The Shape of Belonging is Changing

Tuesday, 08 February 2011

From the Affinity 2.0 Discussion Paper sent to churches this week:

“Our denominations and local congregations face the daunting but also exciting and creative challenge of discovering new forms of affinity. In many cases, this means trading old unifiers like loyalty to institutions, assent to beliefs, and appreciation for styles of music for new ones like a common mission, shared practices, and a unifying dream. These new centres of affinity will, I imagine, create a radically different social shape and require new approaches to polity…” [1]

In the olden days it was rather simple to work out who was ‘in’ Churches of Christ, and who was ‘out’[2]. We no longer live in those days. There are core matters we would all be committed to (our Common Mission, Shared Practices and Unifying Dream), but how it is expressed will be different in every mission context.

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Renewal Generosity: Tithes, Offerings and Stewardship

Friday, 21 January 2011

From Paul Cameron—Executive Officer:

One element of the Covenant we are currently talking about is the Ministry Contribution, what is being proposed as an alternative name for what is currently the Affiliation Fees.

As has been noted elsewhere, Affiliation Fees have been calculated on a per capita basis. The notion of a shift to a percentage of income basis for calculating Fees has been a topic of conversation since early 2009. The 2010 All Churches Summit/AGM gave indicative support for such a shift, and requested that Council bring to the next AGM an actual percentage figure, and a definition of income. The recent Church Census document indicated that current modelling suggests the Ministry Contribution being based on a church’s Tithes and Offerings.

Tithes and Offerings can be defined as any contribution made to a church, through offering plates, direct debit or credit card giving, whether it is weekly/monthly/quarterly/annually etc, and could include amounts that receive tax deductibility through an authorized PBI/DGR body given for personal tax reasons and to enable a larger contribution, that supports the ministry and mission of the church.

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Renewal Leadership

Thursday, 13 January 2011

From Paul Cameron—Executive Officer:

In writing last year about Renewal Prayer, I quoted an excerpt of a piece I’ve begun to write about personal spiritual formation and leadership formation. I want to repeat the quote, and then take it in a slightly different direction than earlier. I’d be interested in your thoughts about it.

Generally speaking in Churches of Christ, over the last 20-30 years, we may have failed to facilitate effective ‘personal spiritual formation’. In other words, we may have not done what we used to call ‘discipleship’ that well. Lives may have not been transformed. Often we have failed to develop in people the skills and capacities to feed themselves. In some places this may have been in reaction to formulaic discipleship processes, in other places it may have been replaced by either knowledge-centred or experience-based learning. Each are valid (and valuable), but not in isolation. Another challenge to deeper spiritual formation is the relatively low level ‘Sunday School’ teaching that was popular in the 20th Century.

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Whispers of God

Thursday, 23 December 2010

From Paul Cameron, EO:

Recently I have been writing a bit on this blog about renewal, and in particular, renewal prayer. Another important aspect of renewal is the missional spiritual practice of ‘Dwelling in the Word’.

I was encouraged this week to discover that in one of our churches 50 of the 70-80 or so attenders are embarking on an ‘E100 Challenge’. This challenge involves reading 100 essential biblical texts—50 Old Testament and 50 New Testament, and it takes readers through the narrative of Scripture. The readings are achievable, 1-2 chapters long and take about 10 minutes each. The E100 Challenge is a Scripture Union initiative (find out more at ). The purpose of the E100 Challenge is to reclaim the place of the text in the lives of people who are working out what it means to follow Jesus in the 21st Century. As SU says, “The Bible is getting pushed to the outer realms of importance and even Christians are valuing it less and less. Statistics tell us that fewer than 25% of Christians read their Bible weekly, and most find it difficult to uncover any relevance and power for their lives”. I love the E100 idea!

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Stewards of a Story

Friday, 17 December 2010

In 1853 the first Church of Christ in Victoria or Tasmania was formed in Prahran, having first met rather less formally in the house of John Ingram in Queen St, Melbourne. Our churches grew in a frontier context: the rapid development of the colony after the discovery of gold. Most churches met first to break bread in the front room of a family home.

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