Some excellent news from the UK. CMS (The Church Missionary Society) has approval from the Church of England to prepare people for ordained pioneer ministry. In other words, an church organisation with a long history of missionary activity and training is authorised to prepare people for ordination in a 'pioneer' role (aka fresh expressions, to put it simply) in collaboration with a ministry college.
of course the Church of England constrains itself in particular ways, but nevertheless they have been pioneering in how the church might be engaged in fresh ways in local, contextual mission and how people might be equipped to lead and serve in this way. (the Methodists over there have not been idle either...)
of course jonny baker has had more than a little to do with this and blogged about it here.
the always-stimulating pete rollins, occasionally of belfast, has his own channel on vimeo. don't know why i didnt know this already. lots of high quality recent clips. and vimeo members can download them! here's a sample. now to order his new book...
on Sunday night we explored the theme of Hospitality, which we explained as "Welcoming and Sharing". we changed the format a bit to fit the theme, but also tried something from Messy Church, namely having an arrival activity. we also moved the main gathering to our front 'coffee' space so that people were'nt walking into an empty room wondering. i think it worked better as the space also has more windows and light.
the arrival activity involved making placemats ( Download Our Home 66kb PDF). this worked well for younger children and their parents but not so well for the older children, so we need to think more about activities that might suit different ages, or suit multi-ages better. the placemats were intended for later use.
it was good to reflect on Alive@5 at the day of the "Messy Church" event that I attended last week while finishing prep for last Sunday's Alive@5. Lucy Moore is an engaging presenter. I wanted to hear more as what I heard on the first day wasnt extensive or deep enough, and people's questions were mainly 'operational'.
I found myself wondering why people are so interested in Messy Church when to me it doesnt seem like rocket science. So why are people responding so enthusiastically.
My reflection is that - it's not about messing with Sunday morning worship but doing something at another time and possibly venue - in that sense it is permission-giving - it builds on the 'alt worship' experiences of the last 10+ years. ie. a more multi-sensory, participatory form of worship is less foreign to more people - its is multi-age, not simply for children. i think that has a genuine, positive appeal both for leaders and participants, for whom running a childrens program has been 'tried' and hasnt led to parental involvement - it is missional. it's not just about us. many congregations genuinely want to engage people beyond the church and this is offered as a way that has worked. it's not simply about 'family worship' at 9 am. - it grew out of a local church. people are more willing, for a variety of reasons, to try something that has worked for another congregation than something that is perceived to be written by a curriculum writer. this includes the assumption that the approach has been tried, tested, adapted, etc - it is a package and a brand. it's not simply a book of 50 great ideas for all-age activities. we get what brands are, and "Messy Church", like "Alpha", has an expanding package of materials, an identity, and networks of churches and leaders who are involved. none of this is necessarily bad, although of course the temptation is always to copy rather than contextualise. (the UK seems enough like us that it's easy to assume that things will easily translate...) - for those who believe that they dont have the time or talents to develop their own stuff, this gives them a starting point to move off from - the training consisted of a lay woman teaching mainly lay women leaders. children and family ministry is most often led by lay women and Messy Church is an excellent example of those who 'do' directly teaching and encouraging those who want to 'do'.
I have a number of questions about "Messy Church", but I'm happy to sit with them while we experiment with our own version that isn't Messy Church, and learn from them while we contextualise ourselves.
we ran our third Alive@5 last night. the night went pretty well, but at the same time I was fairly disappointed. it's at the stage where its clearer what we need to work on. without going into too many details, as we need our own internal debrief, here my list of things to address.
1. My time and energy. I found that by the time I got to the event at the end of the weekend i was exhausted. I'd had a late night before, spent most of the day at church and had a mad rush in the afternoon finishing things off. To do this well requires a lot of energy from the leader/s, and I didnt have it. I will need to approach this weekend differently each month if I'm going to be able to give what is needed.
2. Space. It became particularly clear last night that we weren't using our space well, and need to rethink this. we need to spend a lot more time each month in thinking about how to use the space well and setting it up. I'm going to ask the church to consider buying a new (brighter!), short throw data projector, so that the electronics table is not the thing that we worship around (and so we can see the video clips...)
Our next Alive@5 evening for families with under 12s is this Sunday 5 June, 5.00-6.30 pm at Rosefield UC, Carlton St, Highgate. Our theme is "Friends" and there'll be music, craft, puppets, food, and fun. If possible, please bring $2.50 per person towards food, which will be soup & bread & other stuff. We had a great time when we gathered last, and look forward to seeing some new faces.
A few weeks ago I bought a DVD and study guide on "Engaging Post-Christian Culture" - a five session series featuring Andy Crouch, Os Guiness, Al Hirsch and Jon Tyson. It's part of a new series called Q Society published by Zondervan. The aim is to foster conversation, based apparently on the 'society rooms' of the early 1600s and the Clapham Circle of the early 1800s (go look on Wikipedia - CofE, Wilberforce, etc). Some guy called Gabe Lyons is the founder.
Perhaps its just marketing on the part of Zondervan, but the idea is to foster critical conversations, and there's a website which to my mind looks a bit like TED for Christians (yes there's a conference). t
The website is qideas.org (thanks to TIm H for this link) and the nice thing is that it features audio and video that you can watch/listen online or download. As well as plenty of American folk whom I've never heard of, there are people like Phyllis Tickle, Brian McLaren, Scott McKnight, Alister McGrath, Tim Keller, Louie Giglio, Jim Wallis, Andy Stanley. Yes, it's 90% men, which also indicates that many (not all) of these people are on the 'evangelical' side of centre.
Frankly, I'm delighted to see this kind of resource. I'm wondering (honestly) if it hasnt emerged as an alternative to the Willow Creek GLS - a broader group of voices (OK, not that much broader... How nice if Greenbelt did this... hang on, they do!)
I'm downloading a stack of the videos to watch and possibly use in my teaching and units that I'm writing.
continuing the quotes about museums and galleries as stimulation for thinking about church, sacred space, mission, worship, etc.... but also with a digital edge.
"Art museums are fundamentally about space: the space a painting takes
up on a wall; the space occupied by a sculpture; the space between
exhibit and viewer. Increasingly, as museums embrace the digital age,
that space also means cyberspace."