On abandoning abandonment

My morning photo

There’s a well known piece of writing “Footsteps in the sand.” Its about someone walking a beach, looking back, and noting there to have been a pair of footsteps followed by a single set. When asking why they’d been left to walk alone, God responds to say, “That’s where I carried you.” And though that’s true for many and offered as an encouragement it falls short of two further legs on the journey. There’s a point in everyone’s journey where God abandons them and another where they abandon God. The footsteps story may speak to one part of people’s journey where God may have carried them (and not everyone experiences this and we need to discern whether they have before offering this as though they ought to have), but offering “Footsteps” to those abandoned by God is unwise, ill-discerned, and unhealthy. Similarly, to offer footsteps to those enduring a period of the abandonment of God by them is likewise ridiculous.

Continue reading “On abandoning abandonment”

Mini-Series & Bonus to Season 3 – Introduction

Taking this photo was harder than it looks!

This is a short miniseries between episodes, and so is bonus content to the end of Season 3.
In this intro we look briefly at why we took this tangent into Open and Relational Theology, and how we came across our three wonderful guests. You can link to the episode here.

We hope you enjoy.
Check out our website or Patreon page for more info on how you can support the work of the Urban Mystic

Urban Mystic

* Random fun fact – there’s a minimum distance between camera and subject for the portrait mode to work on my phone. Turns out my arms aren’t that long, my neck only bends so far, and I can’t get a half finger up alongside the three for season 3.5!

We’re recording a mini-series

Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

We’re recording a mini-series on Open and Relational Theology with the plan to publish in November. Season 4 will take the podcast to the end of the year. We’ll be taking a break from recording and publishing while we work on two “next seasons.” The one includes a number of guests who are ‘off the map’ when it comes to cultivating and nurturing community. This will take some time to organise and we really want to up our production game. This will likely be our Season 6. I believe this to be an incredibly valuable season and one that will be of interest to anyone interested in cultivating community. The second series we’re working on will likely be Season 5. This season will consist largely of conversations between Tim and Steve and will really dive into the experience of God and the question of intimacy with God.

Thanks to everyone joining us on this journey as guests, listeners, and conversation partners.

Faltering starts, but stepping out again

Photo by Bruno Scramgnon on Pexels.com

My life story includes a rich trove of mystical experiences. This includes the Divine Instigator prompting me to connect with people, not always telling me why, and a shit-ton of just awkwards. Having deconstructed from this I’m stepping forward again. “/Hello World.”

For a while I pushed boldly into the immediacy of relational engagement with God over the classical “evangelism”. And though the commercialism of the HLF and church enabled this it was also disabling. I ran into frustration with the broader church experience of people and for myself. The deconstruction necessary wasn’t possible within churches and I’ve come to believe does not lie in repeating ecclesial or monastic structures. These things are rooted in what Ian McKenzie on the Mythic Masculine Podcast calls “dominator culture” and we need what’s after that to emerge from the ground up in “relator culture”. [1]

My deconstruction around this has been longer than my deconstruction of the institutionalism of the church. It’s been more personal because as it includes my own wants and the complexity of my inner life and intimate engagement with God. I’ve not been able to “want” to hear from God or own my “desire” to see people experience face-to-Face encounters with whatever follows from that. My level of expectation is tremendous. I’m continuously told by most that it’s too much; in dreams that it’s too little. The tectonic tension within tremendous as I both want and don’t want the expectation and desire. I internalised and ended up traumatised and re-traumatised by the constant criticisms which layered onto deep relational trauma.

Continue reading “Faltering starts, but stepping out again”

What was your earliest experience of God?

On the podcast of the urban mystic we ask our guests about their earliest experience of God and how that leads into their careers. This is a very important question to ask and its been really interesting feeling like there’s often a wrestling for an answer. What do you make of the question? Do you feel like there’s a wrestling for an answer? What do you make of how the guests answers?

S03E06 and S03E07 Michael Ward

Michael Ward

We’re joined by Michael Ward, author of The Sixth Sola, for two episodes:

  • In S03E06 we get to know Michael and explore his early experience of God and some of his deconstruction. These are great conversations for anyone whose deconstruction leads toward exploring the reality of God within the context of faith.
  • In S03E07 we we dive into a discussion around what walking in the spirit means in terms of experiencing God. These are great conversations for anyone whose deconstruction leads toward exploring the reality of God within the context of faith.

You can find out more about The Sixth Sola on his website.

