Monday, March 31, 2008

Christianity and the Social Crisis,

Walter Rauschenbush, whose book,
Christianity and the Social Crisis, I wrote about in the previous post, is now available in a centenary edition, which came out last year. There is an introduction by Paul Rauschenbusch, and essays in response to each chapter by Tony Campolo, Joan Chittister, James Forbes, Stanley Hauerwas, Richard Rorty, Phyllis Trible, Jim Wallis and Cornel West.

A few quotes from 'a forgotten man'

"No man shares his life with God whose religion does not flow out, naturally and without effort, into all relations of his life and reconstructs everything that it touches. Whoever uncouples the religious and the social life has not understood Jesus. Whoever sets any bounds for the reconstructive power of the religious life over the social relations and institutions of men, to that extent denies the faith of the Master."

"Jesus did not in any real sense bear the sin of some ancient Briton who beat up his wife in B.C.56, or of some mountaineer in Tennessee who got drunk in A.D.1917. But he did in a very real sense bear the weight of the public sins of organized society, and they in turn are causally connected with all private sins."

There are: "six sins, all of a public nature, which combined to kill Jesus. He bore their crushing attack in his body and soul. He bore them, not by sympathy, but by direct experience. In so far as the personal sins of men have contributed to the existence of these public sins, he came into collision with the totality of evil in mankind. It requires no legal fiction of imputation to explain that 'he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities.' Solidarity explains it."

"Religious bigotry, the combination of graft and political power, the corruption of justice, the mob spirit (being "the social group gone mad") and mob action, militarism, and class contempt-- "every student of history will recognize that these sum up constitutional forces in the Kingdom of Evil. Jesus bore these sins in no legal or artificial sense, but in their impact on his own body and soul. He had not contributed to them, as we have, and yet they were laid on him. They were not only the sins of Caiaphas, Pilate, or Judas, but the social sin of all mankind, to which all who ever lived have contributed, and under which all who ever lived have suffered."

These quotes come from Walter Rauschenbusch, whose book Christianity and the Social Crisis was so immensely popular in 1907 when it was published it sold more copies for three years than any other religious text but the Bible .

Rauschenbuschian has entered the language as an adjective: for a review of the centenary reprinting of his greatest book, click here.

Other kinds of news

Often Christians live in an isolated ghetto kind of world, where understanding of the other kinds of 'revolution' that are going on pass them by completely. (I include myself in this, pretty much.)

For that reason, I'm mentioning a site that I came across via the aforementioned (aforementioned as in the previous post) MorePraxis. Indymedia aims to be a place where news that doesn't tend to get into the newspapers and other media can have a voice. It's certainly more into revolution than many Christians are (whether that's a different kind of revolution or not, is another matter), and there are no doubt things there that will upset some readers, but it's worth a look, if only to get an idea of what else is being thought in this country.

And there's a very good April 1st post....

Generous Revolution

On the Australian morepraxis blog (more praxis? is that a word to attract people? interesting....) there's a post about Generous revolution, which leads onto using road signs - particularly the Give Way ones - creatively. You need to read it to make sense of it. A couple of the signs might offend, so be warned.

The writer considers 'generousity, creativity and hospitality to be very subversive practices.' What do you think?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Climate Change

With Climate Change becoming an increasingly hot focus in the media, it may be worth going back to an article in sPanz, the quarterly Presbyterian magazine. It was written by Amanda Wells.

There is a short piece by Susan Werstein on a theological view of Climate Change, and a short sidebar listing some of the things you can do, personally or as a group or family. There are also stories about what some churches have done in housegroups or short-term courses to encourage their parishioners to understand the matter more clearly.

God's own land ... maybe even more than we thought

This is the title of an article by Simon Collins that appeared in the NZ Herald on the 29th March, 2008.

In it, Dr John Stenhouse, a Christian historian from Otago University, says: New Zealand may or may not be "God's own country" but it has always been more Christian than we thought. He told 'an evangelical Christian congress that "secular and left-liberal" historians, who have dominated New Zealand historical writing, have distorted the country's history to push contemporary agendas. "For most of our history, Christianity has been more widespread and influential than many historians, especially in recent years, have acknowledged."

