Chard Mission Group

Welcome to anyone who has found their way here. The links I mentioned last night are on the right hand side of the page under the emerging church category. You may also like to read the link to sunday papers which explains more about the metaphor we discussed.
If you have any questions or feedback you can type them as a comment below.

Structures and Kingdom

Two contrasting recent experiences. Both working with structured organisations, but one willing to use the structure for accountability that does not get in the way of building kingdom and one where the structure got in the way of kingdom and then using the structure as defense. I can live with structures and like accountability and even understand the need for some but find it hard when people cant see beyond the structure to the opportunity. Then I find myself on the precarious on the edge of being judgemental of people whose hands are probably quite tied. The freedom of the kingdom is a spacious place, but the different approaches remind me of the now and not yet.

Update from Dave and Isla in SA

Do you ever find yourself wondering ‘how on earth did I end up here in this situation, in this place, at this time?’ We have found ourselves thinking this often since arriving in South Africa three months ago but for me (Dave) never more so than on Saturday morning just gone. Before I had even had a chance to feel reasonably awake I found myself with the responsibility of refereeing our new football team’s first ever proper match. Yes, the team with surely the longest name ever (Elsies United Rhenish Church AKA One Love) played a friendly against the Church Council. Those of you who are even vaguely familiar with me will know that I have let my knowledge of the beautiful game slip to an embarrasing degree since I stopped collecting Panini football stickers in 1986. I was always bound to make a bad referee, but add to my ignorance a serious lack of linesmen (none) and, indeed, an equal lack of lines, and there was a recipe for disaster. My decisions generally went with the team who was shouting at me the most and seemed the most likely to turn on me or bare a long term grudge. The final score was 5-0 to Elsies United, to the delight of our coach, Jeremy (one of the young people) and I only had to give one yellow card! You can see a photo of both teams, attached.

So what else have we been up to since our last update? We have just come to the end of our summer programme of activities. This included some great day trips to various beaches, beauty spots and ice-rinks! (Our attempt to scale Table Mountain was unfortunately hampered due to bad weather.) These trips provided useful opportunities to get to know the young people well in a short space of time, which has been essential. From these relationships we have been able to develop the football team, which has really taken off and is a great opportunity for the young people involved to develop physically and socially. Jeremy has really risen to the challenge of being coach and is slowly developing in self-confidence through this role. We have also been working together on creating a youth lounge in one of the church rooms. This has involved brainstorming what kind of atmosphere we want to create and what we want to use the room for (including providing space for friends to come and chill and make links with the church). Since agreeing on these issues we have been busy painting and making banners and the room is coming together very nicely.

We had a fantastic break with our good friends the Wiles’ who came to spend Christmas in Elsies River. The Turkey finally arrived at sometime after 5:00pm on Christmas day because Dave Wiles forgot to turn the oven on! Nevertheless, we had tongue, tripe and trotter to keep us going (apparently traditional South African Christmas day food) and even some edible things too like ham, roast pumpkin, seafood curry and Christmas pudding. It was an interesting mix of South African and British traditions and the afternoon was spent swimming in the pool and opening presents sent from our families. It was certainly an unusual Christmas day but the good company of friends from home and new friends (the pastor and his family spent the day with us) lestened the homesickness.

We enjoyed being tourists with Dave and Donna and the family, finally making it up Table Mountain on the cable car, which was spectacular. (Attached is a photo of us at the top looking out over the northern suburbs, we are staying somewhere in all that!) We also visited Robben Island, the Cape of Good Hope and various other beautiful places. Dave Wiles and his son Dan decided all this wasn’t enough excitement and jumped out of a plane. When Dave reached the bottom he looked even whiter than the day he arrived at the airport!

It was hard saying goodbye to friends from home and settling back into life and work in Elsies. However, we are back in the flow of things now and have some exciting plans for our remaining time here. We plan on spending a large portion of our time and energy on training the youth exec and on recruiting adults from the church to invest their time in young people. We will also be doing some training with youth leaders from other churches in Elsies River, helping them explore issues for local young people and how they might respond. We have been asked to present a council of 40 local church leaders with a proposal for the employment of a Youth and Community Worker for Elsies River. The possibilities here are very exciting.

Other opportunities we are exploring are a cultural/educational exchange. Two or three people from the Rhenish Church in Elsies with an interest in youth work will hopefully come and spend a week or two sharing their stories in schools in the UK and visiting youth projects. A couple of young youth workers from the UK will then come and visit Elsies in 2007 and explore issues of justice, equality etc with the young people and youth workers here.

One of the most exciting possibilities we are exploring is a social action project of some sort in one of the black townships (‘Khayelitsha’). Our hope is that a group of young people will be given the opportunity to volunteer with a children’s project. Historically there is some tension and prejudice between the coloured and black communities and the hope is that these volunteers will return to coloured churches and tell the stories of the people and children they meet through the project. We are just starting to discuss this idea, so it’s early days, but it could be great.

