Monday, February 27, 2006

The Waiters Union...

It is my observation that Christian people often try to keep their distance from their surrounding locality, in an attempt to remain pure, and uncorrupted by the world.... In contrast, the people in the Waiters’ Union take a compassionate stance. They interact with the locality as much as they can, hoping that by getting involved, they will be able to serve those in the place where they live. (Mike Crudge)

"they simply seek to do justice to the people in the inner city of Brisbane, for whom the love of Christ ought to be good news"

Prodigal Kiwi (s)
pointed a little while ago to Mike Crudge and his paper "Location, Relationships and Incarnational Evangelism as Concepts in Urban Mission". I just found it languishing in my drafts folder...

Reflecting on incarnational ministry, particularly that of a commumnity (the Waiter's Union) in the West End of Brisbane he makes some points worth mulling over. The story he tells is founded on the above definition of incarnational ministry.

I think it is worth a read.

Find it here

Word Cloud

Interested to see your blog themes? Snapshirts does this for you.

(thanks to Sunday Papers).

Friday, February 24, 2006

Guder on Mission's false dichotomy...

Proclaiming a gospel about Christ that is not shaped by the gospel Jesus preached distorts the gospel by proclaiming only part of its meaning. The absence of the gospel Jesus preached in the gospel the church has preached has woefully impoverished the churches sense of missional identity.

Guder, D.L (ed) (1998) Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America
Now that is something to get 'aggressive' about, unless we are comfortable with a partial and distorted gospel!!


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Emerging Mouse...

I did whatever any loving Dad would do - I lied.

Getting up from the sofa there was a blur of brown, a scurrying exit. A mouse! I shout up to Kate to tell her, then remember for Eryn this will be a new experience and one that no doubt will cause psychological tumult. So I gently mouth the word 'mouse' to Kate as she comes down the stairs and roll my eyes to indicate where.... "MOUSE!" it wasn't the kind of sensitivity that I was hoping for and it certainly had the effect on Eryn that I was trying to avoid.

"Well - I guess I could be wrong!" I try and build a case of stupidity to deflect the panic, I lied - "It must have been my imagination ... silly old Dad!".
"For all the talk I wonder if em. church is content to hide away out of sight. Safe behind slick html code, flash, soundbytes. Comfortable with its own pre-occupation with self
and its mouthwatering franchises and brands"

"Ha ha ha! Silly old Dad, fancy imagining that...?" The way Kate is joining in I think I have done pretty well to calm the house down.

"I tell you what though - I'll just see if I can find any traps at the shops"

I can hear them laughing at silly old dad as I leave. I tried to get the 'humane drive out to the country and release with emotion into the wild' traps but there weren't any (ok if there any mouse lovers reading this - this is where you probably need to stop reading!). On my return I find the table in the lounge being well used! The mouse had been sighted.

"Ha ha ha! Silly old Dad..."

Traps set all we have to do is wait for the mouse to emerge! We've waited and waited, it wont come out, in fact it seems to have disappeared the way it must have come in. Or perhaps it is just content to hide away out of sight.

Martin asked way before Christmas if I had thought much about the emerging church. When I started blogging much of my thinking was geared to getting my head around something that I feel a definite draw to. The creativity, ambiance, process is something that stimulates me in ways that have encouraged me, seen my faith deepen -yet feeling there is something missing for me. Since then I have listened into lots of talk on em. church - but that has been exactly what it has been ... talk. I'm waiting for signs of emergence, waiting to see the church emerge?

For all the talk I wonder if em. church is content to hide away out of sight. Safe behind slick html code, flash, soundbytes, video loops. Comfortable with its own pre-occupation with self and its mouthwatering franchises and brands.

My conclusion? I don't frankly care what looks like as long as it has a love for the non-designer people who don't fit anywhere else. I don't care what em. church looks like as long as it doesn't succumb to being a fad - content to eventually disappear the way it came in. I don't care what em. church looks like as long as it doesn't forget to roll its sleeves up and get involved beyond that of 2 weeks in the summer in some poor deprived neighbourhood then running for the suburbs for the rest of the year.

Martin is looking at the impact of the emerging church debate on The Salvation Army, my thought is that the starting point should rather be what the impact of TSA could have on the emerging church. Whatever I am looking forward to seeing how Martin's conversations pan out.

... Mouse update: mouse seems to have decided emerging not worthwhile! ...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Marcus came to church today...

I had a thought today. I wondered how many churches would today be charging a car battery for someone who lives in a car?
"...He was drunk enough to make the air intoxicating...."

