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Posts from June 2011

Special needs children in church

If Elevation Church can't handle a special needs child in their distraction-free seeker sensitve service, then how the heck will they put up with my Pentecostal friends from Brazil???

Now that's some yellin' and whoopin'. I tell ya!

I dont mean to make light of the situation. Its an emotional issue on the blogs right now and I dont want to stoke the fire. But I do have two nephews with cerebal palsy, one more severe than the other, and they are part of a family who loves Jesus and goes to a church that, I guess, values their contribution to the service as worthwhile and NOT a distraction.

Unlike the 12 year old special needs child who was demoted to another room (not actually kicked out) at Elevation Church worship service. Which you might have seen on the news or Facebook.

Someone on Twitter is asking for the other side of the story. Ministry Matters offers a possible alternative account entitled "In Elevation's Defence" in which they suggest an element of church-bullying from the mum and the fact that churches rarely authorize ministries started by visitors or people who are not well known in the church. That might be true. And if you have more to the story then I would appreciate a link below.

But Skye is right to point to a wider issue in seeker-senstive churches - Can the values of entertainment and hospitality coexist? and even more so in the Out of Ur blog where he says:

"In our desire to be distraction free, must we remove individuals from our corporate worship whom God has called to himself? What are we communicating about the church, God's Kingdom, and the character of God himself, if people with special needs are not fully welcomed? And we don't have to focus on these extreme examples like the boy with cerebral palsy. In many of our congregations we don't even want non-special needs children in our worship gatherings."

I agree. Worship should include participation from everyone. Especially children whether they are special need or non-special need. If you are interested in turning the desire of the congregation to participate in worship, rather than merely watch undistractedly something on a stage, then I suggest two excellent books born out of the alternative worship movement. They are Curating Worship and the Art of Curating Worship.

Update: A commenter below suggested this picture



Others: Mustard Seed Year Day 166, Rachel Held Evans, Mercy Church, Pulling Weeds

Another earthquake or two in Christchurch

Bummer! Christchurch had two earthquakes this morning and Noah, a friend who lives in that city, tells me there is gunk everywhere and they are "back to square one". Photos here.

We visited Christchurch earlier this year, a few days after the big one, and were part of a city-wide gathering for churches and ministries that attempted to pool resources to assist the rescue and rebuilding efforts. And quite successfully, I should add. From that meeting there emerged some new aggregations of ministries and partnerships designed to serve the city.

One of those is the  Christchurch Churches Resources Co-ordination Group 

Another helpful step was bringing Peter Kenyon from Australia to talk about community building in a devasted city. I had already left NZ by then but I heard it was good.

Anyway, the bad news is that the earthquakes are still coming. The good news is that the churches have responded and there are some systems in place to help rebuild - something they didn't have six months ago.


Balkan Connect and 24/7 Prayer

We had an incredible time in Macedonia last year at Balkan Connect. This years event starts in a few days.

Balkan connect 2011

Unfortunately, I am not able to participate this year at Balkan Connect 2011but I wish them every blessing and good thing. 70 people are coming from all over the Balkans. You can follow it and pray for a really productive time. Anyone from Albania this year????

Ucjones 247Icandrew 247

And don't forget the big event in Frankfurt on Oct 6-9. [Facebook] Its been ten years since the "Emerge 2001" event happened in Frankfurt. Yes, I was there. It was cool to see the UK networks connect with the German networks and the Spanish kicking in their thing as well. That event in 2001 was, I think, the beginnings of a wider European movement that is still going today. If you cant come along, prayer for all the young leaders that they will be encouraged to "stand up" today and will have some corporate direction for the future.

Aufstehen banner 500x154px

Faith, Feasts, Foreshadowing and Festivals

This post is part of the June 8 Synchroblog that carries the Pentecost theme: Faith, Feasts and Foreshadowing. There is a tradition of synchroblogs (or grid blogs) among Christian bloggers and you can read an old grid-blog post from 2005, as well as a Pentecostal poem I wrote called The Sound of Dust.

But for today, I want to add the other "F" word which is, of course, Festival - the place where all three words come together.

