there's what sounds like (and probably is) a slightly technical piece of language floating around mission circles - modality and sodality. i have touched on it before a few times i think - here and certainly in my breakout talks. george lings who is a wise reflector on these things has clearly been thinking this over and has published his thoughts on the matter here in an article - understanding mission and church better through modality and sodality. and there is a conversation developing in the comments. this is an important conversation because it helps shift our imagination around what church might be - we have been so dominated by thinking the word church means gathered together for worship in a locality, this helps open up a different idea - yes church can be that but it is also a spread out community in mission. i guess you can see why i think it's important... if anyone has a less technical language go and suggest it.
it's been a long time since i heard it but mike morrell has been musing on the nine o clock service's planetary mass here and he links to an mp3 of the planetary mass which if you haven't heard is quite brilliant...
holy week is the run up to easter. this year i am going to be using tim watson's book crucify this jesus which has liturgies and poems for everyday of the week starting with palm sunday and finishing with easter sunday. i don't know yet who i will read them with. some alone and some with family round the meal table and some with friends? there are at least two (maundy thursday and easter sunday) that make most sense round the table with bread and wine. you can download it from proost or order a physical copy through lulu.com
someone mentioned to me this week that they had been looking at greenbelt's talks on their web site. the last two years you have to pay for, but they have made all the talks from previous years downloadable free. this is a massive resource! there have been many wonderful talks over the years. if you have one you think is particularly worth listening to leave a comment...
chris yaw contacted me a month or so back and asked if he could interview me for churchnext.tv via skype. we explored imagination, creativity and mission. the interview has just been posted. i've not met chris but he is buidling up quite a collection of interviews around mission, church, culture and so on on churchnext
it's raining in texas! - yes the third day in a row... so yesterday we spontaneusly decided to drive to houston and see some some art - the menil collection, rothko chapel and stations on skin.
stations on skin is remarkable. we saw it onlne the day before and the opportunity to see it was too good to miss. it's come out of ecclesia, a wonderful church in houston that chris seay is the pastor of. he was around so we got the chance to chat. ecclesia have a resident artist scott erickson (i wish more communities would employ artists!). scott designed 10 tattoos based on the narrative of the stations of the cross - see all the designs here. and then anyone in the community was invited to take that design and get a tattoo. so the art is literally etched on skin. but it has also been photographed and is beautifully displayed on the walls of the church as an exhibition. chris has the resurrection one so we got to see one of the tattoos.
perhaps unsurprisingly in america they are getting all sorts of complaints from people who see tattoos as bad somehow. see the comments on scott's post for a great response. but i loved the summary part of scott's post of why they are doing this...
The reason why we are doing this is because we believe in our context this is an appropriate contextual expression of our faith.
We had 126 people intially sign up to get tattoos out of our community. I had a conversation after one of the services with a young woman who had many tattoos. I wanted to find out if she had gotten the inking done locally (cause I was putting together a list of tattoo artists I could steer people too… support your local tattoo artist community!) but she told me she had gotten most of her work down in New York.
She’s only been in Houston for a couple months. She has a young daughter and going through a painful divorce. She explained to me what her tattoos meant. All of them had deeply personal stories. I asked her what she thought of this show and she said that she thought it was amazing. She went on to explain to me how most of the time when she attends a church that she feels like she needs to hide her tattoos… that they are inappropriate somehow. But to her, they explain who she is… so she feels like she has to hide who she is. (Sound familiar at church?) She then expressed how grateful she is to have found a community where she can be who she really is.
That’s it for us.
That’s the contextualizing we are striving for…. that there is a place for all who desire to know Christ and His resurrecting grace…. no matter how they are marked.
my favourite one was this one - it's so simple but very powerful - the nail in the hand and words from isaiah 53 - by his wounds we are healed. of course this gets added to the worship tricks series!!! it was such a treat to be able to see this.
i took part in a conference in austin in the run up to sxsw interactive exploring mobilefaith - how faith and practice can be animated, supported and enlivened with mobile technologies. it's a great question and always interesting to see how new media change a lot more than we initially expect. the highlight of the day ended up being texan bbq at rudy's after it was all over to unpack all the talks and talk about these changes more. we ended up discussing education, politics and religion in the new environment for quite some time!
i was last on and felt people had been sitting for a very long time but if anyone was there (or not) and is interested in the slides they are on slideshare here. i used some of the ideas i explored a while back in digimission if anyone remembers that. it was great to bump into paul soupiset again. he was sketchbooking notes which are simple but delightful.
there were a few good lines thrown out in the day - one of my favourites was that the bible should be thought of not as a piece of content but a piece of community...
if anyone wanted the piece i read on the network of christ it is here. it was actually part of a series where i was reflecting on clay shirky's brilliant book here comes everybody - see also posts on sharing and collaboration , i participate therefore i am and its a small world
to conclude the day i wrote a final piece of liturgy that went like this...
god of connection
your presence is always on
god of relations
to you we belong
god of community
you have called us friends
god of participation
your possibility never ends
send us out in the power of your spirit
on an adventure of the imagination
to join in where you already are
in the name of the Open Source
today is international women's day. there seem to be lots of creative pieces out there but the one that i ended up diving into was @applesandsnakes poetry collective twitter feed which simply posts links and gives voice to women poets.
it was at the big chill festival a few years ago i stumbled into the spoken word tent to an event hosted by apples and snakes and two of the women i heard that day are linked to - follow the tweets but try jean binta breeze and zena edwards
i am currently in austin, texas.
if you were at the dreamers who do event yesterday, as i mentioned i originally put the material together for a gathering of pioneers in the uk called breakout. the talks and slides and quotes are all available to download here. at the end of the notes is a list of links for books, research material and so on. it was great to see you there.
jon birch has been having fun. he got hold of some southern gospel songs over 90 years old so out of copyright and has recorded an album out on proost this month called the devil don't stand a chance. it will uplift your spirits and bring a smile to your face. here's what the 'reverend jon birch' has to say...
I do not claim these songs as my own, just the production of the tracks. These songs do not represent my theology, but i love their spirit, their humanity, their heart and the amazing spontaneity and emotion in these amazing performances. It won't be long before the original recordings on which these tracks are based are 100 years old. The idea that no one except historians and people with a special interest will hear these songs again is just too sad to contemplate. I hope you enjoy listening to these tracks as much as I enjoyed making them.
you can have a listen to one of the tracks on the album page...
we think it would be fun to do a remix album of these tunes. if you would be interested in remixing a track let me know.
i have got to know jonathan simpson through his dad phil who is a good friend and who works at cms. his dad travels around asia networking, catalysing and supporting mission. his son has clearly caught the love of asia and travel and he is quite the photographer. have a look through the images on his web site which is a lovely site all round.
anyway these days if you've got a decent camera which jonathan has, you can shoot fabulous movies and there are several movies on the site as well...
jonathan has put a movie together and entered it in india is... - a competition to capture something of india in a short film. his movie is india is for skiers. go and have a look and do take the trouble to vote for him!
andrew brims (who i have not met but have liased with via e-mail) has just published a free ebook called unintended consequences. you can download a pdf here. it's beautifully put together, and explores the consequences of the current way of doing church. the implication is that we need a shift of imagination into a more missional way of being church.
it's simple, makes a strong argument, has good ideas, and i hope will spark peoples imagination.
when talking about the way we do church it is really addressing contemporary evangelical charismatic churches but with a bit of imagining it's not hard to see that the same logic is not far removed from whatever flavour or stream of church - expensive to run with professional leaders, geared towards sunday services and growing the core through attraction, and all the energy goes into the services. do go and give andrew feedback. he'd love to hear from you.