Contemporary Emergence

I recently heard a good sermon which used a pop song to illustrate its point.  The song was Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.  The point made was that at the point when you become a Christian, everything in your life doesn’t become miraculously fixed.  The prosperity gospel does not miraculously take away your debts, resurrect your wife or fix your car.  In the song, Bono proudly declares:

You broke the bonds
And you loosened the chains
Carried the cross
Of all my shame
all my shame
You know I believe it

But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

In spite of everything, Bono is still on a journey of discovery with challenges and pitfalls.  It was a very good sermon.  However, for me it prompted a more important question than how we ‘sell’ the gospel.  How do we engage with our modern society?

In our quest to engage with modernity we look for contemporary examples around us to connect with.  We listen to modern music, we watch modern TV and we use modern web sites that we connect to through an RSS feed direct to our modern mobile phone.  We use these things to teach others or provoke reaction from the Christians around us.  We use them to engage with those who are on the periphery of the church about something meaningful to them.  This principle is at the heart of the emerging church movement and the basis for much alternative worship.

In this quest however, we often become outdated as we strive so hard to be up to date and modern.  It is said that most contemporary resources designed for youth groups are 20 years out of date when they are published.  In the forties and fifties songs sounded like music hall from the 20’s.  As we create modern resources we often produce things that equate to the time when we were young hip and happening.  Here in the naughties we can be in danger of sounding like the 80’s.  I am equally guilty of this when I pick up my guitar and play the riff from Still haven’t Found What I’m Looking For whilst singing the words to Open the Eyes of my Heart Lord.

A sermon about Bono really speaks to me.  I was 7 when he strutted onto the stage of Live Aid in a ridiculous outfit and strutted his stuff shouting Sunday Bloody Sunday.  I think the point made is really valid.  But what resources are we creating that speak to the here and now?  If we are to engage with contemporary people we need to become contemporary.


Mission Shaped Lent

I have just received the Fresh Expressions mailing list.  They are offering a six week course for lent that can be downloaded from the site.  The focus is on an introduction to mission and becoming an outward facing church.

New world, new church? Our world and our lives have changed radically in the last twenty years, but has the church adapted to this change? Do we need a changed church for a changing world? Are new forms of church really possible? If so, how can they be developed?

The course is free to use so it is well worth considering!

PRoT Gallery Exhibition

The People’s Republic of Teesside are having a gallery exhibition at the Python Gallery in Middlesbrough.  I did prepare a submission but in the end I bottled it and didn’t submit.  I really wish I had now!  The preview evening is on Tuesday and the exhibition runs from 30th January until 8th February.

Falling in the River

Yesterday I went to take photos with the People’s Republic of Teesside at a location in Yarm.  The idea was that it was for film only cameras.  I was using an Olympus OM-1 that I inherited – fully manual and sturdy metal construction.  I felt like Peter Parker taking shots for the daily bugle!  I even took a roll of shots on an Agiflex camera from the 50’s.  Now I just need to get them all developed.

One highlight of the day was sliding down the bank and nearly falling in the river.  This all happened within 3 minutes of arriving.  As I was 100 miles from home I had to get to TKMax for some Sunday trading to replace my jeans!  There was much mirth at the phrase ‘skid marks’ later on when the others arrived.

God of the Inner City

I was asked to play in a band tonight.  A friend who used to play drums in Soul Ascendant (the 8 piece soul band I used to play with) sent a text message asking if I was available.  It only dawned on me that I didn’t really know what event I was playing for until I arrived at the rehearsal last night.  Apparently it is a video launch for South Leeds Churches Together showing ‘God of the inner city’.  You live and learn.

If you fancy coming along it is at South Leeds Conservative Club on Wooler Street, LS11 7JH from 7:30.

Cheese Rock!!

The new band seems to be going really well.  I can highly recommend the theraputic process of playing cheesy rock with some cool people.  We should at this rate be out and giging in 3-4 months.  It seems like ages since the last time I was playing live in a pub.  At the rehearsal last night I took some photos.  Here's a self portrait.

It's the Final Countdown

Now we just need to decide on a name!

Metaphor for Emerging Church

Tall Skinny Kiwi has reproduced an article written in 1999 about the nature of emerging church structure.  It is quite satirical as it uses descriptions of different gardens to compare the EC.  On many levels it is highly insightful and gives a good comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of the different emerging church communities he has experienced.

Have a look and see if you agree.

Worship Idea – Make an Offering

This idea springs from my last idea about bearing someone’s cross.  An integral part of many services is the act of giving.  I personally don’t like the idea of passing a plate around during the service as people may regularly attend elsewhere or pay in some other way like direct debit.  I think it just leads to feelings of guilt and embarrassment for members of the congregation.  Some churches leave the plate at the back of church so that people can make a donation if they want to.

The act of giving is in itself an act of worship whether it be financial or a more holistic approach as with the Methodist covenant service.  In the Anglican tradition gifts are taken to the altar and offered to God before the Eucharist.  For those who do not physically place money into the plate each week they do not have their offering made.  By placing a bowl of glass beads (try IKEA for £1) next to the offering plate or on the way into the service, they can be given the opportunity to symbolically offer their gift each week.  This then allows them to have it acknowledged before God as part of the service.

God loves Justice

On my seventeenth attempt this has worked.  I was posted this video by a friend.

The Body of Christ

My spiritual director quoted an unusual source this morning on the nature of the body of Christ.  His source was power dressing, shoulder pad clad 80’s hair TV show Dynasty.

[we] may not like each other very much, but we are family.