I have just returned from Dresden, Germany where I was speaking at a large protestant festival called Kirchentag [Church Day]. Over 100,000 people participated and there were times where it seemed the whole city had become a stage for the church's activities and stunts and spectacles. It seemed like a foreshadowing of what is to come and also an echo of festivals in Biblical times where faith, feasting and foreshadowing the Kingdom played significant roles.

I am a big fan of festivals. I probably attend about 3 or 4 every year. Some of them I sponsor from a distance. I think they represent a holistic and sustainable way of having the wider church meet together more affordably and more visibly than Christian conferences that usually take place in hotels or conference centers.

Heres some thoughts on that subject, dug out from previous blog posts and comments on this blog over the years.

Continue reading "Faith, Feasts, Foreshadowing and Festivals" »

Leaving Dresden, reflecting on Kirchentag

We are leaving Dresden after the Kirchentag festival. Great time. Lots of people. Heres a photo of my family dancing on the streets to really cheesy music.

Kirchentag dancing

They put our truck in the exhibition area so it [and we] were on display the whole time. We had an open house for our truck and a constant steam of people asking about our solar powered exhibition vehicle. We were parked next to the Greenpeace stand and got to know the young volunteers from Greenpeace really well. They loved our low-impact vehicle with its solar shower, mangle for washing and hand grinding devices for everything.

Someone offered us a shower in their apartment towards the end of the week and we were really thankful for that - Abi said she hadn't had a shower since China . . . you probably didnt want to hear that. We didn't either. But we all showered anyway. LOVELY!!!! The girl who offered was not a Christian but she really connected with us. Hope to see more of her.

Also, someone donated 50 Euros towards our diesel fund. She was Egyptian and the only person that gave towards our journey. We are grateful for every gift. And this gift is helping us get back to Czech Republic.

We are currently in a free "stellplatz" parking area and enjoying the quiet.

Kirchentag was an amazing piece of organization and effort to get the whole city excited about a church event. They did extremely well and we are really glad we came.

My 10 year blogiversary and why I think blogging is still important

Tallskinnykiwi is ten years old today!

This blog you are reading was born on June 3, 2001 and it replaced my earlier blog, Andrew's Tea Salon (from 1997). My yearly blogiversaries have become a wonderful part of my life, almost as meaningful to me as my real birthdays.

Thanks for coming along all these years and making it an enjoyable ride.

A little history and some milestones.

In 2003, Tallskinnykiwi, then on the blogger platform, reached Number 3 blog in the world according to Blogger Forum. From that great and wonderful height, perhaps never achieved by a religious blog, either before or after, it has tumbled embarrassingly and violently to nestle itself among mortal blogs and the hoi polloi. But among Christian and religion blogs it still manages to find its place.

It enjoyed the status of the highest ranking Christian blog for some time but since then has been bumping up and down the ladder, depending on how much time I have to blog (less and less) and how much wifi access I can find in the countries I visit. And of course there are much better blogs and bloggers than me and I am glad to blog in their shadow.

There are 3251 posts on this blog with 19, 622 comments. If it was a book, it would take a really really ridiculously long time to read. Heres a graph of what my blog looks like with your blogs attached to it.

Blogiversary blog image

I did the same graph exercise 5 years ago on my 5 year blogiversary

2 thoughts on the future of blogging:

1. As blogging continually finds itself supplemented by micro-blogging platforms like facebook and twitter, it is even more important to hold your own space on the web. Your blog is your playground, not someone else's. It collects the streams of your virtual life, organizes them, presents them, and its something that you get to control and add your own flavor to.

2. As blogging moves from the computer screen to mobile devices, having an online presence will be increasingly important to point people to your published work and to host the conversation and comment regarding it. In the new world of e-publishing, bloggers will have the edge. The web is shifting from sites to apps, from viewing/surfing to downloading/reading, and that means there will be greater opportunity to get your self-published posts and thoughts into billions of devices, and greater scope to make some money from your work if that is important to you.

Blogging has come a long way in the past decade, but it is still in its infancy and there is a lot more that will happen in the future. Its not as punk rock as the early days but its still a vital part of self-publishing and providing compelling and accurate information to the world.

