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View from the Office

Many more of us are in workshifting mode these days, moving from space to (third) space, using cloud computing to enable our business lives, navigating our days & diaries with the kind of flexibility barely imaginable a decade ago.

We’re finding ourselves in coffee houses, clubs, foyers, food courts…all in the name of finding a suitable bolt hole to act as our office for a few hours.

Capturing this zeitgeisty vibe, there’s a cool new site – viewfromtheoffice - from people who brought you Kore UK. Viewfromtheoffice shares some of the workspaces that have become the work environment for wonderfully creative & dynamic duo, Matt & Jules (who are usually far too modest to put themselves upfront on any of the growing number of fab sites* they have initiated)


A good number of the particular environments featured on viewfromtheoffice are pretty familiar territory for me too – Nude Espresso still ranks as my best Flat White in the last six months, on a meet-up with fellow Kore Trustee & top man, Big Daddy Whale. The Royal Festival Hall scores high for space and a decent noise level – i.e. pretty quiet if you need to concentrate. Scootercaffe is a big fave with the Kore crew –again great coffee. The Commonwealth Club is a pretty regular business meeting hang out.

So – where do you like to work – and what’s the view like?

For more on the whole Workshifting vibe, check out the site of the same name, and also Web Worker Daily; both great resources for Digital Nomads.

View from the Office
Workshifting
Web Worker Daily
More on Kore UK at johnnylaird.net

*check out this brilliant post on “Worth the Ask”

Playing the numbers game?

HT to my buddy Mike at Out on a Limb for highlighting this little vid from Mike Frost, talking it about how…or how not..to measure the impact or success of Church.

I love this. We folks who are involved in any way in Church leadership often succumb to the temptation to try and measure success in terms of numbers…how many people, how many services, how many buildings?

Mike kicks that idea right into touch, and I’m grateful for that.

It’s worth the listen.

For more on Frosty, check out the “Following the Missio Dei” page on johnnylaird

Missional in 2 minutes

This is not the whole story, and obviously only a two minute snapshot which largely ignores the Biblical roots of missional Church, but I think it’s a reasonable starting point to get a notion of what missional is all about.

If you want to go deeper – and you really have to if you want to really understand the roots and reality of missional Church – go and read some Hirsch and Frost, or check this vid out over a coffee.

Here’s a more expansive explanation from Alan Hirsch

I always try to give an acknowledgment the source of any video I post on here, but I struggled a little to find the precise source. I was kind of in the same quandary at The Well Mission’s Andrew Feil, whose cheeky wee comment made me smile.

…found this on Tim Chester’s Blog, but he got it from the Missional Church Network Website, who found it the twitter feed of Alan Hirsch, who got it from Jeff Maguire’s YouTube…

TwentyTen: I am released!

OK.

This is a biggie.

During all of the time I’ve been blogging, using Facebook and Twitter etc I’ve been very careful with my online presence to say very little about my previous day to day working life in the electronic music, audio & video product industry…concentrating rather on my life as a follower of Jesus trying to live as authentically as I can.

This was not some secular/sacred issue. I made that online separation simply because I wanted to be defined not by what I “do” in my career, but rather by what I “am”. In fact over the years I have become ever more convicted that it is this attempt at walking the way of Jesus that defines me; weak, faltering and broken as I am.

Now that maxim will apply more than ever:

Here at the beginning of 2010 I become a free agent.

I am released!

My employment came to an end just before Christmas, due to a merger within the corporate group I have been a part of for many years.

Together with my family – and with a lot of prayer – we’ve just been trying to discern where we go from here.

We feel this is gift of God (perhaps more accurately a hefty kick) to make myself more available to Jesus stuff in whatever form that takes. Expecting that there will perhaps be more time than before, I’ve already stepped out and started to take the initiative to get involved in a few things that I have a passion for, and are close to my heart.

It’s time to recalibrate.

Early signs seem to be focussed towards authentic missional discipleship, connection and some kind of increased & enhanced online activity – influenced in part because I have been inspired by those over the last little while who by their living, writing, sharing, creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, grace and love have impacted me more than they will ever realize.

JD, Thomas and Stewart are among that number with the Something Beautiful Podcast and JD’s book, St Peter’s Brewery – Chris with Geek-Speak - Sam Radford with his Awaken stuff, Duncan McFadzean with his Seven Men projects, Chris and Dana at Blue Door TV, the remarkable transitional journey of Chick and Margaret Yuill…the list could go on and on!

I’ve never been much of a bread head, so it will be my passion that will drive this thing. In many ways I want it to be a vehicle to help others, as much as help myself. I’m excited to see how it evolves.

Also, I guess I’ve been recently quite inspired by former pastor, Problogger and friend of Tall Skinny Kiwi, Darren Rowse, and although I don’t expect to be earning 6 figures anytime soon(!!), I am interested to explore just a little of what might be achieved. Over the longer haul, though, I’ve really been taken by how many of my buddies have just gotten off their butts, and taken leaps of faith…

If we’ve connected in any way since I started blogging YOU are part of my story, for that I thank you.

