Sunday, April 27, 2008

Leadership of Anglican Youth Worship within Tikanga Pakeha

I am about to send the following proposal to Otago Universtiy to do some research on Anglican Youth Worship. If you have any comments I would appreciate hearing them.

Research Topic
To explore both how the Anglican liturgical tradition is being used in worship for young people within the Anglican Church (Tikanga Pakeha in New Zealand) and the influences upon those who run youth worship, be they clergy or youth worker?

Whilst the literature is clear about the power of the liturgical tradition both for shaping worship as a communal encounter with God, and as a tool for long-term faith and life formation, my experience in a variety of settings is that this tradition is rarely used in worship for young people in the Tikanga Pakeha Anglican setting. My observation is that the youth leaders who organise and run worship are either unaware of, or choose to ignore the power of, the liturgical tradition. I wonder about the role of their upbringing and experience of worship in leading them to organise worship in this way. As many of the youth workers are not Anglican I wonder what their experience of Anglican liturgy is, and how this influences whether they have even considered what liturgy might have to offer. And I wonder, what ever their experience of worship with young people might be, what other models have they ever considered or tried? Do they even know about the literature that establishes the formational value of liturgy. Do they care? Is it that they do not feel they have permission to be creative with liturgy, and so do not even try to be creative? The questions go on.

My hypothesis is that those who are given responsibility for organising and running worship have little experience of Anglican liturgy, and have only experienced worship with young people in a non-liturgical setting. As such they have never considered the formational value of liturgy for young people and instead either ignore the liturgical tradition or see it as offering nothing for young people. They therefore choose to use little if any of the Anglican liturgical tradition, even when the community of faith they work in is more conventional in its use of liturgy.

Existing literature and research
The literature around church worship praxis establishes the case for the liturgical tradition both in shaping worship as a communal encounter with God, and as a tool for long term faith and life formation. It notes the important place of music and ritual within this.

There is, however, a lack of research and writing on the theory and practice of liturgy among young people, and how that is shaped and who shapes it. This is significant. Either it has been assumed that liturgy can continue to be structured and offered as it has been, with minor changes for use with young people, or it has been assumed that liturgy has no place in this ministry. The National Study of Youth and Religion (REF) offers a warning about the consequences of those assumptions. It leaves me asking if the rich Anglican worship heritage can be made available to young people in a way that offers life-shaping faith-formation.

Research Method
It is proposed to do three in-depth case studies. These would include both the attendance of at least one service in each case study, and interviews both with those who organised the services with other leaders within that church, and some of the young people who attend.

I will be using a naturalist approach so that those involved in the study may also learn. This research is not just about information that I can get from them. While I am not trying to convince those being interviewed of anything, the very act of research does change the situation being researched. That can be done accidentally, or intentionally. By asking questions, possibilities are opened up that may never have been opened before. This research becomes a process that all are part of, and with the research information, we can shape what happens in Anglican youth worship.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


As I watched the various programmes last night about NZ at war, what stuck me most was how grateful I feel that I have lived at a time when I did not have to go to war, and be put at the mercy of foreign generals and comanders who really at times should not have been in control of a tea party, let alone a large number of men. I just feel lucky and grateful that I have not had to do that, and for me ANZAC day is about remebemring all those who did. I was struck by the news calling them "fallen heroes". But were they? Or were they ordinary New Zealanders who died, frightened, fighting for there lives, and the lives of their mates around them, wondering alot of the time what it was all for. Not heroic, not glorious. I remember in a war cemetry in Singapore among all the glorious notations one that said, "sorely missed". Much more honest. We should remember them as ordinary blokes whose lives were too often wasted.

And we should also remember all those who came home, and who were scarred for life from their experiences. Saving Private Ryan drove that home for me, at then when Private Ryan is standing at the graves of those who died, and his family are standing there bewildered. We should remember what war did to those men and women as well.

Thank God I was not the right age to have to go. Let us pray that none of our children have to go to war.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Today is ANZAC day, the day we remember New Zealanders who have fought and died fighting overseas "protecting our freedom". Well, most of the time, especially in the First World War, it is hard to know what they fought for. It is commentated on the day the ANZAC and other forces landed in Gallipoli to distract the Turkish forces and allow the Anglo French fleet to take the Dardanelles and attack Constantinople. April 25 1915.

I have just finished watching the dawn service at Anzac Cove in Gallipoli, Turkey. The ANZAC spirit was born there, Australia – New Zealand (although listening to the Australian defence minister it seems it was really all about Australia). We were reminded of how poorly thought out, poorly planned and poorly led the whole expedition was. The story of the whole war really, incompetent British generals wastefully sacrificing the lives of there men, especially their colonial soldiers in poorly thought out, poorly planned and poorly executed battles that mostly achieved little except for the massive loss of life.

