How to Save The World

Grendel who is a regular commenter here and a good mate of mine from Brighton sent me this article today entitled The Challenge of Building Community.

It is a more sociological approach to the dynamics of different sized groups and how humans function, but its got some great stuff to say. Here are a few quotes:

But creating community is not easy. In Creating a Life Together Diana Leafe Christian describes some of the challenges of intentional communities — finding members, creating honest consensus, resolving disputes, finding the right place to live, keeping it sustainable. This is tough work, and most intentional communities that do work are, well, rather pathetically small. It almost seems as if, as soon as you put more than a certain number of people into one interdependent group, you need hierarchy to keep things in order. Why might this be?


I’ve read everything I can get my hands on on intentional communities, and what strikes me most is that their failure, just like the failure of so many new-age business models, is a failure of imagination. The intentions are good. They invest a lot of time and energy in research, and in trying to make it work. But when they run into difficulties, they keep falling back on ‘conventional wisdom’: we need a council, and committees, and voting and non-voting shares, and strategic plans, and legal agreements, and to borrow lots of money; we need to work harder, and to wait until conditions are exactly right. I appreciate that creating a new community is scary, but the social, political and economic failings of the old system are exactly what got us into this mess, and incorporating them into the new models is just asking for the same terrible results.


The history of our civilization has been largely one of pioneers fleeing the ghastly tyranny of the hierarchical corporation/state, slaughtering gatherer-hunter societies in the ‘unincorporated’ lands they fled to, and then, as their numbers grew, replicating the hierarchical corporation/state themselves, and then constantly warring with other corporation/states.

Got you interested yet?…

The ‘failure of imagination’ rings big bells for me. Its way too easy to default to the old and familiar when we get in a pickle and aren’t sure which way to experiment next. I like his call to keep experimenting!

I have to say its a little ironic to me that the blog ‘How to Save the World’ is written by someone who wouldn’t claim to be a Jesus follower!

Its not to say people of ‘no fixed abode’ in regard to faith don’t have anything to say to us – not at all. But given the centrality of Jesus life, death and resurrection in my own worldview and the significance of the biblical teaching on the kingdom of God I genuinely find it hard to see a world saved in the absence of God’s redemptive love and Jesus’ death on the cross.

Thanks Grendel!

Youth Ministry in the Emerging Church

Ryan Bolger who blogs here and has co-authored Emerging Churches with Eddie Gibbs has particpated in an interview that tries to articulate the landscape for youth ministry in experimental churches. (You may have noticed that lately I have been using ‘experimental churches’ in place of the now overused and muddled term ’emerging church’)

You can read the it here. Its a helpful read for those of us with our fingers in a number of different pies and who want to chew thru the place of young people in a changing ecclesiastical landscape.

Kids & communion

The last couple of times I have been to a normal church they have had communion. I grew up in the era when kids weren’t allowed to take it because” well” I’m not sure entirely why, but I think it was something to do with the fact that it was ‘important’ and we were just kids”

It was important to be quiet and sombre and only men dressed in suits and ties were allowed to serve it. Kids and communion just didn’t go together.

What would Jesus say to that?…

Perhaps this has been one of my theological shifts in the last 10 years, but now every time communion comes round I encourage my children to take it if they want to. (Fatboy was preoccupied with his toys last Sunday so we didn’t push it on him.) As they do this we speak with them about what the bread symbolises and what the wine (or blackcurrant juice) is all about.

Given that kids learn thru more solid means it is a great way of helping them reflect on the story of Jesus and remember the death of Christ.

Do they really get the significance of the cross?

I don’t know. Maybe they get it in ways that we adults have long forgotten. Maybe its potency affects their little hearts in ways we have become immune to.

They probably can’t articulate 5 theories of the atonement, but they keep telling me they love Jesus and that he died for their sins, so I reckon they must have a few clues.

Leadership and Motivation

Is it the job of a leader to motivate people?…

That’s a question I am chewing on at the moment and would be interested in your reflections.

If you’d asked me 5 years ago I would have said ‘absolutely’ – that it’s a primary task of leadership to be a driving force and to motivate people to carry out certain roles and tasks. The leader is to be the one who helps people find energy and enthusiasm for whatever it is that they are working towards. I’m not sure why I thought that. I guess I’d always found myself drawn to inspirational, motivational leaders – hence that was my concept of leadership.

Lately I’ve been wondering about the wisdom of seeing motivation as a function of leadership.

I wonder if as leaders we risk spending our time trying to get naturally unmotivated people to do things that they don’t actually want to do (even if they actually say they do). Is it my job as a leader to find the key in them to help them get moving, or is this actually a self defeating process in that people who are not intrinsically motivated will never actually self start if someone else is always turning their crank?

Do we actually create a dependent relationship and get in the way of people taking responsibility for their own success and failures?

For a long time I have felt that it is my job to get people moving and to be a primary source of their energy and inspiration, but more and more I am coming to believe that if people don’t want to do something (or if they need my energy to make it happen) then I’m better off leaving them alone to do nothing.

It requires way too much unnecessary energy to motivate the disinterested and the lazy.

I will work with anyone who is prepared to have a go, but I am starting to think its bad stewardship of time to try and motivate those who don’t want to do anything to take action.

Ironically in the past I have been able to motivate people well and easily, but I am starting to wonder if the end result of that is a project that relies on my energy and passion rather than on people’s own sense of calling and desire.

Ok… there’s some food for thought…

Fire up!

