« October 2003 Archives »


The Irish Hit Melbourne

31 October, 2003 9:49 PM

If you're thinking of visiting Melbourne this weekend you'd better have booked some accommodation a month or two back because the news reported tonight that there is not a spare room in any hotel in the city. Actually there isn't even a spare room in Geelong or Ballarat (two cities 45 minutes and 1.5 hours out of Melbourne). You see the Irish have invaded for one of the biggest sporting weekends of the year.

Tonight Australia is playing Ireland in International Rules Football. (Ireland won the game, but not by enough to stop us winning the series). Tomorrow night Australia and Ireland are playing in the Rugby World Cup.

On top of that Melbourne is in the middle of the Spring Horse Racing Carnival which draws huge crowds of hundreds of thousands on Saturday with Derby Day and then climaxes on Tuesday with the Melbourne Cup (we even get a public holiday for it...woohooo). Irish stayer 'Holy Orders' is running in the cup to complete the weekend for the Irish.

Update: Phew - Australia won the rugby by 1!

Micro Church

31 October, 2003 12:38 PM

Small churches have their unique joys and challenges.

I've been involved in ministry in both now and find myself sometimes a little torn between the two.

I love the intimacy of smaller churches. The depth of community that I'm seeing start to emerge from our group is something I've not experienced much of before. I also love the fluidity of what we have. We have the ability to make decisions, change direction and adapt very quickly. We also are able to focus all our energies upon a given task without having to start a major strategy...or worse starting a committee.

I also love the lack of politics, administration and logistics that we have. In previous churches I've found it so easy to get bogged down in this stuff!

The stats also show smaller churches are often more effective at evangelism.

On the downside I'm constantly aware of our fragility. One person leaving or even being away for a week or two changes the dynamics of the group considerably. For one person to be away in our group is more than 10% of who we are.

There is also some potential for feeling lonely or isolated when your community is small in number. I'm not sure we've felt this too much yet because we all have strong connections with other Christians. We've also met with other smaller groups to get a sense of something bigger than ourselves.

Another challenge is that whilst we are not tied down by complex leadership structures and committees etc we actually the reality is that everyone that is part of the group is actually central in leadership. Whilst this is fantastic it also is weird. As V said the other night, we are all the elders...and the worship team...and the prayer committee...and the welcomers....etc. I personally find this refreshing, but it does add a rather new and strange dynamic.

Its been interesting making the transition from big to small. I'm interested in others experiences of big and small churches - share yours in comments.

Another Blog Study

31 October, 2003 8:45 AM

Another blog study. It samples only 400 English written blogs, interesting results.

The starting point was a this hypothesis based on the media and observing A-list blogs:

1. Blog content tends to be external to the author ie not personal.
2. Blog authors are typically well-educated adult males
3. Blogs are interactive, attracting multiple comments
4. Blogs are heavily interlinked

They found that each of the above was largely untrue. Their findings include the following:

- 54 % written by males
- Gender of blog author varies according to blog content - eg Personal Journals tend to be written by females (60%) while Filters, Knowledge-logs etc were more likely to be written by males (85%).

- 59% written by people over 20 years old (many adult bloggers appear to be in their early 20's)
- Age of blog author varies according to blog content - eg Personal journals are more likely to be written by teens (60%) while Filters and knowledge-logs are almost always written by Adults (95%).

- 43% allowed comments
- Mean number of comments: .3. ie most entries receive no comments.

- 69.5% of blogs link to external sites (excluding badges/buttons). ie this means 30% have no external links!
- 8.2% of entries link to news items
- 6.7% of entries link to other blogs
- Therefore most entries contain no links.

- 70% are personal journals
- 70% written within the USA
- 91% are single author blogs

I gleaned these stats from here and here. The results are also here in the form of a powerpoint.

Church in our Living Room

30 October, 2003 10:09 PM

From time to time people ask what does 'church' looks like at LivingRoom? It's a question that is a little difficult to answer mainly because what we do changes from week to week — but I thought I'd attempt to describe a typical night here anyway.

We meet on Tuesday nights, usually at one or another of the groups homes.

- The evening begins with some sort of prayer or reflection. This might be anything from a read prayer to a moment of silence, the lighting of a candle, to a short guided meditation.

