Thursday, September 7, 2006

I've moved!

I've finally cracked it with blogger. It's just too crap. I've moved across to which is just super.

You can now read this blog at

The new RSS feeds are:
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Hope to see you there.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Jesus' Discipleship

I had to write an essay on Jesus' process of developing disciples and apply it to my context. I thought I'd post it so you can read it if you're interested.

Jesus’ Discipleship

As I read through the gospels I see Jesus engaging people from all spheres of society with his life and message of the kingdom of God. From the religious elite, to the average peasant, to those considered outcasts such as tax collectors and prostitutes, Jesus engaged and challenged them with the news of the kingdom. Wherever and whoever Jesus was engaging with there are signs of him calling people to become disciples. In some circumstances he challenged with the good news, in others he comforted with the good news, but he was always calling people to follow him.
If Jesus had a linear process that he used in developing disciples then he kept it to himself and the gospel writers didn’t try and tease it out. This isn’t to say that he wasn’t intentional about discipleship, he certainly was, I’m just not convinced that he had a clear process that he worked through with people to help them become disciples. As we observe Jesus it is apparent that he used different elements of the gospel with different people, depending on their situation. Some people’s circumstances called for incredible grace and mercy, others harsh words of judgement or challenge, Jesus met people at their point of need and engaged them with the gospel accordingly.
In surveying the gospels, particularly Luke, I found that Jesus uses several different means to develop disciples. He put forward hard challenges to encourage the recipient to step up to goals and ideals of the kingdom of God; he performed acts of power to display his authority and show signs of the coming kingdom of God; he spent his time teaching the vision and values of the kingdom of God; he lived a life modelling prayer and finally he empowered and gave tasks to those seeking to become disciples.
In an attempt to assess Jesus’ different methods of developing disciples I will explore each of these means listed above.

Hard Challenges.
From the very beginning of his ministry (Luke 4:14-30) Jesus was levelling hard challenges at those who saw themselves as assured of salvation. Jesus challenged them by reinterpreting what they thought to be God’s will and opening their eyes to the new covenant. Jesus used this approach of hard challenges with the Pharisees as seen in Luke 7:36-50. Here Jesus is anointed by a woman deemed to be unclean by the Pharisees while he is sitting at their table. When the Pharisees challenged Jesus’ behaviour he responded with a parable and reinterpreted their view of forgiveness and cleanliness. He called them to the new way the kingdom of God is bringing in and they are left asking a key discipleship question, “Who is this that even forgives sins?” (Luke 7:49).
Jesus challenges his own disciples many times, sometimes even harshly using rebuke such as when he says to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." (Matthew 16:23). He challenged all the disciples in Luke 8:22-25 when he calmed the storm after being woken by the disciples who were fearing for their lives. Once he calmed the storm he said to them, “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25) and once again a key discipleship question was asked, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” (Luke 8:25)
Jesus put hard challenges to those who aspired to become his disciples. In Luke 9:57-62 we see him call into question the commitment of a couple of people who were eager to follow him. When these people ask to be allowed to tie up loose ends before following Jesus his response is hard and to the point, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62) It’s not clear what the response of these people was, but text gives the impression that at this time they could not bear the cost.
Jesus used this method of hard challenges with the rich as is seen in the story of the rich ruler. After a rich ruler claims to have kept all the commandments Jesus calls him to sell all his possessions, give them away to the poor and then follow him. The rich ruler left dismayed because there was no way he could bring himself to part with all his possessions and therefore he could not follow Jesus. Jesus then extended his challenge from this one individual to all rich people saying, “Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:25)
There are more examples throughout the scriptures of Jesus using hard challenges to develop disciples, it is a radical approach as people either rise to the challenge or otherwise find themselves turning away. It’s interesting that Jesus didn’t use this method of developing disciples anywhere near as often with the poor or outcast as he did with the rich and powerful.

