Our desires and dreams are framed by certain ‘stories’ about what life should be like - preferably involving a nice house, untroubled relationships, and a secure job.
And some of today’s most persuasive cultural drivers - capitalism and consumerism - can incline us to co-opt the Christian faith and church life as convenient ‘resources’ in this quest for fulfilment.
But what if worship - in the gathered church and in everyday life - was strong enough to reorientate our desires? What would such worship look like? How might habits and practices grounded in the gospel and nurtured in relationship with others train us to live differently in the world?
Join Jason Clark live online for an exploration of how worship re-narrates our lives, forms our identity, and equips us to take part in God’s mission in the world. Jason is a senior leader of Vineyard Church, Sutton and is currently completing his PhD research on the church and consumer culture.
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Generation Y were born between the late 1970s and the mid to late 1990s. This generation have a new moniker, Gen Y Protagonists & Special Yuppies or GYPSYs. And according to the Huffington Post, GYPSYs are generally not very happy, for a few key reasons.
GYPSYs are the offspring of a previous generation who prosperity is unprecedented in human history. GYPSYs have been brought up with the stories and expectations of their parents and developed their own. Those stories are the cause of their unhappiness.
Ambition: GYPSYs expect the same prosperity as their parents, now. And along with that expect something else/more, i.e intense personal fulfilment.
Delusional: GYPSYs according to the article are also delusional, brought up on the mantra that ‘they are special’. This breeds a sense of entitlement in GYPSYs, the world owes them because they are special.
Taunted: GYPSYs are taunted through social media by their friends and by the phenomena of Image Crafting i.e people flaunting their ambitions and delusions.
Some practical advice follows, stay ambitious, stop thinking you’re special, and don’t measure yourself by everyone else.
The article had a ring of validity about it, in terms of what I see day to day with people’s unhappiness and malaise. It reminded me of Charles Taylor’s social imaginaries. Social Imaginaries are ‘the creative and symbolic dimension of the social world, the dimension through which human beings create their ways of living together and their ways of representing their collective life’.
It also made me think how we Christians have approached worship, and advice to our kids. How we share stories, the social imaginaries, for what life is about that we pray into for our kids. What do our kids get prayer for, around what story and narrative?
How much of Christian parents stories and prayers for their kids are centred on the GYPSY social imaginary - personal fulfilment and being special. Is this the kind of story and worship that centres our kids in an understanding of who they are in Jesus, and his calling on them for life and living?
Maybe generation Y, along with their parents need to re-imagine what prosperity within the Kingdom is and what fulfilment of a life lived for the Gospel is.
For our aspirations for our kids, and our prayers, aren’t that our kids aren’t special, or can’t be fulfilled. Rather they need to be focused around who our kids are in Christ, and the fulfilment he has for them in a life lived for him.
Surely that would be a life not centred on a wellbeing measured by economic wealth and the money for endless self expression. But life measured and ordered around satisfaction in knowing and living for Christ.
How many parents run around making endless investments of their time for the GYPSY story. Endless clubs/leisure/holidays etc, the pursuit of personal fulfilment and happiness within the mantra that we want our kids to be ‘happy and fulfilled’.
Not until parents find a new imagination for their kids, will they receive a new imagination for their lives and living.
Rick Warren and his wife Kay are giving their first public interview since their son’s suicide. It’s tonight on CNN’s Piers Morgan Live.
Piers Morgan said it was the most moving interview he’s ever done. They discuss depression, raising a mentally ill child, guns, grief, God, faith, and hope. If you can’t watch it at 6:00 or 9:00 p.m., I hope you can record it.
James K.A Smith is very involved with the magazine which was enough to get my interest in the first place. There is a great piece by him in the first issue out now, titled “We believe in institutions”.
I’ve placed an excerpt below that speaks for itself. I’ll be blogging myself about institutions and the aspect of cultural agency in capitalism of anti-institutionalism. This anti-institutionalism springs from a previous cultural agency that gave ordinary people within capitalism the ability to create Christian identity and lives, that now masquerades as ‘authentic self expression’ destroying any ability to participate with others for the gospel.
"So Christians who are eager to be progressive, hip, relevant, and creative tend to buy into such anti-institutionalism, thus mirroring and mimicking wider cultural trends (which, ironically, are often parasitic upon institutions!).
And yet those same Christians are rightly concerned about “the common good.” They are newly convinced that the Gospel has implications for all of life and that being a Christian should mean something for this world. Jesus calls us not only to ensure our own salvation in some privatized religious ghetto; he calls us to seek the welfare of the city and its inhabitants all around us. We love God by loving our neighbours; we glorify God by caring for the poor; we exhibit the goodness of God by promoting the common good.
