2015 in Review

It’s been a wonderful and challenging year and I give thanks to God for making it possible. And a SPECIAL THANKS to those of you who supported us financially through our New Zealand supporters and SYRIOUS LOVE (Syrian Refugee Ministry).

Some highlights from 2015

We worked in these countries: Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Serbia, Croatia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Hungary, Poland, and Germany.

Jones family 2015

I taught at my favourite European Festivals. At SLOT Festival in Poland I taught for 4 days on “Church Different”, outlining the new reformation of church and tracing the history of how we got here. At Freakstock Festival in Poland I taught on the MainStage about God’s plan for families and raising children. At Meziproster Festival in Czech Republic my title was “Back to the Garden”. I looked at our relationship with creation, what was lost in the fall and how God’s people are repositioning themselves to live sustainably and in harmony with their environment and each other.

We fed the refugees at the borders and along railway tracks. And we did generally did not photograph them. When I saw representatives of one organisation drive up to a squat in Serbia, take photos and video and then drive off to do their fundraising, I decided that we would not abuse the vulnerable people who needed our help rather than their picture on a newsletter. It was a little crazy. We dumpster dived for food. We threw away our refrigerator - one of those crazy moments that symbolised our desperation in finding and storing food in the truck for the refugees at the borders. 

We participated in three Rainbow Festivals, in Serbia, Slovakia and Egypt. It was hard for me and the kids eating vegan food for so long but we had so many rewarding conversations about God and the spiritual life. But they were great times and we were often the only followers of Jesus inside a much bigger world. Debbie did extremely well and found herself become a spiritual “mama” to hundreds of young hippies and spiritual seekers. Debbie also got bitten by a scorpion in the Sinai desert and ended up at a hospital in Cairo.

Truck 2015

We traveled for six months with a LOT of young nomads. At one stage there were 20 of them in our truck. This wasn’t so bad when there were places we could put up tents but when it was raining, or if we were traveling through cities, we all had to sleep in the truck and it was quite cramped. You can imagine.

Debbie and I took an online language learning course through Wheaton College. It was very helpful and empowering. 

I visited refugee camps and talked to leaders of ministries reaching out to the refugees. I also spoke to many Syrians about their needs and the best way for Westerners to offer help. In Germany I attended a special gathering of leaders involved in refugee ministry. We visited a few camps and discussed the needs around Europe. We also committed to provide resources for volunteers and start an informal network where we can share stories and advice.

A mission in USA set up a fundraiser called Syrious Love and raised almost $3000. This helped our team of 20 volunteers buy food, travel to where the refugees were bottlenecking at the various European borders, and show compassionate care to the refugees where the need was greatest. Others gave through other means and this has helped me travel to the camps and the leaders involved in the relocation and compassion initiatives. We want to raise more money to help create a network of key leaders in each country to coordinate efforts and provide training resources. Will you help me?

I took part in a gathering of veteran fresh expression/church leaders in Prague. We spent three days together talking and praying. A very valuable time that I now refer to as The Nicholas Sessions, named after the Nicholas Hotel where we stayed. I might host another one in the future.

Nicholas sessions 2015

In the Sinai desert of Egypt I enjoyed many discussions about God, Islam and the Sufis. I am learning a lot about Islam and find in the Sufi poetry many potential bridges and connection points for our talks about Isa al-Masih, Jesus the Messiah, and the way of following God.

On the negative side, all my Wordpress sites and blogs were brought down recently by “Muslim” hackers. I have yet to pinpoint who has been paying them to target me but the attacks started around the time I stated that ISIS were not true Muslims. The invasions happened daily, despite my efforts to keep the hackers out. My sites went down one by one. They even invaded my computer. And I am still getting threats that they will continue to [mess] with me in the near future. I have felt quite vulnerable these past few weeks, and bullied. But I will not stop speaking out. I have shifted for the time being to my old blog on Typepad.

We also lost our two churches that gave us much-needed funds for 2015. The senior pastors of both churches, who have been friends of mine for many years, either retired or moved on. This means we enter 2016 without a single church to back us financially. Would you pray that God would raise up two churches who believe in our mission and want to support us with prayer, 

This was our first year representing and being cared for my friends in New Zealand. They have been wonderful support and have partnered with us gently and wisely. They understand us. They provide half our personal support and are helping us to raise the other half. When we joined them last year we asked to be placed on under the poverty level so that we could minister among the poor as one of them. They graciously allowed us to do so but watch carefully to make sure all our needs are met and we are ministering from a healthy base. 

Thomas Merton has been my favourite author in 2015, especially his interactions with other religious leaders. His books have been inspirational. I need to read them with reading glasses which is a first for me.

Debbie has emerged as a spiritual leader in her own right, with an enormous amount of respect and authority in the world of Eastern religion, paganism and earth-based religions. She is often the first representative of Jesus and the Christian tradition that they have encountered who they admire and want to emulate.

Debbie 2015

Our daughters Quill (Hannah) and Bones (TJ) had an eventful year. Spending time in Prague with all the children at an emerging Christian community was a highlight for them. After six months of traveling Europe and the Middle East with hippies, they needed a break (who wouldn’t?) so we retreated to Prague for Christmas, leaving Debbie in Egypt at the Rainbow Festival. TJ is enjoying the company of kids her own age. Quill is volunteering at a hostel in Prague. We hope to catch up with Debbie in Africa soon.

Whats up for 2016?