You can read the whole article here, or, if it's no longer available on the original site, contact Mike Crowl, National Mission Research and Resource Assistant.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pastoral Restoration

Pastoral Restoration: The Path to Recovery will guide those church leaders faced with facilitating the healing and recovery of a minister and the church from a moral failure.

This new book comes from The Parsonage Site where you can also see the previous books in the series;
Enriching Life in the Fishbowl - provides assistance to congregations in properly caring for a pastor and his family in order to make their lives rich and their ministries effective;
Living in the Pastor's Home is a unique experience. Join four adult PKs as they look back with new insight that would benefit any congregation.;
Working Together to Impact Your Community will direct you in forming a community impact committee to benefit your congregation and pastor alike

Being a Do-Gooder

More than one person in the world has begun to do small acts of kindness (sometimes 'random acts of kindness') with effects far beyond what they expected.

Debbie Tenzer is a marketing professional who felt helpless to change the state of the world with regard to war, crime and the schools in Los Angeles. So, she started with small gestures of kindness on Mondays, her own most difficult day. Then friends soon suggested she post these activities on a website, and was born.

"OK, I can't fix needy schools, but I could give them my children's old schoolbooks," Debbie says. "I can't end the war, but I can send a phone card so a soldier can call home and feel comforted. I decided then I'd find a way to do one nice thing for someone every week."

Now she communicates with "nice-oholics" in 53 countries — people inspired by the Web site. Amongst other things they pour tons of school supplies into Afghanistan, meet the needs of students fleeing hurricane Katrina in Mississippi, and send sweaters to help people endure the bitter winter winds in Iraq.

Sharing these stories gives other people hope, Tenzer says. "The world is an imperfect place, and there's a lot to do and we can do."

Too often people in our congregation find it hard to know where to start. Either of these sites might give someone the impetus to get out and 'be kind.'


As easy as it is for those of us who are white to look back and say, "That's a terrible statement," I grew up in a very segregated South, and I think that you have to cut some slack. And I'm going to be probably the only conservative in America who's going to say something like this, but I'm just telling you: We've got to cut some slack to people who grew up being called names, being told, "You have to sit in the balcony when you go to the movie. You have to go to the back door to go into the restaurant. And you can't sit out there with everyone else. There's a separate waiting room in the doctor's office. Here's where you sit on the bus." And you know what? Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder and resentment. And you have to just say, I probably would too. I probably would too. In fact, I may have had ... more of a chip on my shoulder had it been me.

- Mike Huckabee, offering his perspective on the preaching of Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

The interview this comes from can be seen on You Tube. or can click on the arrow in the screen below.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Trouble with Paris

By a circuitous route, I found a DVD resource for young people, called, The Trouble with Paris. (It came via an Aussie magazine called Novus, which contained an article by Darren Rouse (famous for the very popular ProBlogger site) who's a Baptist pastor in Melbourne. In the article he referred to his other site, The Living Room, and in one of the posts there I found reference to the DVD.

The Trouble With Paris
takes you on a four-week journey exposing the myths of popular culture, whilst presenting a new lens by which to view Christianity in a consumer world.

Western culture teaches us that our value and identity comes from the products, experiences and relationships that we consume. You can become a celebrity if you want it bad enough. Youth is worshipped and commitment to anything is uncool. But where do I find contentment and happiness? In a society where consumerism is god, how do Christians express their faith in a meaningful and relevant way?

Mark Sayers, Australia 's leading young adults theologian, presents a unique insight into how media and advertising impacts upon our dreams, values and expectations as Christians. The Trouble With Paris has thoughtful animation and an interactive question time, and is the ideal resource for small groups or individuals wanting to reshape how to live out your faith in a world of plastic promises.

The modules are as follows:
• Week One – The Pursuit of Happiness
• Week Two – Fame, Fortune and other Fables
• Week Three – Reality Bites
• Week Four – Finding God's Reality

You can buy a copy of the DVD directly from the website.

The emerging church has not really emerged

The title of this post comes from a series of personal observations about trends in Queensland churches - so don't take it as a statement of fact...!