So what do we remember and commemorate? We remember all those who have fought in our army. We remember their courage. We remember their dedication. We remember with pride how well they fought, and how well they continue to fight. But we must also remember the stupidity of many of the conflicts New Zealanders have fought in, and to work endlessly to avoid war as much as possible. We must strive for peace, the peace that only comes through justice. The war to end all war did not end war, but through the greedy actions of the allied leaders of the time led directly to the next world war. To honour our dead, we must strive to avoid war and loss of further life.

Yesterday marked the beginning of another shameful story, the Armenian Genocide. It is said to have officially began on 24 April 1915, but there had been along lead up to it. While Australian and New Zealand officials noted the warmth of our relationships with Turkey, we carefully avoid looking too closely at how the lauded Attaturk devised a genocide against the Christian Armenian people. Turkey and Israel dispute that it was genocide; despite the word genocide being coined by a Jewish scholar in the 1930’s to describe what happened to the Armenian people. Over one and a half million people were killed, and countless others simply disappeared, woman and girls taken by tribesman from the forced marches, never to be heard from again. It was marked by Armenians in what they call Genocide day.

These two events are linked not only by the date; both began 93 years ago, but it seems to me, if we are to honour our dead, it is exactly these kinds of events that we need to work at to prevent happening again. Sadly, too often, we in the West, especially our leaders and our media are too quick to vilify the other, and we exacerbate the situation rather than help bring peace.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

what is poverty?

I was sent this today. iti s a little naff, but does raise some interesting questions, like: what is poverty? and how am I poor?

One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people can be. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family. On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, "How was the trip?" "It was great, Dad." "Did you see how poor people can be?" the father asked. "Oh Yeah" said the son. "So what did you learn from the trip?" asked the father. The son answered, "I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them." With this the boy's father was speechless. Then his son added, "Thanks dad for showing me how poor we are."

Monday, April 14, 2008

turning 50

I have been really bugged over the last few months about turning 50. When I turned 40, it took awhile, but I eventually got over it. I remember going for a walk at Rissington about 1 ½ months before the day and working it through, and coming back at peace with turning 40. why is it so much harder this time?
Well, when I turned 40 I said to myself, “well that is the first half over, the rehearsal, so let’s get on and live this life!” And not a lot changed really. My youngest was still at preschool, and so I kept going to Playcentre several times a week. And school was still very important, and would be for a long time yet. All of them were still really involved in al the things kids do, and we were involved in what parents do. And it was going to be a long time before that changed. Well this time, my eldest has left home and is at university. Michael is in year 12, and will probably leave home in the next two years. And within five years Rebekah will have left too. Life will not just carry on as before as it did when I turned 40. Big changes are happening now.
When I turned 40, I had been in stipendiary ministry for about 12 years. I still had 25 years to go. Retirement still seemed a long way away. But this time the proportions have reversed. It is 22 years ministry, and 15 to go. I really enjoy this work. I enjoy ministry, and I feel slightly at edge to think I am on the homeward half. Still lots of time, but not as much. Suddenly everything seems closer.
So does the end. When I turned 40, my life’s end, all going well was still about 35-40 years away, maybe more. But not, well that is 25 -30 years. All so much closer! I am more fully faced with my own mortality. This will happen, and not so far away as it was once. I cannot avoid this.
And I feel that. At 40, I had to take slightly longer to heal. I had to work slightly harder to get ready for things. But hockey continued, life continued. Now, my knee won’t get better, and maybe hockey is over. I trained hard for the last two bike rides, and did really slow times, much slower than before. Doing the 100k flyer and Round Taupo cycle ride is going to take a lot more work. I am slowing down.

Part of all this is that it feels like my life moving slowly towards an end. That sound morbid, and I don’t want to be morbid, but, I am well over half way! I talked about this at Spiritual Direction the other day. And there is more to do with this, but one fo the things I came to was, this is not my life. It is God’s! My task is not to fret about it’s passing, but to live it. It is a gift, for others, and so I am called to live this gift for others. And rejoice as I live it. Yes I am getting older. I am over half way. I am slowing down. My kids will leave home, and all that twill change. And that will bring new joys. New challenges. And maybe I will never do really fast times again on a bike, although I am sure the 83 year old kicked my but on the 100k flyer, so maybe I can do better times. It will just take a bit more work. And a lot more focussing on living now and not worrying about what might happen in the future.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A lot on

Life has been very busy lately.
Easter was full on, as I have said. Before that I was at a series of meetings in Auckland and in Wellington. I have several events coming up, The Big E in Auckland on mission shaped youth ministry, General Synod, Anglican Youth Forum, and Manu Rui in Dunedin, plus designing an interactive labyrinth for Lambeth.

But, this weekend I am off to Rotorua for a 100km cycle race, and then a wedding in Havelock North. It will be nice to have a break with no expectations.

Having the cycle ride to train for has been great. I have had to do long rides, 80 or 90 km up some big hills, away from work, and all that needs to be done. It is great to have that. And it keeps me a bit fit. Not that the waist shows much benefit.

But tommorrow, back to organising Toru things, getting ready for General synod etc... Yeah!!! I love this job