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Posts from March 2009

Its FRESH and EMERGING but is it PROPER Church?

Some of the questions raised on Share The Guide

Can pioneers water down the gospel?
What would you do differently 20 years ago?
Are Fresh Expressions PROPER church?

If this is new to you, the fresh expressions movement is one of those remarkable corners of the emerging church that has received widespread support from the institutions, from local churches and parishes, all the way up to Bishops [Bishop Graham Cray now leads the FE team], as I have mentioned before. Even the Archbishop has referred to the growth of Fresh Expressions as "phenomenal" and an illustration of a healthy "mixed economy".

Along with hundreds of these new fresh expressions are fresh resources that can be used by anyone wanting to start their own spiritual community. Like this one . .

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Share The Guide is a great online resource for those wanting to start their own fresh expression of church. The blog posts are often quite substantial. It feels more like an interactive book or church-planting manual than a blog. And the comments are helpful. I have been asked to give some thoughts on the site and so I am hanging out in the Share The Guide Website this morning to add some comments and interact with people's posts.

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WWF Earth Hour and we are not turning off any lights.

Its almost 8:30pm and I know its "Earth Hour 2009" and everyone is turning off their lights and power etc. But here in Chichester, England, where my family and two other families are enjoying a meal of pheasant casserole and roast duck, we are 16 people in ONE HOUSE and we are not turning off ANY lights because if everyone was to eat together instead of heating up and lighting up their individual houses for sometimes only one or two people (what a waste!) then the world would not not use NEARLY as much energy.

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4x4 Overlander: What We Still Need

People have been asking what we still need to equip our overlander truck for our mission journeys. Thanks for asking.

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We still need:
- A really good 24 volt fridge so we can keep Abigail's insulin cold. We were given an old one but the doctors told us it was too risky for our 12 month's supply of insulin.
- 2 big windows for the side (bigger the better) and a small one for kitchen. We were kicked out of our last camping ground in Edmonton [Lee Valley] because the owner said our vehicle "didn't look right". Windows will probably help.
- 2 solar panels have been offered. We could use 2 more.
- 2 leisure batteries
- Extra diesel tank
- 2 new tires on front. 22.5 and off-road capability. Rear tires are old but plenty of tread.
- Some mechanical genius to figure out how to raise the roof
- An awning big enough to host meetings and tall enough to fit our high vehicle, or plenty of canvass and poles.
- A woodstove light and strong enough.

If you can give us any of these parts, please send an email - tallskinnykiwi at gmail dot com. Thanks.

Cyberchurch: When I went head to head with the Bishop of London

As preparation for our Cyberchurch Symposium this month, I posted a screencapture video of the opening day at the Church of Fools (2004) when I approached the holy of holies and went head to head with the Bishop of London. I knew the Bishop and I would always see eye to eye on this kind of thing. Unfortunately, he saw right through me . . . as if I was invisible. Because I WAS!

If you are curious to know if I was arrogant enough to mount that pulpit or not, check out the next movie.

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Stuff Online worth reading

- Time Mag last week had a piece on the new Calvinism. I read it on paper but you can read it online here. I get it. I was a new Calvinist in the 1980's and had more Banner of Truth books on my shelf than anyone I knew. I see the attraction but I also see the pitfalls of going back to the 17th Century to get reoriented in a postmodern world without going back to the early church in the New Testament.

- Clean up your blog with Christian Affiliate Marketers - who I met at BlogWorldExpo last year in Las Vegas. Dang - I need to clean up THIS blog!!

- The Brick Testament gets a mention in an article on Lego, which saw a 51% rise in profits last year despite the recession.

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- Mark Berry, who I greatly admire, is podcasted on Something Beautiful

- ChurchCrunch comments on my cyberchurch symposium posts.

- Mark Sayers on the fragmentation of emerging church. Its a well thought out post. I relate well to the neo-missiologists in his line-up but most probably am more of a "blender", or a combination of MOST of his categories which probably isnt very helpful to his illustration. And I would add that book authors do not equal leaders in the emerging church. Where would, for example, Pete Grieg of 24/7 prayer fit? Judging EC by its books is like saying the leaders of the American church are Tim LaHaye and William Paul Young. Still, Mark has some unique insights here.

London: Hanging with Social Entrepreneur Shannon Hopkins

We are spending the day with Shannon Hopkins, a Texan who lives in London and has been part of our extended family for a really long time. Big news for Shannon is the launch of her new website YESTERDAY. Shannon is involved in launching all kinds of social enterprises, justice projects and art thingys. She was kind enough to host our Cyberchurch Symposium at her place last week so we are repaying her kindness by allowing her to take our children around the city.

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The FABULOUSLY lo-tech look on Shannon's new website is from the funky web-desiging Marshall Family [Moogaloo] who are also long time friends of ours. Many of you have met Andy and Bea at our roundtables and events. Bea and Andy met Shannon at our house in Prague. Another story . . . obviously.

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Oxford: Curry with Church Mission Society

We hit Oxford yesterday. After spending the night in a caravan park (for only £14) we rocked up at the Church Mission Society building and spent the morning there. After a little talk, they came out to check out the truck. Then we had some curry for lunch and took off. Jonny Baker has more details and some pics on flickr.

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The truck still doesnt have windows on the side (we are saving up our money) and it badly needs a paint job, especially where I have started fibre-glassing the front. Otherwise, its running great and getting us around. We are in London today and will be here for the next 3 days.

