Where's the start

Great few days with Bob and Mary Jackson and Howard Pesekett as part of the MA I studying. Looking at the issues to do with church and mission. Lots of stuff from fresh expressions and good to get such a long term view from Bob. Interesting to hear Howard’s views on the links to his mission experience and start to put it altogether.

Also with a lot of background material about church planting it helped me make sense of a lot things I had observed over the years. Good to relook at some stuff I had not seen in a while particularly, Warrens model and entry points for church planting (worship, mission, community). Also The church armys Encounter from the Edge series by George Ling, one of which reinforced the need to start with community. Together it gave me more of a context and rationale for several questions I have had in the past around church planting in UPAs and explained (at least in my head) one of the historic weaknesses that I often saw in church plants that often aimed towards the entry point of worship.

Some good implications for the Church on the edge, and need to build community, and how this can correlate. When we see mission and worship in a more wholistic sense, how more important the building and growing and exploring community stages identified so far in the church on the edge project are. Both as a startpoint and as way to move beyond some of the current models.

Inside Man video

Donovan, Ambiguous and Church on the edge

I did some work with some students comparing Vincent Donovan’s approach to Mission, The findings from Ambiguous Evangelism, Meet them Where there at and how all this compares and informs the Church on the Edge project. Thanks to the students for sticking with the process I will up load the PowerPoint slides. A few things that came out were:

Donovan saw leaving as one of the most important things in his context, does this apply?
How do you engage ambiguously with the young people around issues of church and use this to help enable non biased research?
Hopefully a few present may add to this via comments.

It led to me thinking about how do we ensure we hold to good youth work principles and do the research, ie not just engaging young people to do research on them. So in Chard one of the things we will say about the project is

The project will develop detached youth work with young people in the Chard area, contacting young people where they are, on the streets, in parks, and hanging around. The project will work with these young people towards their personal, social, and spiritual development in line with youth work principles. This will be an ongoing project.
The project will also invite young people to take part in action research into how young people would shape and define an expression of church relevant to them. This is part of an initiative of FYT called Church on the Edge, in partnership with Church Missionary Society, Diocese of Devon, and local churches.

In terms of how this links to the process I will use one of the ways secular agencies who have adapted the strategy to ensure those who do not want to engage with the church element that we can still work meaningfully and authentically together on the issues that affect them. So stage 9 of the detached process becomes

9. PEER EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT or CHURCH ON THE EDGE Enabling young people to become active participants in their community or to choose to take part in the action research

Mixed Responses

Developing the Church on The Edge project is throwing up a range of responses. One group linked with the local secular forum, found a very encouraging response to the proposal and no real shyness around the church issue. In another area there a more questions from church leaders than from laity to the proposal.

A couple of questions on these recent issues are:
How do you engender support for such an edgey project when there are very mixed responses?
How upfront are we about the intentional agenda of growing church and how do we enable people to see the ongoing and unconditional nature of the project with apologising for the church element?

Daves Update

Well its been the toughest few weeks so far and we’ve both really struggled and missed you guys. On reflection we both agreed we are trying to achieve far too much and putting ourselves under a lot of pressure to change the world before we go home – never a good idea! Living, working, relaxing, studying, etc. in one room has its down points after a while and I think we’ve found it hard to switch off from the work. The lines between work, church, hanging out with folk, got pretty blurred, so this week we are trying to find God’s rhythm and pace, enjoy life and stop being major stress monkeys. That said, its not always the easiest place to relax. Last week our pastor’s wife was held up in an armed robbery in our local shops. (It didn’t even make the papers because stuff like that is pretty common-place.) Yesterday I was sat on our bed and a hand just came in through the window to see what was lying around! There are also frequent power cuts which makes driving at night interesting too.