I met Marcus on the walk to church this morning. He seemed pleased to see me and he came along to the service. He'd had too much to drink but he wasn't so drunk as not to remember that we had his car battery and that we'd promised to charge it up for him. He was drunk enough to give a an edge of uncertainty to the service. He was drunk enough to make the air intoxicating. Passive intoxication might not be on the political agenda but it was for us this morning, with two guys from the local detox centre we had to carefully police who sat where!

The service ended. Marcus made himself at home and people made him feel at home as he took many opportunities to tell people that he has been booked into a detox tomorrow. All the time his battery is charging.

The two guys from Grieg House Detox are leaving. Hamish who has more or less finished his detox programme grabs Marcus by the shoulder, looks him in the eye with a look of 'I've been where you are... and I don't want to go back' and wishes him good luck for the detox - "you can do it!"

Church today seems to have been a good experience for Marcus - above all he has had his car battery charged!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Wallis on Mission's false dichotomy...

Here's what Jim Wallis says on the false dichotomy of mission that we have become so comfortable with...

Those who would limit Jesus to the saving of souls and those who see him merely as introducing new ethical principles are both wrong. The purpose of God in Christ is neither simply to redeem individuals nor merely to teach the world some new thoughts. Gods purpose in Christ is to establish a new community that points to the plan of God for the world...the living witness of the Chritian community is intended both to demonstrate and to anticipate the future of the world that has arrived in the person of Jesus Christ. (Wallis)

I wonder how well the church has done in pointing to the plan of God? Perhaps it is time to identify that the way church largely encounters society amounts really to a diversion to God's plan rather than pointing to it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Married Women's ghetto RANT....

This appointment should also signal my serious intention to advance women in leadership and wider ministry

Shaw Clifton (General Elect) on appointing the first female Chief of the Staff
That's great but when will it ever be a married woman officer? This quiet injustice needs some noise. It's time that this quiet injustice was an issue that at least is considered beyond that which is patronising. Certainly this quiet injustice should be a resolved issue by the time the next high council comes around. There is something wrong because even if it were resolved you could bet that when it happens the response would be "ooooh a married woman, I wonder what her husband thinks!"

"We have a problem. When two officers marry, by some strange mistake in our organization, the woman doesn’t count" (William Booth 1888).

Why should it be left to my wife to make an issue? Why should she be labeled as rocking the boat? Why should she be the one that is seen as being a rabid feminist for the simple reason that she only wants to give the best that she has? Why should she be seen as being a "career-officer" simply because she wants to be used to her full capacity? Why should she be de-valued at the expense of me by virtue of gender and not capability. There is something wrong going on.

But where I feel there is something wrong, is in this. Married women should never have been put in this position. This is more than a slap in their faces. It is a slap in the face of all of us who celebrate the gift of joint ministry. Every time Kate is patronised by virtue of being married to me, everytime she is patronised by being the womans voice - "when I want a womans opinion I'll ask Kate" one DC said to me - I feel the slap as acutely because we are individuals that find our strength within our joint ministry. What is wrong is the erosion of the joint ministry, what is wrong is that we have all sat back and let it happen, we've sat back and thought of it as an equality issue that vocal women need to fight.

Danielle Strickland in JAC - puts it as it is - here are some key points and observations (read her article "Married Women's ghetto RANT" here):-

There were many married women officers at the high council and not one of them was nominated. Do we think that out of all the women officers represented at the high council that only single women have the gift of leadership? Are married women less capable, less inspiring, less able? Most would insist, with some trepidation, that no married women possess the experience necessary for the Generalship. The rough part is this: they would be right. This problem is what might be called “the women’s ghetto of The Salvation Army......
.....When my husband thinks of his potential and future he grins. When I think of it I grimace. It’s killing my dreaming potential for my place in The Army and the call God has on my life. Really. It sucks. Change it fast. Give many married women, whether they want to or not, leadership positions. Give them a chance to succeed and give them a chance to fail. Just give them a chance.

So while I applaud General Elect Cliftons move, and I am sure that Commissioner Dunster is there by virtue of being the best for that position - the real sign of intent would be when joint ministry is celebrated in its totality and capable married officers aren't left wasting on the margins but brought to the fore where gifts and talents are maximised.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Gerrard's school boy error...

This is a funny football link - here

Victor's latest...

I caught Victor as he was leaving. We haven't had the greatest of relationships recently and I have had to say 'no' several times. So I thought it was time for a 'non-moany' chat.

