harry has penned an article on the arts - the arts are no disposable luxury
back in october i gave the annual louis luzbetak lecture at catholic theological union. its focus is always in mission and culture and i chose to use an old mission book 'the primal vision' as a conversation partner to think about mission in the west. it's called 'do it from the inside' and has just been published in new theology review - it's available online for free. love to hear any reaction to it...
cms took on the hosting of anvil in 2016. it's a journal that's been around for 30 years and it seemed a great opportunity to create a space where we could reflect on issues of theology and mission in today's world. cathy ross and i are the editors and we have now produced five issues. i really love how it's going so far - people are writing amazing reflections. i have edited this new issue which follows on from a campaign cms have been running called 'mission is...' which explored peoples ideas about mission. there's an article on some of the findings. we also made it the theme of our pioneer research conversations day in 2017, and two of the articles are developed from presentations made on that day. you can read, link to, download individual articles or the whole thing (which also presents well on a phone) and there are 6 video interviews to boot of about 5 minutes each. and crucially it's free and available to anyone online. do pass on, tweet, blog, fb,whatsapp etc the links. i'll highlight one or two over the next few weeks as well. here's the spiel from the editorial
Over the last six months Church Mission Society has been interviewing people to find out what they think mission is and mission is not. Debbie James and Thomas Fowler discuss some of the findings in their article. This campaign, called Mission Is, prompted us to dedicate an issue of Anvil to reflecting more on this question. We also made it the theme of the pioneer research conversations day in 2017, and two of the articles that follow (Mike Pears and Kyama Mugambi) are developed from presentations they made on that day.
I love how mission is a way of framing, a lens to think about and practise what it means to follow Jesus in today’s world. Mission is what God is doing to reconcile all things and we are invited to participate with God in that healing and transformation as Christ’s body. Mission resists being collapsed into solely evangelism or solely social transformation and it stops the church getting overly introverted or obsessed with itself because its focus is outward towards the whole world.
The energy of the church in mission in Africa is amazing and reading Kyama Mugambi’s article, Mission is not Western, you’ll get a feel for how mission is operating in a new paradigm that involves an explosion of church planting, social transformation and global gift exchange. Mike Pears brings the subject from the global to the local, thinking about the significance of place and geography in relation to mission and Cathy Ross keeps it real with a moving article on mission and lament.
Unlike the church in Africa, the church in the UK faces the challenge of navigating a changing landscape where interest in Christianity has waned and only a small percentage of the population consider church a part of their life. It’s in this environment that innovation and pioneering in mission have been seen as a muchneeded gift to reach beyond the edges of the church and to embrace the future. It often feels as though the church is in two minds about this.
She knows she needs innovation, but she doesn’t quite know what to make of new things that can be seen as threatening to the inherited ways of thinking and practising faith. Paul Bradbury and Tina Hodgett have designed an incredibly helpful map that offers a spectrum of pioneer ministry, which we are delighted to include in this issue and which adds some real insight to mission in the new environment.
Since CMS took on the hosting of Anvil, we have introduced articles that are reflections on practice, which we hope you have enjoyed. Mission is after all about practice and not just thinking or talking! Paul Ede’s piece shows how a local community have been participating in transformation with God and with their locale in a really inspiring fashion. Their approach is very much mission ‘with’ rather than ‘to’ or ‘for’, and mission from the ground up. The CMS interviews and survey with people around the question of what mission is showed that over 90 per cent of people we asked think mission is for everyone, but half the respondents also indicated that they aren’t sure how to get involved in mission. Paul’s article offers a really good example of how a local church community can get involved in ways that are renewing for them and for the community and fun to boot.
There are also three videos on the website edition, featuring Mike Pears, Ann Morrisy, and Kyama Mugambi who kindly agreed to be interviewed around the theme of ‘mission is’ at the pioneer conversations day, so do have a look at those too.
