prophets like jeremiah who describes the word of god like a fire in his bones that he has to get out. kate tempest is like this (there was also a guy dean from bristol who was making his nervous debut who had exactly the same kind of compulsion to write and speak who i loved - don't know any more about him). this speech, this fire in her bones has to come pouring out as she turns 'oceans into paragraphs' and lives the 'life of a scribe'. it's raw, it's gutsy, it's passionate, it's very south london, it's absolutely beautiful. here's one movie i found of her in action reciting the poem 'revelation' i think. she has a limited edition box set cd - 300 copies only - it is really worth getting...
[oh and if you like your speech squeaky clean don't press play]
following on from my post reporting on the church of england synod report reflecting on the impact of the response to mission shaped church - hoping the church prioritises mission - here's a little more...
steve taylor helpfully posted from the other side of the world on how he viewed the report and what a church in a different context might learn. as part of that he drew out/highlighted themes in it. i actually wished i had given my post a bit more thought but it was hastily written on a train journey and e-mailed to the blog. i wanted to get something out on the day. anyway the wonders of the internet mean i can simply point you to his reflection and point out his themes which are
there was a second part of the response to mission shaped church at synod of the church of england (i don't go by the way - just got my ear to the ground). graham cray who is now the team leader for fresh expressions presented a report on fresh expressions which you can download and read (it's a lot shorter than the other report). that links to the report that was on the synod pages that presumably people had in advance. then the actual report that graham presented is here. both are definitely worth a read. fresh expressions was a team set up by the archbishop to spearhead the response to mission shaped church and take forward its recommendations. i have taken the liberty of cutting and pasting a hefty quote below on the progress so far of fresh expressions. this seems to me to be distilled wisdom from 5 years of practice.
A fresh expression is a church plant or a new congregation. It is not a new way to reach people and add them to an existing congregation. It is not an old outreach with a new name (‘rebranded’ or ‘freshened up’). Nor is it a half-way house, a bridge project, which people belong to for a while, on their way into Christian faith, before crossing over to ‘proper’ church. This is proper church!
Fresh expressions are a response to ‘our changing culture’. This movement assumes that the church is shaped by both the gospel and the culture it is trying to reach. It is not meant to be conformed to culture, but it is meant to be appropriate for reaching and transforming a culture.
This initiative is primarily for the non-churched – for those who have never been or for those who have stopped going and are not willing to go back to what they experienced before. We are trying to win those who are not reached by church as we know it. At least a third of the adults in the UK and the majority of children and young people have never been regularly involved in any church in their lifetime – so this is a big mission field and a growing one.
Because there is no standard model of fresh expression of church. They should not be cloned! Rather there is a process, which is normally followed, when they are established. It begins with listening – to God and to the community or network you are trying to reach. It is more about discernment than strategic planning: Looking for the Holy Spirit’s opportunities and obeying his call. Out of the listening – which may take some time – comes service: a way of serving the people you are trying to reach. Christians who want to share good news need first to be good news, to show genuine concern for others. This is the start of ‘incarnational mission’. Which means following the example of Christ and seeking to evangelise within the community you are now serving. In that context we can begin to make disciples. The very last thing that is decided is the nature of the worship service. Fresh expressions are not about planting a congregation which worships the way the planters prefer and then hoping that other people like it! Listening comes first, decisions about worship styles last.
These are fledgling churches and congregations. They have not had the time to become mature. But they have the potential to grow into a mature expression of church. Traditionally the marks of the church have been listed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic. But maturity will not mean they become like the churches which planted them. They must remain relevant to their cultural context.
This language assumes that all local churches are ‘expressions of church’. No one local church can fully express Christ and his gospel. Each needs to be related to others, which have different gifts or contexts. In particular the fresh expressions of church are not meant to replace existing forms of church and they are certainly not in competition with them. We use the expression ‘the mixed economy church’ as a way of saying that the one economy of God’s church needs both our inherited approaches and fresh ones.
holding this against the other report, the biggest challenge is in reaching communities that are currently completely outside the orbit of church rather than simply reshaping or planting church for those that struggle to relate to the culture of church. (i actually think both are important but it's clear we are still better at the second than the first).
graham's presentation highlights three main factors as being
and again emphasises the need for the long haul and that this is not just a fad
the synod voted to continue to encourage fresh expressions of church, alongside more traditional forms of church, as the most promising mission strategy in a fast changing culture. and forgive a bit of self interest for a moment on behalf of cms but encouragingly accroding to the freshexpressions web page
Synod also pressed for a more imaginative policy of recruitment, training and deployment of ordained and lay pioneer ministers.
that is exactly what we are trying to do - so i hope they are serious about it!!!!!!!