Acts Of Power.
One of the methods Jesus used in his development of disciples was acts of power. Jesus healed the sick, cast out demons, controlled the weather and performed other miraculous signs of his power and authority. His acts of power were signs of the coming kingdom of God and displayed his authority for those around him to observe.
There are many examples of Jesus performing acts of power among the crowds as he journeyed and taught. One such example is found in Luke 7:14-17 where Jesus raises the only child of a widow to life as he is being carried out of the town. The response of the people there was very significant, “God has come to help his people.” (Luke 7:16) Jesus act of power had drawn them towards a realisation that God had come to help them, that he did care about them, a key lesson on their journey of discipleship.
Jesus used acts of power to develop his disciples into better followers of him. In Luke 5:4-11 we see Jesus instruct these fishermen to lower their nets after they had been fishing all night. In obedience, a crucial element of discipleship, the fishermen lowered their nets and caught more fish than they could manage on their own. Simon Peter’s response to this was to acknowledge Jesus as Lord, to recognise his own sinfulness before him. Jesus then called them to follow and they left everything and followed him. Clearly this act of power developed the disciples trust and belief in Jesus, allowing them to make such a bold step as to leave everything and follow him.
Jesus also used acts of power to challenge the faith and discipleship of the Pharisees. In Luke 5:17-26, while he was teaching as the Pharisees and many others were there listening, Jesus healed a man and forgave his sins right in front of them. Jesus used this act of power to display his authority and teach the Pharisees about forgiveness, to challenge them to acknowledge his authority. Differing from many other passages, this text doesn’t show us a negative response from the Pharisees, it’s not clear if they joined with the others present in praising God, being filled with awe and saying, “We have seen remarkable things today.” (Luke 5:26)
Jesus also used acts of power to encourage those powerful in his society to become disciples. Not only did he display his authority for them to witness and wonder at, but he also used these situations to teach them about the values of the kingdom of God, particularly his concern for the poor and outcast. We see an excellent example of this in Luke 8:40-56 when Jesus is on his way to a synagogue leader’s house to heal his daughter and is stopped by a woman very outcast by the Jewish culture. Jesus values and takes time with this woman and the synagogue leader’s daughter dies. Jesus goes on to display his power over death and raise the synagogue leader’s daughter to life, but the lesson that those who are outcast are valuable to God was not lost. It was a significant counter cultural action that Jesus used to teach the values of the kingdom of God.
There are many other examples of Jesus using acts of power to develop disciples throughout the gospels. It is significant to note that again Jesus uses this method in different ways for different circumstances. He gives people access to the kingdom of God in the way they most need it, whether that is restoring the life of a widow’s only son because without him life would have become much harder for her or letting a rich man’s daughter die so that he learnt God’s heart for the outcast.

One of the key methods Jesus used to develop disciples was teaching. Jesus taught using sharp pithy sayings (Luke 5:31-32), he taught by reinterpreting the law as it was meant to be understood (Luke 6:1-9), he taught in parables (Luke 8:1-18), he taught massive crowds of people who would sit and listen (Luke 6:20-49), he taught in the synagogues (Luke 4:44) and he taught his closest followers privately (Luke 10:38-42). Jesus taught pretty much anywhere at anytime and his topics ranged broadly. He taught using means and content that people would understand and not just for the sake of teaching but to challenge and encourage people to greater levels of discipleship.

Modelling Prayer.
Throughout Jesus ministry he regularly withdrew to spend time with his Father in prayer. Even though his ministry was successful and very public he regularly withdrew from the crowds to pray (Luke 4:42, 5:16, 6:12). Although Jesus does not appear to use this intentionally as a method to develop disciples his modelling of prayer and solitude with God must have had a significant impact on those around him. Particularly on the night before he was crucified when he asked his disciples to pray and he withdrew and prayed in anguish (Luke 22:39-46). Their failure to follow his example and command at such a crucial time must have had a significant impact.

A key method in Jesus approach to developing disciples was empowering and giving them tasks, sending them out to “preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” (Luke 9:2). While Jesus disciples went with him and no doubt joined in his ministry at particular times there are two specific instances mentioned in Luke that are worth noting. When the twelve were sent out with authority and specific instructions and a chapter later in Luke when Jesus sends out the seventy-two (Luke 10:1-17). This method of empowerment is significant as it enabled Jesus’ followers to participate in his ministry and further explore what it meant to be a disciple. In their task they would have been tested and challenged, providing opportunities for them to make steps forward in their discipleship. Luke 10:17 says, “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” They had participated in the kingdom of God through the authority of Jesus and experience the power of God, a significant formative experience as a follower of Jesus.

My Context.
I live, work, minister and play in a suburb of Melbourne called Preston. It’s a very diverse suburb with many religions, races, subcultures all mixed in together. It’s not a wealthy suburb, although there are more and more people with money buying older houses and doing them up to live in. There are significant issues in the areas of drug and alcohol abuse, housing, isolation and unemployment. People from our church live in this and the surrounding suburbs, we generally meet in Preston at my house. Our group is made up of mostly white middle class christians although as time goes on we are growing in diversity. Our missional focus is around the idea of creating safe spaces for people to come, away from their worry, their drug or alcohol addiction or their otherwise unhealthy living arrangements. We run a weekly community meal and are hoping to start a low cost housing arrangement with a focus on creating healthy transforming communities.
Under the headings below I will seek to address the question of how Jesus’ methods of discipleship might be integrated into my context.