- Dinner Time! The meal is usually quite a feast with each person brings something to contribute. We always eat vegetarian food which has often been made with ingredients grown organically in one of the groups gardens. Most of us will have a glass of wine with our meal.

- Dinner is a pretty informal time of sharing, catching up, laughing, story telling and reflecting upon our weeks. We often end up talking about any missional opportunities we've had during the week here.

- After the main course we often move into the living room of the home for some sort of activity or reflection. We tend to mix up what we do in this time from week to week. Some weeks it's fairly discussion oriented around a passage of Scripture. Other weeks we might do a prayer/meditation or some sort of creative worship experience. Some weeks we pause during or after dinner for a formal time of communion - other weeks it is something that goes unspoken, yet amidst our eating and drinking it is obvious that we are celebrating the Lords Supper.

- Depending upon what we've just done and where the group is at, we sometimes end the night with prayer for one another and more sharing.

- Lastly we have dessert, tea (usually herbal — peppermint is a popular choice), coffee and then do the dishes together.

The whole feel of the night is pretty intimate and informal. The most we've ever had on a Tuesday night is 10 people. We currently have 7 committed core members who are all amazing people who I'm coming to be very fond of!

Harry Potter and the Magician's Migraine

30 October, 2003 10:01 PM

A Washington doctor warns that he's seeing a number of children with Hogwarts Headaches. This new ailment is caused from eye strain as kids wade through the 870 page 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix'.

Blog Tip 7 - Set Boundaries

30 October, 2003 11:11 AM

I found this great page 47 key tips from the World's best Bloggers.

It was interesting to see that most of them talked about establishing boundaries for the content of your blog.

Here is what some of them had to say:

Meg from Megnut - 'Set boundaries. Think about how much of yourself you're comfortable sharing. You don't have to �tell all�. Just decide which parts of your life you're willing to share, and try to find a balance that works for you.'

Fraser from Blogjam - 'Don't write about work, and avoid writing about people you know in general. You'll end up offending someone.....

This post has been moved. Read the rest of it at Pro Blogger - Set Boundaries

Godblog Stats

30 October, 2003 8:53 AM

Bene Diction has been going nuts looking at 'GodBlogs'. The stats are quite interesting and confirm some of the suspicions that a number of us have voiced previously.

1. 'Godblogs' are more often written by males than females. At JesusJournal 75% of the individual non anonamous blogs listed are written by males. (that includes both live and dead links). This is very similar to my own mini survey of 600 blogs at B4G.

This piece of information on its own is not overly amazing until you compare it with the stats of the 'blogosphere' in general which seems to indicate that in the 'real world' of blogging the split between genders is pretty even if not slightly in favor of females.

2. God Blogs are more often written by people from the US. Over 90% of blogs surveyed were from the US.

Of course these pieces of information are just statistics. They will probably be used by some to support arguments or make points about who is dominating who etc.

For me I guess they are just handy pieces of information to keep in the back of my mind as I surf the blogosphere. Its good to consider who you are listening to in life and to seek to allow the information you ingest to be balanced. I personally read a lot of male American bloggers, but information like this also challenges me to continue to find and interact with bloggers from other perspectives.

Thanks Bene for the stats - looking forward to the next installment.

Fear of the Stranger

29 October, 2003 10:10 PM

'Christian communities fear difference sufficiently that they usually spend a considerable amount of time tending the margins or boundaries of their communities, not in order to connect with those outside but, rather, to protect themselves from strangers.

Sometimes discussions of church membership are more concerned with who is in or out than about how to be an open and welcoming community. This fear of difference is reinforced by a dualistic view of church and world that assigns good spiritual aspects to the church and evil material aspects to the surrounding world The result of this dualistic way of thinking is that Christian communities can excuse their refusal to move out to the margins as a calling to practice piety.'

- Letty Russell in 'Church in the Round'

Last Class Beer

29 October, 2003 4:34 PM

I just finished my last class at college for the year. I'm about 500 words away from finishing my last essay for the year (its on Hospitality in Multicultural Churches). I'm feeling the weight lifting from my shoulders as a I speak.

I might have to treat myself to a quiet celebratory beer tonight!

First Time Here?

29 October, 2003 4:15 PM

Is this your first time to this site? If so welcome to the LivingRoom. Pull up a bean bag, grab a coffee and stay a while.