- The Syrian Refugee Crisis is at the forefront of my mind and has been there since the summer. How the church responds to the Syrian refugees, and the other refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, etc, is one of the most crucial turning points of our current moment. Will we emerge from this new reformation as a church of generosity and compassionate understanding or will retreat back into fear, xenophobia, and insulation? My primary focus in 2016 will be to continue showing the love of Christ to refugees, feeding the hungry, guiding the homeless wanderers, resourcing the leaders, enabling the relocation efforts inside the various countries, and keeping the eyes of the church on this tragedy long enough to allow them to see it as the momentous opportunity that it really is.

- In 2016 we will continue to be a Christian presence inside the new spirituality and the related festivals, eco-communities, and events. 

- If God allows, we will return for some time in North Africa. 

- I have received a lot of requests to train young people in the summer of 2016 in Europe. Most likely I will select a small number of them and set up a one to two month training in June/July.

- Prague will be a base and launching pad for us again in 2106. We want to start a small monastery here. Perhaps we could start with the truck and then take over one of the buildings. There is an old barn that could potentially, and quite possibly, become the training centre we have always imagined. My theological and missiological books are already in the barn, waiting to become the library. Stay tuned.


We are enthusiastic and we are located exactly where we need to be but we are financially under-supported. Pray that God provides some people and some churches to join with us in our mission. Pray for safety in the Middle East and North Africa. I am no longer as anonymous as I intended. But I am not afraid. If God is for us, who can be against us?


Direct gifts to the Syrian refugee crisis can still be received at the Pure Charity campaign called SYRIOUS LOVE

 Personal support? Send me an email at tallskinnykiwi at gmail dot com and lets talk about it.



Christmas Greetings to my "Muslim" Hackers

As you might know, I was hacked about two weeks ago, right after the blog post where I suggested ISIS-Daesh are not real Muslims. The hackers have continued daily to bring down all my websites and they are still rattling around inside my servers and files even as I write this.

This was one of their badges left on my new Syrian Refugee blog.


So I am shifting my blog back over to Typepad for a while where it will be safer and I won't have to have to play catch up everyday with these "Muslim" hackers.

Merry Christmas everyone!

And a very, very Merry Christmas to my hackers. In order to say Merry Christmas to ALL my hackers, I had to dig a little deeper. Hope I am including everyone here - its a wonderful Christmas surprise and I wouldnt want anyone to miss out.

Merry Christmas to the Moujahidin Team in Algeria who left their badge on a few of my broken sites, the hackers at XdewelaX, Anonymous-Arabe, to crazzyguycool@gmail.com, azizchouaf@gmail.com, and any other ISIS-sympathising hackers involved in taking down my sites, or just some young greedy hacker like Abdul Aziz Yassin Hua (عبد العزيز ياسين شوافof Algeria who has threatened me with "force" on facebook and has been attempting a Paypal phishing scam from my site over the past two days. Hey Abdul, you need to work on your English spelling.

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 02.02.41

Despite all the "Muslim" rhetoric, it's apparently all about the money. As Abdul said on Facebook, its "getting $ for hacking Facebook". 

But Christmas is not about the money or greed or hate or revenge. 

Its about peace on earth to all men and women and children. The Salam from Isa al-Masih is for everyone. And so I wish peace to my "Muslim" hackers this Christmas. May Isa al-Masih Himself visit you in your dreams this Christmas and give you peace, and guidance and wisdom and "baqa"  - the sobriety-after-drunkeness - that your great Sufi masters often talked about. May Allah give you 'baqa' so that you can discern right and wrong, and see through the confusion that ISIS has planted in your young and vulnerable minds. With this wisdom, you could use your computer science skills to help the world, to help Syrian refugees, to help spread peace instead of hatred. 

I also have left a Christmas stocking in the folders on the server. It looks like this:

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 05.51.18

Inside the stocking, (although you should really wait until Christmas morning to open it) you will find this:

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 05.51.32

 . . .  because you have been naughty this Christmas! Its tradition.

But hey, its not too late to change from petty paypal thieves and ISIS-minions to become agents of peace and love.

To help you do this, I will be adding some Christmas cards to the folder so that you can send them to each other and spread the Christmas cheer around. I hate to show them early and ruin the surprise but here are a few of them.

Delicious christmas card for xdawelx

Christmas card to my hackers 1 seventh day of christmas

Christmas card to my hackers 4


Christmas card to my hackers 2
Spread the love, my dear hackers. And if you wish to repent and do right, I suggest you donate some of your stolen money back to charity. Give it to the Syrious Love campaign that funds efforts to bring compassionate care to the 4 million Syrian refugees who are suffering because of the atrocities of Daesh.

Syrious.Love was one of my websites you took down last week. I will launch it again soon, because the refugees are on my heart this Christmas and a major part of my current projects.

And so, I say to all of you, have a very, very Merry Christmas!

UPDATE: Christmas Eve

After taking a look at some of the Facebook accounts of the hackers and seeing who is friends with each other, and who is the biggest showoff (probably Ahmed the PayPal thief), I thought I would post a few links here for my friends to personally wish them ALL a Merry Christmas. If you feel you are wrongly named in this list, please email me and let me know. 