Hard Challenges.
Most of the members of my church have been Christians for a long time. Over the years it is easy to become complacent and apathetic or arrogant and self assured in the faith. Following Jesus’ method of hard challenges is a very useful method of developing disciples with people in this situation. A concern may be that this method is open to abuse. Obviously Jesus employing this method is different to a fallen human employing it. If I was to adopt Jesus approach of giving people hard challenges in the hope of helping them develop in their discipleship I would want to make sure the challenges I was putting before them were only from the gospel, not add ons or extras to what Jesus requires. Too often in the history of the church people have been excluded for not taking up a challenge that really had very little do with the gospel.
As I noted when commenting on Jesus employing this method, it appears to be something he mostly used with those who were powerful, wealthy and self-assured of their place in heaven. Although the call to follow Jesus is significant for everyone, Jesus seemed to approach those on the margins of society with more grace than challenge, I too would want to adopt this approach. People on the fringe are often cynical of the church and don’t understand that Jesus wants to meet them. Hard challenges to people who already outcast is not a method of developing disciples I think Jesus modelled.

Acts of Power.
This method used by Jesus to develop disciples is one I find hard to know how to integrate into our life today. By demonstrating his authority and power Jesus was making it clear who he was and what God’s intention for humanity was, Jesus acts were signs of the coming kingdom of God. While I certainly believe that God intervenes in sometimes miraculous and powerful ways today, I’m not sure of exactly how this is meant to be used for discipleship in my context. I guess if God granted me the gift of healing or miracles then I would be able to use them to point towards the coming kingdom and God’s power, encouraging those around me to greater discipleship. However I don’t seem to have these gifts, nor do any others in our church. Maybe we should be praying for them and if God grants them, to use them boldly, calling people to follow Christ because of his power and love for them.

This method has certainly been the dominant approach under Christendom and although we don’t want to react too far against it we are seeking to find a healthy balance. Instead of having one professional teacher our church tends to share the task around and use different group learning techniques. Specifically we have adapted Lectio Divina
for group use and find that it enables group members to teach one another regardless of their status or education. Teaching is still a significant method of disciple development for us, occurring every week in our worship gathering and through the regular reading of scripture.

Modelling Prayer.
We’ve just begun a missional discipleship Order called the Kaleo Order. This Order is designed to pick up some of Jesus method of modelling prayer as an approach to developing disciples. In the same way that Jesus withdrew to spend time with his Father as fuel for his ministry and mission, we are encouraging people to do the same. The Order uses a particular method of bible reading and prayer that we think is appropriate for our specific context. Members of the Order are also required to meet in small groups fortnightly to share what they’ve learnt and keep one another accountable to our spiritual disciplines. These groups allow members to learn from one another, to model to each other and encourage each other to greater levels of discipleship.

Empowerment is probably the easiest of Jesus’ methods of developing disciples to integrate into our context. As soon as people are a part of our community in any way we encourage them to participate in our missional activities. Of course those who are not Christians are not sharing the stories of Jesus with those we serve in our neighbourhood, but they are serving and loving those on the margins right along with us. They are participating in the kingdom of God and in doing so are drawn closer to Jesus and ultimately into discipleship. For those who already following Jesus they are empowered and encouraged to take bigger risks in mission, putting themselves in places where they must rely on God. This approach to developing disciples works very well in our context.

Jesus didn’t have a linear process of developing disciples, but he did have several methods that he used repeatedly throughout his ministry. He leveled hard challenges at people, performed acts of power displaying his authority and intention for humanity, he taught the values of the kingdom of God, modelled a prayerful relationship with God and empowered those who sought to follow him with kingdom tasks. In our context we can and do seek to integrate these different approaches to developing disciples, empowering people to live out and experience the kingdom of God seems to be the most appropriate and successful.

Monday, August 28, 2006

There's a problem with a white Jesus ...

