Paulwrites – John and Olive Drane draw attention to a new book (as part of this post) written by Steven Croft, former Team Leader of Fresh Expressions and now the Bishop of Sheffield, Jesus' People(96 pages)calls for the Church to return to its original core value - to being followers of Jesus Christ, first and foremost.
A nine-page sample and more information about the book can be found here.
a Question for you. If you had to describe “what makes a Church”, how would you? Are there “essentials”?
Here’s an excerpt from Kelly’s “Nine Law’s of God”. They’re useful for churches to reflect on.
Sow increasing returns. Each time you use an idea, a language, or a skill, you strengthen it, reinforce it, and make it more likely to be used again.
Grow by chunking. The only way to make a complex system that works is to begin with a simple system that works. Attempts to instantly install highly complex organization - such as intelligence, or a market economy - without growing it, inevitably lead to failure. Maximize the fringes. In heterogeneity is creation of the world. A uniform entity must adapt to the world by occasional monumental revolutions, one of which is sure to kill it. A diverse heterogeneous entity, on the other hand, can adapt to the world in a thousand daily mini-revolutions, staying in a state of permanent, but never fatal, churning.
Honor your errors. A trick will only work for a while, until everyone else is doing it. To advance from the ordinary requires a new game, or a new territory. But the process of going outside the conventional method, game, or territory is indistinguishable from error. Even the most brilliant act of human genius, in the final analysis, is an act of trial and error.
Paul writes - Well that’s been a frustrating 8 days, trying to get this blog fixed. It’s still not there; the original problem has not been fixed, but an e-mail and instructions from typepad a little while ago meant that I could make a couple of changes and voila – we have a post, and it’s readable. Still not right, but I’ll do some more work as time allows, and hopefully the original issue will be resolved too.
Thanks to those of you who sent e-mail, offered suggestions, and said you were missing the blog. Nice to know a few people read it.
“Solitude greeting solitude, that's what community is all about. Community is not the place where we are no longer alone but the place where we respect, protect, and reverently greet one another's aloneness. When we allow our aloneness to lead us into solitude, our solitude will enable us to rejoice in the solitude of others. Our solitude roots us in our own hearts. Instead of making us yearn for company that will offer us immediate satisfaction, solitude makes us claim our centre and empowers us to call others to claim theirs. Our various solitudes are like strong, straight pillars that hold up the roof of our communal house. Thus, solitude always strengthens community.”
“...Our most painful suffering often comes from those who love us and those we love. The relationships between husband and wife, parents and children, brothers and sisters, teachers and students, pastors and parishioners - these are where our deepest wounds occur. Even late in life, yes, even after those who wounded us have long since died, we might still need help to sort out what happened in these relationships. The great temptation is to keep blaming those who were closest to us for our present, condition saying: "You made me who I am now, and I hate who I am." The great challenge is to acknowledge our hurts and claim our true selves as being more than the result of what other people do to us. Only when we can claim our God-made selves as the true source of our being will we be free to forgive those who have wounded us...”
Paul writes – Reflecting on how we connect our story with God’s story, Bob Carlton, quotes Henri Nouwen who reminds us that
“…Every time there are losses there are choices to be made. You choose to live your losses as passages to anger, blame, hatred, depression and resentment, or you choose to let these losses be passages to something new, something wider, and deeper…”
Paul writes – Nigel Brown is a Kiwi artist whose work I really like. I recently saw my second Brown painting in a lakeside Hotel that I was staying in. I was a joy to just stand and look at it; and to get up close and look at the texture of the work. Good friends have a Nigel Brown painting on their wall, and again it’s a real delight just to sit and look at his painting. I like art. I like it in its own right. I like what it does for the attentive viewer. I like the way good art draws you in to the work. I like the experience of seeing where the mind and eye go as one looks at it. I’m still learning How to Look at a Painting and Brown’s art has been a great body of work to continue the journey with.
“Recently, I picked up a newspaper to find an article on page four about a secret Red Cross report detailing U.S. torture of terrorism suspects. On page three, there was an article about Dick Cheney, who did not use the word “torture,” but said that the Bush administration’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” had kept the country safe, and that Obama’s policies would not. The recently released memos detailing the justification of torture under the Bush administration has produced outrage on both sides of the political spectrum. On the right, the outrage is directed at President Obama for allegedly abandoning a strategy that kept us safe from terrorists and caused no real harm—right wing talker Sean Hannity has even volunteered to be waterboarded for charity. On the left, the outrage is directed at the Bush administration, with little awareness of the ways that Obama has continued Bush’s policies...”
You can read Cavanaugh’s entire May 4th 2009 article here.
Paul writes – Over the last few days, I’ve found compelling and fascinating a series of three lectures by Walter Brueggemann. They again reminded me why I have developed a real aversion to many of the ‘Christianity lite” sermons I’ve heard over the last decade, particularly when they, laced with jokes, personal stories etc, have emerged from within a conservative evangelical / Pentecostal context – they’re the kinds of shallow sermons that focus (implicitly and explicitly) on themes like “how to be happy”; “10-easy steps to a fulfilling life” etc. Brueggemann through his writing and preaching has rid me of any inclination to hear these kinds of sermons ever again.
The March 9-11, 2004 Parchman Endowed lectures (encouraging theological dialogue with the life of the church) delivered on the Baylor campus at the invitation of George W. Truett Theological Seminary featured Dr. Walter Brueggemann. His series of three lectures was entitled, “Texts, Sermons, [&] New Worlds: The Odd Case of Jeremiah” (Downloable as Mp3’s by right-clicking on “Lecture 1” etc.).
Lecture 1 – “Getting Started in Utterance: The Introduction”.
Lecture 3 – “To Reduce to Nothing the Things That Are”.
Lecture 1 begins: “I take a sermon to be an act of reimagining that is inherently subversive and counter-cultural... The sermon invites listening congregations to reimagine all reality with reference to the Creator of Heaven & Earth, the Sovereign Saviour of Israel, [and] the One whom the Church names as Father, Son and Spirit...”