The AnonWolfTeam

Abdul on Facebook

Oussama Zuckerberg https://www.facebook.com/Derx.Fox

Yuzarcif Yucuf https://www.facebook.com/Yucuf.Hacker

Dxman Benz https://www.facebook.com/sifou.babor.5

Darkmau Zarzi https://www.facebook.com/HJCZerolag250

Ismail Ghosto https://www.facebook.com/ismail.sins

Abderrahmane Sitifiano https://www.facebook.com/abderahmane.sitifiano

Oh, and Ahmed https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009753405160

Ahmed afgm the paypal thief







Thoughts on Turkey

I write this from a poor fishing village on the Black Sea, about 120kms from Istanbul. There are 8 street dogs outside on the road but they don’t move for cars. One of those dogs guarded our truck last night. They are not territorial like the city dogs and they don’t bark all night.

The cafe is full of men drinking tea and occasionally playing cards. The summer fishing season has ended yet a few boats go out early in the morning and return at 5pm with meager amounts of small fish. They must be operating at a loss. Perhaps they are subsidised? Perhaps the fishermen just need something to do.

There is no wifi signal here so I will post this at another date.

Two days ago we were in Edirne, not far from the border to Bulgaria and Greece. The Turkish authorities were using the stadium to house many of the refugee but these were moved away from Edirne to, or so they tell me, the bigger cities of Istanbul, Adana and Izmir. Refugees are now no longer to be seen in the city although there are accounts of some of them inside houses of generous people.

On our way out of Edirne we saw a group of about 12 young Syrian refugees walking fast along the railroad tracks. We parked a little ways ahead of them and walked over to the tracks. They all looked about 17 years of age and were quite scared of us but I waved at them and they eventually walked up to us. One of them spoke English and told us they could not stop or even walk slowly since the police were after them. We were able to convince them we had no connections to the police and he told us they were trying to get to Greece. I left the group with 50 TL to buy bread and tea for the group once they arrived at the next town – this came from the funds you have provided at Syrious Love. [thanks]

Brick barn

Near Edirne we found some old brick barns to camp next to. Nice place to camp, until the police moved us on.

We have pulled back to a fishing village on Turkey’s Black Sea, about 120kms from Istanbul. The last few weeks have seen some intense times. We have been moved off by the police on many occasions not just in Turkey but also in Serbia and Hungary. Most times they check all our passports and it takes a long time. The Turkish police were quite friendly to us and took photos of themselves next to our truck.

The Turkish are a friendly people. At the fishing town where we are currently parked up, I have been to the cafe a few times but never able to buy tea because someone always buys it for me. Last night we were given a large bag of fish by the portmaster. Sometimes the subject of Gallipoli comes up and they call me “Anzac”. I remind them that the New Zealanders and Australians fighting here a century ago felt a friendly connection to the Turks that was unexpected and actually caused the English to send many troops away and replace the with new soldiers since they were not motivated to fight the Turks.

In many ways, both New Zealand and Turkey discovered themselves during that war and entered a new era with a new identity after the war.


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Feeding Syrian Refugees at the Syrian Border

From the main blog

A little update from me.

We arrived at the Serbian border a few days ago and started cooking immediately, both for the team and for the stream of Syrian refugees. Most of them were in too much of a hurry to stop and chat – they were at the finish line of their long trip to enter Schengan Europe and aware, as we were, that the border could close at any time. Fair enough.

So we decided to go south about 30 kilometers and meet them there. The last few days we have been in a small town, camped out at a lake with about 20 people on the team in two vehicles and lots of tents.

But now the border has closed, as the Hungarians told us it would when we were there last week, and we expect a huge swell of refugees (do we have to call them that? – sounds soooo inhumane when talking about real people who we, as fellow-nomads and travellers, feel a special bond with?) to grow around the border area.

So . . . we are heading back up again today and will set up base at Subotica where there is already a growing presence of refugees. There is an abandoned brick factory called Ciglana (see Sima Diab) which has become a camping ground (reminds me of the tent village we set up in NZ), and we hope to be a presence there.

Many people are on their way to join us right now from all over Europe and our little team of crazy hippies could possibly double in size this week to 40.

The truck is running great and its awesome having a mobile kitchen that can chase down the refugees and set up wherever we need to be at a moments notice. Damn I love my job!!!!!!!

These are our needs right now:

We need this week to learn some Arabic phrases and some Syrian recipes so they can have some good homecooked food. The best food in I ate in Cairo during the Arab Spring was a Syrian dish that I would love to recreate here.

A van has been donated from Austria that we hope to fix up to accommodate and transport team members. Its a bit crap and not licensed but we are happy to receive it. We need someone to pick it up and drive it to us here at the Serbian border.

The Rainbow Snowball Caravan, of which are are a part, has managed to raise 550 Euros and this will really help us with the food costs. Awesome. When we arrived a few days ago, our food was depleted and we didn’t have enough diesel money to drive south. Some of you have sent gifts through SAMS  to our family for expenses and this should be processed in due time and eventually reach us. THANKS!!!

Having said that, our greatest need is not money but rather love and compassion and perspective, wise choices, courage, a good team spirit. And for these things we covet your prayers.

I think we need a few Syrians on our team. Could you pray that we pick the right ones this week?

A friend is setting up another fundraiser for expenses connected to our truck and diesel and other things that will not be covered by the Rainbow Caravan. Thanks. Details here really soon, including the cheesy name that I chose for it.

The team is feeling good. We are in the right place at the right time. Last night we had a talking circle until 11pm. Some of the team want to go to Syria to bring peace and love. All of us are glad to be here, hoping to make a difference, willing to use whatever resources we have.

One of the greatest challenges of ministry, as I shared with the team last night, is just turning up and being present.

