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Posts from October 2006

What Must We Learn and Unlearn?

I am just finishing off an article for Christianity Today. I need to send it off to Andy Crouch today  - like in an hour - so my head in down and I am irritably unsociable until I have finished it. Its part of the Christian Vision Project which will tackle issues of global missiology in 2007 having many mission leaders answer the question . . .

What must we learn and unlearn to be agents of God's mission in our world?

Good question, init? You will probably read my answer next January. Anyway . .  must go.


Kult: Heretic Kingdoms action RPG

KULT: Heretic Kingdoms is a new RPG released for Mac. You get to be an Inquisitor with an attitude, killing off religious sects, fanatics and other freaks who think God is alive.

Heres the skinny:
“Set in the world of the Heretic Kingdoms, a world where God is dead and religion heresy, you are cast as a young female inquisitor, working to stamp out the last remnants of religion. On instructions to destroy a relic which the Inquisition considers to be a significant threat, you are drawn into a war between two warring secret societies – a conspiracy of mages whose goal is true power, and a shadowy cult who seeks to resurrect the Dead God.”
Kult: Heretic Kingdoms might be a little too extreme for church people, but maybe the makers (3D People from Slovakia) could do a tamer version where modern day Inquisitors can stamp out emerging church influences in their denominations.

Absolutely not related: Christian gamemaker Digital Praise has announced some new titles. Link
Not in the same league as KULT but BBC admited its bias against Christianity on Sunday's Daily Mail

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The Emerging Church Talk Down Under with Don Carson

I didnt blog it last month because i was blog-fasting, but i followed closely the conversation in Perth between Don Carson and two leaders of the emerging missional church - Andrew Hamilton (Hamo from Backyard Missionary) and Geoff Westlake. And since then, FORGE have posted the audio online. HT: Adonis Vidu

Don Carson  Critique of Emerging Church (50 mins)
Andrew Hamilton Response (15 mins)
Geoff Westlake Response (15 mins)
Don Carson Reponse (10 mins)
Forum (20 mins)

Ohhh great . . .  of all the possible candidates for emerging church leadership, Carson ends up in the Baptist Theological College with 2 YOBBOS!

I just had to say that about them because both guys have been my mates since our late teens. And we were all Baptist pastors in Perth in the early 90's - so you see i am constrained to insult them as a token of affection. The other reason I feel compelled to give them a hard time is because both guys were very good looking IN THEIR DAY [he he he] and managed to have a constant stream of girlfriends while yours truly - blessed in areas other than stunning good looks and cursed with severe shyness and poor self-image - only on a blue moon managed to have female company. And the girls who did go out with me had somehow already gone out with either Andrew or Geoff.

But putting the past aside, and not holding anything against these playboys  . .  uh hum . . . pastors, I am honestly glad that they were picked to stand with Carson for their conversation about the emerging church. And despite the obvious handicaps and the tarnished reputations from their dating years (i can testify truthfully that before they were married, both guys went out with practically every eligible Christian girl in Perth and probably a few other cities also . . . i have witnesses . . really . .  ) they did a spectacular job and enjoyed a profitable conversation with Dr. D. A. Carson, author of Being Conversant with the Emerging Church.

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YIKES!! My Wife Is Gone For Over 2 Weeks

They say you should never send a woman to do a man's work. But the fact is, Debbie and i have been partnering in this funny thing called ministry (which is co-ed, btw) for about 20 years so I guess I can trust her to represent the Jones concerns. Actually, she often does better than me at networking and is more sociable than her geek-bookworm other half. And so we are sending her off. One hour ago we said goodbye to her at the ferry terminal outside our house.

Debbie will be in Aberdeen for a day with Whitney and Brian (8lb baby boy Oct 22, no name yet) and then fly to
- Austin, TX to work on an artists prophetic gathering event for 2007
- Portland, Oregon to help her parents move up from California.
- Houston, Texas to participate in a strategic meeting regarding pilgrimage/new-monastic/training-trail/ leadership development/rule-the-world type issues with the Baptists (UBA) and other friends including Karen Campbell,  Doug Pagitt, Shannon Hopkins, Julie Blick, the Seminext people, Ken Shuman (the poker-playing pastor), Mark Thames, Trish Taylor, Larry Jay,  Mark Berry (UK), Bjoern Wagner (Germany) E.B. Brooks (a HUGE mentor of mine) and others. Actually - its a follow on from our London meeting where we started this discussion and pretty much the same people will be there - EXCEPT MY BETTER HALF WILL BE STANDING IN FOR ME. I will be sending a presentation for Debbie to work with for the Houston meetings. And hopefully she will be meeting with some churches in Texas, Oregon and Washington who might be able to help support our projects overseas.