John Sweetman has written ten observations about the church, and has this to say about the emerging church:
Experiments are continuing in Queensland, but there are few success stories yet. Perhaps the conservative nature of Queensland means that new things happen more slowly. Perhaps the emerging church will never have a strong following but will minister to a niche market. Time may tell.

The emerging (or emergent) church idea has been all the rage in recent years. Maybe it's time has come, maybe it hasn't; maybe it's only part of the whole. There's an excellent overview of it on Wikipedia (fast becoming the encyclopedia of choice!), but for an even more detailed view, check on Scot McKnights, 'Five Streams of the Emerging Church' in which he quotes Eddie Gibbs' definition of 'emerging church':

Emerging churches are communities that practice the way of Jesus within postmodern cultures. This definition encompasses nine practices. Emerging churches (1) identify with the life of Jesus, (2) transform the secular realm, and (3) live highly communal lives. Because of these three activities, they (4) welcome the stranger, (5) serve with generosity, (6) participate as producers, (7) create as created beings, (8) lead as a body, and (9) take part in spiritual activities.

McKnight checks out the points in this definition, and goes much further. Well worth a visit.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Purple State of Mind

In a recent Christianity Today article, Brandon Fibbs writes about Friends, Faith and a Feud. The two friends are Craig Detweiler and John Marks, and they date their longstanding friendship back to college days, when they were roommates. However, one of them, Detweiler, is a Christian, and Marks is not - he was until the year he met Detweiler, as it happens.

Detweiler is a filmmaker, and between them they've made a documentary in which they have an ongoing conversation about Christianity, faith, believing or not believing and a good deal more. The film, A Purple State of Mind, is available on DVD, and you can order it here, or see more about it on their site.

If you've nothing else to do (apart from buying the DVD, that is) you can watch a number of outtakes on the site (same link as the last one). This will give you an idea of the approach they take.

The DVD would make great viewing for small groups, since it gives an insight into the way someone thinks who isn't a Christian and who's got plenty of reasons/answers as to why he shouldn't be, as well as showing how to have a conversation with a non-believer without losing your cool, or your friendship.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Are you close to boiling point?

It's Mental Health Week in the UK from the 23-29 March. They've bought out a new booklet called Cool Down, which you can download from their site.

It's a useful tool for people who struggle with anger, though obviously the references in it are to English sites and places.

The poster at the left is part of their campaign as well.

NZ Suicide Prevention Action Plan

The NZ Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2008-2012 was released on Monday 17 March.

The Action Plan builds on the NZ Suicide Prevention Strategy 2006-2016 released in 2006, and provides more detail about how the high level goals of the Strategy can be achieved over the next five years. The Action Plan is made up of two companion documents, which are best read together:
The Summary for Action outlines what the actions are, who will do them and by when.
The Evidence for Action discusses the evidence and context underlying the actions

- read Action Plan
- read Hon Jim Anderton's speech at the launch of the Action Plan

SANE advertising

This effective 'road' sign comes from a campaign being run by SANE Australia. There's a brief video ad on the site from a campaign focusing on mental health. One of the main messages SANE is promoting is that often close family members see the signs even before the person who's having mental health problems. This leads to them needing to encourage the person to get help. The campaign is similar to the one shown in NZ in regard to depression.
It's an importantpoint to note that:

The 2005-2006 data shows that the rate of suicide is higher for Mâori (17.9 per 100,000) than non-Mâori (12.0 per 100,000). This disparity has increased over the past nine years.
While fewer Mâori people died by suicide in 2005 than in 2004, the three year moving average rates - a more robust measure of what’s happening over time – show the Mâori suicide rate has increased by 5.2 percent from 2002-2004 to 2003-2005.

Addressing the needs of Mâori is particularly important because Mâori also have poorer outcomes in other areas relating to suicide. For example, depression is a major risk factor for suicide. Te Rau Hinengaro: The New Zealand Mental Health Survey shows that Mâori report higher rates of depression than all other ethnic groups, and, with the exception of Pacific peoples, are less likely to access services for a mental health problem.


Let’s have some sanity in the campaign against domestic violence, by Bill Ralston.
Ralston may not be everyone's cup of tea, and some of his opinion columns that have been appearing in the NZ Listener in the last few months probably irritate more than a few people.

