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Reflections on 3 Sundays of Auckland Church

31 October, 2004 8:55 PM

We had a great day today seeing the sites of Auckland. This morning we finally got to Cityside which I found really interesting. After hearing so much about it over the past few years it was nice to finally be there and participate in a gathering.

Its been quite a strange experience the past couple of weeks at both Cityside and Graceway to be at church on a Sunday and in a larger group (not that either are what I'd describe as a large church) - also singing took a little to get back used to again. I personally don't mind corporate singing at all - however it takes a while to get back into the swing of it (not that there has been heaps of it).

Whilst I'm not wanting to critique/evaluate either Graceway or Cityside (after-all I have only had one experience of Cityside and two of Graceway) I have come away from the experience with some half baked reflections to take back to LivignRoom.

Participation - Firstly I was really inspired and excited by the way in which both actively encouraged the participation of a wide variety of people in their gatherings. It is easy to fall into the trap of relying too heavily upon one or two people in a church to carry all the load and do all the up front stuff.

This is something I've been aware of with LivingRoom and something we'll need to make some changes in next year with me stepping out of a paid position. I really liked the way people naturally took roles in leading different parts of the gatherings at both churches.

Inclusivity - One of the other things I've come away pondering especially today is the way that churches welcome and incorporate new people into them. By no means does LivingRoom have it all together in this area but one natural advantage that I suspect we have is our size.

When a new person comes to LR everyone knows they are there. Generally its pretty easy to introduce a new person to the whole group very quickly and almost without failing the person is engaged in conversation over our meal within seconds of their arrival. It would be very obvious if they were being ignored so there is a sense of accountability I guess between us to incorporate them. Of course on the flip side it could be a little daunting to come to LR because there is little room for anonymity. Whilst we never force people to actively participate it is difficult to passively site and observe without yourself being observed.

I'm not wanting to say that Cityside or Graceway were not welcoming - but I did notice the different dynamic - especially today at Cityside where we did not come with regulars (like we did at Graceway) and were more strangers. Whilst one of the reasons many of us get involved in some of the newer models of church out of a desire to be more inclusive in our communities and worship it remains a real challenge.

Overall I've really valued the time of worshipping with people on similar journeys here in Auckland. I'm going home this Tuesday somewhat refreshed, energised and excited about LivingRoom and life in general.

NZ Update

24 October, 2004 9:20 PM

Thanks for the well wishes for V and my break in New Zealand. We're having a great time. I spent a few days in Auckland before V arrived with Rachel and Regan talking blogging. We'll be announcing some new blogging ideas/strategies/blogs in the next week or so which have arisen out of our time together - stay tuned.

V arrive here on Wednesday and since that time we've packed in a fair bit of travelling including black water rafting at waitomo caves, time in Rotorua (mud pools, geysers, geo thermal activity) and also some really encouraging time with Paul and Kathryn. Paul is someone who I felt I knew reasonably well having been a reader of his blog for just under a couple of years - but to spend an evening and morning with him and Kathryn was incredibly special. Their generosity, enthusiasm, hospitality and interest in us was one of the highlights of this last few days of travelling. To think that blogging has opening up the opportunities to meet people like them is exciting - and a little sad because we don't live closer!

Tonight we also went to Graceway again which was special having read and heard a lot about it over the past year or so also. They have been very welcoming to us this past two Sundays and I'm looking forward to going again next Sunday. I'm also hoping to get to Cityside next Sunday morning also.

All in all we've had a great time so far with still 9 days to go! The only downside has been returning back to Auckland today to my laptop and blog to find 200 spam comments left across my blogs in the last couple of days. It makes me quite angry that people so selfishly abuse my sites for their own gain - often for some fairly sick purposes. Anyway - I think and hope I've deleted it all - its just a bit of a downer after such a great few days.

Murphy's Law Calculator

17 October, 2004 9:06 PM

This is a very useful link - it actually calculates 'Murphy's Law' for you! Very cool.

'Mathematicians have now come up with a rule for predicting the law of anything that can go wrong, will go wrong". They say the formula allows people to calculate the chances of Murphy's law (or Sod's law as it is also know) - and to even try and beat the bad luck.