I collect interesting images of Jesus from Flickr using tags and an RSS reader. Mostly it's good for a laugh and sometimes it's even helpful, but today a problem with Jesus being so white occurred to me. I was looking at this picture

227530618 5D51Dffbee M

and I thought. If people have this picture of Jesus in their heads when they read the stories about him then it's no wonder we find it hard to view him in his context. A white Jesus tells lies about who he really was, what he looked like and what he did. If we started picturing Jesus as more like what he really was then maybe we'd find it easier to make the jump back into 1st century Palestine when we are learning about him.

Just a thought.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Cricket - something of the kingdom of God

So I'm sitting in the car doing some uni work while Gulinder (our refugee friend from Afghanistan) has his first cricket training session. I'm sitting here realising that for Gulinder this experience of cricket training is bringing forth some of the kingdom of God. For those of you who don't know him, Gulinder fits pretty clearly into the category of the marginalised. As a religious minority in Afghanistan his family was persecuted, Gulinder himself kidnapped and tortured by the Taleban before his family fled the country. He has since lost all of his family members in the journey to Australia and in many ways has nothing left. At his first cricket practice this morning I am watching him participate with a group of others who accept him as a person of value with something to offer. I know the kingdom of God is much bigger than this as well, but here I see a sign of God's transforming, restoring work of the kingdom of God. It's exciting and rewarding.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Creative Reflection

I had to write a creative reflection for uni about what I would do mission/ministry wise if I knew the world was ending in five years. It's pretty long, but I thought I'd post it anyway.

What would I do if the world were ending in five years?

I believe that people’s lives are transformed as they are brought into contact with the Living God through community. People encounter Jesus through other people, not books or organisations. If the world were ending in five years time I would want to spend all my time and energy helping people encounter God through other people. I would want to motivate other Christians to take the journey with me and give ourselves to the task of creating transforming community housing. Houses where people with material needs can have somewhere to sleep, where people with social needs can connect with others, where people with emotional needs can be heard and where people with spiritual needs can meet with God.
In Preston, where I live, there is a housing crisis among the poor. Housing is expensive, if you are forced to stay in a boarding house you can pay up to $160 a week for a small and uncomfortable space. It is possible to rent private housing for the same price but only if you have the references, finances and know-how to make it happen. If you are eligible for government housing there is a 10 year waiting list, it’s unclear exactly what you are meant to do in the meantime.
All of this puts people in desperate situations. People stay in each other’s government housing illegally, they squat, they scrape together the money to stay in a boarding house but then don’t have enough for their other material needs - let alone trying to save anything so that they might plan for the future. Living in these kinds of desperate situations, with financial strain hanging over your head all the time, usually has very negative outcomes. People don’t cope well with the strain and end up making bad choices often in the areas of drugs and crime, putting themselves into worse situations. The strains continue to grow and the desperation spreads. Marriages and friendships break down because of the strain, mental illness and general health problems arise, participating in general society becomes harder as people become outcast.
There are government and other social solutions to these problems. There are systems in place to help people get access to support for housing, drug and alcohol problems, financial difficulties and even social support groups, but these solutions are not enough by themselves, the problems are not being resolved. People can get case workers who help them know who to contact, which places to go to and what to say, but the underlying issues aren’t being resolved. There is a housing crisis in my area, but the crisis goes much deeper than housing.
In many local councils the government seeks to find initiatives that will help develop healthy communities. Activities that will bring people together, programs that promote religious tolerance, projects increasing environmental awareness and sustainability. These initiatives are good things, but so often they are out of reach of those who are marginalised and who are truly in need of healthy community. These initiatives often only serve the middle class who of course also need healthy community, but are no where near as desperate as those on the fringe of our society.

In the hope of addressing some of this issue I am dreaming of a creating healthy transforming housing communities. Safe places of belonging that are created with the ideals and values of healthy community aimed at transforming their occupants. I would love to find investors to purchase properties in the houses of our street (there’s one for sale out the back of my place right now) and create low cost share housing with a intentional focus on healthy community, not just a place to eat and sleep. The houses would be run by people who come to our church and not just as staff but as live-in or live-out members of the households sharing life with the other occupants.

In an attempt to flesh out this dream a little more I have created the following headings that need further explanation.
This project requires investors who have a desire to see their wealth used to support the underprivileged in Melbourne. These people would need to be willing to give their material resources to the project and not expect normal investment returns. Although this investment may bring some longer-term financial gains for the investor, the focus is on the gains for the occupants who currently don’t have a safe, secure or supportive environment to live in but would through the project.