But here’s the thing: if you’re really passionate about fostering the common good, then you should resist anti-institutionalism. Because institutions are ways to love our neighbours. Institutions are durable, concrete structures that—when functioning well—cultivate all of creation’s potential toward what God desires: shalom, peace, goodness, justice, flourishing, delight. Institutions are the way we get a handle on concrete realities and address different aspects of creaturely existence. Institutions will sometimes be scaffolds to support the weak; sometimes they function as fences to protect the vulnerable; in other cases, institutions are the springboards that enable us to pursue new innovation. Even though they can become corrupt and stand in need of reform, institutions themselves are not the enemy.: James K.A Smith
The Evangelical Alliance UK have a great magazine IDEA available free online.
The latest September/October issue covers adoption of children, women in leadership, responding to corruption in the workplace, cultural events and worship, mission, abortion, same sex marriage, poverty relief, developing world faith, domestic violence, celebrity, learning communities, celebrating black history, denominations and Christmas, access to worship for deaf people, book reviews and more!
There is a popular move to develop ‘affinity groups’ in church, i.e make relationships around shared interests, and to then tag on something spiritual, like praying for each other. There’s nothing new in this approach, for the Anglican church opened its church halls post World War II to judo, and table tennis. Churches often host world cup socials today, run cafe spaces, skateboard parks etc.
A common problem however is that the logic of the shared interest takes over and dominates the relationships. People want to meet in a cafe, or pub to talk about Christianity but don’t want to practice or become Christians. Or we end up with a bait and switch, the beer drinking group suddenly have prayer forced on them. Or as happened in the UK, people think churches are spaces for judo, table tennis and girl guides, and not to experience God and become part of his people.
There are some more sophisticated approaches like ‘Activate’ by Searcy and Thomas. My own church is exploring how we can make more of affinity groups, to grow the relational fringe of our church.
That’s one method of connection, but how does the practice of that shared interest become a discipleship process? Or to put it another way, that shared interest already has a ton of commitments and theological concerns with in it, how do you surface and engage with those?
My friend Andy Campbell made this D.Min project about beer. It explores not using beer as a ruse to get people together, but to use the process of beer making itself as a process for discipleship and christians formation.
How this might be extended to other shared interests and affinities seems a ripe field of investigation. I’m hoping Andy Campbell will take on that challenge!
I’m speaking at the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity on Monday night 21st October.
My working title is ‘Worship: what’s shaping you?’. Blurb for what I’ll be talking about is below.
What stories, habits and practices make you who you are?
"We all live out of a set of what philosopher Charles Taylor calls ‘social imaginaries’ – ways of seeing ourselves and others which shape what we value and how we live in the world. Our desires and dreams are framed by certain ‘stories’ about what life should be like – preferably involving a nice house, untroubled relationships, and a secure job. And some of today’s most persuasive cultural drivers– capitalism and consumerism – can incline us to co-opt the Christian faith and church life as convenient ‘resources’ in this quest for fulfilment.
But what if worship – in the gathered church and in everyday life – was strong enough to reorientate our desires? What would such worship look like? How might habits and practices grounded in the gospel and nurtured in relationship with others train us to live differently in the world?
Join Jason Clark for an exploration of how worship re-narrates our lives, forms our identity, and equips us to take part in God’s mission in the world. Jason is married to Bev, and they are the senior leaders of Vineyard Church, Sutton. They also serve as area Leaders for London Vineyard churches. Currently completing PhD research on the church and consumer culture, Jason speaks regularly at church conferences and colleges in the UK, Europe and the US.”
Issues of the atonement are still very much in focus for Christians, see this article in Christianity Magazine.
"The word that got "In Christ Alone" booted from a Presbyterian hymnal was not wrath (which is “all over the hymnal”), but satisfied, according to a thorough update reported by The Tennessean. (The hymnal committee offersits own clarification.)”
I have a device I wear on my wrist, it wakes me up with a vibrating alarm, and records my exercise and moods. Wearable tech is on the rise, and is set to be the next big thing in technology.
Just released is Autographer, the wearable automatic camera. It takes continuous hands free images, that you can then review and edit later on.
For some of my students I can see how this would be great for Visual Ethnography, recording an immersive experience, without having to hold a camera during interactions.
Also great for holidays and capturing moments you might otherwise miss.
But with the never ending rise of putting everything on facebook, its a new privacy nightmare. We will have to learn some social etiquette for those times we do not want to be recorded.
Wearable tech means opting out rather than opting in, as we currently do with taking photos and videos.
Rachel Giles has written this interesting reflection on this new development for the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity.
The Evangelical Alliance have produced this very helpful guide to the legal implications of the new same sex couples act 2013 for Christians and churches in the UK.
Luke Bretherton responds to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s criticism of pay day loans and the revelations that the Church of England has been invested in some of those same companies.
The new Archbishop of Canterbury made some waves http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article3824847.ece the Church of England wants to put pay day loans companies out of business.
We’ve seen the rise in food-banks from all sections of the church in the UK. I hope we see a similar partnership by churches for credit unions in the future, as the Church of England take a lead in this for us.