Previous studies have found the law is not a myth, but this is the first time a formula has been calculated.'

Read more at Murphy's Law Formula - Easy to Use Calculator

New Zealand here I come!

15 October, 2004 2:38 PM

Posting could be light over the next couple of weeks as I'm heading to New Zealand for some time away tomorrow morning. I say could because I'm going to be staying with a couple of addicted prolific bloggers while there - Rachel and Regan have become good friends since I started blogging almost two years ago (wow - its almost been 2 years - I need to think of a way to celebrate the next anniversary). We've worked on some interesting blogging projects together and the first few days of my trip we'll be spending some time thinking through some new ideas and strategies for blogging up a storm.

V will be joining me in Auckland on Wednesday, at which point we'll be heading for a couple of short road trips around the North Island, stopping to take in the sites and do a bit of adventuring as well as catching up with a few other friends and bloggers along the way. We'll be coming and going from Auckland over those two weeks and then returning to Melbourne on Tuesday 2nd November (Melbourne Cup Day).

I'm sure I'll do a little blogging along the way - but if you don't hear from me - don't stress (well not until 2nd November - if I don't blog by then you might want to send out the search parties and send the police around to my axe wielding blogger friends.

LivingRoom - Working/Dreaming Groups

14 October, 2004 12:35 PM

We had a really interesting and worthwhile gathering at LivingRoom last night where we spent the evening talking through some of the issues that we face as a community.

We talked through four main areas and then set up working/dreaming groups for each to make sure that we move forward and don't just talk the talk. They will take the conversations we had last night as a basis for their more intentional thinking, dreaming, planning, researching and come back to the group with some ways forward.

The areas that we're thinking and praying through at the moment are:

Multiplication - How do we grow? What will be the benefits, risks, pain, excitement, logistics of starting a second LivingRoom type group in 2005? How will it work? Who will lead it? What will the relationship between the two groups be? Will it be a clone of what we currently are or a fresh expression? Do we base it around new people or existing people? What does leadership look like? What will my role be in the new and existing group? How do we decide who goes and who stays? What will be the impact of the move on the existing group? These are just some of the questions we've given to the working group in this area to tackle and work through - they'll hopefully come back to the group with some suggestions and ideas on how our multiplication will look next year and even looking further down the track for future mulitiplications.

Giving - I told the group last night that next year I do not need them to pay me anything and that I will continue to give a day or two (depending on the feeling of the group) to the work of LivingRoom. This releases us to give financially to other opportunities including mission projects we might want to run, seeding new communities, interns, gifts to other mission and community projects both locally, nationally and overseas etc. This working group will be thinking through some of the issues surrounding this and will come back to the group with some suggested ways forward.

Gatherings - This group will take a look at our Wednesday night and Micro Group gatherings and do some evaluation, planning and thinking about how we can make them a more enriching part of our journey. We don't want to be defined by what we do when we gather and don't want to be consumed by planning and running events but we do want our times together to propel us into our Core Values. We also realize that if we're multiplying that it might be useful to have a rhythm of gathering that is a little less reliant upon one person preparing and is more self sufficient and able to be led and sustained by a group working together.

Mission - We've talked over the last year and a half about mission a lot and to this point have not really done much on a corporate level. So far mission has very much happened as an extension of our lives. This group will do some thinking about corporate mission again and hopefully come back with some opportunities, teaching and ideas on how we can be more dynamic in our outward focus.

All in all it was a good night. We raise a whole heaps of questions and came up with some interesting ideas and thoughts that I'd not considered before that will give our four working groups a launching pad into some interesting dreaming and work.

Toy Time

11 October, 2004 11:56 PM

apple_powerbook_15_Inch.jpgToday my blogging got a little easier with a new toy - a 15 inch Apple Powerbook with super drive - 1.25gig of RAM - 80gig Hard Drive - Wireless (I got an Air Port Extreme). Very nice. Its taken me 12 months to save up for it little by little and with the trade in on the ibook I had I've finally made it!