Well, we turned up.

Keep praying for us.

 Read more.

Go to The Skinny on the Syrian Refugee Crisis

Help fund our project here.

I support syrious love



4 Things NOT to do in Prague

I just wrote a post on what NOT to do in Prague as well as what to do for Hostels in Prague.

What NOT to do:

Its not difficult to have a good experience in Prague. Its a city for meandering slowly, appreciating the architecture, reflecting on its history, taking a photo, getting lost, and finding a beer to consider how to get back to your hostel.

Before I suggest 4 things to do in Prague, here are some things I hope you will not do during your time in Prague.


– Don’t ride a Sedgeway. Damn! Just walk the old fashioned way.

– Don’t get stuck in the tourist area. The beers are twice the price and the food is expensive also. There are exceptions (Kozel restaurant between Old Town and Charles Bridge attracts the locals).

– Don’t shop. Its probably not any cheaper here to buy stuff and if you are coming from USA, you will find better deals at home for the same goods. I suggest buying a few gifts for bringing home but apart from that, the best things in this city are free.

-. Don’t go to Starbucks or MacDonalds. Dont even go to TGI Fridays. Czech pubs normally have Wifi and the food is great.

OK. Its June 5 and 2 years just passed. I feel like I have had a good break from blogging and have developed as a person and learner and teacher. Nice to be back.

Being Human. Being Present

I just submitted an article for a mission publication but its a bit long and boring and probably too academic so I thought I would just post it here, on this old zombie blog, which is right now a holding place while my new blog gets fixed up.

Its called "Being Human, Being Present" and its part of my reflections from The Nicholas Sessions last month in Prague.

Being Human. Being Present.

A priest in a pub discussing work conditions with steel workers. A monk who pitched his tent in the Sahara. A bohemian who started a community where Christians could be honest with each other.

Real stories.

Maybe I am getting older (please disagree) but I find myself increasingly fascinated by history and chasing down the stories behind the stories, the entrepreneurs who inspired the reports, the missionaries who dared to do church different whether they were noticed or not.

Real stories. Stories that made a difference.

We need these stories. We need “hopeful rumours”, a phrase I am taking from the revolutionary book, “The Prodigal Project: Journey into the Emerging Church” (2000) written by two Kiwis and an Aussie who described the new forms of church coming into our horizon at the turn of our century.

I remember seeing The Prodigal Project for the first time at the Greenbelt office in London where the freshly published book arrived in the post, it’s wrapping paper eagerly torn off by Greenbelt director Andy Thornton, a leader in the alternative worship movement. It was then I realised I was inside a story of global and historical importance, and my home country of New Zealand was not left out.

The term “emerging church”, although used for new church forms since the 1930’s, reappeared again in 2000 to capture what we were all seeing and the phrase stayed in our consciousness for almost a decade before others, like “fresh expressions”, supplanted it.

I have noticed that behind the commitment to new mission strategies (and catchy terms) lie numerous examples of creative risk-takers and innovators who tried something different to reach people untouched by existing mission efforts. These creative ventures were usually launched by pioneers, discovered by scouts, analysed by geeks, and articulated by church leaders who affirmed both the validity of the experiments and a daring “unorthodox” way forward for all.

At the Nicholas Sessions last month in Prague, a gathering for mission innovators to which I had the honour of participating, Bob and Mary Hopkins shared about the beginnings of what would later be named Fresh Expressions.

In their retelling of the story, I recognised the same players - the pioneers who created the stories, the number-crunchers who analysed the data (Lings, Wasdell, etc), and the permission-givers (Archbishops Carey and Williams) who put new phrases into currency and pointed ahead to a preferable future.

Another equally influential individual, in my experience, was a missionary statesmen who foresaw and recommended the shifts we now see on the ecclesiastic landscape. Canon Max Warren, General Secretary of CMS (then based in London), gave a deeply prophetic speech in Washington DC at the invitation of Overseas Mission Society of the Episcopal Church. The series of lectures was delivered in 1958 and appear in his book called Challenge and Response.

“The crucial question for the church is whether it is willing to take the risks of life on the frontier. If it does not do so,the time may come when it has nowhere else to live. For the fountains of the great deep are being broken up. We live in a world which is changing so rapidly that the demands on our adaptability, on our capacity for adjustment, are threatening not only to the ecclesiastical structures but also to the very stability of faith itself.” Max Warren, Lecture 4, “Re-minting of the world ‘Missionary’”, Challenge and Response, 1960. 

Warren argued that the “home base is now one of the neediest fields calling for missionary work” and insisted that the inherited church structures were inadequate for ministry in a complex, modern, industrial world, We needed to allow new expressions of church to arise, new models that rise above territorial and diocesan limitations.

“The church anywhere and at every time is a mixed multitude . .. The church cannot be the organ of its own Mission. It must have organs of Mission. I would be ready to argue that a variety of organs are in fact indispensable, and under whatever different names they bear, do in fact exist wherever the Church is taking Mission seriously.”

Canon Warren did not live to see the current movement of “fresh expressions” or “mixed economy” that is now taken for granted in the Anglican world, but his words form a deep well of thought and permission-giving that has allowed his “mixed multitude” of church to become a reality, even in this age of post-modern, post-industrial challenges.

But even Warren needed concrete examples of church done differently. And here I want to point out three creative individuals who inspired Max Warren’s amazing challenge.