This particular column begins:

Recently you might have noticed people wandering about wearing white ribbons in solidarity with the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Men wear them to show that they do not tolerate or condone violence against women. Presumably if you don’t wear a ribbon, it shows that you do condone and tolerate it, in which case Auckland males must be wickedly violent because I never saw any of them wearing a ribbon.

In New Zealand, White Ribbon Day was just one of the 16 days of Activism Against Gender Violence that finish on December 10. The gender violence it refers to is violence by the male gender against the female gender.

It's an interesting essay on how statistics can be manipulated by people with different agendas, and while Ralston certainly doesn't condone violence against women, he wants the figures to be looked at a little more carefully.

Reinventing Paradise

Reinventing Paradise: How New Zealand is starting to earn a bigger, sustainable living in the world economy. Writeen by Rod Oram. 298pp. Penguin, NZ. $35.00 (Available in most bookshops, though this Epworth price is a little cheaper than some regular shops)

In this accessible and fascinating collection of columns, Oram reveals how New Zealand has fared so far in the global market, the unique challenges that lie ahead, and the opportunities for us to earn a bigger, better, more sustainable living.

Oram is known for his direct and prescriptive commentary and for his ability to make complex concepts understandable to the average reader or listener.

This isn't a book about the Christian view of things, but it's worth checking out for its general perspective on New Zealand.

Evangelism in the Small Membership Church

Written by Royal Speidel. 126pp Published Abingdon, US. $25.99 (Price at Epworth Books in Wellington)

Speidel stresses: passion for Christ, inspiring worship, loving relationships & quality programmes. This book will help pastors have “God eyes” for big possibilities in their churches by focusing on visualizing goals; worship; creating a loving environment; passion and commitment; prayer; witness; time management; leadership recruitment; hospitality; assimilation of new members; and managing change and conflict.

Forget the hatred!

A post from the blog The Website of Unknowing on how atheists (or other nonbelievers) see Christians, especially in terms of how Christians can hate others and have done so regularly throughout history. It’s seems to be a well-argued piece, in general.

A follow-up post regarding the way some atheists get very angry about Christians. The author says that that sort of anger only entraps the atheist. If you’re going to be an atheist, be a joyful one, just as Christians should be!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new. 2 Cor 5-17 (NKJ)

Dan Southlerland says that in many churches this verse is presented in the 'Modern Church Perversion'. That is, it goes something like this:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is an old creation; new things have passed away; behold, all things have become old.

Southerland says that this version is 'especially liked in those churches who cling to the seven last words of a dying church: "We never did it that way before."

However, he goes on to say that churches who are vision-driven have a 'present-tense version of the verse':

Therefore, is anyone is in Christ, he is a renewed creation; old things keep passing away, and all things keep becoming new.

From Dan Southerland's book, Transitioning, leading your church through change, Zondervan 2000.

Institutional Christianity

Highly institutional consumer Christianity…reduces ministry to a predictable machine where the right input results in the desired output, and then invites religious consumers to engage the test-engineered institution for their spiritual nourishment. It is also the assumption behind a good number of the ministry books, conferences, and resources we produce every year. But I don’t believe the Spirit of God is laying dormant waiting for the institutional church to compose the right BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) so he can be unleashed the way a pagan god is conjured by an incantation. God is a person, not a force. And his Spirit does not empower programs or inhabit institutions but people who were created in God’s image to be the vessels of his glory.

from...They Love the Church but Not the Institution by Skye Jethani, a two-part essay on Out of Ur, a blog presented by Leadership Journal.

Gordon MacDonald notes that Starbucks closed down for a few hours recently for staff training. It was a bit of a shock to the American system, but they coped. He wonders what would happen if churches closed down 'for a few hours' to check out where they're at. Some have, with mixed results. Check out the full article here: Trouble Brewing.

