an image and a short snapshot of communities round the world. we (grace) must get round to sending one. you can track the series of postcards. so far postcards from denmark, malaysia and australia. controversially steve doesn't want postcards from the US (though he was happy to have his book published by americans ;-) )...
Technorati Tags: emerging church postcards
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.
i have blogged before about fractals, the self published CD ROM by mark pierson and cityside. and on the basis that mark has produced wonderful alt worship over the years i bought some in faith to sell via proost. well i have finally got round to actually reading through the CD ROM myself, so thought it worth saying some more about it. it contains a real wealth of resources - it would be a fat book... and in it are shared the worshipping life of cityside and resources from their services over the last decade.
one of the things i particularly like about their approach is that i think there is a lot here that could helpfully renew the worship of any church. what mark has done is taken the insights of alt worship and used them to renew the church's worship rather than for a monthly service one evening. the CD ROM has articles on theory about worship - including some excellent stuff on worship as curation. and it then has sections on all the different types of services that cityside have run: morning worship (inlcuding communion), evening worship (labyrinths, storytelling, quiet service, space, soap box, contemplative services), stations of the cross, and various other services related to the church year. each of those sections describes what cityside have done for that service and why and then has lots of examples of liturgy, ideas, prayers, rituals, music tracks etc. there are so many ideas to spark your imagination...
take the morning worship section of the CD ROM as an example (and this way of constructing worship i am making worship trick 2 [second series] - cityside morning worship). the worship service has a basic liturgical shape of:
call to worship
songs and meditation
prayer of confession
concerns of the church
prayers for others
(and sometimes communion)
the worship service has a curator, and assigned leaders/contributors for all of the other sections. the curator ensures that the space and the service coheres as a whole and the contributors do their piece. simple eh? it clearly was quite a process to shift from a model of leader/priest and congregation as provider/client, to one of the whole congregation being involved creatively where liturgy really is the work of the people. how to make this transition is perhaps one of the keys that many other churches could do with discovering. the CD ROM has lists of examples of what has been done in each of the sections - a wonderful resource in its own right. here are a couple of examples...
this is a guided meditation confession:
This prayer of Confession will be ‘visual’ rather than ‘verbal’. Even though I’ll be talking all through it! The ‘visual’ part is ‘mental’, that is, ‘interior’. It is a very old form of confession, going back, if I understand it correctly, at least a good 1200 years. It goes by the rather unwieldy name of the ‘Review of Consciousness’ and was, I think, begun by the Franciscans, who still use it today. So if we begin with the whole ‘bowing head/shutting eyes’ thing we’ll move into it.
We’ll start with becoming aware of yourself. Yourself as your ‘self’. Not as yourself in relation to others. Start by coming back into yourself. Then, notice what is happening with your breathing. If it is in your throat, or chest, relocate it down into your stomach. Get comfortable with breathing from your stomach. And stay with that for a few minutes.
Then, when you’re ready, remember back to some moment in the last week about which you are not happy - not happy with yourself in your response to something. The response may have been an action or even an interior decision. Begin by recalling the situation. Then the details of the scene. The light, the space, the objects. Notice what was around you.
Now move slowly forward into the moment of decision. When you get there, pause. Just hold that decision. Do not be in a hurry to excuse yourself or condemn yourself. Even condemning yourself can be an evasion. Stay there in that moment. Allow yourself to experience everything you can about that decision, however small it is, however unpleasant it is, and everything about that moment. You can contain it.
You may notice that your breathing begins to constrict or tighten at this point. Let it relax back down towards your stomach. Keep with the breathing from the stomach, and then return to the experience of your decision.
Now, allow yourself the space and the time to make another decision. A different decision. Your new decision might be one of simply not taking the course you previously did. It might be a decision of ‘restraint’. Or, you might choose a more positive course of action. There might be other possibilities from which to choose that were latent in the situation. This is one of the reasons for spending the time reacquainting yourself with the scene at the outset. There might be clues in different parts of the scene that allow you a totally different response to it. Sit for a few minutes exploring them. Even just acknowledging that they exist.
Then move back into the making of the decision. And this time, go with your new choice. And let that unfold. And follow-through. Again, don’t be in any hurry to evaluate or assess the choice. Just allow it to occur. Allow yourself to notice it. When you’re ready, let go of the scene. Leave it where it is. And come back to your breathing. Relocate it, if you need to, in your stomach. And become aware of yourself as your self again. And then, if you want or need, in relation to others. And then, when you’re ready, open your eyes.
This exercise is something the Franciscans apparently do at the end of every 24 hours. It’s a major achievement in my experience, to remember even once in a week. But the idea is to close out of each day with this exercise as a way of decompressing. And over time, the capacity to do this exercise begins to move from a thing that occurs ‘after the fact’ with various actions and becomes, instead, a small pocket of possibility within each situation and action.
And this rewrite by mike riddell of psalm 23 - urban shepherd - is in a miscellaneous section (great that there are actually a few pieces by mike included):
you lead us through skyscraper canyons
past carbon monoxide
and mirror glass
you make us to lie down on park benches
and rest beside sewage settlement ponds
you keep our feet on pavement and escalator
and lift shaft
and guide us through the back alleys
of our city
though we enter the concrete crevasse
we will not fear the chaos
for you are with us
you grant us a site in the sun
at a sidewalk cafe
where we drink cappuccino and are glad
you give us doughnut stalls
and film festivals and neon signs
surely your goodness and poverty
will follow us all the days of our lives
and we will come at last to the holy city
all the individual word files are included so that you get the text files for all the pieces and the service ideas. this may sound strange but it needs to be published as a a book. it's beautifully done and good value as a CD ROM but i think many of the churches who would incorporate this thinking and resources into their worship are much more likely to do so if there was a book. and it's a mainly text based resource. for example at st mary's that grace is a part of, i can think of a few people to give a book to but i don't know if they'll read it as CD ROM? if there are any publishers who follow the blog snap this up and get it in a book format so it can be more widely shared.
this is a gift - thanks mark/cityside for your journey and for sharing it with the rest of us.