1. The Blue-Collar Priest who took church to the people.

“It is precisely this [pre-industrial church] structure that has come down to us almost without change, that has been left so woefully inadequate by industrialisation . . . Here, wholly new structures of engagement must be devised if there is to be dialog, influence and impact.” E.R. Wickham, Church and People in an Industrial City, 1957.

He dressed shabbily and hung out with factory workers at the pubs which was unusual for a priest back in the 1940’s. He might have been ignored if he didn't later become Bishop. But he did. And the book that Bishop E.R.Wickham wrote, called “Church and People in an Industrial City” (1957), was probably the most influential source for Warren’s Lecture Number 4, not to mention its impact on Lambeth 1958. In his book, Wickham outlines the devastating chasm between the worker-class and those who dress up for Sunday worship and the resultant founding of the Industrial Mission in Sheffield in 1942 as an effort to break that barrier.

Wickham’s concrete examples of “supplementary non-pariochial structures” and social group thinking found a well-respected echo in Max Warren.

2. The Creative who started a community.

“Religion to me really is a song” Florence Allshorn.

Also in 1942, an artist named Florence Allshorn launched a revolutionary community in Sussex called St Julians. She called St Julians a place for all God’s children. It was a multi-national, ecumenical space for honest dialog and integral living.

She had already served a difficult term of mission service in Uganda with CMS in which she saw the danger of unaddressed, dysfunctional relationships among leadership on the field. She returned home bruised and, according to Eleanor Brown, ‘after a year in a curious little colony of “dropouts” in the Sussex countryside - a year of bohemian existence she found fascinating and freeing’ - Florence was ready to work again under CMS in England. She directed a small missionary training centre for women where she effected a “quiet revolution in the whole concept of missionary training,” focusing on in-depth honest relationships, love, and spiritual growth.

Despite having no official “She saw further than most into the meaning of missionary task”, noted missionary statesman J.H. Oldham who wrote a book on Florence and the community at St Julians. Canon Max Warren saw in this community the potential for a new way of doing church that went beyond idealism and conformity to the inherited pattern and towards

3. The Monk who pitched a tent in the Sahara.

“Father de Foucault became a Touareg, to the depths of his soul. I mean that he completely gave himself to these people, not only spiritually but humanly; for he well knew how intimately the Christian life is bound up with the whole context of human life.” Voillaume, Seeds of the Desert.

The desert monk named Charles de Foucauld who went to the Sahara to found a monastic order died alone in 1916. No one joined him. But the spiritual journals he wrote had a profound effect on people as diverse as Dorothy Day (Catholic Workers), Thomas Merton (new monasticism), and even James Baxter (Jerusalem) in New Zealand. Some time after his death, The Little Brothers of Jesus came into being. Even today there are a dozen monastic orders named after him.

At the time of Warren’s lecture, a book called ‘Seeds of the Desert: the Legacy of Charles de Foucauld' by R. Voillaume had been recently published and brought to the attention of clergy everywhere. Warren describes The Little Brothers of Jesus as a “daring new pattern of missionary service”, a way of interacting that was thoughtful, respectful (we might say post-colonial), open to dialogue, a strategy, according to Voillaume, of “being present amongst people, with a presence willed and intended as a witness of the love of Christ.”

Warren sums up, “What was so refreshing about [de Foucauld's] plans, and what was so refreshing about Florence Allshorn, was that in their preoccupation with being present with God they were always so human. There was nothing stereotyped in the lives of either of these missionaries. Because they knew how to live “being present” with God”, they were able to live “being present” quite spontaneously with people of every kind and in every circumstance.”

Here we see the heart of Max Warren’s lecture that takes the challenge beyond the start-up of new church forms and beyond mere strategies into where it all starts: the challenge to live differently. To live more dangerously. To truly live among people, unprivileged people. To be open to openness. To allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the full human experience and to participate fully in it.

This is incarnational missions the way Jesus showed us. “As the Father sent me, so I send you.”

Being human. Being present. 

Why Earth Day Texas is the new SXSW for Baptists

 I recently visited Texas and met with some of the key leaders of the Texas Baptists. I was encouraged to see some necessary transitions and changes but was quite shocked to see the presence of styrofoam cups at the coffee machine in the main HQ.

I believe EDTx is the new SXSW for Texas Baptists and I recommended they send a delegation to the event that happens this weekend. Let me tell you why.

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 09.29.57

When I first started working as a consultant for the Texas Baptists (BGCT back then) I suggested we work alongside SXSW and send our top artists and creatives to participate. In 1999, we set up a multimedia labyrinth called "Ecclesia" that was promoted by the Austin Statesman as one of the recommended events. In 2001, we did another called "Epicenter". And in 2003 we hosted "Wabi Sabi". Since then, a small team of creatives have continued to have a presence at SXSW which has been a great way of learning, listening, contributing to the vibrant arts scene there. 

It changed the way we looked at worship arts. It was a revolutionary experience. 

Earth Day Texas, which is the largest Earth Day in the world, might do the same thing for Texas Baptists. It will be an opportunity to consider a Christian cosmology, ecology, our stewardship of the earth's resource. And it might put a stop to those awful styrofoam cups.

Styrofoam Cup
I can't believe churches still use these. What does that say about us?

I enjoyed meeting the Festival's director, Michael Cain. He is a warm, friendly man who has faith in God and a deep commitment to managing the planet's resources. I told him I would send some Baptists. I hope they do not disappoint. 


Shall we blog again?