In an earlier article, David Swanson talks about how working as a part-time barista showed him that too many churches are like coffee shops where the customers turn up, get their coffee and go away again. Takeaway Churches, as it were. As a result of his part-time work, he's begun a group that just gets together to 'connect', 'relate' and learn about each other as disciples of Jesus. Read about it in Coffeeshop Connections/

Shopping for God

James Twitchell is interested in "how religious sensation is currently being manufactured, branded, packaged, shipped out, and consumed."
Most of what we read about ministry leadership, outreach, and management is infused with a heavy dose of spiritual language. Twitchell propels the pendulum the other way. By removing God language, he asserts that most of what we assume to be fueled by divine power may actually be the result of market forces. Today, the way people choose a church is almost the same as how they shop for groceries.
The next generation won't accept the mega brand, because the "pastorpreneurs" that launched [megachurches] are mavericks, impossible to replace. The same market forces that created the megachurch may ultimately be its undoing.

Extracts from a review (by Skye Jethani) of Twitchell’s Shopping for God: How Christianity Went from in Your Heart to in Your Face.

Kurt Vonnegut

"The arts puts man at the center of the universe, whether he belongs there or not. Military science, on the other hand, treats man as garbage--and his children, and his cities, too. Military science is probably right about the contemptibility of man in the vastness of the universe. Still--I deny that contemptibility, and I beg you to deny it, through the creation of appreciation of art."

I don't think the picture is supposed to indicate that Vonnegut is now an angel - it's pretty unlikely , given his life - but rather that he's no longer with us...!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Two recent books on the Future

New Zealand Unleashed: the country, its future and the people who will get it there, by Steve Garden. Looks at the changes, looks at our history and particularly at our ability to innovate – both from a Maori and a Pakeha perspective. Sees creativity as a vital force in taking us forward. Published 2007 Random House.

Futurehype, the myths of technology change, by Bob Seidensticker. Spends a lot of time telling us how the future can’t be predicted, and how previous predictions have often been wrong. Message seems to be to not to take everything as gospel in terms of hype and media promotion. Published Berrett-Koehler, 2006

More from Tim Keel

Two more quotes from Mr Keel, and then I'll give him a rest:

I am discovering that our postmodern world is consumed with questions of creation—even if they are not framed that way explicitly. We can hear these questions whenever our contemporaries ask, "What does it mean to be human, especially as more and more of life is influenced by and even dependent on technology?" "How do we understand gender and sexuality and how both are expressed?" "How do we live in an ecologically responsible way?" "How might a just economy function sustainably?" Have you had these conversations? Have you talked to the teenagers among you who are verbalizing these concerns? These are the questions our culture is wrestling with.

People are not asking the traditional gospel question much anymore. Asking, "If I died tomorrow, where would I end up?" does not generate much life. But asking people, "If you had just a few years left, what kind of life would you want to live?" generates enormous energy. It is a question of hope, something our balkanized world sorely needs.

Our job on earth

The idea that the gospel has something to say about the eternal destinies of people has been drummed into them for a long time. But they don't see that we are equally concerned about what Jesus taught us to pray: "May your kingdom come, and your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
Tim Keel, in An Efficient Gospel?

It's worth pointing out that noted English writer, N T Wright, has recently published a book called Surprised by Hope, which deals with a similar idea, as well as looking at what resurrection means for people, where we go when we die - and whether heaven really 'exists'.

The Revolution Misses You

Tim Keel, in a Christianity Today online article, An Efficient Gospel?, writes:

A socially progressive journalist named
Zack Exley has been documenting a massive cultural shift that is happening among young, theologically conservative evangelicals. Writing for the left-leaning, semi-socialist magazine In These Times, Exley has chronicled his journey into the surprising world of socially conscious, justice-oriented evangelicals who are living out their faith in increasingly radical and sacrificial ways. In his article "Preaching Revolution" (complete with a Che Guevara-ized portrait of Jesus on the red magazine cover), Exley wrote:

"Recently, I blogged a series of essays titled 'The Revolution Misses You' in which I called for progressives to revive the forgotten dream of practical yet radical change. Friends and colleagues immediately scolded me for using 'extreme' terms such as 'revolution' and 'radical.' 'You'll only alienate people,' they said. 'This will come back to haunt you.' At first I was surprised by what felt like a dramatic overreaction. But I soon realized why I had fallen out of sync with the progressive mainstream on the use of the R-words: I had been spending time listening to and reading evangelical Christians who are preaching revolution."