Up until this point I've had a little 12 inch ibook and already I'm noticing the difference in many regards. The screen is beautiful - its nice to be able to see a couple of windows open at once - the faster processor and RAM just wizzes it along - no more annoying waits with the little spinning colored wheel when ever you have more than two applications running at once. And I can blog from the kitchen, the bedroom, the balcony, the lounge and even the bathroom (I didn't do it long).

Now the arduous task of transferring everything between laptops begins. Sorry if you emailed me today - I think I've lost a few emails in the process.

More Church Planting Lessons from the LivingRoom

11 October, 2004 1:33 PM

I just had a good MSN chat with a fellow explorer of all things church and he asked - 'any more wisdom to share concerning house churches?'

I'm not sure how wise I am - I'm a newbie to this planting of churches thing and am learning as I go along. I sprouted a few things off the top of my head that I thought I'd keep a record of and float here publicly for your thoughts, experiences and comments. By no means is what I'm sharing here definitive or universal - its just a little of what I'm learning in our context. It's not rocket science - but here goes:

1. Go Slow - It takes time to build relationships with each other and with the wider community. I've seen a number of people start churches who have gone in with guns blazing and the up shot of it was that it didn't last.

We spent a long time getting to know each other as a core group of people, spent a lot of time working on our values/dna and whilst I was a little frustrated at the time at the slowness of our growth (we had one new person in a year!) I'm really grateful for the strong foundations of values and relationships that we now have.

My online buddy asked me at this point about buildings and how early to start talking about them. I responded:

'I'm not against buildings - but I think they should emerge out of the dna and the opportunities that arise and that takes a lot of time to discern. If we'd got a building when we started it would have been the wrong building for where we are now.'

I'm not sure if or when we'll have a building - at the moment I doubt that we will - but if we do I'd hope that it emerges out of our missional activity rather than anything else.

2. Make it as connected as possible to people's real lives - We've really tried hard to ground what we do in our weekly gatherings in what people do in the other 98% of their week. I think the temptation when you are involved in a little group like ours is to hide away and be all 'spiritual' and 'holy'. So we don't do just 'spiritual stuff' - or rather we've widened what we see as 'spiritual stuff' and talk a fair bit about real life - work, friends, social issues. Our recent 'food' series was good in this way.

3. Don't just meet in Houses - This is related to the last one I suppose but I have been pondering it today. I think we can begin to break down the wall between the 'holy huddle' mentality that its easy to fall into the trap of and the 'everyday spirituality' that I talked about above by actually shifting the gathering space to an everyday space on a regular basis. I've documented some of our attempts to do this on this blog and I find it to be an incredibly rich experience every time we do it. I think its easy for a church to be defined by the building it meets in (house church, pup church, cafe church) and think its useful to mix things up a bit and to find other words to describe what you do (the reason why I rarely describe LivingRoom as a 'house church').

4. Don't let Church Dominate Life - Again this is related but its been such a big lesson for me personally. Its so easy to let Church become an overwhelming dominant thing in one's life. Now I've got nothing against church - as far as things go its probably on the good end of the spectrum of things that you could allow to dominate your life - but as a minister I think I've been guilty in the past of expecting my congregations to give every spare moment in their week to the programs and ministries that I run for them. In the process I created a monster that consumed people's lives. In the process I ran the risk of disconnecting them from their families, work places, social clubs, friends, neighbors and personal hobbies and interests and what God was doing around them in their natural rhythms of life.

I'm learning that if we allow people (and ourselves) time to live a little that they actually become much more effective in mission and that they find God and grow in their understanding and relationship with him in some amazingly surprising places!

Again - I have nothing against programs or ministries - but I think that we need to really take our time and ask some big questions about them before we rush into adding another expectation into people's lives.

5. Be Shaped by the Outsider - I'm reading a business book by Seth Godin at the moment called 'Free Prize' and today he talked about how when developing a new product you should focus your attentions NOT on your satisfied customers but those who were dissatisfied and who had a need. There is no point in developing a new product for your existing happy customers because they will probably buy it anyway - the way to expand your customer base is to focus on the dissatisfied ones. Now I'm not wanting to say that those who attend church are 'customers' - but it made me wonder who most churches spend most of their time and energies focussing upon.