So be part of that future.

Blog on.

If you are interested in starting a blog, and I totally recommend you do, I have some friends who can help. I recommend Darren Rowse's book Your First Week of Blogging, as well as checking out Tentblogger John Saddington. Both these guys are Christians and both will help you be a better blogger.

Earlier Blogiversaries:

June 3, 2004 - some thoughts on the blogsophere

June 3, 2005 - remembering the birth of TallSkinnyKiwi blog

June 3, 2006 - 5 year blogiversary and some games

June 3, 2007 - 6th year and thanks a million.

June 3, 2008 - 8th year. Taking a break

3 things that have helped me be a better bridge builder.

I am speaking in a few hours on a panel that deals with Ecumenicism.

2. ECUMENISM. Friday, 3pm to 6pm

Centre for Encounter: Central and Eastern Europe

Ecumenism – That’s my story too. Experiences which give us courage. Story telling salon.

Andrew Jones, global networker, New Zealand,

Andrzej Korus, Wroclaw, Poland,

Prof. Dr. Konrad Raiser, former general secretary World Council of Churches, Berlin,

Dr. Peter Sajda OP, Bratislava, Slovakia,

Jalil Schwarz, Friedenskoch Abrahamszelt e.V., Bergheim,

Bischop Uland Spahlinger, Odessa, Ukraine,

Mateusz Srodon, icon painter and lecturer in Eastern Christianity, Warsaw, Poland,

Natallia Vasilevich, director of the Ecumena cultural and educational centre, Minsk, Belarus,

Alexej Wassin, Belarussian Orthodox Church, Reutlingen.

Moderation: Michael Kaminski, Munich.

Dreikönigskirche, Haus der Kirche, Festsaal, Hauptstr. 23 (200 /P15)


As a networker, I have found some things that have made bridge building in the Christian world a little easier:

-  The web. It is the web, the internet, the blogosphere, chat rooms and email correspondence that have helped to enable leaders from very different corners of the Christian world to interact in a safe online environment, something they probably never would have done in the physical world.

-  A global youth culture. It has been relatively easy to bridge ministries together when they share a common culture. We have had leadership roundtables and training events on every continent and we have seen young people from similar cultures [but foreign countries] come together. We have seen Japanese Christians who love manga relate immediately with Norwegian Christians who love manga, Chilean hard core Christians relate with German hard core Christians. A global emerging church roundtable we are helping to organize next month in USA will bring alt. culture emerging-church leaders from 39 nations. The previous global roundtable (2009) was held in Poland. The first, btw, was held in Germany in 2006.

Story - In Central Europe, which is the focus of this panel discussion, we have seen incredible selfless ecumenism among the sub-cultures -  the Jesus Freaks in Germany have brought resources from their Freakstock Festival to the Slot Arts Festival in Poland. And the Polish have in turn become a source of strength and resources for UpFest in Ukraine as well as to other festivals that are popping up around Europe.  Another interesting development with the Jesus Freaks International is the loss of their festival location in Efurt and the response by the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox church who offered their large ex-military base - which is the new site of the Freakstock Festival.

- A postmodern vocabulary, in particular some names and terms that identified the tendency of modernity to marginalize the "other" and terms that point to the possibility of a post-colonial future for mission and church.

- The charismatic movement of the 80's and the new-monastic movement of this last decade have both opened doors to renewed conversation and acceptance within Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox worlds. Monastistic structures, in particular, seem more fluid and given to ecumenism than traditional attractional church structures.


1. A missional focus. The modern ecumenical movement had its birth in the 1910 International Missionary Conference in Edinburgh. Read my post here.

Picture 13

In Edinburgh there was a missional agenda that brought various streams of the Christian world (but not Catholic until much later) together in a way that transcended theological or denominational barriers. People came together under the missional purpose of God.

The most remembered goal, which is often misunderstood, was to promote unity and co-operation in mission. ... It put forward real ways to pursue unity and co-operation in the years ahead and thus prepared the church for the events that would come in World War I and II in a unique way. John Armstrong, Was 1910 a Success?