Exley's blog, "Revolution in Jesusland," has followed his pilgrimage across America to communities that embody this spirit of demonstrating the kingdom of God—not just for themselves in the transcendent then and there, but also for others in the immanent here and now. He is one of many people who would otherwise have written off Christianity who are ready to give the gospel another hearing (or perhaps better, viewing). They are realizing that salvation is more than what had previously been advertised.

Exley's essay has been removed from his blog and is now available in book form. You can read a 'draft' version
of it online, or buy the finished version for US$6.95.

Good Childhood

Results released in late February as part of The Good Childhood Inquiry—an ongoing study into the modern-day childhood—has shown that consumerism is having a negative impact on the mental health of children. This research illustrates the need to protect the innocence and vulnerability of children, rather than treat them as mini-consumers.

You can read The Good Childhood Inquiry Report on lifestyle here.

The Children’s Society in the UK has the Archbishop of Canterbury as its patron, and submissions come from a wide variety of groups, including the Baptist Union.

Aristotle on moral excellence

"Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts."


Suicide and Occupation

A report has recently come out called Suicide and occupation in New Zealand, 2001-2005. It's published by the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, 14, 45-50.

It's published by Gallagher,L.M., Kliem, C.,Beautrais, A.L., Stallones,L. (2008)

You can access the full text online for free (although you have to register first, but that's free as well).

A total of 2,024 suicide deaths were reviewed. Being non-waged was seen as being a risk factor for suicide and those working in farming, fisheries, forestry and the trades had higher suicide rates. The article discusses the reasons including the depressive effect of chronic pesticide exposure and toxic chemicals amongst farmers and tradespeople.

Being Missional and the way it affects our finances

A blog post by Mark Broadbent (of City Life Chrisitan Church) on the way they choose to deal with finances in their church. There are several good points including:

As missionaries, we are not called to give 10% to the local church. Rather we are called to surrender 100% to God.

From day one, City Life has allocated 10% of its budget to outside causes.

We encourage everybody to be generous with their whole lives.

You can read the full post by clicking here.

The photo shows Mark Broadbent in a somewhat excited mood.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Question to Rick Warren

What's the hardest lesson that young leaders need to learn as early as possible?

Get over yourself - it gets easier after that
. I had my mid-life crisis at 26 after I passed out during the last sermon of Saddleback's first year. I was trying my hardest to grow the draw a crowd...and it was killing me. I had to be perfect, the church had to be perfect, everything had to be perfect. I was afraid to make a mistake.

But when you get over yourself, you're not afraid to make mistakes. And that's a good thing. It's good to have some early losses because you learn you're not perfect. Every major decision I have ever made has been made in fear, but I've done it anyway. Courage is not the absence of's doing what you're supposed to do in spite of the fear.

You have to decide if you want to impress people or impact people. You impress people at a distance, but you impact people up close. Impacting means you have to be over yourself enough to let people see your warts...and your heart.


Many Christians place great legalistic, spiritual importance on abstinence from relatively trivial things (from dancing to movies to swearing to card playing to mowing the lawn on Sundays). This is because Christians aren’t much different from others in relation to important things (basic values and behavior concerning wealth, power, prestige, justice, security, peace, work, time). Christians know they should be different from the world in some way — otherwise, what would Christianity mean? So, in an effort to establish some kind of Christian distinctiveness, they focus on the trivial. And the trivial is that which does not require us to make difficult changes in our lives… Like the Pharisee, we “strain out the gnat and swallow the camel.”

From Christian Smith's book: Going to the Root: Nine Proposals for Radical Church Renewal (published 1992, so probably a bit hard to get. Let me know by email if you'd be interested in a copy and I'll see what I can do.)

Mission-Shaped Church

If Church is what happens when people encounter the Risen Jesus and commit themselves to sustaining and deepening that encounter in their encounter with each other, there is plenty of theological room for diversity of rhythm and style, so long as we have ways of identifying the same living Christ at the heart of every expression of Christian life in common.