My name is Darren Rowse. I live in Melbourne Australia. If you want to know more about me click here.

What is this Website?

You are currently reading a blog.

  • In short a blog is an online journal or diary.
  • They are usually written by one person and are updated pretty regularly.
  • Blogs are usually written on a particular topic - there are blogs on virtually any topic you can think of. From photography, to spirituality, to recipes, to personal diaries to hobbies.
  • There are literally millions of blogs in existence at the moment. If you want more info on blogging and how to start a blog read this article or check out my own Blog Tips.
  • My blog 'LivingRoom' is a pretty general one that covers all kinds of topics from Spirituality, Technology, Culture, Emerging Church through to Blogging, Movies and Australiana.
  • How do I read it?

  • You are currently deep in the middle of my blog on an individual entry page. It is a simple entry on one topic only. To get to the main part of my page click on the Home link at the topic of this page to go to the front page. Most people surf into the front page which contains the most recent updates. At the top of that page is the last thing I wrote and under that are entries from the last week.
  • Each blog entry is followed by some text that looks like this - 'Have your say? >> Comments (4)'. This is an invitation for you to interact with what I've just written. I read every comment that you post. The number in brackets is how many people have already made comments. Click on the link and you'll be taken to a new window where you can make a comment. You do not have to leave a name, email or web address to leave a comment.
  • The front page only has the last 7 days entries on it. I have been doing this since November 2002 so there is a lot more material than what you see on the front page. To view older material there are a few options.
    • At the top of every page is a number of links. Click on the Archives link and you will be taken to a page listing every entry since the beginning of this blog. They are arranged in catagories

    • If you are searching for something in particular there is a search option in the side bar on the front page that allows you to search for words or phrases.

    • At the end of each entry is a reference to a Category that they entry belongs to. If you click on this it will lead you to the last 30 entries from within the same category.

    If you have any question please or would like to know more about me or this blogging thing please feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me an email. (see Contact link above).

  • Blog Tip 6 - The Rhythm Method

    29 October, 2003 7:54 AM

    One of the keys to blogging is frequent posting. This is what distinguishes weblogs from from static websites.

    The average blogger posts once every 14 days - personally I tend to mainly visit bloggers who update more regularly than that. As a blog reader I get to know the rhythm of the blogs that I read. I don't mind if they are daily, weekly or even fortnightly bloggers - but whatever their rhythm I find myself loosing interest if they disappear for unexplained periods of time. So get into a rhythm of blogging.

    I personally blog....

    This post has been moved to Pro Blogger - The Rhythm Method of Blogging.

    What do we do with New Christians?

    28 October, 2003 4:43 PM

    Should we extract New Christians from their 'secular' networks, or resource them to live there missionaly?

    Recently I've found myself in a number of conversations with new Christians.

    Its so exciting to spend time with people who have just made a decision to journey with Jesus and who are discovering God in new ways. They have so much energy, so much passion and the biggest and most fantastic ideas about sharing Jesus with those around them. It is inspiring to hang with them.

    Having had these conversations I'm left asking the question 'What do we do with new Christians?'

    In some senses they are 'babies' in their faith, they don't know much, sometimes they come with 'rough edges' and behavior that disturbs those of us who have lived our lives almost exclusively in church circles.

    One of the typical responses that I've seen from churches is to extract the new Christian out of their current life and place them in a new and improved one. This is done for their protection and to build them up in faith. They are told to 'clean up their act' behaviorally, to stop hanging around with their current friends (who have a bad influence on them) and to spend copious amounts of time at church services, in bible study groups, in new believers classes, baptism classes and socializing...sorry 'in fellowship'... with their new family.

    I know numerous people who within weeks of becoming Christians went through this process, even to the extent of being told to change jobs, end long term relationships and move into new suburbs to be closer to their new life at Church.

    Whilst I agree there are times when extraction might be good (ie in cases of addiction or abuse) I wonder if it is really a wise - or biblical - approach.

    Neil Cole recently said 'What you do with a new Christian in the first 24 hours is crucial - the first 24 hours is like an imprint upon their lives that will greatly impact how they live for years to come.' He went on to say that if you treat them like 'babies', they will usually continue to live as babies.