A set of criteria would be applied to an occupant to determine if they are eligible: 
- current housing situation - the applicants current housing situation would need to be deemed illegal or unsustainable.
- attitude - applicants have to be interested in exploring this as more than just a housing option. They must be willing to contribute to creating a healthy community and growing themselves. This is important as it helps the occupants take responsibility for their own lives.
- income - if an applicant has an income that is deemed to be too high then they would not be eligible.
- level of assistance required - applicants needing high level assistance and supervision could not be accepted. Occupants must be able to catch public transport, cook, pay bills, speak some English, be on the way to trying to get work, trying to do study, or trying to get full time volunteer work.
- illicit drug use - applicants must be illicit drug free for the last 6 months
- children - applicants would need to be deemed safe around children. A Police Check would be required – specifically for criminal acts involving children. Other criminal history would not prohibit or exclude the applicant.

House Carers + Assistants
The role of the House Carers would be critical to the vision of creating transforming community houses. The House Carers, whether they lived-in or lived-out of the house, would be regularly available to the occupants and responsible for working with the occupants to create a healthy, safe and supportive living environment. If the House Carers did not live-in then they would need to be very close-by, either next door or at least in the same street. Proximity is one of the keys to creating community. The House Carers would be responsible for the day to day running of the house, they would be crucial to creating the environment that allows for transformation.
There would also be roles in assisting the House Carers:
- Support Resourcing - this would require someone to focus on ensuring that the occupants are connecting with the various support services offered by the government and others in the local area. This isn’t a case management role, but someone who would inform occupants of where they can get support and encourage them to do so. This role is totally scalable based on the time and ability of whoever fills it.
- Financial Management - house finances is one area that may require quite a bit of oversight and guidance. Someone from the church community would need to volunteer their time to help occupants manage things like bills and shopping expenses as well as offering their services to occupants with their individual finances.
- House Maintenance - keeping the house in good working order would be an important role and someone with the gifts and skills to manage this would be required.
- Jobs Hunting - again this is not meant to be a replacement to existing social services in this area, but occupants may like some help applying for jobs, going to interviews and searching through papers, the internet, etc.
- Volunteer Work - in cases of long term unemployment where occupants are still seeking work but are also in need of something to fill their time volunteer work is a helpful option. Someone from the church community could help organise volunteer work for the occupants, either with Northern Careworks or elsewhere.

Community Meals
One element of creating transforming community houses would be the community meals. A regular community meal would be a feature of the house with each occupant bringing something to the meal to share and spending the time with others in a healthy social environment.

Rent for the occupants would be worked out as a percentage of their income. This is important to help occupants learn to budget, it would also help with some of the running and maintenance costs of the house.

While there is an element of danger in having children involved in a project like this there is also potential for incredible gain. Children can break down many social barriers and see the world in a different way from adults, they bring something to a community that just isn’t available if it’s all grown-ups.

Drugs and Alcohol
It’s very likely that drugs and alcohol would be an issue in most houses. So that a safe environment is created all houses would need to have a no illicit drugs policy and depending on the circumstances houses may need to be alcohol free as well. On the alcohol issue it seems that allowing the household to come up with its own rules is significant way of encourage the occupants to make healthy decisions for themselves

Northern Community Church of Christ

Northern Community Church of Christ is the church that Loam (our congregation that I am dreaming would run this housing idea) is a congregation of. Attached to Northern is Northern Careworks - the community concern/development arm of the church. These houses would come under the banner of Northern Careworks for legal, administrative, insurance and financial reasons, allowing us to focus on the day to day aspects of the work.
Northern Careworks also runs an Opportunity Shop which would be the source for the furnishing requirements of the occupants. The Opportunity Shop could either supply the items free of charge or at a reduced rate for the occupants.
Northern Careworks is mostly staffed by volunteers, occupants could volunteer their time to Northern Careworks if they were unable to find employment but were looking for something regular to do. This may also help with future employment opportunities.

Spiritual Input?
Some attempting an endeavor such as this would demand some form of Christian input into the house and community that is generated there. I however think that this would send the wrong message. I am not dreaming about this so that people would just become Christians. I sincerely hope that people would meet God as they are served and loved in the context of community, but this is about a vision of the kingdom of God. As we live out the reality of the kingdom of God people are given access to a vision of who God is and what his agenda really is. Apparently the poor are the most over evangelised group in society. If we enforced weekly bible studies we would send the message that we don’t really care about them or their situation, we just want them to become one of us. It is my hope and prayer that as we serve, love and live with people who join these houses they would encounter God and seek to become like Jesus themselves.