From The Mission-Shaped Church by Rowan Cantuar, Church House Publishing, 2004

The link is to a PDF version of the full text. Rowan Cantuar is a formal name for the Archibishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

David Droga on creativity

This struck me as being of interest. Although it's talking about working with a group of creative individuals in an advertising agency, it's very possibly applicable to working with a group of creative individuals in a church setting:

Top adman David Droga, head of his innovative agency, Droga5 revealed the creative process his company uses:
1. Decide what emotions they want to evoke;
2. Get together a wide range of people to work together right from the start--creatives, tech people, etc.;
3. Manage the massive insecurities and egos of the people working on the challenge so everybody feels they are being heard and will keep contributing;
4. Refine the goal - a totally open brief can be too intimidating;
5. Don't fall in love with the first idea, even if it seems like a great solution. Force yourself to keep going and writing;
6. Skepticism can be healthy, it prevents blind optimism and exposes flaws or weaknesses that can be addressed;
7. When it's time to sell the client, you can't sell on creativity, but you can sell on WHY you got to the solution you're proposing.

Point 3 is possibly the most relevant of all!

Great Leaders

All Organisations Need Great Leaders, by Malcolm Park.

“Anyone who is a leader needs to be aware that their values, moral code, lifestyle choices and work/life balance are noticed and often emulated by others. Talk alone is not enough. Leaders set by example.” It’s still possible to learn from poor leaders.

From March 2008 edition of Management Matters, the monthly newsletter of NZ Institute of Management Southern.

Photo by Stepol.

How Rick deals with criticism

Rick Warren on dealing with critics and criticism.

1. Turn your critics into coaches by hearing what they are saying and humbly considering if there is any truth in their criticisms to learn from.

2. Never engage the critics on their terms because it only escalates the conflict and is not productive.

3. Be very careful with firing off emails or leaving voicemails and responding out of anger in a way that you will later regret.

4. Shout louder than your critics to define yourself and do not allow them to define you. [This last might have an element of tongue-in-cheek!]

Source Neoleader blog

H2O A Journey of Faith

Listed as An Alpha Course for PostModerns.
I checked out the seven-minute trailer for this series, and it looks very well done. Even the trailer is used as a tool to encourage people to think about where their life is going. As far as I can tell, there are four episodes, Thirsty, Polluted, Source, Pure, varying in length from 20 to 30 minutes.

The videos can be viewed online by clicking here.

The Lesson of the Three Monkeys

There's a story about three monkeys sitting under a tree. One of them decides to climb the tree and get a banana. How many monkeys are left sitting under the tree?

Answer: Three. It takes more than a decision to change anything.

As someone who is addicted to having ideas ("Hey, I know! Maybe I could climb that tree and get a banana!"), I understand this story very well. Yes, the idea is important, but things change only when we turn it into action. Speaking of which:

ACTION: Keep a journal of all your ideas so that your mind is encouraged to stay fertile - I believe that if you ignore your ideas, they stop flowing. But also make a firm decision about which ones to act on and then stick with those until you've seen them through.

Courtesy of Jurgen Wolff's Brainstorm E-Bulletin

Photo courtesy of Jeff Jarrett: Barberry Apes from a series of Gibraltar apes

Confidence in a crowd

Do you struggle to feel free to network in a room full of people? Walter Anderson, author of The Confidence Course says there's one basic tip: Keep moving! "The longer you stay in one spot, the shyer you'll become," he warns. His advice is to find the nearest group with an odd number. He says, "Groups of two and four are less approachable."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Chris Hedges: I Don’t Believe in Atheists

On May 22nd, 2007 Chris Hedges and Sam Harris debated “Religion, Politics and the End of the World.” Hedges’ opening statement, in which he argues that Harris and other critics of faith have mistakenly blamed religion for the ills of the world, when the true danger lies in the human heart and its capacity for evil, can be found here. It's quite long, so settle back for a good solid read.

Chris Hedges is the son of a Presbyterian minister, but I'm not clear that he's a practising Christian himself. The link on his name gives details of his biography.

Sam Harris, like Richard Dawkins, has become a strong voice for atheism in the last decade. Some information about him is available in the link under his name.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Radical Christianity

Savitri Durkee was born in New Mexico. She directs the radical performance community known as The Church of Stop Shopping and lives in Brooklyn.

