Browsed by
Tag: Community

We were created to live in community.

Our Dogs build our Neighbourhoods.

Our Dogs build our Neighbourhoods.

Josh took this photo of Chica.
Article in yesterdays St. Albert Gazette.

Two weeks ago we said goodbye to our dumb little dog.

We are preparing to head back to Australia to live, and the quarantine regulations Down Under make it almost impossible to justify bringing her with us.

We inherited Chica from my daughter’s friend. A mixture of Chihuahua and Pomeranian, the little fur-ball had no idea how small she actually was.

A trip to the local dog park would often see her try to tackle a German Shepherd or St. Bernard. Fortunately the bigger dogs never really saw her as a threat, so didn’t respond to her rather comical aggression.

Chica quickly became part of the family. I don’t think I realized how much she was part of us until we said goodbye.

Twenty minutes after she had driven away with her new family, I looked out my living room window to see both my girls being hugged by our neighbours, fighting back tears as they shared the story of her departure. A few minutes later our neighbour Rhonda said to me, “Matt, the next time you write in the Gazette I want to see you mention dogs, because dogs build communities.”

Rhonda is right. Even dumb balls of fur that try to attack German Shepherds build community.

Read More Read More


What is Pokemon Go doing to us?

What is Pokemon Go doing to us?

Article First appeared in the St. Albert Gazette here:

IMG_0395Last weekend there were clumps of people in our city, particularly around St. Albert Place, who appeared to be in engrossed in something very important happening on their phones. They kept muttering things about levels, stardust and poke-stops and every now and then someone would exclaim “Got Him.”

It occurred to me that it has been a long time since there has been a craze like this. I remember Yo-Yo’s, I remember the Rubicks cube, but even these phenomenons didn’t seem to grab people like Pokemon Go has.

Sure part of it has to do with the technology that makes it possible. Another aspect might be that a whole generation of millennials are having their first experience of nostalgia, lovingly reacquainting themselves with Pikachu and their other playmates from their Game-Boys.

There has to be more to the success of Pokemon Go, though, than just these factors.

Undeniably, there is something enjoyable about sitting on a park bench beside the library and catching the same Pokemon that the 30 people around you are also questing after. (Yes I admit it… I’m now level 9). You are together, but you are each individually taking your own journey.

As human beings we long for an experience of community where we can truly be one with others, but also not have to be the same. Unfortunately most of us have learned through pain, to distance ourselves from others and fill our lives with distractions so we don’t ever truly get to know ourselves.

The reason a game like Pokemon Go can be as successful as it has been is that it gives both an experience of pseudo-community and also pseudo-individuality. In the end, though, it is still pseudo. For a moment we can be engrossed in something that takes away the dull ache of loneliness and the painful sense that we are not being true to who we were created to be, but at some point we have to turn the phone off and re-enter a real world where nothing has changed.

The desire for one-but-not-the-same community is deep in all of us, and it is something we need to pay attention to.

Part of the reason Block Parties (check out GoodNeighbourProject.org) are so successful in St. Albert is that our city realized ten years ago that the path to thriving neighbourhoods are neighbours who actually experience one-but-not-the-same community.

On August 28th, St. Albert Alliance church will host a BBQ and Festival in three local parks (check out staalliance.org for more info). Our goal is to be this one-but-not-the-same kind of community.

Christians believe that this desire for one-but-not-the-same community comes because we are created in the image of a one-but-not-the same God. They also believe that the church is meant to be a reflection of that one-but-not-the-same life.

As you put your phone down this weekend, why not make a Poke-stop at a local church and see for yourself.

To walk alone is possible, but the good walker knows that the trip is life and it requires companions.

To walk alone is possible, but the good walker knows that the trip is life and it requires companions.

I’ve been a pastor for a couple of weeks, and I’m slowly getting used to the idea. One of the things I am appreciating about our church is the way in which we are committed to wrestling with what God is saying to us. Part of that is a current commitment to explore a range of bible passages to see what they might be saying to us as a church.

This week we were looking at Acts 2, and as I engaged with the chapter something hit me.MActs 2 chronicles the establishment of the Christian church, and as it does one thing is obvious: the church is a fellowship.