    His approach was very different. It included immediate baptism (no classes or preparation period), immediate immersion in Scripture (they get them into small groups that read 30 chapters a week) and immediate evangelism and praying for friends. They are not babied but rather their energy and passion is harnessed and the momentum is allowed to continue. New Christians are not extracted from their network, rather the aim is to start a new church within it. The new Christian instantly becomes a missionary in the world they live. As a result they often see whole families, groups of friends and networks won for Christ very quickly.

    This approach makes a lot of sense to me. What do you think?

    Why Do I Read the Blogs I Read?

    28 October, 2003 4:42 PM

    Brian got me thinking a little by asking the question:

    'Why Do I Read the Blogs I Read?'

    Its a question worth asking - both as a blog reader and writer. I left my comments there - leave yours too.

    Blog Tip 5 — Titles are Everything

    28 October, 2003 7:59 AM

    After slaving away on your latest blog post pause before you hit that 'publish' button and consider your title. What does it convey to your potential reader? Titles can be the difference between having your post read or ignored. Of course there are No Rules that will guarantee your post to get noticed, but you might want to consider some of the following.

    Simplify — Studies show that blog readers prefer straightforward, short and simple titles to cute or cryptic ones.....

    The rest of this Blog Tip on Titles has been moved to Pro Blogger - Blog Content Tip - Titles are Everything

    Australian Idol - Farewell Paulini

    27 October, 2003 9:34 PM

    Keep up to date with season two of Australian Idol at Australian Idol Blog.

    Update: Cosima Withdraws from the Show!

    Paulini.jpgLast night Australia narrowed the competition down to three and eliminated Paulini (who in my opinion was in the top two!) Once again I think the voting system was partly to blame for her 'eviction' - had we been given the opportunity to vote the worst performance out last night Cosima would have gone for sure. Its all the wrong way around.

    Update: Can't sleep tonight - so I thought I'd log onto the Australian Idol Chat page (yeah I'm bored). One of the main things that is being 'chatted' about is Paulini being voted out because of the color of her skin. I don't buy into this at all. The voting system will not allow you to target and vote someone out like that - not based on the color of your skin, your dress choice, your talent ...anything.

    Update - Click here for Guy's Climb Every Mountain

    Update II: Cosima Withdraws from the Show!

    Serenity Now!

    27 October, 2003 4:56 PM

    Can I suggest you check out this excellent brand new blog called Serenity Dawn. It is written by Michelle who has been commenting on my blog for a while now. She describes herself as a:

    South African single mom
    Christian worship musician
    Seeker of many things on a long journey

    I've only been in conversation with her a couple of weeks but I suspect there will be some good stuff coming out of her blog. Head over and make her feel welcome to the neighborhood.


    27 October, 2003 1:14 PM

    When did Hospitality become an Industry rather then just a normal and expected part of life and faith?

    Blog Tip 4 — Make it Scannable

    27 October, 2003 8:04 AM

    Only 16% of people read web sites word for word. Source

    Most people read online by scanning the page for individual words or phrases, headings and other visual cues. Studies have shown that reading from a screen is more tiring and therefore about 25% slower than reading from paper — hense scanning becomes a technique that most employ....

    This post has been moved to Pro Blogger - Writing Blog Content - Make it Scannable

    Church and Discipleship

    27 October, 2003 7:57 AM

    'We need to lower the bar of what it means to be a church and raise the bar of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.'

    Neil Cole - 15th October 2003

    Patenting Shock and Awe

    26 October, 2003 10:59 PM

    The US patent office has had a run of trademark applications using "Shock and Awe" in their names. The list of 29 products includes condoms, coffee, golf clubs, pesticides, dietary supplements, fireworks, video games, salsa, energy drinks, yo-yos, lingerie, Bloody Mary mix and "infant action crib toys. Source

    Blog Roll Poll

    26 October, 2003 12:22 PM

    In the past month a number of people have mentioned to me (via email, msn and in person) that one of the things that annoys them about my blog is that the blog roll links open in a new window. One has refrains from reading my blog because of it!

    I'd not considered that this might irritate some. I originally set it up that way because I personally found it easier to surf my blog roll that way. Since I've started using tabbed browsing with Safari it doesn't whether I have it or not personally.

    Interested in what others think about it? Does it annoy you?