I've got a friend who once said to me - 'What we do in our church is defined not by who attends it - but by who doesn't attend it.' In saying this he was advising me to spend time thinking about my culture, my neighbor, my work mate and allowing who they are to help shape what we do as a church. I think there is some real wisdom in those words. Not that we forget about those in our community when thinking about how we are shaped as a church - but that we also allow those on the edges and outside our community to shape it also.

I'm sure I'll think of more things as the day/week progresses as I'm in a bit of a reflective mood these days. Again - these are not meant to be definitive or 'the answers' but just some lessons learnt so far for us. Interested in others thoughts and experiences.

Emerged Church Blogger

11 October, 2004 12:34 PM

Just spotted a new emerging church blogger on my News Aggregator - or should I say he seems to think of himself as an 'Emerged Church Blogger' if his last post is anything to go by. His name is Travelling for Jesus' sake Donovan St Claire and he writes:

'Spent some time today looking through some of the so called emerging church blogs. There are some good people out there but on the whole it was a bit disappointing. Some of them seemed to be caught in a bit of a time warp. I think that from now on I will refer to stuff that we are doing as the emerged church. So how can the emerging church catch up with the emerged church. Here are Donovan the man's rules.'

His 'rules' are interesting to say the least. He talks about:
1) Pop Culture and celebrity culture.
2) Good bye Community
3) Vocation, Vocation, Vocation!
4) Who do you go to?

Brother Adrian - Up Close

9 October, 2004 6:19 PM

Adrian.jpg

My younger brother Adrian has been busy these past few months recording a CD - UpClose. Adrian, or Age as he's often known, is a great guy of whom I'm really proud. Pop by his website and check out some of the new CD in the Music section where there are some samples from each song on the CD as well as one free full song which will give you a feel for his music. You can get the whole album through the site. Those of you in Melbourne might like to come along to his album launch on:

Saturday November 6th, 7:30pm
Wattle Park Chapel
234 Elgar Rd Box Hill South

LivingRoom Review - 20 Months

9 October, 2004 5:43 PM

Well I have refrained from blogging too many details of LivingRoom for the past few months apart from some descriptions of what we've been doing in our weekly gatherings.

I haven't done this intentionally (although I don't really believe in publicly documenting every thing we do, decide or talk about - not because we're hiding anything, but just because so much of what we do is about relationships and the struggles of life) but rather have not had a huge desire (or a lot of time) to document it. Having said all that I thought it might be worthwhile me making a few comments on the place that we as a community find ourselves now after over 20 months of grappling with responding to the call of Jesus in the context that we live.

Multiplication - one of the things that we all agreed on when the LivingRoom first began to come together was that we wanted to be a group that multiplied rather than became one large church. I don't think this was because anyone in our group has anything against larger churches - in fact most of us have had some positive and life giving experiences in them - however we felt that a smaller group setting would perhaps be a more appropriate one for our mix of personalities in the missional context we found ourselves in.

Up until now that has been a rather nice theory or ideal - but will it work? We're getting close to finding out as our numbers have continued to grow to a point where meeting around a table is pretty much an impossibility and even our larger livingrooms are getting a little small. So in the next few months, high on our agenda, is a focus on working through how our group will become two groups. Of course this will be a challenge on many levels - amidst the excitement of growth and new people is the pain of change, uncertainty as to how to manage the transition and a little fear as to what the impact will be. I'm excited by the possibility but wanting to proceed carefully and waiting for God to reveal a way forward.

Publicity - I'm not sure that the group as a whole feels this as much as perhaps I do, but I've definitely felt more eyes upon us in the last few months. Every week there are enquiries from people interested in knowing more. Sometimes it is because they want to explore joining in, but mostly its for other reasons. People wanting to find a model for their own context, others wanting to network, others just curious and wanting to learn, others wanting us to come and share with their own communities/churches and others who are somewhat concerned about what we're doing and want to lend their wise counsel.