As you know, I shut down this blog nearly 2 years ago and yet I am still getting comments and emails on issues that appear to be relevant regarding HPV jabs, Emergent Village meltdown, the state of the global emerging church despite having moved on from the name, etc If I restarted this blog, right here, would anyone be interested In discussing these thing to try to find solutions, resolutions, and possible ways forward!

Ten Years: Wordpress and me

Have I really not blogged for a month . . . . . OOOPPPSSSS!!!

Sorry everyone. I have been so busy building blogs for others that this blog has gone by the wayside. Actually, I intend to STOP this particular blog in a week's time, June 3, in fact.

Ten 1

Tallskinnykiwi has been existing for ten years on the Typepad platform which happened when i switched from Blogger in 2003. Ten years is a long time and this blog is a large well containing thousands of posts and thousands of comments that I hope will act as a historical momento for future generations as well as a memory jogger for myself. 

But I dont want a well. I want a spring. So I will be pulling the plug on this platform on June and will switch over to a dashboard containing links to my current blog projects.

And speaking of TEN, wordpress celebrates ten years of existence today. Its an amazing platform and all my other blog projects, except this one, are propped up by the Wordpress platform.

5 Events at Kirchentag you dont wanna miss

Kirchentag Festival is off with a bang. Not sure how many people came out last night for the Opening Ceremony but estimates have been as high as 300,000. Who knows? Counting church people is a tricky affair, as I have blogged about before, so I will leave it to the experts.

Here are my Best Bets for Internationals at Kirchentag 2013

1. Germany's Federal Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel and Helen Clark, New Zealand's ex-PM and now spicing up the UN Development Programme with some kiwi ingenuity, discuss the value of creation in a globalised world with "And God saw that it was Good". If you cant get in, which is the most likely scenario, my friend Tomas Sedlacek from Prague is discussing economics under the title "No More and No Less". Both are Friday at 11am.

2. "Night of Lights" chilled worship led by the brothers from Taize. Tonight At 8pm.

3. Get your Bonhoeffer fix with "You Say That I Am", a series of conversations about Deitrich Bonhoeffer's life, and the opera in 5 scenes based on him.

4. "Unity, Justice and Diversity" led by panel of teachers including Dr Peter Berger. Saturday at three.

5. "The Feeding of the Five Thousand" a Bible study given by yours truly (Andrew Jones) on Saturday morning.


Enough for All - My Bible Study

If you are in Germany then you might be joining the 100,000+ people in Hamburg for Kirchentag 2013 (Church Day) on May 1-5.

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If you make it to my session, please say hello afterwards.

The Kirchentag folk do an absolutely incredible job of organizing and hosting a massive scale festival  - the best organized I have ever seen - and they invited me to teach over a year ago. Here is the info they sent me.

Information about your Bible study at the 34th German Protestant Kirchentag from 1st to 5th May 2013 in Hamburg

Dear Mr. Jones,

"As much as you need” – is the theme for the 34th German Protestant Kirchentag. Meanwhile there are tens of thousands of people who have received a program booklet and discovered that you are holding a Bible study.
Your Bible study will take place at the St. Pauluskirche (Heimfeld), Petersweg 1, Hamburg (758 / AA1)on Saturday the 4th of May 2013, from 9.30 to 10.30 am.
You will be welcomed and introduced. Furthermore, your Bible study will be accompanied by the gospel choir Schacht-Audorf.

The topic of Kirchentag 2013 is "As much as you need", with reference to the manna from heaven that sustained God's people in the desert. My teaching will add the miracle of the Feeding of the Five Thousand (John 6) to the mix and will focus on abundance and poverty,  generosity and equitable distribution, sustainability, God's provision and His plan to use his people to solve the global challenge of hunger. Hope you can make it. 

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Reflections on Kirchentag 2011.

Rick Warren sets up memorial fund

I have been thinking of Rick Warren all week. A dreadful loss. Praying peace on the family after the tragic suicide of their son Matthew.

Rick Warren just set up the Matthew Warren Memorial Fund for Mental Illness. I hope the fund does well in raising awareness of this issue that affects so many, including many ministry families. It's a hard issue to talk about without creating disrespect for the individual involved. I hope there is a way forward. 

Rick warren matthew warren fund

Rick is an incredible man and I respect him a hell of a lot. In the early days, we in the emerging church gave the seeker-sensitive pastors a hard time but they, in particular Rick, never retaliated. In Rick Warren's case, he not only embraced much of what we were doing but he also endorsed books and stood by as a resource and mentor. Some months ago I received a huge amount of love when Rick called my twitter profile "brilliant" and tweeted it for his followers. What a guy!

Rick warren and tallskinnykiwi

Over those years, God has continued to use Rick Warren beyond our imagination. 

Last week we turned up at a remote camping site in the Queen Charlotte area of Marlborough Sounds, South Island, New Zealand. Hardly any civilization anywhere. And at the campground, in a little shed used for washing dishes, someone had left a copy of Purpose Driven Life. 

I may not have actually read that book but I have boat-loads of respect for how God has used that book in people's lives. And the impact of the Warren family. 

 God's peace and blessing be on his family and church in abundant measure. And if you say anything negative about Rick this week (Mega-church pastors are the easiest target) then I will surely kick yo ass!

Thoughts on Pope Francis

GREAT to hear waves of excitement over the new Pope. I am also excited about the appointment of Pope Francis, because . . .

- he is from South America.

- he is a humble man, riding the bus to work and refusing ecclesiastic titles. 