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Massive is the New Big

If you have just read “Tiny is the New Small” then read this. Its the other half.

The other side to being tiny is being part of something that is massive. This takes some getting used to. The scale is huge and out of proportion. But when Jesus described the Kingdom, he told parables of tiny things that became massive. A small piece of yeast that caused the whole lump of dough to rise. A tiny mustard seed that became the largest of the trees, so large the wild birds could see it and nest in it. Not the tame farmed birds - they only see the coop or cage or boundary marked out for them by their farmer. Sometimes you have to move away from the farm in order to get a birds eye view of how big things really are in the household of God.

Like many of you, church happens for me in tiny bites but at the same time I am part of the bigger picture - I am a part of the church in my town and in my region. Beyond my region, I am a part of the body of Christ which finds physical expression in every country on earth. I am a living stone being built up into a ginormous temple. There are millions and millions of us. We are the most international, most dynamic, fastest growing organization ever seen. And at at times, we have been among the worst: our history as the bride of Christ ranging from occasional dumb blond to the sinister dark lady with a dagger in her hand.

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Tiny is the New Small

Church for some of us happens in TINY increments, TINY spaces and sometimes with TINY amounts of people. It happens many times a week and many times a day when the various aggregations of God's people come together around coffee or taking care of business or helping someone and especially at mealtimes. It happens more often in my kitchen than in my study. Our “oikos”, or extended family, changes daily depending on who is eating with us or staying with us that day, but it is still a tiny cellular unit that finds variety and visibility only when connected to other oikoses like it. Then it is seen as an integral part of the church in our city. . . .ok . . . town.

ImagesIt is not always tiny - sometimes it is HUGE - like when we camp out at nation-wide festivals with thousands of others. But for the most part, it is tiny and often not recognized as “church” by those who attend a traditional-style church that is defined by a two hour meeting on Sunday. Simple/organic church people have got a cold shoulder from “church” leaders for a decade. Singularity frowns on modularity. They are considered a threat to the system. They are called “house church” but that doesn't really fit what they [we] are doing. Its not house church and its not “small groups” and its not rebellion against church. Its attempting to BE the church as God intended it.

Even in the emerging church, finding people who understand that is not an easy task. Nor is it an attractive proposition - if you want to be a well known conference speaker or a local pastor with CLOUT in your denomination which measures success in the cold-war terms of size, weight and longevity (Friedman), then a shift to the emerging-missional-organic church is a VERY BAD CAREER MOVE. It may be great for the Kingdom, but it will NOT pimp your image or make you money or get you on the speaker list at conferences - Most conferences only invite speakers who RE-INFORCE their existing model which in most Christian circles, is the centralized ecclesial model with a tithing system, a set of buildings that need butt-filling and an army of M.Div Seminary graduates who need a position as pastor in the kind of church that theological education has trained them for. Not saying that system is bad, but I am saying it is DIFFERENT and difference is a threat that the promoters of that system do not want to deal with.

Co-existence is possible, however. And so is the possibility of the various models blessing each other. In recent interviews, Brian McLaren and George Barna show great understanding of this issue.
Brian: “I also believe that we need spontaneous neighborhood faith communities that will not be able to afford a paid pastor, nor will they need one.” HT: Fred
George: “To do: really emphasize how it is that you are preparing each family unit to be the church”
Both men will be speaking at Off The Map Nov 3-4, which looks like a conference that bucks the trend.

Petri3-1Jesus talks about the Kingdom like yeast - tiny, hidden, invisible, yet it works its way through every part of the lump. Its not about the big hits and the sensational events and the ridiculous amounts of people that attend your programs, despite all those bios you read on book covers and conference invitations. Church happens in tiny spaces where no one notices. It is rhizomic, like couch grass and potatoes. Its NOT a big deal to people but it IS a big deal to God.

The missionary Roland Allen said, in a 1930's letter to his sponsors who were asking for big stories,
“I do not trust spectacular things. Give me the seed growing secretly every time.”

And as Steve Jobs would say, “One more thing . . .”
- my esteemed CMS colleague Richard White of Liverpool and I putting down some thoughts and plans for 2007 - a series of training experiences and web resources that will assist the emerging church to step into its next season. This will be UK based but other countries are invited to participate with us. You will hear more about this in the near future but if this interests you, if this is YOUR BAG, and you might be willing to help, then leave a comment below with a link to either email or your blog.