From the start, the church was birthed when the disciples “were all together in one place.” (Acts 2:1) and the first act, inspired by the Spirit, was that peoples national differences were respected as each person heard the gospel in their own language. This was despite the fact that by far the majority in Jerusalem would have spoken Latin or Greek or both: God chose to respect difference.

When Peter got up to speak, the bible says “Peter stood up with the Eleven”. I was talking to a denominational leader in Australia who thinks the way this is phrased is quite important. We are used to leaders who lead from the front, visionaries who drag others along in their wake. This was a different kind of leadership, a kind of first among equals. Leadership happened in the context of fellowship.

Read More Read More


The journey of understanding is not easy, but its the only way to fellowship

The journey of understanding is not easy, but its the only way to fellowship

From time to time I will repost some of the reflections that seemed to get the most positive response from people over the past few years. This one was first posted 27th May 2010….. 

I know saying that people are different is like saying the sky is blue.. obvious (unless of course you are English in which case the sky is rarely blue : ) ).

But it is this fundamental observation which I think I am only slowly starting to understand.

I began my journey with this understanding with my wife. She would say something, and I would assume that she meant what I would have meant if I said the same thing…. she almost never did (or does).

I am in the process of developing a mental Leeanne translation book.. to translate her actions and language into a format I can understand.. I think it will be a lifelong process.

Read More Read More


The only way to effectively make a difference in a community is to get past your preconceptions

The only way to effectively make a difference in a community is to get past your preconceptions

Yesterday I focussed on the need to actually name the community you are wanting to work in, today I want to focus on what it means to move from idealism to reality.

After Nehemiah asks how Jerusalem is going, he allows himself to confront the reality of the situation in a deep and personal way:

They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire. ” [4] When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 1:3-4)

Accepting the burden of responsibility for a community is not a safe thing to do, it hurts. You cannot open yourself to people and not be affected by them. This is why so many social workers and welfare workers end up treating people like numbers: the reality they face each day is so horrible that distancing themselves is the only way to cope.

Read More Read More


He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone

He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a very special person. Earlier this year I read his “Life Together” reflection on community and wrote a couple of reflections about it. My Auntie Anne has also been reading it and copied out some of the bits that really stood out in a fresh way to her. She sent them to me and as I read over them again I thought they might be useful to post for you to reflect on.

The connection Bonhoeffer makes between community, sin and confession is very important, not surprisingly, often avoided….

He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone.  Christians, not withstanding corporate worship, prayer and fellowship may still be left to their loneliness.

The final breakthrough to fellowship does not come because though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, the sinners.

The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner.  So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship.  Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that  all are sinners.

Read More Read More

In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man. In the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner.

In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man. In the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner.

Yesterday I posted some of my Auntie Anne’s notes from Bonhoeffer’s Life Together. He was focusing on the impact of sin and confession in community.

Because some of his insights are so helpful, and also unfortunately, revolutionary, in terms of what is normal amongst most of us, I thought I would post a little bit more today.

Some of the language is now a little dated, but see if you can catch the heart of what he is trying to say.

Bonhoeffer says that anybody who lives beneath the Cross and who has discerned in the Cross of Jesus the utter wickedness of all men and of his own heart will find there is no sin that can ever be alien to him. Anybody who has once been horrified by the dreadfulness of his own sin that nailed Jesus to the Cross will no longer be horrified by even the rankest sins of a brother.

Read More Read More

It is always right to strive to love in the midst of the messiness, even when it hurts.

It is always right to strive to love in the midst of the messiness, even when it hurts.

As part of Arrow I have been making my way progressively through the New and Old Testaments simultaneously.

As I come toward the end of the New Testamant, I keep being struck at how the bible clearly exhorts us to a communal experience of faith, and how it attempts to prepare us for the fallibility of that community.

It is clear that we are called to live in a way that changes the world, but it is also clear that we can’t do this on our own. We are called to give grace to each other, and to lean into that grace administered by others in the face of our own humanity.

Read More Read More


The person who works hard to look good is actually quite dangerous

The person who works hard to look good is actually quite dangerous

I am loving my holiday..

I think the way I am wired, getting space is very important in being able to make sense of the world I am living in.

