Well…I have Moved to A New Blog

Well it is an auspicious day. I have moved blogs, which is a bit sad because I like this one, but it was getting a bit crazy with all of the different web presences I have. The new site brings together my blog, my author site, the Uber site and the Red Church into one entity. Its a lot easier. We are still having some teething problems with the podcasts which a lot of you have been keen for me to get up again, but it will be fixed soon.

Also the sad thing is that I can’t move across the subscribers from this site, so if you have subscribed here you have to subscribe again on the new site which is quite easy, just click on the sidebar on the right. Often bloggers give away books or gifts to people for subscribing on new site when they move blogs. Instead of giving away books, I am going to humiliate myself for your amusement by posting a photo that I have been trying to hide from the world for years, It is of me in Venice aged sixteen and trying to look like Morrissey from the Smiths, your laughter at my expense will be your reward. If we get to 200 subscribers moving from this site the pic will go up.

Ok time to move across, there is a new article there provocatively entitled ‘Is Religion the New sex?’ for you to read, plus an amazing picture of me sitting at a collapsable table drinking water from three cups at once, it will change your life! Come across here 


The Challenge of Discipling the Fragmented Self

The Christian faith at different times during its history has had to confront differing concepts of individuality, each of which deeply shapes how we do ministry and which presents the Church with unique challenges. The Church of the early medieval period ministered in a culture with a very different understanding of self. Our modern day sense of radical individuality would have seemed strange to medieval individuals. The early medieval individual saw themselves as part of a great chain of being.

Europe was Christianized not soul by soul, but rather by decree as rulers declared their kingdom’s Christian. This sounds unusual to us, but not so to a culture with a weak idea of personal freedom and individuality. The entire shape, structure and apparatus of the medieval Church was built around this collective idea of culture and faith.

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Gen Y, you are now grown up. This is a good thing.

Gen Y/Millenials are now officially old. Well maybe not old, but old enough to no longer be the new kids on the block. Definitions of when Gen Y/Millenials were born vary widely, but sometime around 1980 seems to be the general consensus. Which means that most members of the generational cohort have turned thirty or are in their mid to late twenties. Many Gen Y’s tell me that they do not feel ‘grown up’ but the raw data of their lived years tells a different story. Despite our culture having a liquid idea of maturity, Gen Y’s are well into adulthood.

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Ok Twitter I will let you buy me a coffee.

Dear Twitter,

Ok I will admit it, I did see you saunter into the place. At first I thought you looked like your bimbo sister Facebook. Sure you did have a sleeker style, and did not blab on like her, but I still did not trust you. Pretty soon everyone in the place wanted you, they hung on every 140 character sentence that came out of your mouth. But the more I listened the more I did not like you and your inane tweets. I did not care that you just had a mocha, or if you could not sleep at 4am.

So I settled down with my head in Postman and McLuhan books and decided to ignore you. The more I read the more I became wary of you. So I began to talk about you behind your back, exposing what a vacuous creature you were. You were reducing language, turning conversation into soundbites, infecting ordinary people with the virus of celebrity.

I should have known however, the popular ones always liked to be ignored. So used to being lavished with attention you could not resist my aloofness, you wanted to get your head around why I hated you when the rest of the world loved you.

That is when it began, you started with sweet little nothings, a few lovely tweets about my books, some kind words about my speaking. Then you really turned on the charm and started sending more and more people towards my blog. Soon you became my blogs biggest advocate.

Despite your advances however I still resisted, others around me who had held out against your cyber magnetism gave in, but I stayed strong.

I steeled myself on the other side of the room, but more and more I found myself glancing at you. After all I have had a thing going with your sister facebook for sometime. Why her and not you?

Maybe I had gotten you wrong? Maybe you could be a force for good? Maybe you could help me get my message out there? Maybe you have matured, grown up, gotten beyond the pointless Oprah retweets and mundane musings? Maybe I had to control you and not be controlled you. Maybe I had to stop using the word maybe?

So ok I am going to finally let you take me out for a coffee, just as friends. No funny business ok?

Follow the possible trainwreck here @sayersmark


THE BRIDE OF CHRIST BECOMES A STEPFORD WIFE

Richard Sennett notes in his book the Fall of Public Man that as our culture secularised, instead of looking for meaning in the transcendent realm, we looked to the immanent and the immediate. Relationships became one the main arenas to which we looked for a sense of purpose. In contemporary culture the world of relationships, of sex, friendship, family, and marriage must now provide the solace and transcendence that God and religion did in the past. Sennett writes

‘When the relations cannot bear these burdens, we conclude there is something wrong with the relationship, rather than with the unspoken expectations.’

This is one of the factors behind the contemporary high divorce rate. A spouse must be intimate best friend, provide the emotional support of a therapist, be a supplier of constant sexual fulfilment, posses the economic security of a banker, and the moral guidance of a priest, whilst allowing enough relational distance so as not to impinge on their lovers personal autonomy.

As I read Sennett I began to wonder if we had done the same thing to the Church. Do we now attend Church with unrealistic expectations? Today there is a set of expectations that float around in which Church is meant to be mind blowing, to offer us incredible worship, life changing preaching, transforming community, intimate relationships, and awe inspiring opportunities for service. Ministers and Pastors feel this pressure, and increasingly their time is taken shaping Churches which promise us the world if we only will attend. This dynamic does not fulfil the great commission to make disciples, instead it only creates fickle consumers of religious goods and services and insecure, anxious and exhausted Pastors.

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Bendigo!

Scripture Union, Fusion, Bendigo Baptist Church, Praxis, Anglican Diocese of Bendigo and Cornerstone are bringing me up to lovely Bendigo for a day of training on Saturday, July 30 · 9:30am – 3:30pm. You can register on the facebook event page or at the praxis website.  See you there.


The Shock of the Christ

Sunday just past I preached on the Shock of the Christ.

The world has always struggled with Jesus. Sure it likes guru Jesus, revolutionary Jesus, and wise Jesus; but it has little stomach for God entering in to the world and incarnating amongst us.

I showed the above video (what from 5.00 in) in which Oprah Winfrey tried to convince her viewing audience that they cannot understand Jesus as god who came to earth to die for our sins. Instead the worlds most powerful woman insisted that we see Jesus as someone who embodied what it is to be human, who taught us ‘christ consciousness’. As Oprah spoke you could almost feel her trying to turn Jesus in to simply an intellectual concept to aid us in our quest to be happy modern consumers. When Jesus is simply a concept, when we perceive him as ‘christ consciousness’, we stay in control. We can mold the idea to suit our styles and lifestyle.

However when we open the Bible and experience the shock of the incarnated God, we struggle to twist Christ to suit our agenda. Instead we are confronted with a God who reduced himself to come and serve, to suffer how we suffer, to be tempted as we are tempted, to walk in our shoes. We follow a God who is holy and just but who also understands our brokenness, our rejection, and our hurt. He is not a God who is distant, He is a God whose path to glory followed the road of suffering. This is the shock of the Christ.


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