Is the slope a myth?

Was chatting over lunch to a guy about the idea many churches have of a slope of activities that lead to faith and church attendance. The idea of contact work, leading to socials, to small groups, maybe alpha and then sunday worship alongside which faith and belonging develop.

I wonder where this comes from and if anyone has any research to suggest it works. Is it another case of having a shallow theology of church and looking for methods that fit this? Joe Myers questions many of these assumptions about belonging. However I wonder how much a deep ecclesiology that is more missio dei in focus and maintains that Christ came that we may have life in all fullness enables us to see the value of each activity in and of itself without needing to see that it fits into a slope and thereby placing a value judgement of one kind on another.

This links to the redefinition of churchidea. Recenty I have been looking at a community profile of the town we are moving to and have been asked to speak to a local church mission group. It would seem that from the profile and capacity within the church there is scope for a family event. A kind of dick and dom meet ant and dec in Noels house party, with quizzes, gameshow, food, live band etc but with a level of intentionality (see point 5) that is in line with a deep eccelsiology and not part of a slope idea. Yet this would be a huge culture shift for the church.

Ethics (or ‘how to know right and wrong’)

Richard was telling me yesterday that he is covering ethics with his students at college. What a great subject! Not because you learn how to ‘do ethics’ but because you learn (hopefully) that ethics don’t really do what they say on the tin!

As I see it, the problem with ethics is that it relies on our intellects. We know about 0.000001% (or perhaps a little less) about stuff, about the world we live in, about the people we live around, about ourselves, about the effects of our actions. On the other hand God knows 100% about stuff. So, who would you rather trust?

That kind of leads us onto ‘how to know God’s mind’… and that’s an entirely different subject, certainly not ethics! Let’s face it, I don’t have a ‘system’ for knowing my best mates.

Would there be any truth in saying that in the Law of the Old Testament is an ethical system? I don’t know, maybe you know? Any answers?


I have signed up to the Henri Nouwen daily quote email. Today I got this, I was taken by the phrase that our vocation is hidden in where we are and who we are. As a youth worker and employed in/by a faith based agency it is too easy to slip into our vocation being what we do.

Often we want to be somewhere other than where we are, or even to be someone other than who we are. We tend to compare ourselves constantly with others and wonder why we are not as rich, as intelligent, as simple, as generous, or as saintly as they are. Such comparisons make us feel guilty, ashamed, or jealous. It is very important to realize that our vocation is hidden in where we are and who we are. We are unique human beings, each with a call to realize in life what nobody else can, and to realize it in the concrete context of the here and now.

We will never find our vocations by trying to figure out whether we are better or worse than others. We are good enough to do what we are called to do. Be yourself!

Missio Dei Bosch info

Some of the stuff we will be looking at through the session is basic missio dei stuff:-

Mission is not a program of the church but rather an attribute of God. Mission comes first from the heart of God and we are caught up in it rather than initiating it.

Mission is primarily the work of God and we participate with God in what He is doing.

Missio Dei sees our mission as stemming from the Triune God: The Father sends the Son, The Father and the Son send the Spirit, The Father and Son and the Spirit send the church.

As the Father sent me, so I send you. (Jesus)

Therefore one of the things that Bosch highlights is the role of church in the process Bosch would say “Mission denotes the total task God has set before the church.. To love, to serve, to preach, to teach, to heal, to liberate the world� Continue reading

Missio Dei Bosch and tacking

Been doing some prep for a lecture on mission. I always liked Bosch transforming mission and found it very shaping but somewhat heavy going. However in prepping for the lecture I have been using Nussbaums reader which is excellent and have found it helped having Nussbaum highlight particular quotes. I can’t help wondering where Bosch’s work on church and mission would have eventually taken him if he had been able to continue his work. If you are unfamiliar with his stuff or found it to hard work I would thoroughly recommend Nussbaums Reader.

Where now?

I am not one for new years resolutions, I find them unhelpful and would rather set my mind on something at whatever point in time and stick to it. Looking ahead however is a consuming issue for me. I spend a lot of time planning, culture watching, time framing etc. Recently I have been wondering more and more how relevant this is. Practically it makes sense when I have such a busy schedule, but I am not sure how good it is for the soul. If I don’t plan holiday it can get squezzed out, but equally there may be value for the hearer or who ever you are meeting to say (with some advance warning) I need some family space, or whatever. Not overly practical I know but perhaps more honestly human, as I don’t know six months in advance when I need a holiday. Making the most of every moment, and valuing the time we are in, has always been important but wonder how much the essence of these moments get pushed out as I plan every moment ahead.