Cafechurch Presentation to Fresh Expressions Gathering Participants


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This is the presentation I gave to a group of people involved in the Fresh Expressions - Mission Shaped Ministry gathering in Melbourne on 30/1/14. It talks a little bit about the history of Cafechurch, and a lot more about teh things we are learning together.

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Cafechurch Presentation to Fresh Expressions Gathering Participants

  1. 1. An Introduction to Caféchurch Alister Pate 30/1/2014
  2. 2. FX-MSM Gathering • A gathering of people involved in Fresh Expressions (FX) and the Mission Shaped Ministry Course • Practitioners, denominational people
  3. 3. Who Are We • Introduce yourself to the people in your little group • Where are you from, and what is your involvement in the FXMSM gathering? (Unless you aren’t doing it, of course)
  4. 4. A Little Bit About Me • Born into an (Anglican) Evangelical family in Sydney in 1971 • Went to a variety of Evangelical, Liberal, High Church / Anglo-catholic, and Charismatic churches • Lived in London for 10 years after uni • Married Anne in 1994 • No Children • Moved to Melbourne (and joined Caféchurch) in 2002 • Senior Pastor of Caféchurch since 2008 • Completed my MDiv at UFT in 2012
  5. 5. History of Caféchurch • Church plant by Youth Pastor of Christian City Church Whitehorse (CCCW) in 2000 • The vision: to build the sort of church that we would like to go to. • Independent around 2005 • Joined Solace EMC Network in 2006 • Meeting in cafes and pubs around inner and Eastern Melbourne
  6. 6. Theological Task • “God’s people are called to carry forward this unique witness, to translate it into every new situation of history, so that the Word happened continues to be the Word witnessed, heard, responded to, and obeyed” • Darrell Guder The Continuing Conversion of the Church (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids MI: 2000) p. 61
  7. 7. Beliefs • We emphasize a centred, rather than bounded, set – where people are drawn towards the truth at the centre, rather than obsessing about who is in and who is out. • We don’t have any expectations around beliefs for members. • We do have expectations around a generous orthodoxy for leaders
  8. 8. Four Values • 1. Reclaiming secular space: How chatting over coffee in a bar is in fact a radically incarnational statement. • 2. Open-ness, inclusivity, and acceptance: How can we wrestle honestly with questions of faith? Is doubt OK? Inevitable? Perhaps even a bit desirable sometimes? • 3. Authenticity: We want to be real: real with each other, real in our dealings with the world, real with God. How can we free ourselves of masks and encourage one another? • 4. We’re all in this together: Some people like to call it “Every Member Ministry”, but we’re going to experiment with “Church as Wikipedia”.
  9. 9. Question • What values should characterise a missional church? • Do any of these values particularly resonate for you? • What would a “church we actually want to go to” look like for you?
  10. 10. The Structure of an Evening • 6:45 - Dinner – Caféchurch pays for the coffee • 8:00-9:15 “The Formal Bit” – Announcements – Change Gear – help people refocus from work – “The Main Bit” – usually a presentation / discussion – Use of graphical and musical elements • About 15-20 people most evenings currently
  11. 11. Different Stuff We Do • Presentation and discussion • Communion • Chicken Soup for the Soul – Everyone brings a contribution • Caravan (last Saturdays of the month @ CTM) – Reflective – Worshipful – Prayerful
  12. 12. A Few Big Projects • In 2006 we made a CD – Fish Under a Tree • In 2011 we wrote a book – The Cliff and the Sea
  13. 13. Post-Modernity : PostChristendom • Post-modernity – the process by which we, as a culture, have no agreed-upon grand narratives – Instead of a more or less coherent culture, we have a collection of tribes • Post-Christendom – “no-one goes to church any more” – In fact so few people go to church that most people don’t have the first notion of what Christianity is about.
  14. 14. Post-Modernity, PostChristendom • Is this an opportunity or a threat for the church? • Why? • Tell a story which illustrates postmodernity or postChristendom for you
  15. 15. Caféchurch Key Demographic • Working with youngish, innercity-ish, left-leaning, Greenvoting people • Highly mobile • Mostly tertiary educated • Many with some sort of church background • Many with serious, challenging questions about faith • Tending towards “Spiritual but not Religious”