One of the things that has most bewildered me has been seeing just how unaware people can be. Things that seem so obvious to me seem to not be seen by others.

I am discovering that there are a couple of reasons for that. The first is that we simply are different as human beings… Leeanne and I think so differently that it is not funny.. It was very important for me to discover that in the first years of marriage, and I continue to discover it.

The second reason we see things differently is less innocuous.. I am seeing how difficult it is for people (including me) to want to see the parts of their behavior that damage others.

I am discovering more and more that the person who works hard to look good in front of others, may fool some of the people some of the time, but is actually quite dangerous.

James 3:13 in the message says:

Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.

I have seen that truth starkly in the last couple of years, both in my own life and in the lives of others.

I actually believe that the only way to healthy relationships comes from three things.

Read More Read More


You can be a gossip or a follower of Jesus but you can’t be both with integrity.

You can be a gossip or a follower of Jesus but you can’t be both with integrity.

I’ve been reflecting a bit about gossip, having been on the receiving end of a bit of it and trying to make sense of the experience.

I think I’m seeing more clearly that those who talk about others behind their backs are generally powerless people, and it is that sense of powerlessness that is the impetus for not going directly to the person you have a problem with.

I have lived in a number of intentional communities in my life, and attended a number of different churches. One clear truth is that gossip is a cancer that kills community.

This is nothing new, the book of Proverbs points out the truth in a very straightforward way;

Proverbs 16:28 (NIV)
A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.

Proverbs 26:20 (NIV)
Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.

Read More Read More


George teaches me what actually matters

George teaches me what actually matters

20111112-184404.jpg I was reminded today of a lesson I first learned in my first six months of ministry with Fusion.

Have you ever met someone fresh out of bible college? They are usually full of right ideas and full of themselves.

As I look back, thats certainly what I was like in 1992. A fellow graduate and I stood on the bow of the boat taking us down to our placements in Tasmania and engaged in a serious discussion about what we would do in three years time, after we had transformed Tasmania. Needless to say we both quickly discovered that life is more complicated that you can ever fully grasp in a classroom.

A few days after arriving in Hobart I met George.

Read More Read More


Jobs vs Bonhoeffer

Jobs vs Bonhoeffer

I’ve been enjoying reading the new Steve Jobs biography and found it fascinating as I’m also chewing over Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together.

Steve Jobs gave up on Christianity at the age of 13 and said to his biographer:

The juice goes out of Christianity when it becomes too based on faith rather than on living like Jesus or seeing the world as Jesus saw it.

I actually like what he is driving at, but the problem is to see the world as Jesus saw it requires faith. I think what he mean by faith, I would probably label religion.

Both Bonhoeffer and Steve Jobs challenged the way people see the world. They didn’t fit into the existing patterns.

Read More Read More


Together not alone

Together not alone

I will depart from my series of posts reflecting on Bonhoeffer’s book today as I departed Poatina for the day over to be with our team in Victoria for the day.

It was great to be back with the team that I led between 2005 and 2009 and hear a little bit of what has been happening.

We had a meeting we call the State Coordinating Group, where leaders from different Fusion centres get together to plan and lead the development of Fusion’s work in Victoria. I believe it had been two years since I was last at that meeting and it was helpful to see what was the same and what was different.

There was one moment in the meeting that I found quite instructive.

Read More Read More


I need you

I need you

I’m back on a plane. This time it is the short flight to Melbourne from Sydney and then the hop across the ditch to make it home finally.

As I said yesterday, I find myself quite challenged by Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book Life Together.

I’m struggling to come to terms with the depth of what he is saying, but I know that much of it is important for me in this moment.

Up front I need to admit something.

I don’t like community much, at least part of me doesn’t.

Read More Read More


Who is on the God journey?

Who is on the God journey?

Solo or together??

I’ve been enjoying the podcasts I have been listening to from Wayne Jacobsen and Brad Cummings. (www.thegodjourney.com)

They are two Americans who have been on significant individual personal journeys with God and each week record a dialogue that bounces off emails they have received, current events or things they have encountered.

There is one aspect of their dialogue though, that I am not completely convinced about.

Read More Read More


Effects Plugin made by Ares Download

%d bloggers like this: