Thursday, September 26, 2013

Messiah Commons - a list of influences

Plans for "Messiah Commons" continue apace. I've recruited a small group to be my brain-trust as we develop the ideas behind it. We've been using the "Business Model Canvas" and other techniques to organize and sharpen our vision. I'm not quite ready to share the raw data from that at this moment, but here are some the influences that I have been thinking about lately. I include them here partly as a kind of mini-bibliography for people who are wondering what I'm looking at. It's a partial list, but it's a place to start. I'm stealing all these descriptions from the various websites themselves, so all credit to them for that.

Moot Community - "Host"

Host is an enterprise of Moot, a community of spiritual pilgrims stumbling and fumbling our way towards salvation. Our home at St Mary Aldermary is a peaceful sanctuary amidst the noisy, bustling streets of London. We built the café because we want people to feel comfortable and at home in the beautiful and relaxing space that the church offers, as we seek to restore the church building to its true vocation as a welcoming hub for the local community, a public space where friendships and connections can be developed. Since we started running the café in September we have experienced the increase in the life and warmth that people bring to a building.

Alongside this we also want to offer the church as a ‘sacred space’, where there is permission and encouragement to give attention to what is often neglected – the deeper dimensions of life, the self and wellbeing that include the spiritual, without feeling under pressure to conform to perceived ideas of what it means to be religious and ‘go to church’. As part of our weekly rhythm of worship and prayer at St Mary Aldermary we are building a programme of arts, meditation, yoga and discussion groups to enable those who live and work in the City to access points of stillness and reflection.

We think Host is great space to connect, to feed body, mind, and spirit.

Rooster Coffee House
They don't have a self-description on their website, really, but I can tell you that this comes closest to a Seattle-style coffee shop that I have encountered in Toronto. It's warm, inviting, and fosters a sense of community.

Darkwood Brews
Led by Rev. Eric Elnes, Ph.D., Darkwood Brew is a groundbreaking interactive web television program and spiritual gathering that explores progressive/emerging Christian faith and values. Here’s a quick video overview:

Based on the structure of the Lectio Divina, an ancient spiritual practice developed by Benedictine monks in the 5th Century, and using cutting edge technology; Darkwood Brew explores The Unexpected Love of God in relevant, challenging and surprising ways.

Featuring world-class jazz musicians, live interviews with international guests, and a variety of interactive media that allow you to participate in real-time, Darkwood Brew is webcast weekly on Sundays at 6pm Eastern, 5pm Central.

This is Christian practice for the emerging faith of our world today. From the Darkwood Brew coffee house, the stage is set weekly for a hearty exchange of ideas and the way is made clear for insights and directions for your unique faith journey. It’s scholarly, it’s entertaining, it’s fun, and it’s enlightening. That’s a tall order. Grab a latte, get comfortable – but not too comfortable – and join the growing number of individuals and groups large and small around the world who are stirring things up with Darkwood Brew.

You might not like it. But, then again, you might.

St. John's Bakery
We strive to provide exceptional breads and sweets that use the finest ingredients and no preservatives, and a nourishing environment that responds to the needs of all those who contribute to the creation of these products. For us, it is more than our breads and sweets. It is about connecting with people, about building comunity. We draw people in with our bread. We believe our bread builds community. St. John's Bakery is a place where people of varying capabilities and social backgrounds come together to do something constructive and creative.

House for All Sinners and Saints
House for All Sinners and Saints is a group of folks figuring out how to be a liturgical, Christo-centric, social justice-oriented, queer-inclusive, incarnational, contemplative, irreverent, ancient / future church with a progressive but deeply rooted theological imagination.

"The Apostle"

After his happy life spins out of control, a preacher from Texas changes his name, goes to Louisiana and starts preaching on the radio.

"Whale Rider"

A contemporary story of love, rejection and triumph as a young Maori girl fights to fulfill a destiny her grandfather refuses to recognize.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Business Plans

If, like me, you are trying to do anything new in church-land you've probably been asked to develop a "business plan." This is especially true if you are asking for money to help implement your vision. The expectation that you and your community clearly articulate goals, plans, measurable outcomes and such is not unreasonable, but it can be difficult if you have never done it before. A lot of grant proposals I have read are far too long winded with far too much reference to actual data (even of the subjective sort). But an even bigger problem tends to be that people make these grand plans based on the best information at the time, but as they adapt they never bother to update the old document. It quickly becomes an artifact of the planning stages rather than a useful strategic or operational tool.

At this stage of this ministry's development I've recruited two people to help do the initial brainstorming and planning work: Kirk and Angela. Kirk pointed me to this resource which proposes a much more organic and simplified way of structuring the business plan: The Business Model Canvas. Invented by Alexander Osterwalder, the Business Model Canvas puts all the relevant information into a one-page format. Here is a one-hour lecture explaining the model and giving a real-life case example.

Our first sit-down with the model produced a lot of good material and thoughts, but we have a long way to go to fit things into the categories provided by this particular model. It certainly isn't the only planning document we will ever need, but it will be quite helpful in articulating what we plan to accomplish and how we plan to do it! I appreciate the aesthetics of the BMC model: it's spatial rather than linear and forces one to deal with constraints.
I love this sort of stuff. Thinking about thinking is critical work, especially if you are trying to avoid past traps. I highly recommend using something like this if you into entrepreneurial ministry.

I'll post more as things continue to develop. I have a feeling that the BSC for Messiah Commons is about to take over one of my whiteboards for a while!


Monday, September 2, 2013

Sermon: Pentecost 15 2013

Two of the lessons appointed for the day, Hebrews 13.1-8, 15-16 and Luke 14.1, 7-14, challenge us to be extraordinary (even heroic) in our generosity. "But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous’ (Luke 14.13-14, NRSV). It's the sort of instruction that is as difficult to ignore as it is overwhelming in scope. Just how far can we possibly go in opening our lives to others? Won't we expose ourselves to danger? Won't this be emotionally (and perhaps financially) exhausting? In this sermon about Christian hospitality I explore the problems of getting involved in the lives of others and suggest some strategies for moving toward a more Jesus-like way of doing things.

Here is the leaflet created for the liturgy.