Victor moved into a new housing trust last year and it isn't going well. He feels that his neighbour upstairs has a vendetta on him. Victor's response has been to sleep on the streets. It's cold right now - he has a warm flat but his solution is to sleep in the doorway of the church.

"I'm pretty warm you know..!" ... "But Victor you have a flat..?"

Then he shows me a letter. I sigh as I read how he is in arrears with his rent. I sigh as I read the terse letter telling him to sort himself out or he will be evicted. I sigh as I project Victor six months and know he will be joining the vast army of street homeless with mental health problems. I sigh as I know I will have to make a phone call.

"Wait here Vic..."

I take the letter and call the number and explain how Victor needs help and not these kind of letters . I explain how Victor buys flutes like a child buys lollies so that he can mutilate them by thinking he can turn them into saxophones. I explain how his flute talks to him, how there is a plot in the palace to get him instigated by George V - whose death is an elaborate lie. I explain not only that but now the Duke of Edinburgh is involved.

" you think that this guy can cope with the kind of letter you have just sent him?"

"I think we need to contact his support worker...!"

I'm glad I caught Victor for a chat..!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Does my face look bothered...

I've been thinking. We announced the appointment of the new General to our church and I wasn't really sure who was that bothered. It would kind of fit.

"...does my
face look bothered..?"

Several years ago General John Gowans popped in unannouced one Sunday and the vast majority of people in our congregation hadn't a clue who he was. I remember over hearing one member making him feel at home "so where do you work...?"Also memorable that morning was alcoholics Debbie and Tommy coming in for some clothes but sitting through the service next to John Gowans. After the meeting I was mopping the inevitable 'accident' from Debbie's chair while Tommy was explaining to Kate that the stab scars all over his chest and back were from a drunken rage from Debbie! (more on Tommy here). I'm not sure they were that bothered who the guy with the golden trimmings was.

Then one year General John Larrson spent Christmas Day with us. The folk that day remembered him and were bothered when he didn't come the next year. "Where's that bloke who could play the piano? How are we going to sing "I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts" without a pianist?...You should get him back!" John Larrson - the pianist ... they were bothered. John Larrson the General ... I'm afraid they simply were not bothered.

Disrespectful? I hope not, more that people are bothered about are the flows within community that comes from local church. The impact that happens at grass roots, coal face whatever you want to call it. The drip down effect has a long way to drip. Has the office of General in the past made any impact on our local ministry? Probably indirectly several times removed but by and large no - we carry on doing what we feel is right. Its at the local it happens.

Will things be different under Shaw Clifton? Time will tell.

pictured Catherine Tait whose catchphrase is "does my face look bothered!"

Friday, February 10, 2006


When we broke the news about moving to the girls Bethan's first response?

"I'm going to miss the graffiti...!"

Bethan has just started to blog about her 10 year old life. She likes writing and I am looking forward to learning from her!


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Time to move...

Time has been called on our stint at Poplar.

8 years of ministry that has given me far more than I have been able to give. 8 years of ministry that have shaped me and moulded me. 8 years of ministry that have formed the foundations of my officership. 8 years that sometimes have been hard, sometimes painful, but mostly joyous 8 years that in the highs and lows have always been nothing but fulfilling. 8 years of being part of a fragmented community being used to try and bring cohesion. 8 years of this view from our bedroom - it is going to be tough to move. It's going to be tough to not be involved in local church ministry as we are now. Tough to let go.
"...I love this place, our community, our church but now it is time for something new..."

I love this place, our community, our church but now it is time for something new. A new chapter. In July we're to be responsible for the Spiritual Programme together with the teaching of Missiology at the Training College for SA officers - so it'll goodbye Patrick, Victor, Marcus, Janet and the crew.

We feel privileged and peaceful about the future - but desperately sad. Sad to leave people behind that have been part of our family, that we have journeyed with and grown with. Sad to leave a team that work so well together and with whom we share so much fulfilment. So in July we move on.

As for the post July future of URBANarmy I have to think.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Ralph's Funeral...

I couldn't make it. I would have done anything to be there but I couldn't. Kate was teaching and I was on the school run. 9 am is early for a funeral - but that's when the council gets funerals like Ralph's out of the way.

Have you ever known anyone who would have no one at their funeral?

Have you ever known anyone who would have no one at their funeral? No one? The minister and the coffin and that is it? I remembered being at Mr Hopgoods funeral (here), I remembered being part a congregation of 3. I knew that Ralph would have no-one to see him off - that's why I wanted to be at Ralph's funeral, but I couldn't make it. I was pleased that my friend and colleague Bram was able to officiate and be there.