I really enjoy most of these interactions and find that in most cases people are very supportive and gracious as I share and listen. I take every opportunity I can to share and learn from others and am keen to respond to as many as possible as it is a big part of shaping who we are as a group (and hopefully its a life giving experience for those we're interacting with as well).

At the same time I often feel awkward having this sort of attention upon us. You see despite the labels that are put upon us (like 'Emerging, Organic, Liquid, New Form, New Model') I personally don't see that what we're doing is particularly new or special. Don't get me wrong - I think its special in that as we've waited on God and moved forward that this is what he seems to wanting to do with us - but in terms of us being a model to look at - I think that what we do is pretty basic stuff and not at all 'sexy' or 'new'. In fact most of what we do at our core is pretty similar to many other churches, except that we attempt to do it in a language and form that is relevant to the suburbs we live in and the subcultures that surround us.

Anti Mainline? - I guess the other criticism that I'm hearing more and more about churches like ours is that we see ourselves as better than, superior to or in competition with or anti the 'traditional' or 'mainline' church. This is a growing frustration for me as it could not be further from the truth. I (and I'll only speak for myself despite suspecting that everyone in LivingRoom feels the same) LOVE the church - not just the bits that look or operate like we do - but all of it.

In fact if there is a segment of the church (and I don't like to segment it) that I seem to being drawn to more and more these days in my work outside the LivingRoom it would be the 'mainline' church who I have increasing opportunities to share with, learn from and build relationships with.

I don't particularly care if churches or people are Emerging, Traditional, Contemporary, Orthadox, Liberal or Fundamental - whether they choose to meet on Sunday mornings in a building with a steeple, Wednesday nights in a cafe or a home around a meal, Saturdays every second week at midnight in a night club or on a Monday morning around the water cooler at work - whether they sing hymns, songs, chants or choose not to sing at all - what I care about is that people are moving closer to God and that they are doing their best to help those around them to do the same (sorry for the rant).

I guess the question I'm left pondering is 'how do I (we) break down the misconception that we're anti church or are suggesting that WE are the only way forward? Or do we just keep getting on with the job at hand and ignore the critiques?

Everyday and Naturally Rhythmic Spirituality - I'm feeling more and more convinced that God seems to be doing something among us that is in the ordinary everyday lives that we lead. I find it hard to describe or put my finger on - but much of what we end up focussing upon at LivingRoom tends to come back to real life issues and how we hear from and respond to God in them. This was a strong thing in our recent focus upon Spirituality and Food - is very evident in our Everyday Spirituality Tours and regularly surfaces when we meet in our Micro Groups. I think we could do more to foster this exploration but am finding it to be a very refreshing learning experience.

Self Sufficiency - Most of you know that our denomination gave us a two year seeding grant which has contributed to my living expenses/wage over the past 18 months. I've written before about my worry and concern about what happens when that money runs out and in the last 6 months have worked hard at finding new income streams to allow me to continue to work with LivingRoom. The amazing thing is that it looks like the work, prayer and creative thinking have paid off and that I'll be able to offer my time to LivingRoom next year for free. I'm excited about this for a number of reasons (in addition to being able to pay the rent and put food on the table) - mainly because I'd really love the form of church that we have (and are planting through multiplication) to be able to sustain itself in future. I'm also excited because it will release the finances of the group for some exciting missional opportunities.

I'd always felt uncomfortable in previous settings that so much of the churches giving ended up being spent on caring for those inside the community (my wage as a pastor) and so little actually had an impact on those on its fringes. Whilst I don't have an issue with ministers being paid - I'm excited that we're in a position to be able to funnel more dollars into mission.

I think I might stop there. There is a lot more I could write - and I may do so in the week ahead before I head off on holidays next Saturday. I don't want to present LivingRoom as being all together, rosy red, the perfect model. Its not. However these are some of the things we're working through at the moment and I thought it would be worthwhile putting them on the blog with the hope that it might connect with others and that you might join in praying for us as we seek to move forward. I'd especially appreciate your prayers in the next week as we'll be getting together on Wednesday night to talk through some of these very issues as we look to 2005 and beyond. Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings.

