I'm working with two Adelaide city churches on three shows for the 2014 Adelaide Fringe Festival which start in a couple of weeks. This will be a brilliant comedy show. I've known Dennis Clare for over 25 years, and he is a remakable mime artist and visul comic (and he says wise and funny things too!). I've seen Tony Williams perform at NCYC 89 as 1/2 of Glass Canoe and then had he and Dennies perform in Brisbane in the late 80s as well. Tony is an exceptionally talented singer/songrwiter.
The aim is to combine arts and spirituality, in this case through humour, one of the best ways to open up to God's Spirit.
The show is on for 10 nights. So book a ticket, tell your friends and help us sell 400 tickets.
I'm helping two of our city churches - Pilgrim and CitySoul - plan Adelaide Fringe events for February-March next year. Here's the unofficial blurb from the Fringe Guide (pre-publication). Stay tuned for more details. (Click the image for enlargement.)
I've very excited to see what Uniting Communities are doing in relation to community development, and their emerging work around communities of practice. Apart from the fact that I've been reading about communities of practice for my research of late, I have an interest in community development as mission that goes back to the mid-1990's when I worked on The Queen's Trust Project for students-at-risk. Chris Hawke introduced me to "With Head, Heart and Hand" by Anthony Kelly and Sandra Sewell. Then the work of the Search Institute on "Healthy Communities, Healthy Youth" gave me some frameworks for working on this, which proved useful when I was living in Horsham and linked to some church and community youth projects there.(The Search 'assets' are different from the ABCD process, although they share some underlying principles in terms of community engagement.)
In my early days at College we partnered with the Mission Resourcing Network, and Rob Stoner and I designed and facilitated a 12-month peer learning experience for ministers called "Mustard Seeds", based on mission as community development. This was a mixed success, but very worthwhile overall I think. And we uncovered some great resources (including the Canadian Community Development Handbook - free PDF here, plus The Partnerships Handbook here, plus the Facilitator's Guide here) and tried to create a helpful peer learning process.
In my research I've connected with some congregations and proejcts that see community development as local mission - that is, seeking the well-being of the local community as part of "your will be done on earth as in heaven". This is church seeking to serve in a way that builds relationships within the local community and seeks to help the local community develop its strengths and capacities and find its voice. This has been exciting and inspiring, and has fuelled my interest in how mission is (re)shaping discipleship.
I have struggled to see how to apply this in the congregation that I attend, partly because it is not my 'local' community, and guess the other part has been busy-ness. but I remain strongly committed to exploring this and empowering others to do so. Looking forward to connecting with this Adelaide initiative and seeing where it leads me.
read it first or nothing will make sense. and now to say some more about Alive@5...
the key elements have been
1. music - lively, participatory (percussion instruments), Christian but not too 'praisey' (i.e. i love you Lord..... etc)
2. giving thanks. the MSM material talks about 'praise' but we havent used that word. we do a simple 'thank you' prayer each time. we've used images, a song, a simple responsive text projected, a tactile activity, a story.
3. scripture as story. we've worked out our themes month to month. Easter. Friendship. Forgiveness/Saying Sorry. Welcome/Hospitality. Good Samaritan. Sower & Seed (Seeds of Goodness and Hope). we played with 'Christian practices' for 3 months but gave up. we'll probably come back to it. we have been trying to focus on Gospel texts. ie. Jesus. wanting people to get to know about him, wanting them to experience his stories and his teachings, seeing narrative as a central medium for communication and experience of faith. We used the text about Abram and Sarai and the visitors/angels for the 'Hospitality' session, which was fine. But with both the Old Testament and Gospel narratives, so much of it is weird from a contemporary perspective. I could write a LOT more about this, but its a central challenge for us - using the Bible in a 'missional' worship setting. anyway, some key things for us are
Here's the detail of what we did last Sunday with Interactive Christmas. The event was open 5-7pm, with people coming and going when they chose. Unlike Interactive Easter, this time we channelled everyone through the church. As they arrived they received a simple ' program' with map.(380kb PDF) This matched posters (33kb PDF) throughout the venue (icons from the excellent font Speed Bump from 3 Islands Press).
The First Angel - based on the angel coming to Zechariah. We had the text from Luke 1:5-23 (CEV) and a simple poem to introduce the journey. People made the angels that are described here. It was a good activity, but we only had two glue guns (which kids arent allowed to use themselves) and not enough helpers for the busy times. Next time I'd add a couple of face painters and have more helpers and equipment. The issue for us was that this area was a 'holding area' prior to the next activity, so people had to wait here until they were ushered into the next place.
last Wednesday night i led a session at the Adelaide Mission-Shaped Ministry course. it was their second last night of about 14 weeks, my first time with the material, and I'd had limited time to prepare. they were very gracious! and as you do after running a training session for the first time, my brain has been going overtime about how I'd do it differently next time. not surprisingly, i had a bunch of stuff with me that i didnt even use.
i spoke a bit about our Alive@5 experiment and how that is evolving. there are some things that i didnt get around to saying, so i thought i'd give a bit of a summary of our journey here in case it's of interest to the participants or others.
a couple of years ago our church started playgroups, based on both evidence that 'young families' were moving into the area, and this need being expressed by people associated with our community. we took a 'leap of faith' and employed a new member of the congregation with great gifts in this area as a part time worker. i don't know the exact stats but our playgroup expanded from one day to two, and then a babies day, and we ended up with about 100 families connected. incredibly successful and meeting a need. i applaud our minister Phil and the church council in seeing this opportunity and running with it.
Luther Seminary in Minnesota, USA is running a Lily-Endowment funded Vibrant Congregations Project. Someone has identified six critical areas of vibrant congregational life and culture (no, not ten or five - six...). Congregations with these attributes will be studied.
The magic six are (drum roll...) - stewardship; vocation; Biblical fluency; children, youth & family; missional leadership; and Biblical preaching...
I'm not sure what some of these mean (esp 'fluency'), so it will be interesting to see what unfolds with the Project. Hopefully its not just the 1980s coming back, although, let's face it, we do like those big synth sounds and electronic drums...
The big question of course is what kind of thing they're hoping to learn. Is it about what they do, why they do what they do, what processes led to the latter, what enabled those processes to take place, and what they say about the 'identity' of the congregation....??