We welcome Isaac Frisby as the new book reviews editor. With the changeover of editor, there were no reviews in the last edition, but we are pleased to say they are back. A big thank you to Tom Wilson, who did a great job for several years as the previous book reviews editor.
i don't get on that well with books or articles giving advice on parenting (which probably says more about me than the articles to be honest). i've also reached the age now where our boys have left home so even less reason to. but jenny tweeted a link to this article how to raise a feminist son that i thought was rather brilliant. it's all good common sense but sadly the sense may not actually be that common.
the latest edition of anvil journal is available online free. i have edited it together with mark sampson. it is themed on missional entrepreneurship with a mix of long and short articles and reflections. this time there are also five video interviews as well. we did these interviews at the pioneer conversations day on that theme a year or so back so it seemed to make sense to include them. i am actually off on the pioneer missional entrepreneurship week in devon next week which i am looking forward to. this is a good warm up! the link to the issue is here.
i have an article in the current issue of the international review of mission. i doubt many (any?) of you have heard of it - it's a missiology journal. i have to say i am really chuffed to have a piece published in there. the whole issue is devoted to discussing the pope's evangelii gaudium/the joy of the gospel (which is fabulous by the way). i was invited to offer a reflection on mission spirituality in it and to comment as well on two other global documents on mission - together towards life (which is also an amazing document that the western church should really take on board) and the cape town commitment. so i guess it's a contribution to a conversation in mission studies/missiology and the world church around mission. i mistakenly thought the journal is available free but that was because i was looking online within cms who have a subscription. but i do have permission to send to anyone who i like so email me or leave a comment if you'd like a copy of the article
i was sent a photo of a copy of the journal being given to pope francis so i hope he's read my chapter though i guess i'll never know!
i have written a reflection for this month's youthwork blog. it seems as though there is a mood in youthwork circles that some change s needed so i share a few thoughts gleaned from work with pioneers on how newness might come through a cycle of grief, dreams and building.
anyway it's over here - only grief leads to newness [HT brueggemann for that title lifted from his book hopeful imagination]
More is up for negotiation than we might at first think, and unless we cultivate innovation we risk getting stuck and ultimately extinct. In every group there are always those who see the world differently and dream of new possibilities. They need to be celebrated and encouraged to dream their dreams. They do not need taming and sapping by a tired culture of risk-averse pastors, desperately claiming against all the evidence that fluency in their archaic practice is essential for ministry in the 21st Century. If in their pursuit of Jesus’ vision for his bride and kingdom your dreamers are perpetually scrutinised by defensive guardians of the status quo who perceive them as a threat, the chances are they won’t be around for long.
i was blown away when I read the first issue of a new journal missio africanus this morning. it's available free online as a download and the articles are so interesting. and don't think it's only relevant if you are african or working with africans. it will spark your imagination about mission regardless. there are so many interesting explorations going on around theology, post colonialism, migration, leadership, who jesus is. these are questions every church should be reflecting on to move beyond their own cultural ways of doing and being. harvey kwiyani is the editor. he has become a good friend in the last year and has joined in teaching at CMS on the pioneer course. anyway download and have a read…
it was great to get an email from tallskinnykiwi and catch up with his wanderings - now across europe. he has written a really brilliant reflection being human being present. he says he is interested in chasing down the stories behind the stories of what has and is happening in mission. in doing so he unearths something from max warren in 1958 - max warren was a cms general secretary so great to see a pice of cms treasure being dug up with some nice prophetic challenge in it...
loved this reflection by richard rohr on who would want to be a prophet? in which he suggests prophets are on the edge of the inside combining tradition with iconoclasm and usually are trained in the system so they know how to work it...