    Lets take a poll in comments - should I change it or keep it - or don't you care? Feel free to be brutally honest - I'd rather know if people are annoyed by something in my blog than to find out later - or never know.

    The decision is in your hands.

    Worst album covers of all time

    26 October, 2003 12:01 PM

    Gianna has posted her worst album covers of all time. Very amusing.

    Rugby World Cup Thrashing

    25 October, 2003 5:49 PM

    Australia d Namibia

    142 - 0

    Need I say anything else?

    Thank you

    25 October, 2003 4:01 PM

    This is just a quick post to say thanks to those sites that generously linked to my post on length of stay at blogs. Thanks a lot.

    Psalm 121

    25 October, 2003 2:15 PM

    Have found myself drawn to this Psalm the past few days.

    I look up to the mountains;
    does my strength come from mountains?
    No, my strength comes from GOD,
    who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

    He won't let you stumble,
    your Guardian God won't fall asleep.
    Not on your life! Israel's
    Guardian will never doze or sleep.

    GOD's your Guardian,
    right at your side to protect you--
    Shielding you from sunstroke,
    sheltering you from moonstroke.

    GOD guards you from every evil,
    he guards your very life.
    He guards you when you leave and when you return,
    he guards you now, he guards you always.

    Blog Tip 3 - Blog Designers

    25 October, 2003 1:47 PM

    My post Where are the Blog Designers? got a bit of interest yesterday and a number of Blog Designers let us know about themselves and gave examples of their work.

    I thought I'd give them a little exposure here:

    As previously mentioned Cre8d Design is a personal favorite of mine. She produces clean....

    This post has been moved - read more of it at Pro Blogger - Blog Designers.

    Droolings over Apples

    25 October, 2003 1:40 PM

    I've avoided heading over to Apple since hearing about the release of the new G4 ibook. I had a feeling they'd release one soon and having bought a G3 ibook last year I wish they'd done it sooner. Oh well. It looks like a great little machine and pretty cheap too! Hmmm...I wonder how much I'd get for my G3 as a trade in.

    I am also tossing up whether to fork out the money to buy the OS X Panther. Would be interested to hear how others are finding it if they go the upgrade.

    Open Mike

    24 October, 2003 8:06 AM

    mike.jpgNo posting today as I'm heading down the highway to Nana's funeral.

    But there is plenty for you to do here - yesterday I posted 6 times - interested to hear your thoughts on some of those issues. There are some good conversations happening in those comments sections already.

    Feel free to post comments on this post on any topic you'd like. The keys to the Living Room are in your hands.

    Tell us what you're thinking (and blogging about today), share your own blog tips or get something off your chest.

    Have fun - last person out please shut the door behind you!

    update: the funeral went very well. It was good to see a lot of family we hadn't connected with for a long time. The feeling was one of celebration of a life well lived. It was a long day, but a worthwhile one.

    Thanks for your support - normal blogging will resume tomorrow.

    The Matrix - Revolutions

    23 October, 2003 10:41 PM

    November 5th will see The Matrix - Revolutions released.

    November 6th will see youth pastors across the globe trying to incorporate it into their Sunday night sermons. The Christian blog scene will be in a frenzy interpreting what it all means. Parallels between Neo and Christ will be drawn til the cows come home.

    I remember last year when The Matrix - Reloaded was released reading two blog reviews of the movie that came from a similar yet different perspective to the typical Christian review. One was from a Muslim gentleman the other from a Jewish woman. Both interpreted it through their own faith perspectives.

    Strange how the same thing can be interpreted through such different lenses.

    Here are some links looking at the movies from different perspectives.

    Buddhism, Christianity, and The Matrix

    Matrix as Messiah Movie

    Similarities between the Matrix and the Gospel

    The Matrix is a Parable of old-fashion religious redemption

    The New Gnostic Gospel

    The Matrix and Nondual Spirituality

    Is the movie "The Matrix" about the Christianity Meme?