There’s a phrase that I picked up from renowned missiologist Mike Frost that has real resonance for me and my family at the moment. We are

Following the Missio Dei into Strange Places

I am excited about what God has in store for us!

If you want to join me on the journey or think I can in some small way support you on yours, feel free to get in touch with me on Facebook or Twitter

We would ask for your prayers.

Much love…in his dust

Following the Missio Dei into strange places…with Mike Frost


Since I spent a couple of days last week immersed in the teaching of Mike Frost at two different events run by the Evangelical Alliance, I’ve made a few scribbles, as much for my own benefit as anyone else’s, to try and unpack the thoughts & ideas that grabbbed my attention.There was so much to take in that these notes should not be regarded as comprehensive or definitive in any way….it’s just a note of some of the things that impacted me.

It was good too to hook up with top fellah, Krish Kandiah.

First off, I guess it’s important to understand that I came to hear Mike having read a two of his books at least a couple of times each, and also having heard his friend and missional compadre Alan Hirsch earlier in the year. Essentially, I’ve already bought into the notion that MISSION needs to be the first organizing principal of Church……

Mike posed three big questions:

1. To whom shall I go?
2. Who will go with me?
3. Where will we meet them?

It was clear from the get go that Mike was not pushing a model (“I don’t have a model!”) or template for missional Churches to plug into, but rather was exploring the bigger picture of the reasons for Mission (Theologica, Cultural/historical and I guess what I would call the ethos of the Church) drawing on his conviction that God is a “sent” and “sending” God. Although Mike has an amazing head-knowledge about being missional, and is quick to acknowledge the influence of folks like Lesslie Newbigin and David Bosch, for me it’s his experience as a practictioner in his own smallboatbigsea community there in Manly, Sydney that is the most telling. (note to self: If I ever get to Oz, must visit smallboatbigsea!) If you want to get more of a feel of the Manly vibe, you might want to check out this post from my bloggin’ buddy Hamo at Backyard Missionary.

Frosty is completely sold out on Jesus and a master story teller who’s passionate and emotive retelling of Scripture would be well worth listening to alone, even without all the great stuff he outlined about mission over the two days. I don’t think I can effectively summarize everything he said – I’m just not that good a writer, but I can recommend, once again, the books I’ve written about on this blog. (Search “FROST” in the blog search window, top left). Neither can I do justice to capture in a few clicks of my keyboard how moved I was when Mike was recounting tales of people’s responses when he’d asked them “so….you’ve never had a religious experience?”. To hear of the supposedly non-believing mother ponder the meaning of life, and where it comes from when – for the very first time – she draws her new born daughter to her chest, or the surfer who – feeling the huge undulating swell of the mighty Pacific before he caught that amazing wave – bristles with a knowledge that somehow, somewhere there is a force so much bigger than he can really grasp…is that not a religious experience?

I liked a powerful phrase Mike used about Jesus followers marinating ourselves in the Gospels, and the notion that we should be trying to be ever more like Jesus. Good advice.

Although Mike kept most of the stuff about smallboatbigsea on the back burner, it was good to hear little snippets about some of the stuff they did there in their own context and community. He talked about being more of an “infiltrating” Church than an “inviting” Church, so clearly they are more about seeping into the cracks and crevices of that particular stomping ground than simply setting up their Church stall and expecting people to come to them….inspirational. It was fascinating to hear that during the early days of smallboatbigsea they identified two hangouts – The Artichoke and the Ivanhoe Hotel – as somewhere where they could live out their “sentness”, not with an agenda somehow targetting unsuspecting non-Churched folks, but rather simply as part of this calling to a missional lifestyle…following the Missio Dei into strange places.

In fact, the third place – as identified in Ray Oldenburg’s The Great Good Place – features often in Mike’s stories of the missional Church, with references to Pittsburg Hot Dog Restaurant Hot Dogma (which I understand eventually changed its name to the equally imaginative and witty “Franktuary”), the Four Olives Deli, again in Manly where Mike regularly breakfasts with two other guys who together form their Discipleship, Nurture and Accountability group, or DNA, to the kids life saver club, where parents sit on the decks drinking coffee chatting about their kids, life and the universe.

It’s this whole , expansive, and very rich life that makes the incarnational Church so…….attractive. Hope you catch the playful, subtle irony of that sentence! If the Missional is about “going”, then the Incarnational is about “going deep”.

I was also interested in the challenge to the notion that busyness in Church somehow equates with effectiveness. I loved Mike’s little illustration of the Pastors who’s dialog is often preceded with the greeting “How are you? Busy?”
Mike’s reply has become “Busy…I’m not busy, I’ve got all the time in the world…what do you want to do?”

This just goes to illustrate the power of the maxim “No time for relationships – no time for mission”…something important for me to bear in mind. In my local context we’ve been wrestling with this, so it was good to be reminded that if you release people from Church commitments – as we have done to some small extent – you must also model and provide missional opportunities….. stirring up latent missional potential.

“God is already at work in the places where you have been sent”

For much clearer and more eloquent unpacking of Mike’s talks, try here and here.

