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.
Cafechurch Presentation to Fresh Expressions Gathering Participants
An Introduction to
• A gathering of people
involved in Fresh
Expressions (FX) and
the Mission Shaped
Who Are We
• Introduce yourself to the
people in your little
• Where are you from,
and what is your
involvement in the FXMSM gathering?
(Unless you aren’t
doing it, of course)
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
• Senior Pastor of Caféchurch since 2008
• Completed my MDiv at UFT in 2012
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
• “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
• Darrell Guder The Continuing
Conversion of the Church
(Eerdmans, Grand Rapids MI: 2000)
• 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
• 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”.
• What values should
characterise a missional
• Do any of these values
particularly resonate for
• What would a “church
we actually want to go
to” look like for you?
The Structure of an
• 6:45 - Dinner
– Caféchurch pays for the coffee
• 8:00-9:15 “The Formal Bit”
– Change Gear – help people refocus
– “The Main Bit” – usually a
presentation / discussion
– Use of graphical and musical elements
• About 15-20 people most evenings
Different Stuff We Do
• Presentation and discussion
• Chicken Soup for the Soul
– Everyone brings a contribution
• Caravan (last Saturdays of
the month @ CTM)
A Few Big Projects
• In 2006 we made a CD
– Fish Under a Tree
• In 2011 we wrote a
book – The Cliff and the
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.
• Is this an opportunity or
a threat for the church?
• Tell a story which
illustrates postmodernity or postChristendom for you
• Working with youngish, innercity-ish, left-leaning, Greenvoting people
• Highly mobile
• Mostly tertiary educated
• Many with some sort of church
• Many with serious, challenging
questions about faith
• Tending towards “Spiritual but
Lessons We Have
Know Your Community
Reclaiming Secular Space
We’re All In This Together
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
• What do key theological terms (e.g.
“sin”, “redemption”, “sacrifice”) mean
• What do they value? What is sacred for
them? (ANZAC Day? The
Secular Space Hospitality
• Where you meet sends a message
– How do you welcome people into
• 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.
What We Have Here is a Failure To
• If it isn’t well (or at least wellenough) designed, it is invisible
• Stories are better than facts and
• 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
• Words don’t always mean the
same thing to different people.
Openness - People Of
• How would someone with a nontraditional lifestyle (e.g. gay, single
parent, unemployed, mental health
issues, dreadlocks and tattoos) feel in
• Have you ever actually loved a
sinner while not loving their sin?
• Do you have any non-Christian
friends? How would they react to
Open-ness - The Thing
We (Used to) Talk About
Theodicy: Why does God
• A glib answer is worse
than no answer at all.
• The most important thing
is to be real
• Are you really open to being challenged
and moved by the people amongst whom
• 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,
• 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.
We’re All In It Together
• How prepared to share authority
• 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
• What happens if someone
dysfunctional starts acting
• What is, and is not, an appropriate
item for an evening?
• How do you guide and support
people to create helpful sessions?
Caféchurch – Hard or
• It can seem like an easy way
to do church
• But making it a welcoming
experience for outsiders can
be a challenging experience
• It puts your own faith under
the microscope, and you learn
how much is really your faith,
and how much is tribal
The Big Question
• What is church for?
• How does that influence what
Alister’s blog www.alisterpate.com
The Cafechurch website: www.cafechurch.org
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emerging_church 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
Phyllis Tickle The Great Emergence
Ray Anderson An Emergent Theology for Emerging Churches
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.