My ‘heartburst’?
Thomas Bandy’s book ‘Mission Mover’ speaks of heartbursts. The idea is that your heart bursts for a particular sub group of people. Whether they are connected by interest or by location is irrelevant. The key is that your focus is on them, you feel called to the particular task of serving, loving, sharing with them, no one else. Bandy says ‘"A heartburst is simply an urgent desire to help a clearly defined group of people experience Jesus."
, it is "a desire to connect that person with this hope."
Mine is clearly the marginalised people in Preston, the ones I know who live in dangerous and damaging environments with no hint of transforming community around them. These are the people I feel God drawing me to, he’s pulling my life in their direction and pushing me to live like Jesus with them.

A team?
"A true team is a small group that shares similar core values and beliefs, celebrates an enthusiasm for a mission, eagerly interfaces their skills to achieve that mission, and seriously holds one another accountable for the fruits of the mission."
Ideally this team would be our congregation Loam. We’ve already been talking about how we might make some of this a reality and there are some amazing people in that bunch that are keen to get stuck into this project. Particularly I want to work on this project with my wife Jay as she has some fantastic gifts in areas that I’m not so great in and I can see us complementing each other well. I’m also excited to work with another friend Kate who brings a depth of wisdom and discernment to every situation that would be much needed on this journey. I’m keen to work on this project with all of the people in our church, to encourage them to share the journey and take big bold steps of faith together.

At Northern we’ve just begun a missional-discipleship order that provides us with a framework of spiritual disciples plus a particular method of prayer and bible reading to use. I am hoping that this approach to the spirituality of Jesus would sustain us as we journey on this road. I am very aware however that this would grow and change as we do over time.

Character and Skills?
There is always work to be done on my character and skills, but specifically for this task I can see that I would need to become much more disciplined. Regular contact with occupants even when I don’t feel like it, making time and space for Jay and I in the midst of such an intense environment, encouraging the rules and guidelines we create in the face of protest, all these areas would prove to be a challenge to my discipline. Also, managing conflict would be a skill that I need to improve on. I am imagining that there would be the potential for lots of conflict in these houses and much of the resolution of that would fall to me.

Style of leadership?
Currently my approach has been one of taking people along on the journey with me. I imagine that this would continue to be my style of leadership in this environment. It’s unlikely I would change and become more authoritarian, although there would undoubtedly be hard calls that need to be made in some circumstances. So far the process of taking risks and encouraging people to come along for the ride appears to be working as a method of leadership in this environment.

A mentor?

"A mentor is someone who speaks from his or her own experience of life struggle, spiritual victory, and constant growth to help you overcome adversity, discern hope, and customize a learning path."
I can think of no one better for this role than Shirley Osburne who runs St Martin’s in Collingwood. She is a practitioner in this area with mountains of experience and the scars to prove it. She is warm and open towards Jay and I and only lives around the corner, practicing the same kind of hospitality and concern for the poor that we wish to.

If the world were ending in five years I would want to spend the time working on building healthy transforming communities through low cost housing arrangements with people in my local area. I would want to do this with my wife and congregation Loam as my team and be mentored by a long term practitioner in this area Shirley Osbourne.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A community meal

Inspired by a whole range of events, circumstances, truths, prophetic words, strategic thinking, obvious realities and God's heart for those around us, Loam has decided to host a community meal each week. We hope that in time our ability to serve our neighbours will grow. We hope that we will be able to take bigger and bolder steps of faith, risk more and be precious about less, but this seems like a good place to start.

On Sunday evening from around 5ish, at our house (146 Raglan St, Preston - if you're around feel free to drop in) we are having a meal. We're inviting neighbours of all flavours to join us. I'm really looking forward to it, something tells me it could be a bit messy and that it's another step along on our exciting journey together.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

I don't want more Christians

I don't want more Christians - I want more people around like Jesus.

Mission is not about getting more people to sign up to be in our club. It is about recognising the greatness of Jesus, seeking to be like him yourself and encouraging others to do the same. It's the about of the kingdom of God, about participating in the creation of that place where ultimately there will be no more tears, pain, oppression, abuse, poverty, loneliness, despair, etc.

I don't want more Christians because lots of Christians I know aren't actually that involved or even interested in this kingdom, I want more people like Jesus.

I realise this is just semantics, but it's also about perception. I realised today that when I think about Christians I don't think about people of the kingdom of God. I think about Christianese people, people from the world of Christendom, with their own little world they are trying to protect, their own culture, language, etc. It's sad that I associate this word so strongly, maybe I need to stop using it for a while ...