S03E04 – A cry for intimacy with God

Available on OC Africa’s website

In S03E04 Karl Teichert – A cry for intimacy with God we explore.

We’re joined by Karl Teichert, director of OC Africa, for the second of two episodes. In this episode we hear about the research conducted by OC Africa into the training needs of church leaders in South Africa. This work is profound in that leaders reported their primary needs as relational. Church leaders are starved for intimacy with God and longing for mentors. This is a deep dive that frames the research and dials into the need for relational engagement with God.



Season 3 Episode 1

My mic for recording and current space

This week we launched Season 3 of the podcast of the urban mystic. Listen to the episode online. There’s also a new website up and a Patreon. Here Tim and Steve discuss the series focus and that the podcast of the urban mystic is only the tip of the iceberg.

Our focus for Season 3 is on the tension between faith and experience. This is as faith meaning belief in God on the basis of faith and not experience. It means accepting God on the foundations of faith as meaning the authority of the Bible or Church. So the tension between ‘faith and experience’ is actually as between ‘faith and relationship’. Are we expected to believe in God apart from experiencing God? Does it makes sense that we relate to God apart from relationship with God? Does this personal God only relate to us indirectly through the historical Jesus and the Bible? Explore this with us in Season 3. Listen to the episode here.

The work of the urban mystic includes one-on-one conversations. We also see people one-on-one either in person for a cuppa or online via Zoom, Skype and WhatsApp. These are conversations similar to what we have on the podcast. These conversations are personal and include questions that emerging from listening to the podcast and from people’s lives, stories related to God’s absence and presence, and even people challenging our thinking. If you’d like to connect with us, fill out the form on our website.

The vision of the urban mystic is much larger than the podcast. We seek to encourage individuals to adopt the practice of the presence of God. And we’re working toward bringing our courses online which have a proven track record of enabling people to adopt a relational paradigm. In the longer term we foresee a network of individuals sharing the value for intimacy with God gathering and practicing the presence of God. Please connect with us via our website if you’re inspired by this vision.

Podcast – Season two episodes

Podcast – Season two

An outline of episodes in season two of the podcast of the urban mystic.

In Season Two of the podcast of the urban mystic we speak to fellow deconstructors about their first experience of God, their calling to ministry, deconstruction, and ongoing contributions. These are authentic and live conversations with real people. They are vulnerable and richly nuanced. We hope you enjoy listening to them as much as we enjoyed having them.