  16. 16. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Lessons We Have Learned Know Your Community Reclaiming Secular Space Openness Authenticity We’re All In This Together
  17. 17. Know Your Community • What music do they resonate to? Taizé might appeal to you, but not to them. Choruses might make them squirm. • What media works for them? Watching someone unknowingly make out of date cultural references, or, worse, get them wrong, is embarrassing for everyone • How do they spend their time? What do they do, where do they do it, when do they do it? What do they do for work? Is Sunday morning really the only time for church? • What do key theological terms (e.g. “sin”, “redemption”, “sacrifice”) mean to them? • What do they value? What is sacred for them? (ANZAC Day? The environment?)
  18. 18. Secular Space Hospitality • Where you meet sends a message – How do you welcome people into your space? • How you structure your meeting sends a message – Do people often sit still for a half hour talk? Is this what you expect people to do? • How you speak sends a message – If you talk too much in “holy” language, you alienate people. If you can’t say what you mean in plain language, then perhaps you don’t know what you mean.
  19. 19. What We Have Here is a Failure To Communicate • If it isn’t well (or at least wellenough) designed, it is invisible (or worse) • Stories are better than facts and theories. • Visuals are important • PowerPoint is a two edged sword • Even in academic lectures, people expect to be able to interrupt, to question, to ask for clarification, or just to contribute. • Words don’t always mean the same thing to different people. E.g. “Sin”
  20. 20. Openness - People Of Difference • How would someone with a nontraditional lifestyle (e.g. gay, single parent, unemployed, mental health issues, dreadlocks and tattoos) feel in your church? • Have you ever actually loved a sinner while not loving their sin? • Do you have any non-Christian friends? How would they react to your church?
  21. 21. • Open-ness - The Thing We (Used to) Talk About Most Theodicy: Why does God allow suffering? • A glib answer is worse than no answer at all. • The most important thing is to be real
  22. 22. Authenticity • Are you really open to being challenged and moved by the people amongst whom you work? • Who is your church actually for? For holy people, or for outsiders? People notice if you have a “them and us” attitude • People don’t appreciate feeling like a target • People can spot a phony a mile away • Can you be honest about your own doubts, fears, limitations? • You don’t have to pretend to be cooler than you are – just be aware when your taste differs from the norm in your group.
  23. 23. We’re All In It Together • How prepared to share authority are you? • People can need support and encouragement to create things, and are hesitant to do it at all. • You need to provide opportunities for small scale involvement • How do you decide who speaks and when? • What happens if someone dysfunctional starts acting inappropriately? • What is, and is not, an appropriate item for an evening? • How do you guide and support people to create helpful sessions?
  24. 24. Caféchurch – Hard or Easy? • It can seem like an easy way to do church • But making it a welcoming experience for outsiders can be a challenging experience for Christians • It puts your own faith under the microscope, and you learn how much is really your faith, and how much is tribal
  25. 25. The Big Question • What is church for? • How does that influence what church does?
  26. 26. Further Reading • • • • Alister’s blog The Cafechurch website: is surprisingly good Anything by Brian Maclaren, esp: – A New Kind of Christian series – A New Kind of Christianity – Naked Spirituality • • • • • Lesslie Newbigin The Gospel in a Pluralist Society Darrell Guder The Continuing Conversion of the Church Gibbs & Bolger Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures Phyllis Tickle The Great Emergence Ray Anderson An Emergent Theology for Emerging Churches
  27. 27. Blessing Christ the Sun of Righteousness shine upon you, scatter the darkness from before your path, and make you ready to meet him when he comes in glory And the blessing of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be amongst us and remain with us ever more. Amen