this saturday looks like it will be a wonderful grace. i have been on the planning group for it and there are some fairly crazy ideas being prepared (crazy in a good way). i don't want to spoil the fun in advance so won't say any more. it's entitled do be and this is the flier - look at it through red and blue acetate/film to get the full effect! this is one not to miss. oh and simon jinadu of the beauty room will be DJing in the cafe afterwards...
for anyone new to this area, a quick summary. in 2004 the church of england published a report called mission shaped church which recognised the creativity in mission around the fringes of the church and new emerging expressions of church. this was against the wider backdrop of cultural changes, decline in attendance of churches over around 20 years, and economic pressure but was a very hopeful recognition that something new seemed to be happening. this report has since sold around 27000 copies and has had an unprecedented impact for a church report. some of us have been involved in this movement for 15 years or so in practice.
the msc report had a series of recommendations and how these have been carried forward is reflected on in today’s report at synod. i look forward to hearing how the debate in relation to it goes. it’s easy to forget how much has happened in 6 years within a large institution that could easily have done nothing but has broadly embraced the notion that the future is not a one size fits all church but a mixed economy of church. the introduction to the report puts it this way - Most of all, "inherited", or traditional, understandings of what it means to be Christ's church, and emerging fresh expressions of church are complementary aspects of a single, coherent ecclesiology.
the main achievements I think have been a) a change in environment – mission is on the agenda and there is a culture of permission in a way that wasn’t there before b) practice – there is lots going on and we need this to multiply c) the church has legislated for a mixed economy with its bishops mission orders effectively being a license for new shapes that don’t fit the parish system d) training is developing through a mission lens – resource and mission shaped ministry are the two thing I know most about and have been most involved in with cms e) there is now a recognition of the need for pioneering entrepreneurial leadership that has been accepted into the structures of selection
together with church army, and fresh expressions cms and those of us involved in the emerging church end of things have played a huge part. i reflected back in september on my own journey and cms’ generous investment over the last 8 years - http://jonnybaker.blogs.com/jonnybaker/2009/10/changes-part-1-the-last-8-years.html (I confess it was a surprise to see my blog as a footnote in the report).
for my part and cms’ part the section of the report that is of most interest and relevance is the selection and training of pioneer mission leaders. we are currently working to develop a new pathway for training pioneers that I am pretty excited about. this report reminded me how urgent this task is (and i hope how welcome it will be)
i hope the report is well received and that the church rises to the challenge outlined in the intro - The question for us now is how we can build on what we have learnt and whether, at a time when both human and financial resources are under great strain, we can make the strategic decisions needed to prioritise mission.
the report concludes with this statement - A real journey begins when small teams or individuals decide to travel from the security of their familiar church life to be pioneers. Many have begun their journey but many more are needed if the non-churched are to be given the opportunity to follow Christ in their own language and culture today. Reflection on what has been achieved in the last six years, and the new opportunities and resources now available, will enable us to discern how we can together take forward Christ’s mission to the whole of our society with its rapidly changing social structure and patterns of living. We have made a good beginning.
i was struck by the phrase we have made a good beginning. i get regularly frustrated by comments on blogs and elsewhere that suggest that the job has been done, that emergng church has had its day and so on. i really do think the task has only just begun in many ways and i hope that cms as a mission community training pioneer mission leaders can contribute in some small way to the future...
ben norton seems to be on a roll. for lent the bridlington crew are running a project called beach tweets. this is what they say about it
The idea is to allow people to find some time during the 40 days of Lent to reflect on their own journey. During this time a group of people will be taking it in turns to write a reflection in the sand on the south shore beach in Bridlington. These words have been chosen because they have impacted the life of the person sharing them. The reflections will appear in different places and at different times, each day the words will be washed away by the tide reflecting the ebb and flow of our own journeys.
if can't make the beach, follow on twitter
so the new massive attack album is out today... got to love them. just downloaded it and about to listen. looking forward to seeing them thurs night as well :-)
on the music tip, have been listening to a sneak preview of the forthcoming grace album lanskapes which is sounding amazing - i can say that as this time it's not been me putting it together! it's been a long time since the last one. watch this space - more soon!
solas is a scottish christian arts festival - inspired by greenbelt and in the same spirit and ethos. this deserves to be a ringing success so get your tickets if you're in scotland or travel north of the border if you're not. it's in the last weekend of june. this is how the team behind it describe what it's about...
Solas Festival is an independently funded and managed organisation which works in Scotland to promote the celebration and exploration of relationships between faith, art and justice. Its roots lie in the Christian tradition, ecumenically understood, and it seeks to be actively hospitable to a range of faith traditions.