OK – enough moaning. Since we last wrote we’ve had the usual ecclectic mix of football, Youth on Tuesday nights, Pathfinders, training the Youth Executive and church socials – this month was the ‘Fructe Fest’ or fruit festival which involved the young people raising the roof with some beautiful gospel singing, some funny compering, elderly gentlemen telling jokes in Afrikaans and of course fruit! Never has so much water melon been consumed by so few. The funeral of a much respected elderly gentlemen, bru Petersen, gave us an interesting insight into South African funerals. By all accounts he was a long-suffering, joyful, faithful man, so the parts of the service I understood were pretty inspiring. What I was not prepared for was ‘the showing’ in which you must walk past the body, face showing (and do what?) and greet a long line of his family (and say what?!) So we were the bumbling brits – not for the first time! And after – well there’s nothing like a funeral to whet the appetite. I have never seen so many people munch so much curry and eat surely a tonne of cake – most amusing.

Added to this we decided to try and stir up some interesting cultural learning opportunities and kick-start a social action project. None of the coloured kids in the church really mix with white or black kids, except a little in school. One 14 year old told me the reason black people live in shacks is because ‘they spend all their money on cars’. You take my point. So we got in touch with a manager of social services in Khayelitsha, a v. poor black township on the edge of the city. The idea is to encourage coloured kids throughout the Rhenish church congregations to volunteer once a month in a children’s project in Khayelitsha. The manager of social services, who – handily(!) is also a pastor in the Rhenish church, was up for it, so its early days, but we’re hopeful. We’re looking at them working in a community garden, playing with the kids, etc.

Other work happenings include.. starting a rugby team (we are being nagged, but have no clue about the rules – sorry dad!), writing a booklet based on young people and parents opinions, stories and questions, planning a Youth camp, second attempt to climb Table Mountain, visiting a street kids project (a huge proportion of them come from our community) finishing the youth lounge (see photo), meeting with other youth leaders from elsies river, and waving red hot pokers at adults in the church to try and motivate them to get involved in the youth work. This is probably our biggest challenge. We said when we came that we didn’t want to start a bunch of stuff and then just leave. So the key word for the moment is ‘sustainability’ and that means getting adults involved. We invited 15 likely suspects to a meeting to talk about what was involved in supporting young people to try and generate some interest and motivation. Of those 15, 8 turned up, but – alleluia! we now have 5 people who are committed to helping out with the youth camp and – I hope- will also get involved each week in the group.Thanks to everyone who prayed about this.

I have just read that list back and remembered that all my old school reports say ‘over ambitious’. No comment. Amongst the work we’ve also had some legendary weekends off. Hi-lights included a 10 course fish bar-be-cue on the beach, and visiting the beautiful Cape Point nature reserve on Sunday. A huge tortoise, 5 metre long whale bones, birds and my first siting of a wild otter made you just jump about and say thanks very much God! Later in the afternoon we were swimming in the aqua blue sea only to be rudely interrupted by a cheeky baboon. The little blighter ran across the beach and started going through my clothes and opening our bags. I ran out of the sea, yelling (rather rudely I confess) and lobbing handfuls of sand at it. The baboon ducked and put its hands over its face, but continuing with my sandy onslaught the fella finally gave up. I was glad about this because he then grabbed some other poor chap’s bag who had to give chase. It was like some scene out of a cave man film watching some guy in his speedos with a long stick disappearing after a troop of baboons over the sand dunes!

Well guys I will wrap up for now. For all you praying types, please can you send one (or two) up for the following….
– thanks that we’re safe, in one piece, still learning a lot, and feel God is right with us
– thanks for the adults who are starting to get involved in the youth group
– the youth camp – could be a really key time and Dave and I are leading the programme. Please pray for wisdom for session content and for the holy spirit to come.
– for the social action project in Khayelitsha – that it takes off and takes shape and young people catch the vision for it
– for more adults who will commit to spending regular time with the young people – we’re still looking for people to help with football, rugby and Pathfinders. No-one committed so far.
– for us. Both a bit frazzled and needing some encouragement. Also starting to think about coming home (April 29th) and what’s next.

THANKS PEOPLE! To everyone whose taken the time to read these ramblings, e-mail us, or pray, thanks so very much. It means a lot. God bless you.
Love Isla and Dave
xPolice Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach divx

Sneaky Lent

Lent Keeps sneaking up on me. The past few years I always am surprised by the speed it comes around and never quite as prepared as I want to be. Life is too hectic and I am out of rhythm. I need to ash, and I need to re-root. So pausing on the posts for a while. BACK SOON.