Possible surfing blog domain names

I am thinking of starting a blog dedicated to my other love – surfing… It seems there aren’t too many out there, but most of the more obvious domain names have been taken.

So just for fun I have been pondering possible domain names…

Here are some of my options. Let me know what you would choose!

If you have any crash hot ideas then you can test their availability here. (I am only looking at addresses.)

Are young people happy with a life without God?

Phil Bryant from our denomination sent thru an article from yesterday’s Yorkshire Post that questions whether young people are even concerned about the spiritual. Here is the whole article (couldn’t find it online) with some relevant parts highlighted.

What do you reckon?

Is this a fair take on Gen Ys?



Maggie Stratton

Young people are quite happy with a life without God or spirituality, according to new research for the Church of England.

Authors of the Making Sense of Generation Y were shocked to find not only did under 25’s think the church “corrupt”, “traditionalist” and all “socks and sandal” but also had no desire to find a transcendent alternative in their favoured pursuits. Clubbing, for example, was not a way of ” transcending oneself to a deeper reality”, but was simply a good night out.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu said the report must be seen as a wake-up call. “This book stresses the need for investment in relationships with young people and for ‘patient sowing’ of the Gospel story into our culture. There are no ‘instant solutions’, but there are things we, empowered by the Holy Spirit, can – and must – do,” the Archbishop says in the book’s foreword.

Making Sense of Generation Y is based on interviews with 120 young people aged 15 to 25 who have little or no connection with the Christian faith. The number of young people who go to church has halved since 1979, and now less than seven per cent of 15- to 19-year-olds and five per cent of those between 20 and 29 attend church.

The authors set out believing that even if the young had little knowledge of the Christian faith they would have other spiritual or religious yearnings, but found even discussions about the September 11 terror attacks in America failed to prompt mention of religion.

But they did not find the young people interviewed for the book were disenchanted or lost in a meaningless world. Instead the young people found the world meaningful as it was.

“The data indicated that they found meaning and significance in the reality of everyday life, which the popular arts helped them to understand and imbibe,” the book says.

The researchers found young people found happiness primarily through the family and had little sense of sin or fear of death. They were, however, afraid of growing old.

The mission adviser for youth and emerging Church at the Church Mission Society, Jonny Baker, said yesterday: “This book is astonishing. Putting it bluntly, it suggests that many of our assumptions about young people, their world view and the quest for spirituality are wrong. This has implications for the future of mission, youth ministry and the Church.”

Making Sense of Generation Y will be unveiled at the National Christian Resource Exhibition today.

One of the authors of the book, Bob Mayo, said: “The people we talked to were happy with life, they were enjoying themselves but were doing this with an almost complete ignorance of Christianity – a total lack of a working knowledge. “That is the alarming thing for the Church.

“The positive thing is that they are not opposed to what the Church is saying, it is just that they have not been exposed to it. “In many cases they seem interested but no one has ever talked to them about it before.”


I wonder if this is just young people or if it can be applied generally.

I wonder if the stats are reliable?… You can say anything with statistics!

I have sent this to our Baptist youth pastors for their thoughts, but the only valid comparison will be the thoughts of those outside of our youth ministries as those who come to any youth activity have already shown a level of interest.

So… is it all nonsense or does this ring true?

The End of the Drop In?…

I was chatting with fellow misho Scott this morning about the ‘drop in’.

You know – where rather than calling a friend and asking if you can come by, or waiting for an invite, you just drop in at their home… and hang out. Have coffee – chat – watch the footy etc.

I listened to the ‘drop in’ cop a fair old hiding from the 92.9 FM morning crew a little while back, as something people no longer appreciate. The message they gave was ‘if you’re going to come by then at least ring and let me know – but under no circumstances should you just drop in!’

Is the ‘drop in’ going the way of the dinosaur?

Does it matter?

As Scott I discussed it this morning we were reflecting on what makes the drop in possible. Here are some thoughts.

1) Proximity – I am unlikely to drop in on you if you live in Mandurah! The chances of casually dropping in are much higher if we are in the same locale.

2) Familiarity – I was going to say the ‘length’ of the friendship, but its not really that. Its more to do with the shape the relationship takes and the degree of comfort people feel with each other.

3) Availability – I reckon this one is huge and is part of the reason the ‘drop in’ has been drop kicked. Most people are so damn busy that either they don’t have time to drop in or when they do you aren’t home anyway because you are also so busy.

4) Personality – (for want of a better term) I think some people aren’t really all that excited by either dropping in or having someone drop in, while others find the spontaneity of it all just makes their day.

Of course it is als0 probably true to suggest that the reason drop ins have diminished is because we no longer base community on proximity like we used to, we have few significant relationships and most of us are too busy to be able to live with that degree of spontaneity.

Ironically Danelle is a ‘drop in’ lover who will lob in on you fairly easily and equally will welcome you warmly if you ever drop in over here. Whereas I am much less likely to just drop in on you. I will usually have a reason for calling and wouldn’t want to feel like I am imposing on you. (And you sure as hell better have a reason if you come here too!)

Seriously… is this an issue we need to consider? Is it a symptom of stuff gone wrong in our society or is it just where we are at and is neither good nor bad?

As I reflect on our Upstream communities mob here in Brighton the ‘drop in’ has not been a big part of our DNA. Its has been moreso for the girls who are home during the day, but for the guys it would seem odd to have someone just stop by for a while. It wouldn’t be bad, but I imagine we’d all be wondering ‘what do you want?!’