Related:
- Massive is the New Big (the other side of this coin)
- Like a Rhizome Cowboy
- House Churches Have No Sex Appeal
- Yeast, Bud Emergence and Kingdom
- And read this blog entry to see if measuring the emerging church needs a . . .

Carsonianorbarnonian-1-1

- A recent book by Paul Viera called Jesus Has Left The Building says it well.
- Wolfgang Simpson releases a new book on November 10 that says it again. This will be the “big brother” book to his Houses That Change the World. And yes, I am reading the manuscript for his new book right now.
- DAWN USA have some good resources on their Simple Church page.

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Blogging for the Long Tail

A few years ago I was told by Blogger Forum that my little blogspot blog called Tallskinnykiwi had achieved Number 3 Top Site that week, beating out the Iraqi blogs, John Kerry and more importantly, humiliating the humorist blogger Dave Barry who I am sure never quite got over it. I thanked Blogger Forum for the award and then told them that i had actually closed down the blog a few months earlier when i moved to Typepad. I figured the traffic on my old blog would stop. I was very, very wrong. I had not thought about the long tail effect of my blogging.

Obligatory 1-1About one third of my blog traffic happens in the long tail - in those memes and images and thoughts posted a long time ago that have now got some credibility and have climbed the search engine ladders to appear on front center stage. No longer fresh but suddenly aggregated because of a new-found relevance. You could say that they were LOST, but now are FOUND. Blogging for the long tail is now somewhat of a strategy for me. Let me explain.

Every day, hundreds of people come on my site for a tiny number of old posts. I noticed this recently when i took a month long blog fast. My daily visitors plunged but then levelled off and stayed the same at a certain point. When I looked closer at what posts readers were finding on the search engines [another cool feature on Typepad], there were a few dozen posts with Number One Google ranking and 2 images that by themselves attracted hundreds of daily fans:

Kickinside-3-1This image called “foot foto”, which someone else created, gets number one ranking for “foto” and it has daily visitors from all over the world. At first I thought they were pro-lifers but now I realize they are probably Spanish speakers who are interested in photography. If i had time, I would write a decent blog post on image-editing or photo-touching and have someone translate it into Spanish . . . IF . .

Muse-1An image search for “Muse” finds this one on Tallskinnykiwi staring at you on the front page, despite only having 4 links. Honestly, if i didnt look, i wouldnt have had any idea. Even more interesting is that number one ranking for Muse image search is my friend at JacobsWellChurch. Neither of us deserve to be elevated to connoisseurs of Muse art but there we are.

There are a few of my favorite memes that have ended up getting Number One Google ranking, at least for now:
Deep Ecclesiology [Google]
Postmodern Sensibility [Google]
Barna's Revolution [Go
ogle]
Emerging-Missional [Google]
There are more and i might repost them in a series in the near future. But being first is a responsibility and not something we should LOVE (3 John 9).

Some people's names that give me Top 5 ranking include:
George Barna [5] Chuck Smith Jr [5], Thom Wolf [1], E.B. Brooks [3] Don Carson [5] and thankfully my own, Andrew Jones [1]

About ranking:
- Search engine ranking is based on a number of criteria like permanent links (static links like those on blogrolls are better than transient links like posts), history (how long have you been there) freshness of posting activity, traffic, and not as much to do with metatags as the experts tell us.

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The Evils of Blogging

200610131347-1An article from the  Restored Church of God warns about blogging in “Blogs and God's Youth”. The dangers of blogging, according to the article, are openness and privacy, vanity, and idle words. Potential bloggers are advised to avoid the appearance of evil.

“Blogging has become a socially accepted practice—just as are dating seriously too young, underage drinking and general misbehaving. But just because someone else ”jumps off the cliff“ does not mean you should do the same.”
“. . . Is this article saying that every blog in the world is wrong? No, of course not! Again, there are some professionals and specialists who use blogs to serve a proper purpose. All that said, you can—and SHOULD—maintain friends the ”old-fashioned“ way, through actual personal contact, as well as letter writing, emailing or instant messaging” Kevin D. Denee

HT: BoingBoing
Response: LaityOnline think Kevin is “abusing the Bible”
The Register took notice
Related: Pew Report called  Bloggers: A Portrait of the Internet's New Storytellers

And see my post on The Spirituality of Blogging [corrected link - thanks Horton]

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