The Church of Stop Shopping is an activist performance group based in New York City, led by Reverend Billy (stage name Bill Talen). Using the form of a revival meeting, on sidewalks and in chain stores, Reverend Billy and the gospel choir exhort consumers to abandon the products of large corporations and mass media; the group also preaches a broader message of economic justice, environmental protection, and anti-militarism, protesting sweatshops and the Iraq War. While it continues its street theater activities, the Church has also appeared on stage, has toured internationally, and most recently was the subject of a feature length film by Morgan Spurlock called “What Would Jesus Buy”.

Zack Exley is a founder and president of the New Organizing Institute, and also works with ThoughWorks as a consultant to organizations, businesses and leaders. He directed the online campaign for the British Labour Party’s 2005 re-election, and was Director of Online Organizing and Communications at Kerry-Edwards 2004. Before that, he served as Organizing Director at, and was an adviser to the early Dean campaign. Zack spent the 90’s working as a union organizer. He blogs at the HuffingtonPost and In September 2007 he launched, where he blogs from the road, scouting “the fourth Great Awakening”. This evangelical “revolution” is the fastest growing and most surprising of American social movements today. From mega churches to tiny country churches, evangelical Christians are rediscovering the “gospel of the God of the oppressed.”

Harvard Business Review

Podcasts available from the Harvard Business Review. The HBR IdeaCasts are mostly a few minutes long, delivered right to the computer – and free.

Some provocative titles: The Power of Unreasonable People; Disruptive Innovation; Don’t bother with the green consumer; Thinking inside the Box. There are some 80 titles available.

Anne Lamott

I think joy and sweetness and affection are a spiritual path. We're here to know God, to love and serve God, and to be blown away by the beauty and miracle of nature. You just have to get rid of so much baggage to be light enough to dance, to sing, to play. You don't have time to carry grudges; you don't have time to cling to the need to be right.

Anne Lamott, writer, in an interview in the Washington

John Ortberg

John Ortberg writes about not having had a particular call, and one day sensing God was saying the following:

John, take your being at this church as my call on your life. Don't waste energy asking if someone else could do the job better. Don't waste energy asking if some other place could be more fulfilling. If you put your hand to the plow and don't look back, you will grow in ways you otherwise never would.

Leadership Magazine: God’s Call Waiting.

Richard Watson

Nothing dates as fast as the future. Richard Watson.

Richard Watson, the author of Future Files, has a blog on which he discusses future trends.
He’s currently listing the 2008 Trends as he sees them.
1. Karma Capitalism
2. Rhythm & Balance
3. Making things
4. Something for nothing
5. Industrial provenance
6. Robotics
7. Data visualisation
8. Reality mining
9. Eco-exhaustion
10. Fantasy & escape
Most of these need some explanation to unpack them! The explanation is on the blog.

His 2007 Trends is now available as a pdf file free to copy, and makes interesting reading.

Quote from Albert Mohler

“The same culture that has developed the microwave oven, the CAT-scan, and the vaccine for polio has also produced social pathologies which threaten the very existence of the culture.”

Albert Mohler, in the article, Transforming Culture: Christian Truth Confront Post-Christian America.

Mohler has also published a book just this year:
Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth. Published Multnomah, 2008.
“Thoughtful Christians seeking to engage the culture from a well-informed and thoroughly biblical perspective will find an impressive resource in this new work by R. Albert Mohler. Culture Shift is an outstanding contribution, which I heartily recommend.” David Dockery
“Dr. Albert Mohler brings his intellectual brilliance, moral wisdom, and theological insight together in a book that belongs on the shelf of anyone who is interested in both understanding the shifting sands of morality in our culture and how to deal with it. If you are in that category this is a must read.”


Everyday we come across material that's helpful to those ministering in the Church. Some of it is vital, some of it is just interesting. This blog will aim to include a wide mix of resource material: links to other blogs and sites, helpful quotes, anecdotal material you can use, the names of books worth reading and so on.

We already have a backlog of these items, and will gradually include these as time permits.

For those who aren't familiar with the Acronym, PCANZ, it stands for Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand