Backyard Missionary shares his recent journey

Hamo, who many readers know, who writes at Backyardmissionary has written over the last couple of weeks about his take on the journey of the last few years returning to an established church.  Watching from a distance it’s a journey I respect, and reading this series continues to give me reasons for this respect.  An interesting read, with some interesting questions, shared by someone who, along with others, is walking what he is writing about (even if on some days he doesn’t feel like he is!).  Have a look at the posts: the first one, the second one, the third one and a final one.


5 Essential Ingredients of Missional Communities

Mike Breen and others around 3DM have been part of and observed many missional communities.

A recent blog post outlines what they consider the 5 essential ingredients of missional communities to be:

1) Size of an extended community (20-50)

2) Up/In/Out

3) Clear mission vision

4) Lightweight / Low maintenance

5) Accountable Leaders

Check out their post for more details.

Isolation, individualism and privatopia

Some great thoughts and links here by Hamo on the nature of the type of neighbourhoods we live in today.

I am particularly interested in his comments that “the issues for us in suburban Perth still revolve around individualism and isolation” and that “Privatopia has become the norm and they might just want to be left in peace…”.  I tend to agree with these thoughts and questions.

What does it mean to be the people of God in this context?

Faithfulness or Fruitlessness?

As we reflect on the missional movement here in WA, and in Australia generally (and probably more broadly too!), we observe the questions of “how do I know whether I should keep going with what I am doing?” and “when is it time to move on to other things?”.    Everyone articulates this somewhat differently and the factors are always unique but these questions are often present.  The issues are always complex and there are never easy answers.

Often in these thoughts come questions of the seeming fruitlessness of the current situation and what it means to be faithful in the midst of that.  This post challenges me, given that my tendency is on the faithfulness side of this tension.

TEAR morning for Families: 11th July

Here’s a great morning run by TEAR for families in the upcoming school holidays:

The Earth is God’s: A time for kids to explore God’s call to care for creation

Linking the global with the local and looking at how we can make a difference. Activities include: a simulation game – a reduce, reuse, recycle workshop – and loads of other fun stuff!

This is not a “drop and run” activity for carers – kids bring Mum, Dad or a Grandparent along so they can learn too!

When:  Wed, 11 July (9.30am – 12.30pm)

Where:  Earthwise, 315 Bagot Rd, Subiaco (look for the big pink Church!)

Cost:      $5 p/head (includes morning tea)

RSVP:    by 5 July to or on 0416 118185

Flyer: TEAR Families event

Review of “The Church is Flat” by Tony Jones

Reading reviews regarding Tony Jones’ book “The Church is Flat: The Relational Ecclesiology of the Emerging Church” led me to want to read the book itself.

Tony Jones is one of the key leaders within the Emerging Church Movement, especially within America, and this is a “lightly amended version” of his doctoral dissertation.  He does a great job of owning his involvement, while standing back and making appropriate affirmations and critiques of the movement.  Contained within the book is a fabulous version of the history of the Emerging Church Movement, that itself makes it a worthwhile read.  The focus, however, is more on the core practices of eight emerging church communities within America, putting those core practices in conversation with the theologians such as Moltmann and considering what is affirmed and what learnings there are from this conversation.  While some have critiqued the narrow nature of this study being entirely based on American communities, I think it is still a useful piece of writing and has much to say to those of us outside the American situation (while, of course, recognising that some of the forces at work in the American situation are very different to those at work in our contexts).

Jones considers eight communities which at some point have been identified as connected with emerging church movement.  A couple of these churches have since distanced themselves from this movement.  The churches he used for his research are Cedar Ridge Community Church, Solomon’s Porch, House of Mercy, Journey, Pathways, Church of the Apostles, Jacob’s Well and Vintage Faith Church.  His descriptions of these communities themselves are an interesting and informative read.  From his research, he identifies practices of the emerging church movement – both what he names as concrete practices and practices of virtue.  He identifies four concrete practices: Communion, Worship, Preaching and Community. (I hasten to note that what he finds and defines as the way in which these concrete practices are lived out is quite different to the way in which they would be lived out in other churches within America!)  The practices of virtue that he lists are: Hospitality, Theology, Creating Art, Priesthood of All Believers and Sacred Space.  I reckon a helpful analysis and accurate to some of the Emerging Church communities within Australia.

Jones then places these practices in conversation with the theology of Moltmann and others and suggests that for the sustainability of the Emerging Church Movement more thorough and robust theological reflection is necessary.  He has certainly been part of helping this occur by his doctoral dissertation and this book.

This is a really helpful book and, as I’ve said above, I think has currency for us in Australia as we think about our communities here.  However, I am conscious that the research for this doctoral work was done 6 or so years ago and that in the life of the Emerging Church Movement this is a lengthy period of time.  (This is not a critique of the work – just a recognition of the reality.)  I wonder what a snapshot of the picture now would look like?  What would the core practices be now? Would a snapshot now show more theological reflection?  What about in the communities you are engaged with? What would a researcher describe as your core practices (as they are lived in practice)?

If you want to read some more reviews of this book have a look at this post and this review.

Think more broadly about Third Places

Third Places – the places where people “hang” that is not home or work – is a concept that many people are familiar with.  Often people think of cafes or pubs when we talk about this concept.

Here’s a post that encourages us to think a little more broadly about third places.  What other places might be third places?  Perhaps parks, libraries and farmer’s markets.

What are the third places in your community? Are you present there?

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