- he has a heart for the poor.

- he wants renewal of the church, which is awesome.

- he is a Jesuit, and those guys are really cool!

- the charismatic Catholics really like him.

In Italy a few years ago, some friends and I met with Matteo Calisi, who heads up the 150 million people in the Charismatic Catholic Renewal, known as the Catholic Fraternity, and reports directly to the Pope. Lovely man, this Father Matteo, who invited us to speak in his church. Before the service, he was telling us how excited he was about what was happening in Buenos Aries, where he had visited, meeting the archbishop and seeing some of the communities there. I imagine he is totally pumped about having his South American friend living and working in Italy.


Tony Palmer, who helped arrange our meeting with Matteo, has reflections on meeting Bergoglio, who was then the archbishop of Buenos Aries. 

"Here I am in Argentina in a meeting with Cardinal Giorgio Bergoglio, who made it very clear to us during the meeting that we were not to refer to him by 'Eminence' or 'Excellency' as these titles are not found in the Bible and that simply 'Brother' would be better . . . "

Father Anthony, quoted by Marc Van Der Woude, who was also with us in that Italian meeting, on why he thinks Francis is a surprising Pope.

Related: My experience with the Charismatic Catholics in Italy.

12 Resources for Christian Generosity

My friend Sas Conradie from the Global Generosity Movement has just released 12 Resources for Christian Generosity:

E.G. “Jay” Link’s latest book ‘Who’s In Charge Here?’ is now available. The pdf and Kindle versions of the book are free - just go to this webpage


 The Money Revolution is a website linked to a book that helps Christians apply Christian principles to handling money. The book is one of the best practical books on how Christians should engage with money.

The Generous Business is an electronic booklet with stories of companies leading the way in giving. It also includes practical suggestions on why and how to become a Generous Business. 

Spanish articles on generosity related issues and on mission resource mobilisation.

Brian Kluth’s sermon ‘Journey to Generosity: Why Become a Generous Christian?’ gives reasons to become a generous Christian

‘Biblical Principles of Financial Giving’ is a Bible study outline from Xenos Christian Fellowship in the US that explores how to cultivate a godly manner of dealing with money and material possessions.

The journey from an emerging giver who gives primarily because of relationships, tax savings, public recognition, or a feeling of obligation to a giving champion is explained in Journey of Generosity: Emergent to Generous Giving’ 

The MBA in Biblical Stewardship and Christian Management has information on the MBA in Christian Management and other courses taught through the Center for Biblical Stewardship at the Asian Theological seminary in the Philippines. The goal of this program is to equip leaders and managers of Christian non-profit organizations in the areas of strategic thinking, good governance, management and effective resource development.


The Future World Giving report examines the potential for emerging economies to transform their societies through philanthropic action. I also posted an article on the report and a progress report on the international Giving Pledge. 

How America Gives’ has a link to a fascinating report on giving in America. One of the most interesting tables is a generosity ranking of US cities. If you are living in the US, see where your city is ranked. How encouraging would it be to see the percentages increase as you encourage generosity in your community!"

The UK Giving 2012 report is not as extensive as the ‘How America Gives’ report but provides a picture on giving in the UK.

The Generosity Spiral of Giving and Receiving is an illustration of the growing interaction between giving and receiving - starting with giving to impose (values, ideas and beliefs) and receiving to manipulate through various phases to ultimate giving (giving of your life) and spiritual receiving.

Can I bleed on your carpet?

A great mystic and dear friend of mine passed away a few days ago. He was not feeling well and laid down on his wife's lap. He didn't get up.

Steve Malakowsky, or Steve M as most people knew him, was a poet, mystic, a Jeremiah-type prophet, a father and a builder.

He was an unique mix of humanity, at odds with the church and passionate about lifting street kids out of destructive lifestyles and onto the path of Jesus. Steve dressed hippie, acted punk, wrote goth and expressed himself with post-industrial urban grunge. His more recent work mixing street art with words seemed to bring those disparate elements together. His early poetry was dark, often ink-black but always punctuated with the hope of a God who was waiting to heal what was broken and restore outcasts to Himself. 

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 I met Steve in the late 90's when we were both trying to reach throwaway kids on the streets of USA. He in Phoenix and I in San Francisco. With the support of Dr E.B. Brooks and the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and Tim Andrews of SomeKids Lunch we produced a small movie that explored the plight of the broken generation in Atlanta. That movie touched a nerve and opened doors for ministry all over USA.

Steve M was the author of Tattoo, the founder of Beauty for Ashes, Outcast Press, Hope Thru Art (Facebook) and the co-founder of the Underground Railroad, one of the very first networks of ministries among the alternative scene. I have often referred to it as one of the earliest emerging church networks in USA and possibly the first to go international. By the time I hooked up with trevor M and Steve M at the Underground Railroad Roundtable at Cornerstone Festival in the late 90's, there was already strong links to similar movements in Europe and beyond. The idea of roundtables inside festivals was something that our ministry has used extensively and successfully over the past decade.

Steve M wrote poetry that explored the deep brokenness of a generation unacknowledged by the mainstream world and unwanted by a church that he felt was more interested in carpet than kids. Dozens, possibly hundreds, of these incredibly insightful and penetrating poems were printed as "street sheets" and distributed in inner cities around the world. They were profound. They connected with people on a deep level. They brought tears and understanding and a small glimmering light at the end of a dark tunnel.

