Desert and in between time

I have to admit I am really struggling again

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with the church stuff. Living and working in the in between time is hard. I asked Mark about some of the recent posts and his view based on their experience in Telford, his post was helpful particularly when thinking at a trans-local or global approach to church and enagagment. The harder issue is the very local involvement in local church. Several times I have withdrawn from traditional local expressions and now really only go for the relationships and for the children who enjoy it, I guess I don’t see the thing that I go to on sunday morning as church. Maybe that is part of the in between time.

We are an in between people, living in an in between time.
A people between two worlds, and two times.
A people of hope in a land of pain.
A people of pain in a land of hope
A people who see and read between the lines,
embracing the good of the old, discovering the space of the new
As culture shifts and changes the in between people move and grow,
We are an in between people, journeying in an in between world.

Emerging from a desert place

Following on the previous post “being in but not off the church” James raises a really interesting question about wether we need to wait in a desert place for the the reframed paradigm of church. There are some really interesting links with the desert fathers, and the space and time this gave culture and church to shift. Are we working/thinking too much about emerging church? Do we actually need to retreat to a desert place rather than engage? Or could it be argued that church has actually been in the desert for decades?Reindeer Games buy

Being in the Church, Not of It

I Got this today from the Henri Nouwen daily meditation

Often we hear the remark that we have live in the world without being of the world. But it may be more difficult to be in the Church without being of the Church. Being of the Church means being so preoccupied by and involved in the many ecclesial affairs and clerical “ins and outs” that we are no longer focused on Jesus. The Church then blinds us from what we came to see and deafens us to what we came to hear. Still, it is in the Church that Christ dwells, invites us to his table, and speaks to us words of eternal love.

Being in the Church without being of it is a great spiritual challenge.

Subverting Debt

As a youth worker I work odd hours, so occasionally watch daytime TV usually one of the free music channels (I like to think it helps me stay in touch). Have you noticed the massive interest charges on many of the adverts on daytime TV, either for cars, loans, or other goods? Whilst I am sure that for some even with the high interest charges they provide an okay service and it is the only company that will help and the high rate is about managing the risk. However- who are they targeting by advertising so heavily during the day, Hmm – perhaps those without work who already might be in debt . One company was recently advertising at over 29% interest where as a bank rate can be around 7%. So how about using their freephone numbers from time to time to ask why would I want to borrow from them at such a rate, and use up some their time, and offer a bit of a challenge?

Drumming up community

Last weekend I started a course on Therapeutic drumming. I had never joined a drumming circle before but it was a powerful experience that helped me move my feet and connect with my emotions.

Drumming is one of those ancient practices that has been used for communication and healing and that many people connect with today. There is much evidence about the physical and emotional healing impact of the drum and how it helps people to connect with the soul.

The circle and the beat helped people to connect with each other and begin to be authentic with other in a very short space of time, it seemed to evoke a sense of community, openness and togetherness that I have found it hard to discover in church settings.

One of the core principles about a drum circle is that everybody can participate,, everybody is equal, there is no right or wrong way, no judgement, no dogma, no gender issues, no power stuff – just a sense of let’s celebrate our humanity and be one in spirit.

I was left wondering what a beautiful experience this was and looking forward to meeting up again.


At ‘ye olde churche’ this morning the topic was temptation – which got me thinking…

…there are perhaps three ways to stop yourself from falling for temptation:

  1. Avoiding the temptation.
  2. Self discipline.
  3. Not feeling tempted by it anymore.

The first two strike me as very good practical tactics, but the third has got be be by far the best, if you can get it!

Perhaps, somehow, it goes hand in hand with being free to do whatever you want. Whilst it sounds incredibly dangerous to be ‘free to do what you want’ it must be unbelievably great to want to do just good stuff.

Imagine your favourite thing to do, and what a buzz you get from doing it. Then imagine something that is good to do, but you really hate doing it. Imagine really wanting to do that good thing that you hate doing. Imagine getting that buzz from it. You know how other people get a buzz from doing stuff that you really hate? Well, that implies that it is possible to get a buzz from stuff that you don’t currently get a buzz from.

I would love to love doing good stuff all the time. Some good stuff I do like doing, but some good stuff just freaks me out and scares me! It would be awesome to get a buzz from doing that stuff.