2. A low visibility. Strong branding looks good but it can also make your organization a threat to the ecumenical process. People are wary of being swamped by a large organization or a charismatic leader. No one wants to support an egomaniac lest they become one of his numbers. I say "his", not to be sexist, but simply because I cant think of any examples of female Christian leaders on a quest to build mega ministries that outnumber those of their peers.

Continue reading "3 things that have helped me be a better bridge builder." »

A worship service your city will not forget

Last night in Dresden we did something pretty cool for the evening worship at Kirchentag. This one, called Evening Blessing - sound and light,  should be added to Jonny Baker's worship tricks. I'm pretty sure your church will want to try it one day. Its really easy. I will explain how to do it.

First of all you need to light up your city buildings with funky colours. You might need permission.

Kirchentag city lights

Fire up half a dozen huge balloons and let them hover over the city so that everyone can see something is happening.

Kirchentag balloon

Then get 100,000 people to hold candles and position them on both sides of the river.

Kirchentag candles us

And also the Jones family to hold candles.

Kirchentag evening lights 1

A solar powered cross is a nice measure. And so is some Gregorian-sounding music pumped out through big speakers. If you can, have a famous musician write something special for the occasion. We were lucky enough to have Sven Helbig compose "There will your heart be also" for us last night and vocals were provided by the Concentas Vocalis choir from St Lukas.

Kirchentag evening worship lights 3

And for the final touch, put 150,000 floating candles in the water and let the current carry them down the river.

And thats it! A great way to host an outdoor worship service that your city will never forget.

What do you think, Jonny? Good enough for your worship tricks?

There will your heart be also

The theme for Kirchentag Festival, here in Dresden, is from Matthew 6:21, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Kirchentag car germany dresden

"The magenta coloured folder stands for the heart of reason and feeling. It stands for the light that shines out into a city in which there are few Christians nowadays, a light whose brightness - with the gathering and encouragement of so many - will surely give new heart to the few." Kirchentag International programme.

Kirchentag opening heart

Event organisers at the International welcome event showed us how to make a heart with our hands.

Kirchentag theme heart

Posters everywhere.


Social media and ecumenism at Kirchentag

We are here in Dresden, Germany, for the Kirchentag festival. 120,000 people expected.

Kirchentag horizontal

It's raining a little, and really, really cold compared to yesterday, and everyone is setting up their tents and booths. Makes me think about the Festival of Booths in biblical days.

The Germans are remarkable organizers and this should be an incredible week. I hope to send up a few blog posts from here about whats happening here and in the wider German church scene.

I speak a few times at Kirchentag on the subject of social media and ecumenism. Come along to my sessions if you get a chance:

1. SOCIAL MEDIA. Thursday, 3pm to 4pm

"Tallskinnykiwi: From around the world Andrew Jones reports on his extraordinary blog. In the internet cafe, he meets Tom Noeding from They talk about Christian faith and social media. Location: (See German guide) EnergieVerbund Arena, Loungebereich, Magdeburger Str. 10 (220/N15/Stadtplan)

2. ECUMENISM. Friday, 3pm to 6pm

Centre for Encounter: Central and Eastern Europe
Ecumenism – That’s my story too. Experiences which give us courage. Story telling salon.

Andrew Jones, global networker, New Zealand

Andrzej Korus, Wroclaw, Poland

Prof. Dr. Konrad Raiser, former general secretary World Council of Churches, Berlin

Dr. Peter Sajda OP, Bratislava, Slovakia

Jalil Schwarz, Friedenskoch Abrahamszelt e.V., Bergheim

Bischop Uland Spahlinger, Odessa, Ukraine

Mateusz Srodon, icon painter and lecturer in Eastern Christianity, Warsaw, Poland

Natallia Vasilevich, director of the Ecumena cultural and educational centre, Minsk, Belarus

Alexej Wassin, Belarussian Orthodox Church, Reutlingen

Moderation: Michael Kaminski, Munich

Dreikönigskirche, Haus der Kirche, Festsaal, Hauptstr. 23 (200 /P15)

Languages: various (table interpretation)