You have to know the rules of any tradition, and you have to respect those rules enough to know why they do exist--and thus how to break them properly, for the sake of a larger and more essential value.
i stumbled across an article by graham cray on not knowing the end at the beginning which i rather liked. it probably didn't tell me a lot i didn't know but there is so much anxiety in the church about wanting to know outcomes and results (often in a short space of time) that this sense of not having a blueprint as people pioneer into the future really needs re-iterating. i also like the naming of the tension between contextual approaches to mission and being rooted in a living tradition. see what you think...
it's from the journal of mission practice which has had two issues so far online. this article by babatunde adedibu and this response on mission and black majority churches opens up some extremely interesting themes in mission in britain today.
i have written three articles on pioneering for youthwork magazine. the first is in the current (sept) issue and the next two will be in the following two months. i decided to write for youthwork because a lot of pioneers begin in youth ministry, i learned about mission and pioneering while doing youth ministry and youth ministry is the back door to renewing the church - what happens there happens in the church about 10 or 15 years later! i'd love to know what anyone thinks if you see the articles. give me a shout. at cms pioneer mission leadership training we have a few people who have done training with cym over the years who are joining us for modules or to do an MA. so if you are in youth ministry and excited about the notion of pioneering give me a shout. in oxford we actually have a great combination going on because oxford cym and cms pioneer training are in the same building so there is lots of opportunity for collaborating. the articles are not online - you have to get the magazine...
there is also a grove book on pioneer youth ministry out written by richard passmore and jo dolby which is excellent.
what kind of world, what kind of society do we want to live in in the uk? as you probably know if you read the blog regularly i have made more comment in the last year on the political than for a long time. it's because we seem to have a government that is increasingly trying to re-organise the world we live in horrible unjust ways whilst trotting out rhetoric of the so called big society. we need another imagining, dreaming, constructing of what a possible world looks like. i want to be part of a society that cares for the least well off, those with virtually nothing, not one that priotects the wealthy and hits the poor the hardest.
the latest piece that struck me in the guardian that had some brilliant imagining was from george monbiot in a piece property theft and how we must breach this scared line. he proposed a couple of years back a simple tax on the top owner occupiers - the 1% who on average have 15 million pounds of property - yes you read that right! instead of the outrageous policy of moving people with a spare (read second) room out somewhere else - the bedrrom tax - often hundreds of miles away in the country away from family and friends. of course the right hates this suggestion and george - but this is precisely the kind of thinking we need right now.
this is a brilliant piece by george monbiot that says it how it is on neoliberalism and economics. it's what i have been trying to say a few times but less eloquently. it's the kind of thing i suspect the old testament prohets would have said - like amos.
How they must bleed for us. In 2012, the world's 100 richest people became $241 billion richer. They are now worth $1.9 trillion: just a little less than the entire output of the United Kingdom.
This is not the result of chance. The rise in the fortunes of the super-rich is the direct result of policies. Here are a few: the reduction of tax rates and tax enforcement; governments' refusal to recoup a decent share of revenues from minerals and land; the privatisation of public assets and the creation of a toll-booth economy; wage liberalisation and the destruction of collective bargaining.
The policies that made the global monarchs so rich are the policies squeezing everyone else. This is not what the theory predicted. Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and their disciples – in a thousand business schools, the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD and just about every modern government – have argued that the less governments tax the rich, defend workers and redistribute wealth, the more prosperous everyone will be. Any attempt to reduce inequality would damage the efficiency of the market, impeding the rising tide that lifts all boats. The apostles have conducted a 30-year global experiment, and the results are now in. Total failure.
what's more we have created a narrative that suggests the rich deserve it! it does not have to be this way. another world is possible, another way of doing things, another way of running a society. something's got to change. yet all we hear is about scroungers, people on welfare, cutting benefits, healthcare, the arts and so on! it's madness.
he concludes the piece
As I say, I have no dog in this race, except a belief that no one, in this sea of riches, should have to be poor. But staring dumbfounded at the lessons unlearned in Britain, Europe and the US, it strikes me that the entire structure of neoliberal thought is a fraud. The demands of the ultra-rich have been dressed up as sophisticated economic theory and applied regardless of the outcome. The complete failure of this world-scale experiment is no impediment to its repetition. This has nothing to do with economics. It has everything to do with power.
it actually reminded me of kate tempest's poem parables which says the same thing but in the voice of the poet. we have colluded with the beast and are reaping what we have sown.
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