Mike Frost in London

I’m looking forward to a couple of events next month featuring Michael Frost.

First off, on October 10th is next.generation.church: rethinking church, mission and evangelism for the 21st century at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. Although it’s apparently designed for “younger” leaders, I’m going to go along anyway!

Secondly, on the following day I’ll head over to the London School of Theology for New church, fad or future?

Should be great to have a couple of days to spend some time listening to one of today’s most respected thinkers – and more importantly, practitioners – in the area of mission.

If the days are even close to as valuable as the day I spent listening to Mike’s writing partner, Alan Hirsch, it will be well worth it.

HT to Frosty for the wonderful pic to illustrate this post…..hope no offence is taken by me cribbing it. I’ve been in two minds whether it was ethically correct to use it without prior permission, but it was so good, I just couldn’t resist m’lud!

Peace

this fragile tent


It’s encouraging to hear that http Aoradh’s* Chris Goan has stepped up to the plate with a small group to tackle Mike Frost’s Exilio.

I’m looking forward to hearing how it goes.

Chris’ has a new blog – this fragile tent – which already has some really excellent content. It’s well worth a visit.

You’re going on the blogroll Chris!

Aoradh (Gaelic for adoration) is a Christian arts group based in Dunoon, Argyll, Scotland. Members come from many different traditions and church backgrounds, and greatly value the creativity and diversity that this brings to their experience.

Alan Hirsch in UK

Next Tuesday I’ll be popping down to the West Country to hear Alan Hirsch speak at a West of England Baptist Association event at Clevedon Baptist Church

…looking forward to hooking up with Alan, whose books The Forgotten Ways and The Shaping of Things to Come (with Michael Frost), have had such a profound effect on my view of mission.

HT to Willow Creek for the Hirshy pic

Exilio

Having read through Michael Frost’s EXILES: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture last year, and re-visited again a few times this, it’s been really good to start a little bit of a dialog with Mike (thanks to the wonderful web), who’s proved to be a very gracious bloke indeed.

I’m glad to have received in the mail a copy of EXILIO – the newly developed small group resource based on EXILES – from Mike and Pete Horsley at Forge in Australia.

First off, in terms of presentation the material is excellent – aesthetically pleasing Facilitator’s Manual & accompanying Ignition Bible Study (12 week study on the book of Acts), well packaged DVD all bound together in “box-set” packaging which is attractive & practical.

Even more significantly the content itself is really good stuff – Scripturally sound and presented in an engaging & inspiring way by Michael, it explores in depth the themes of missional living outlined in Mike’s EXILES book, which has been having a huge impact in Christian communities in the West for a couple of years now. He uses an exilic metaphor for those “who wish to live expansive, confident Christian lives in this world without having to abandon themselves to the values of contemporary society”. While EXILIO understands and acknowledges that that today the West is no longer a primarily Christian society, it does not see that reality in defeatist terms, but rather informs & equips in a way that makes this scenario a huge adventurous challenge, with parallels in Old Testament exiles, and the accounts of the Early Church in the New Testament.

This study resource, though, is not simply an academic exercise (it’s important to know that although Frost lectures in a seminary, he has also been intimately involved in planting/leading a Jesus following community smallboatbigsea in the Manly district of Sydney, Australia – he’s a practitioner), and I think it demands quite a lot from the participants. Understand, though, that I say this not as a criticism, but rather as a commendation. As Mike says in the opening Orientation portion of the DVD, “the stakes are high”, and I find it hard to imagine a participating group not being extremely challenged – even changed – if they were to follow the recommendations of this course in terms of the material studied, the “big ideas” grappled with and the real tangible action to participate in. EXILIO is strong stuff.

On top of that, if you are deeply entrenched in Church culture, prepare to be shaken out of it. There are areas that might catch you unawares.

Cleary I haven’t really unpacked the core teaching contained in the course, so check out the site here (which I think is still under development) to learn more about EXILIO, or even read the book anyhow. It’s a great read – hugely stimulating. I’ve become convinced that it is a significant piece that anyone interested in the mission of the Church in the 21st can find helpful.

At some point soon – when I can assemble a group with the guts to handle it – I’ll try and run EXILIO.

The Forgotten Ways

Those lovely folks at Amazon were kind enough to send me a copy of Alan Hirsch’s The Forgotten Ways + reactivating the missional church, so I’m looking forward to getting on and reading it. Alan’s buddy and writing partner Michael Frost’s work has featured heavily on johnnylaird lately, as Michael’s book EXILES has had a profound – and even unsettling – effect on the way I look at being/doing Church. It’s always a good sign when a book is so good you want to share it with someone else, so I’ve passed my copy of EXILES over to my buddy in Sheffield.

If The Forgotten Ways hits the spot like EXILES, it will be a good read.

I’d also ordered Alan & Michael’s collaborative effort – The Shaping of Things to Come – at the same time as The Forgotten Ways, so that should be pitching up shortly.

For more on Alan Hirch and The Forgotten Ways check out the new(ish) blog

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