  • Episode 13: Introduction and overview of season two (Oct 9 2020). We’re super excited to back with Season 2! In this episode Tim and Steve chat about the upcoming season and introduce our guests. This is the season of deconstructors. We hope you enjoy listening to these conversations as much as we enjoyed having them. Listen here.
  • Episode 14: Deconstructing with Christopher Harrison (Oct 15 2020). Our guest tonight is a retired Methodist Minister who now works as Missions Coordinator supporting churches to establish new forms of church for our changing culture and a missional coach enabling people to find new ways to grow disciples to make disciples. Join us as we get to know Christopher Harrison. Listen here.
  • Episode 15 & 16: Deconstructing with Dion Forster (Oct 22 2020). Our guest for two episodes is an academic for the church active engaging church, state, economic, and race relations. Join us as we get to know Dion Forster. In part 1 we explore his early early experience of God and career in ministry. In Part 2 of our conversation with Dion Forster. Here both Tim and Dion push back at each other over the institution of the church and whether it is necessary or relevant. It is an example of the points of agreement and difference between around the necessity of the institution of the church and why many really understand it to be essential. Listen to part 1 here and part 2 here.
  • Episode 17: Deconstructing calling and ministry (Oct 23 2020). Our first two guests process their calling and redefine their careers in ministry. In this bonus episode, Tim and Steve reflect on their experience of calling and deconstruct ministry as a narrow career mostly in tune with the business of doing church. Listen here.
  • Episode 18: Deconstructing spirituality and entering new terrain (Oct 23 2020). Our first two guests note there to be a tension between one’s calling and preparation for a career focused on doing church. Here Tim and Steve deconstruct spirituality and discuss their journey into new terrain as deconstructors. Listen here.
  • Episode 19 & 20: Deconstructing with Richard Jacobson (Oct 29 2020). Our guest for two episodes has a TED Talk, explainer videos, books, blogs and a podcast. You can find links to everything at unchurching.com. Join us as we deconstruct with Richard Jacobson. In this episode we explore his early early experience of God and career in ministry. Listen part 1 here and part 2 here.
  • Episode 21 & 22: Deconstructing with John van der Laar (Nov 5 2020). Our guest for two episodes is a writer, musician, public speaker, composer, poet, liturgist, graphic and web designer with a Masters Degree in Theology. He recently resigned from serving as a Methodist minister. He has over 40 years of experience in spiritual practice and ministry seeking to establish a new kind of spiritual community that breaks free of the limitations of geography and specific times for the community to gather. EvoFaith turns spiritual practice into an on-demand, 24/7, global experience. You can find out more about EvoFaith and get to know John van de Laar through our conversation over two episodes. Listen to part 1 here and part 2 here.
  • Episode 23: Deconstructing the institution of the church (Nov 9 2020). Our first two guests process their calling and redefine their careers in ministry while our next two guest, Richard Jacobson and John van de Laar, deconstruct the institution of the Church. In this bonus episode, Tim and Steve reflect on those conversations and their own journey as deconstructors seeking an alternative to Church as we know it. Listen here.
  • Episode 24 & 25: Deconstructing with Brian D McLaren (Nov 12 2020). This is part one of two episodes with an author of several books including “A new kind of Christianity”, “Faith after doubt”, “The secret message of Jesus”, and “The great spiritual migration”. Brian D. McLaren is an author, speaker, activist, and public theologian. A former college English teacher and pastor, he is a passionate advocate for “a new kind of Christianity” – just, generous, and working with people for the common good. Join us as we get to know Brian McLaren and find out more on www.brianmclaren.net. Listen here.
  • Episode 26: Deconstructing with David Hayward (Nov 19 2020). Our guest for this episode is the author of several books, hosts a number of courses, and creates a cartoon every day. He holds a Masters in Theological Studies, as well as Diploma in Religious Studies and Ministry, and University Teaching. His art expresses the stories and struggles of spiritual refugees and independent thinkers who question, doubt or oppose the confines of religion. Each piece encourages difficult conversations and acts as a catalyst for critical thinking. David Hayward is the NakedPastor. After 30 years in the church, he left the ministry to pursue his passion for art. His work challenges the status quo, deconstructs dogma, and promotes critical thinking. Find out more on https://www.nakedpastorstore.com/. Listen here.
  • Episode 27 & 28: Deconstructing with John Eliastam (Nov 26 2020). Our guest for two episodes is the visionary behind a national worship event called the Newsong Festival and planted the Newsong Vineyard Christian Fellowship which used to meet at the River Club in Observatory, Cape Town. Newsong was untypically progressive and successfully homed people in their 20s and 30s during a period where this demographic was unlikely to stay in church. He went on to pastor Kenilworth Vineyard Christian Fellowship untill 2010. Join us for our conversation with John Eliastam. Listen to part 1 here and part 2 here.
  • Episode 29 & 30: Deconstructing with Natalie Simmons (Dec 3 2020). Our guest for two episodes is a former pastor. She has been married nearly 25 years and has 3 sons. She has taught English for the past 12 years in both junior and high school. She loves reading fiction more than non-fiction. Join us as we get to know Natalie Simmons. Find out more by reading her blog You can read her blog http://nataliesimmons-eanutbutterandhoney.blogspot.com. Listen to part 1 here and part 2 here.
  • Episode 31 & 32: Deconstructing with Julie McVey (Dec 10 2020). Our guest for two episodes is the author of “Why I left the church to find Jesus: A personal odyssey“. She has worked in a church running women’s ministries and as a worship leader. She now supports others in their journey of deconstruction. Join us to get to know Julie McVey. Julie’s book is available online at Amazon and connect with her via her website. Listen to part 1 here and part 2 here.
  • Episode 33: Accepting Deconstruction and Rejecting Deconstructors (Dec 14 2020). In this bonus episode Tim and Steve explore the acceptance of deconstruction as valuable to communities and the rejection of deconstructors as the norm. Its a tragic reality that believing, behaving and belonging come as a package. The result is that institutionalism and the control of people takes precedence of their growth, exploration, and evolution. Listen here.
  • Episode 34: Wandering in the urban desert (Dec 14 2020). The final three guests all deconstruct as persona and people. Yet there is a depth in their sharing as individuals no longer speaking on behalf or for a group. This is the human face of deconstruction, the felt depth of living, and the vibrant and lively spirituality of those wandering in the urban desert. Listen here.