Conversations today were about Ralph - he most definately will be remembered.

Read more about Ralph here.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Bono's 'Grace Incarnate' Sermon...

"...grace, was made incarnate - in a movement of all kinds of people. It wasn't a bless-me club... it wasn't a holy huddle. These religious guys were willing to get out in the streets,..." (Bono)

This is floating around the world of blog but I want it to stick here. Read (here).
"God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them....It's not a coincidence that in the scriptures, poverty is mentioned more than 2,100 times. It's not an accident. That's a lot of air time, 2,100 mentions. (You know, the only time Christ is judgmental is on the subject of the poor.) 'As you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me' (Matthew 25:40). As I say, good news to the poor."

Unbelievable - someone should tell him about alliteration and three points and he'd have a future!

So I guess the challenge to me this week is in what ways do I, do we as a church make Grace incarnate?

Friday, February 03, 2006

Birds of a Feather....

as one great but intermittent SA blogger once said :o) .

I've added a new box to my sidebar because Chris has created an SA blogring - so if you want to add your site to sally bloggers just hit Sally Bloggers.

Let people know - its a good way of connecting!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

"Heaven is a hoax...?"

Steve Wiseman raises some interesting questions (here).

One of my students a couple weeks ago in a similar discussion said if "she was right about heaven .... great! If she was wrong about heaven ... great! Either way her life has been worth it!" (sounds like Pascal's Wager).

Anyway it got me to think should it all be a hoax - would it stop me doing anything that I am doing now? Would we pull the plug on all we do as a church in our community? Would my life take on another direction?

I don't think it would!
"...Jesus' desire for his followers is that they live in such a way that they bring heaven to earth..." (Rob Bell)

Rob Bell makes interesting observations in his book Velvet Elvis:
"Eternal life is... a kind of life I am living more and more now and will go on forever. I am living more and more in connection with God, and I will live connected with God forever." pp143

"...When we choose God's vision of who we are, we are living as God made us to live. We are living in the flow of how we are going to live forever. This is the life of heaven, here and now. And as we live this life, in harmony with God's intentions for us, the life of heaven becomes more and more present in our lives. Heaven comes to earth.." pp147

Bell, R (2005) Velvet Elvis. Zondervan

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Natural Church Development...

Natural Church Development I'm afraid all my fears were confirmed. It annoyed me that the process is trying to measure what is immeasurable. That it identified me as trouble and boxed me as a NCD infidel in that my thinking was closed due to not willing to engage progressive NCD thinking!

Basically NCD is about 8 qualities that churches must have in order to achieve growth:

"...Where is the concern for the kingdom of God..?"

  • empowering leadership
  • passionate spirituality
  • gift orientated lay ministry
  • functional structures
  • inspiring worship services
  • holistic small groups
  • need orientated evangelism
  • loving relationships
Score over 65 on a questionnaire and you have a church that God must be pleased with because growth (sorry health) will ensue (sorry develop). This has to be recognised as old stuff and while a good means to diagnose what your church is about I find it woefully limited. Its understanding of salvation is narrow and so mission remains a euphemism for getting more people to church on Sunday. The mission attributes of God don't get a look in.

On the surface it looks similar to Warren's book on church health, but Warren's book on church health is in a different league of understanding, based upon health determined by the reign of God and a strong sense of christology. NCD's health seems a little contrived and false and left me asking the same questions that Croft asks of NCD in Transforming Communities.

"a potential weakness ... seems to me to be the lack of a common and coherent understanding of what the church is and is called to be undergirding the audit. At one level, Natural Church Development at least could be read as promoting a list of qualities which make churches attractive to their members, pleasant and fulfilling to belong to, and which are therefore likely to grow in an increasingly mobile and consumer-driven society. This is a church in which I can have my needs met (including my need to participate in its leadership and find fulfilment through exercising my gifts in ministry). But is it a church which is likely to serve the needs of the poor; to take an unpopular stand on social issues; to invest significant amounts of time in areas of the community where there may be little immediate return? Where is the concern for the kingdom of God? Where is the concern for Christian unity and collaboration with other congregations? Where is the call to sacrifice and suffering for the sake of the gospel? Where is the failure which was as much a mark of the early Church as its success? (2002:62)

Croft, S. (2002) Transforming Communities: Re-imagining the Church for the 21st Century. DLT

NCD ...? I'm not sure.