I have read a few of his poems aloud inside churches, but there is one that will always stay with me. Its called "Therapy".

can i take my addictions into your church

can i sit on your padded pews

can i bleed on your carpet or do you want

me when i'm clean and not now.

can i take my addictions into your theology

is it big enough to face my pain

or will i stain your glass with street smells

and sweat

where can i go

where can i go when i'm addicted . . .

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 Both photos by Alexa Gibbon

 Hope Thru Art will be continued by Steve's kids and his lovely wife Barb who could use your prayers and support.


We are in Lower Hutt at an Anglican community. Our truck is parked outside and we are listening to Nic Cave's new record Push The Sky Away as it spins around on Josh's 1957 Astor. Nice album. Reminds me of Jonny Cash, gospel, blues and Proverbs, especially those struggles around relationships and temptations of Mermaids.

There were 14 people in out truck coming away from Passionfest. Most of those people are still with us. Headed north. Hoping to find some work in the vineyards for the Germans among us.


5 things I am learning about social justice

PassionFest is going well. About 350-400 people here for this Christian based social justice festival. I spoke last night on 5 things I have learned and am learning about social justice. For those of you ask me to blog it, here they are.

1. We won't solve the problems of our city by loving the poor but despising the rich. The poor need resources and the rich have resources. Lets bring them together.

2. We won't solve the problem of hunger by throwing cans of food at people without empowering them to grow and cook their own food.

3. We won't solve the problem of homelessness by sentencing people to a lifetime of unaffordable mortgage payments for a house that is too large for their needs and too expensive to heat or cool when we can offer sustainable building solutions and alternative residential communities.

4. We won't solve the problem of unemployment by crippling people with student debt for a qualification that might not actually land them a job when we could assist them to become creative and successful entrepreneurs.

5. We won't solve the problem of global poverty by sponsoring people to do nothing except to look poor and needy for our photos (somebody say mission porn) without freeing them to live sustainably, creatively and to put their gift into the world.

Last year was awesome also and I made a little video of PassionFest 2012


Wedding Day

Today is the big day for our family. Our Number One son Sam marries Jenna White. All very exciting. Lots of airport pickups. I got to bed at 3am last night.

In a few hours we host the wedding ceremony. The pig is already on the spit. Yes, we are taking lots of photos and video. Show you in a few days time.

Sam and jenna wine600 Sam and jenna name bath 600Sam and jenna beach

If I was Pope

Wishing Pope Benedict XVI a smooth transition into his next phase of life as simply Joseph Ratzinger. What a surprise!!

I was thinking of running for Pope.

Change is good. I have been a Baptist, an Anglican, and a Presbyterian, but never a Catholic.

And besides that, the Catholics have the coolest church buildings, especially those from the 1950's and 60's. Of course I would need a retro suit to match it.


If I was Pope I wouldn't live in Vatican City or Rome. I think I would stay in Tuscany on a vineyard. Maybe Assisi. Its lovely there. 

If I was Pope I would have strong words with my bankers. Those guys have been naughty.

If I was Pope I would commend the South Americans for their great innovations. Maybe even move the HQ down to Sao Paulo.

If I was Pope I wouldn't change the robes. But mine would need to be longer than the last guy.

If was Pope my Popemobile would be 4X4.

If I was Pope I would start an Italian pizza chain and use it to support mission efforts among the poor. 

And that's just a start.

How about you? What would you do if you were Pope?

Related:  3 Things the Emerging Church took from the Catholics

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Remembering Richard Twiss

My friend Richard Twiss just passed away from a massive heart attack. He was a great man, activist, thinker, a pioneer and spokesperson for First Nations people in general and Native Americans in particular. Cody L. has some good thoughts and links

I first met Richard 24 years ago in Vancouver, Washington when I was a very young associate pastor and Richard purchased our church building for his congregation.


The last time I saw him was in South Africa at the 2011 Cape Town Lausanne World Congress.

Very few people know this, and perhaps the story will never be fully released, but Richard and a few of his (our) activist mates felt the Lausanne Congress could have done better in addressing the needs of First Nations peoples as well as owning up to the past transgressions of apartheid, a subject they felt was conveniently ignored at the Cape Town meeting. They wrote a paper for the participants (I still have a copy) and for a while, there was the possibility of a kind of public disturbance that would bring these matters to the whole Congress. They decided on a different path, however, and nothing newsworthy happened. Which was good because Richard had actually roped me into video taping the proposed events, if and when they happened, and I was quite relieved that Richard and the others chose a more long term solution of tackling this blindness. 

What a guy. He refused to rest on his accomplishments but was still pushing for more justice. Once an activist, always an activist . . .

I once mentioned Richard in an article I wrote for Christianity Today.

"What do we go out to the desert to see? Do we see cheap fireworks, casinos, and tacky souvenirs? Or a special people called out by God for global missions in this new millennium? That's what my friend Richard Twiss sees.

Richard is a member of the Rosebud Lakota/Sioux Tribe and President of Wiconi International. "No other people group is so uniquely positioned for global missions as First Nations people are today," says Richard, whose mission sends out teams of "Native men and women who follow the Jesus Way and are skilled traditional drummers, singers, and dancers, to communicate the love of the Father with audiences worldwide."

In the past three years teams from Richard's mission have seen thousands come to know the Creator in outdoor events and house meetings in the country of Pakistan. It seems God is raising up a post-colonial mission force out of the margins of our own culture, out of a people who have felt the sting of colonialism themselves.

Andrew Jones, What did you go out to see?