For a number of years now, I’ve been thinking deeply about how churches can engage well — or at least better — with the communities in which they find themselves. The fact is, so often we don’t. Churches often condescendingly treat their local communities as a broken project in need of ‘fixing’ (conveniently ignoring our own brokenness), or fail to realise that people aren’t actually as stupid as we sometimes seem to think they are and can see straight through our thinly veiled attempts to get more bums on seats.
There is, I think, a more excellent way.
Continue reading Engaging Well In Our Communities
When I was growing up, my mate Dave’s dad had the best lawn I’ve (still) ever seen. It was glorious! Now, Dave’s dad was a big, burly bloke, who happened to be a steelworker, and his attention to his lawn was surprising to me. But this lawn stood as testament to the enormous amount of time and effort that he put into it. It was truly immaculate. As far as I could tell, it was the purest, most perfect lawn that has ever existed.
One day, when I went over to Dave’s house, I was horrified to see the whole lawn completely dead. I immediately assumed some sort of sabotage from a lawn care rival down the street, but it turned out that Dave’s dad was convinced that his lawn was hopelessly riddled with weeds and couldn’t be salvaged. His only choice, it seems, was to nuke it and to start from scratch.
Continue reading Pioneer Plants & The Kingdom of God
This is the second in a series of posts drawing out some of the applications and implications of permaculture principles for life, work, and mission (you can find the first post here: “Food Forests and Change Management”).
In this post, I want to look at the concept (and practice) of Observation — which happens to be the first principle of permaculture (as articulated by one of the ‘fathers’ of permaculture, David Holmgren).
It’s a simple but profound thought: you need to know the site before you start designing your garden/food forest/whatever. If you don’t adequately understand what you’re working with, you’ll no doubt run into trouble later on due to unsuitable plant selection, misplacement of structures, unhelpful drainage, and a whole host of other problems. You need to know the site before you do anything, and then start interacting with it slowly.
Continue reading The Power of Observation
Mike Frost* posted the following statement on social media yesterday:
The church has grown so accustomed to cultural privilege—a privilege it should never have had in the first place—that its erosion feels like persecution, when it’s not.
As a result, instead of meaningful engagement with society, we draw battle lines in confected culture ‘wars’ featuring praying football coaches, dissenting county clerks, and recalcitrant wedding cake bakers.
To my mind, this is one of the most piercing (and succinct!) analyses of the state of public faith (and flawed understandings of ‘mission’) in places like Australia and the U.S.—and I’m sure a number of others—that I’ve seen in a long time.
I won’t add any further comment on the statement here, but would love to get a conversation going around it in the comments section.
* Mike is a leading voice in the missional church movement, Vice Principal of Morling College (in Sydney, Australia), author, speaker, and a bunch of other things (including, some might say, provocateur).
I’m a fan of minimalist design.
I was introduced to the concept by a friend who, noting the design of the iPhone (which was, at that point, relatively new), described the possibility of stripping back that which is unnecessary in order to find ‘perfection’ (rather than seeking the same result by ‘adding things on’). In the context of the dominance of Blackberry phones and the ‘fact’ that a business device required a full, physical qwerty keyboard, the iPhone boasted a bold, minimalist design. And it won. It became that which we never knew we always needed.
I’ve thought about the point often since then.
When I read Richard J. Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, I was struck by the chapter on the ‘discipline of simplicity’. I remain gripped by this vision where my speech and actions and entire way of life is far more…simple—far less cluttered and noisy and complex.
Continue reading Minimalism
A few months ago I mentioned that I was seeking to focus my attention for 2014 on three streams of thought (and practice), and the interaction and overlap between them. Those streams were missional thinking and practice, the spirituality and practice on nonviolence, and the principles of permaculture. You can find the original post here.
In this post, I’d like to tease out some of the connections—especially in the overlap between missional thinking and practice and the principles of permaculture—by way of an idea that I’ve been thinking about for a number of years now. The idea has not come to fruition for at least a couple of reasons (that I won’t go into here), but I wanted to put the idea out there both as (what I think is) a good illustration of what I’m talking about, and for anyone who might be interested in trying to implement something similar.
Continue reading Suburban Permaculture as Missional Living