    Philosophy and the Matrix

    The Matrix and Quantum Consciousness

    The Matrix and Buddhism

    The Matrix: Religion vs. Philosophy

    The Matrix and Skepticism

    Escaping the Matrix

    The Matrix, or, the two sides of Perversion

    Myth meets Internet in 'Matrix'

    Moving into the Matrix: An examination of postmodernism, Cyberpunk, and technology's role in future societies

    The Matrix Metaphor

    Reexamining Reloaded: A Christian Perspective on the Matrix Trilogy

    Matrix Reloaded Explained

    Matrix Continues New Age Gospel of Christian, Egyptian & Greek Mythology Blend

    Review of Matrix Revolutions from a Christian perspective - and another

    The Matrix Revolutions: Back to a Messianic Allegory

    There are loads more links out there. I have not read all of the above and cannot guarantee their quality, but offer it as a starting point for thinking about the different perspectives on this fascinating trilogy that people have taken. Enjoy. Feel free to leave your own links in comments.

    update: My reflections on how the Matrix has made people think.

    You may also be interested in a similar list on links about The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter

    If you have found this entry helpful helpful please consider making a contribution to help keep this site running.

    Where are the Blog Designers?

    23 October, 2003 4:23 PM

    Over the past week I've had a number of people ask me how to start a blog.

    One of the frustrations that those starting blogs face is how to get it looking right. Most blog services come with a limited number of free templates (just surf blogs for 15 minutes and you'll see most of them) but to get something that looks unique means you have to know some html and have some web design skills. When I started I had neither - today I know enough to know I know nothing.

    As a result I've ended up with a blog that has evolved over the past year. Slowly I've added to it bit by bit. My coding is messy. I'm sure it could load a lot faster if I knew how to streamline it. When I look at my templates I'm sure they are held together with 'virtual string and chewing gum'. I'm too scared to change it now, although it desperately needs updating, for fear of ruining it all.

    There are a few sites out there that help people design their own templates - but the more I search the more I realize just how few options there are for the novice blogger. There is a big opportunity for some blog designers to provide some services for the blogger just starting out.

    If I knew what I now know when I first started this blog I'd get it designed professionally. The outlay of a couple of hundred dollars would have been well worth it.

    But where are the blog designers? I've seen a few around - one of the best is Cre8d Design. She's a specialist blog designer who runs her own blog and knows what she's doing - but I haven't seen too many others.

    Perseus estimates there are 4.2 million blogs in existence already and that by the end of next year there will be over 10.2 million - surely the market is big enough for people to be coming up with some affordable yet flexible designs for the novice.

    Is blog design something that will remain a 'do it yourself' domain? Is it not profitable enough to specialize in? Where are the blog designers?

    George W. Bush in Australia

    23 October, 2003 4:15 PM

    George W. Bush waltzed into Australia last night and has been received with a very mixed response.

    The protests in most capital cities around the country started last night and continued throughout the day with around 5000 people booing him as he entered Parliament in Canberra.

    He started a Mutual Admiration Society with our Prime Minister. He had an Aussie BBQ at our Prime Ministers house with some of out top sporting stars.

    His speech to our parliament was disrupted by two of our Senators who were then asked to leave. Other MPs protested a little more subtly by wearing armbands, badges and not standing to applaud him (radical hey!?!).

    He avoided any contact with the Australian media.

    This afternoon he's lay a wreath at the War Memorial and head off after his 21 hours in the country.

    Blog Tip 2 - Keep it Simple (Stupid)

    23 October, 2003 1:49 PM

    The average person only comprehends 60% of what they read. How much do you comprehend?.

    To ensure your reader 'gets' what you're saying you need to make it clear by using some of the following techniques.

    - Use simple language. Avoid technical jargon.

    - Don't introduce too many ideas in one post. You can always add another post later.....

    This post has been moved. Read more of it at Writing Blog Content - Keep it Simple

    Blog Tip 1 - Get to the Point

    23 October, 2003 10:31 AM

    The average person reads 200 words per minute - What's Yours? (The speed reading record is 1347 wpm)

    In 96 seconds they will read 320 words.

    So keep things short and to the point. I know this sounds crazy coming from me - but the stats show my longer posts are often largely are ignored.

    EXTENDED ENTRY - If you're going to write a long post....

    Read the rest of this blog tip at Pro Blogger - Get to the Point

    The 96 second window of opportunity

    23 October, 2003 10:30 AM

    We've established that the average Joe spends about 96 seconds at your blog. Its not long in the scheme of things - but when you think about it its actually a real opportunity.

    - The average TV commercial is 15-30 seconds long. (you could fit four in that time!)
    - You can learn the Tango in 60 seconds
    - You can