Big news for CMS: Tim Dakin, General Secretary of CMS, met with the Archbishop last week and apparently got the ecclesial thumbs up for CMS to become an "acknowledged community" which basically amounts to an order of mission, a missional order . . . if you like . . [I will let Tim explain it here] which I have been cheering on ever since this transition was suggested. In fact, I think a lot of mission organisations would do well to morph into missional orders to allow a more holistic identity and foster a greater mission spirituality. If the 200+ year old CMS can do it, so can others.

Tom Wright - Justification: God's Plan and Paul's Vision

Its a ripper of a book and the best theological read I have had for a while. Tom Wright's latest book is, for me, his most enjoyable yet. Its called Justification: God's Plan and Paul's Vision and its a well written answer to John Piper's "The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright", which I found a little long and unwieldy, and needing Tom Wright's response to complete it. And now that response is here.

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Tom Wright argues that "righteousness" has to do with the status of being declared in the right by God, rather than with a moral righteousness imputed by a Righteous Judge. Tom also suggests quite strongly that a Reformed view of Paul's work lacks continuity with God's covenant with Abraham (Gen 3)and the nation of Israel (Dt. 27-30), something which Paul makes clear and is yet often ignored by modern day evangelicalism. He also accuses Reformed theology (but not Calvin) of being too individualistic, sidestepping the Trinity and avoiding an understanding of all creation and its redemption. Tom even throws some punches at the NIV [for pandering to current thinking rather than biblical accuracy] and Don Carson for his misplaced comments on the back of Piper's book.

Tom Wright has written a great book on one of the most interesting theological debates in this millennium. It moves quickly, has fire on its tail, unlike his more relaxed theological books. This one ismore than its subject - its more than just Romans and its more than "justification. It even goes beyond the "new perspective". This is a book on how to do theology in general, what questions to ask, how to view the wider sweep of Scripture and attempt to get our heads out of a 16th Century mindset. Its also a parallel argument to what is going on in the emerging church; what Wright points out as the inadequacies of a mediaeval theology are strikingly similar to what emerging church leaders have found as inadequate and unbiblical ecclesiastic practices that need to be overcome. The questions asked are similar and that is why I predict most emerging church practitioners will side with Wright rather than Piper on this one, despite both men being godly leaders and great scholar/pastors.

Have you read it? What do you think?

Previously . . . on Tallskinnykiwi: Tom Wright and the Emerging church, Tom Wright's 'Surprised By Hope' is my Top Book of 2008

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Fallen Angel Movie Opens with Randy Stonehill and others.


My geeky friend Jon Reid tells me that the movie Fallen Angel just premiered in California. Randy Stonehill (who I almost interviewed once) and Larry Norman's first wife were there. Jon has an extenstive blogpost on his experience. Anyone else?

Original Post: Frisbee Filmmaker David Di Sabatino responds to Pheonix Preacher regarding the controversy over his new documentary on musician Larry Norman called "Fallen Angel". I really liked this statement from David:

Fallenangel"I think that if you or I met the prophet Ezekiel or Hosea brought his whore wife over for dinner or John the Baptist sat at your table and demanded to be fed locusts and honey, we'd call the cops never mind anathematize them. I always ask people when they start parsing the life of Elvis or Bono or some lesser mortals and whether they are heaven bound what their reaction would be if the Apostle Paul showed up a few years after his conversion to speak in your hometown church, and he had been responsible for killing your parents. Not likely you’d be dropping a bundle in the offering that night."

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The State of Faith-Based Online Communities

I am meandering through English countryside on a wifi-equipped train, hoping to arrive in Edinburgh where the rest of my family waits at a caravan park.

The Cyberchurch Symposium went really well yesterday but it might have been a bit grueling for the Americans who had flown in that morning or the night before. Especially the long walk along the London riverside.

Some observations on the state of faith-based online communities, in particular those cyberchurch types that meet regularly in mediated, virtual, synthetic environments or 3D game-based platforms:

1. As it was 60 years ago, when radio was the new media opening up new possibilities for virtual church, the Americans remain focused on the evangelistic potential of the new media and the Brits are focused on the pastoral potential. Americans want to reach the lost and Brits want to shepherd their extended flock. A generality, perhaps, but its seems to fit.

2. There is, at least among the participants yesterday and other conferences I have been a part of, a wonderful, generous spirit of self-giving and serving that pervades these new efforts as well as a complete lack of competition. I wish it were the same with physical location churches.

3. The cyberchurch experiments are still somewhat experimental, still taking baby steps, still learning, still shy to publish their findings and best practices. Some books coming out this year will put some of these experiments on the map but that does not mean that they have all the answers.

4. People are people, whether off-line or on-line. Whatever problematic issues a bricks-and-mortar church have will not be immune from their online recapitulations.

5. Because people are people, those who prefer a high-church experience will end up creating high-church liturgical icon-rich services on the web. And those low-church people who have preferred the more organic, house church or 3rd space emerging church environments in the physical realm will most likely end up in non-service based web communities that are just as complex and simplex as their physical rivals.

6. Offline church people connect with each other through internet technology during the week as part of their church life. Online church people connect with each other (although sometimes little or never due to geographical distance) physically when possible to complete their church life experience. Both groups are online and offline. That line will get fuzzier as web technologies become more ubiquitous.

7. Its an exciting time to be alive. Thanks God for letting me be a part of it.

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