What about temptation? Well, if you can get a buzz for doing something good that you currently don’t like then it must be possible to stop getting a buzz from the temptation and see it replaced with getting a buzz for something else.

I love the idea of being changed from the inside. I know that that’s what I would like!

Subversion and reason

“THE AGE OF UNREASON. Old golfers don’t win (it’s not an absolute, it’s a general rule). Why? The older golfer can hit the ball as far as the younger one. He chips and putts equally well. … So why does he take the extra stroke that denies him victory? Experience. He knows the downside, what happens if it goes wrong, which makes him more cautious. The younger player is either ignorant or reckless to caution. That is his edge. It is the same with all of us. Knowledge makes us play safe. The secret is to stay childish.� Source: Paul Arden, Whatever You Think Think the Opposite

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Undermining Cohabitation

The Church of England has today backed proposals to beef up the rights of cohabiting partners. This is covered on Ekklesia and the BBC News web site.

The reason for this is to improve the rights of the vulnerable within the situation of a cohabiting couple splitting up – either a partner or a child could be vulnerable.

However, a side affect is that this change in the law would be legislating against casual, no commitments, cohabitation. Bear in mind that most of the time cohabitation is the free choice of the cohabitees – no one is being coerced into it (there are unfortunately exceptions, perhaps those are the examples we should be concerned about?), so to imply that current cohabitation is criminal and that it should only ever be accompanied by extended commitments and rights isn’t necessarily something that we should do. Basically this would be legislation to restrict people’s freedom to cohabit in an attempt to protect people who are often putting themselves in a vulnerable position out of free choice.

As I have mentioned in a number of posts (here, here and here

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for example) I don’t believe that it is the role of Christians to impose laws on wider society.

Please don’t think that I’m saying we shouldn’t do whatever we can to help the vulnerable, including children, but I’m not sure that our ‘help’ should be to impose legal restriction on people based on our conception of morality.

Maintaining movement

I did a session on Emerging Church on Wednesday at the Baptist college, and pulled out the verb and noun issue. One of the comments in the discussion was looking at the notion of church moving from/through movement – sect – institution. The roots of some this is in Weber’s work on the sociology of religion and implicit within this model is the idea of protest and equilibrium. I don’t want to focus too much on the terms and semantics but look at the concept and importance of Emerging church as “movementâ€?. NB not “aâ€? movement. The idea being that EC resembles much of the movement idea but is not as cohesive or worried about cohesiveness enough to be a movement. Part of the root of this is in protest, but again not in the classic idea of being against something, but being for something; in the EC the protest element is present in the deconstruction needed but this is done in the climate of being pro or for people, for culture, for dialogue, for journey, for connectivity.

Gerlach and Hine in Kraft’s Christianity in Culture talk about movements having 5 key characteristics; A more cellular, segmented structure, Face to face recruitment, Personal commitment, An ideology or conceptual framework, and Real or perceived opposition. Again these characteristics don’t fit EC exactly as it is not “a� movement but are present in EC.
Part of the issue why these don’t quite fit I would suggest is that the greater recognition of weaknesses and humility in EC is part of it’s strength, and key to maintaining movement and that there is a maturity in this approach, that is aided by post modernity.

So in order to maintain movement it could be important for EC not to align too closely to institutional or established church that seek to define, but to move on into fluid type definitions or labels, that maintain key verbs that help give shape without holding it down. Whilst it could be that we are in a catch 22 type of situation as any label can restrict, I would suggest that with the shift in culture and maturity in EC that there is the capability to define itself in this more fluid way. For example in the post on redefining church I posted these elements towards definition
6. The redefinition we are offering of Church in the post- Christendom west is a way of being and living that is a series of chaotic but intentional encounters with God, one another, and the world, founded on the holistic teaching of Christ, and encompassing the whole of life.
7. This encompasses the critical outcome of the imagery of church used in the bible, this being that all the bibles images of church include “attitude and course of action�.
8. This whole of life process is not about walls, rules or fences but about wells, mutuality and redemptive processes.

To conclude I would ask/argue is it time to redefine in this fluid way as it could be crucial to maintaining movement, and stop EC becoming “a� movement in the classical sense as otherwise history would suggest (see Baptists, Methodist etc) that becoming an institution could quickly follow.