How Awe expands our perception of time. Correlates a great deal with what we know about worship experience.
Last week, I made a main stage talk at my denominations annual conference, that was for me one of the most important presentations I have ever given.
It summed up my experience as a church planter, and my theological reflections/research within that. It was part autobiography, part theological reflection and part pragmatic advice/coaching.
I set out a vision for how we much understand the church in our current context in ways that would respond to the biggest challenges we face for being church and church planting. I also made it in the hope that it would give hope and confidence to church planters and church leaders.
My nervousness was mostly that it was made to my Vineyard Church family, kind of like presenting to all your family. Mum and Dad, aunts and uncles, and siblings.
The reception to it was beyond my highest hopes and expectations. I hope you find it helpful too.
So 82 people in my church community have signed up to undertake the New City Catechism together. We have started week 1 this week.
I am so excited at what this might bring to our church family. A deepening in understanding our faith, the furnishing of our imaginations for living life, and resources for listening to and hearing from God.
The Archbishop designate Just Welby, and his wife Caroline, spent last Sunday evening with my church family, at the Trent Vineyard in Nottingham.
Other videos including my talk, will be online soon and I’ll post links when I have them.
My evening main stage teaching is tonight/Tuesday around 8:30pm, and my subject/topic is ‘A vision for the Church: what story are we living?’
Next week I am speaking at the National Leaders Conference, for my denomination.
We are a church planting movement, at a time when there has been great consternation and angst by Christians about the Church. Where we once thought an apologetic for reaching non-christians was our greatest challenge, have found instead and all to often a need to justify Church to Christians.
Then there is our post-Christian secular context in which we are planting, trying to reach those who aren’t Christians. Here we find overlapping deep suspicions of Church, and anything practiced with others, for the sake of others.
So for my teaching/talk, I’ll be exploring how we might have an understanding of Church; a vision that might help inspire us as church planters and gives us confidence for church itself and the planting of churches. A vision of the Church that at the same time considers and responds to some of the key challenges within these contexts.
Or to put it more personally, I’ll be sharing my deepest passions about Church, my theological understandings of what Church is, alongside my key lessons from Church planting for 16 years.
My talk takes place on Tuesday evening, 29th January, it will be live streamed as well as recorded. You should be able to listen in and watch at the livestream feed here or it might be here instead. When I arrive next week I’ll post an update for the streaming link here on my blog.
I wrote last week about how beliefs take shape in our lives, and the role of worship for the training of our imaginations and habits within this.
For myself this year, as I try to resources my own imaginations, reflections, conversations, hopes, aspirations and attentions, there are some resources I am turning to.
More than ever I want my faith, my identity, measured by the story of the Gospel and the mission of the Kingdom, instead of all the other values, rubrics and imaginations for life, that pass in conversations and self reflections.
We don’t live in theoretical terms. Having, knowing and believing correct/better ideas about things rarely changes how we really live. It rarely has the power to form us in our real relationships to ourselves and others.
It’s why the drive to articulate truths from scripture to give intellectual assent to, does not lead to empowered ways of living. We all know that there is plenty about the Christian life that we ‘believe’ and hold to be true that we don’t live. And sometimes we are told that we live what we really believe, as if we can excavate down to the real truths we believe under the things we say we believe.
That just perpetuates the idea that we live by theories, which we don’t.
Instead we might better understand how we live, make a life with others, and form relationships, through ‘story’. Or as Charles Taylor would point us towards, the ‘social imaginary' is the way we might better understand how we imagine and and live out our social lives in the real world.
In short the idea of the social imaginary is that what we do, our practices, carry unconscious understandings and convictions within them, and our story, legends, understandings shape our practices.
Life is complex, and we live out of a web of interactions with other people, with stories, myths, and practices that are mostly unconscious; things we rarely consciously ‘think’ about. In other words, how we imagine life, and the ways we share those imaginations is what we really live.
Therapists spend most of their time having people narrate their experiences, and feelings, beliefs and practices. To bring their imagined and lived life into conscious reflection, so that they might re-narrate, retell their story, and then live differently, from a new imagination of who they are.
Day to day, we have places we retell and live our imaginations for life. Every time we come into work and our friends ask us about our weekend, we have socially acceptable things we can talk about, the meals we ate, the things we did, what happened to us. We retell our imaginations for life, and how we are living.
Our deepest desire, and dreams, framed by values and myths about what life should be, are what we share with others, and ultimately measure life by and then live. It’s why for Christians even though our weekend might have had worship and gospel practices within it, we can’t share that at work, because that’s not what you are ‘supposed’ to do with your weekend.
When we have meals with others, we fall back on talking about our work, our relationships, and where we live. And most of the time we do that, we do so through socially conditioned values, and stories. Where I live, everyone seems to be working to be able to stop working, living somewhere so they can get away all the time, so that one day they can live somewhere like where they get away to. And everyone nods as we retell our life that way, yes, let’s retire early, and live by the sea/beach, and live to a ripe old age, the myth that we pursue and measure our lives by. And anything less than that is a failure of life itself.
This is one way we might understand worship, and Church. Church is the place we are invited tell our stories, and open up our deepest imaginations, and re-narrate those against the imaginations, values and practices of the people of God in scripture, and the people of God in history.
The Church, sexuality, inclusion and an open conversation
In the wake of the UK Governments move to legalise homosexual marriage, Steve Chalke and Oasis UK have produced this article, and an invitation for a different kind of conversation by Christians about the issues involved.
I hope as many Christians as possible take up an open approach in conversation, no matter what their convictions. Count me in for that Steve.
Looking forward to time with my church tribe and speaking at our National Leaders Conference.
Day and Evening tickets for the Vineyard UKI National Leaders’ Conference are now available. You can book your tickets at: http://2013.vineyardnlc.org/.