Meet Pete

8 October, 2004 12:35 AM

Can I introduce you to another Melbourne guy who's exploring what it is to do the communal faith thing in this great city I find myself living in. His name is Pete and he's a guy I've got a lot of time for - although don't end up seeing too much these days. But now I can in a virtual sense because he's blogging. Here's a snippet of his first post describing the community he finds himself in.

"I have been told that we do not really 'worship the Lord' because we don't have music, 'its more a Bible study than a real Church' and I love this one, 'this is a cutting edge church'. To be honest we a group of people trying to understand faith in the context of our homes, workplaces and the greater world we live in. We are not trying to be an amazing new cutting edge venture. Sometimes I would love to fall back into being a charasmatic movement with singing and preaching from the platform and rosters and structure, but that would be far removed from our call and expression as a group of people."


Read more at Rivett: A another new Begining

Writing Prayers

7 October, 2004 6:50 PM

Last night at LivingRoom we spent the night writing prayers. Up until this point we've been a group that has very rarely read or written prayers - our prayer has been much more of a meditative/contemplative or free flowing spoken nature. I guess growing up I reacted against the few experiences of liturgy or written prayers that I experienced and have rarely gone back to it until recently when I've begun to hang out with and be impacted by communities that have a very rich experience of God through it.

Anyway - last night we spent some time as individuals writing prayers on a variety of topics. At the end of the time we came back together and some of us shared what we'd written. I was quite amazed by the diversity of themes and styles of prayers written. It was quite a moving experience for some of us to hear what had been written, knowing the roads that people have and are traveling. We're going to collect the prayers that we write and begin a prayer scrap book so that we can look back on them and at times pray them again. I suspect prayer writing nights will become a more regular part of what we do from time to time.

update: Writing Prayers is a helpful resource for those wanting to explore the topic. I used the article in introducing the exercise last night.

Activist Blogs

5 October, 2004 7:35 PM

Wayne has a good post on Activist Blogs. He writes - "Activist blogs usually are single issue, and for good reason. The blogger wishes to concentrate the entire blog's efforts toward a single goal....

Whether you are tying to change the world, or just your own little corner, activist blogs might provide the ideal outlet for your ambitions."

It's similar thinking to what I was trying to express in my post about blogging giving a voice to the voiceless a few weeks back.

Wayne points to Trudy W. Schuett's who is an avid blogger (she has as many blogs as I do!) who runs Desert Light Journal - a blog tackling issues of Domestic Violence.

Another good Activist Blog is Gambling Watch Global which keeps an eye on gambling issues.

This is still an issue I'm pondering and wondering how to respond to. Anyone else thinking through this stuff? Know of any good activist Blogs for me to take a look at?

Little Johnny Spammer - Australian PM Continues to Annoy Voters in Lead up to Election

5 October, 2004 6:36 PM

It seems that Australia's Prime Minister, John Howard, really wants to get close to the people of this country in the lead up to the federal election this Saturday. A few weeks ago we reported he engaged in SPAMMING the Australian public - today reports are surfacing of him using phone spam - recorded messages to tens of thousands of Aussie homes with messages endorsing Liberal candidates.

"The Liberal Party today defended its use of pre-recorded phone messages from Prime Minister John Howard, with which it is bombarding households across Australia in the lead-up to polling day.

The Liberals are expected to contact tens of thousands of households between now and Saturday, with messages from Mr Howard declaring his support for local candidates in electorates across the country.

A Liberal Party spokesman, who referred to them as advocacy calls, said the party had been contacting voters in this way since 1996.

The only difference was that in the past, campaign workers had read from a prepared script, he said."


Read more at Australian IT - Howard defends phone spam

The Libs are calling them 'advocacy calls' - I call them plain annoying and a waste of money. I think we should start a campaign of bombarding the PM's office with prerecorded messages and emails and see how it goes over.

Write a review and win a $100 Amazon Gift Voucher

5 October, 2004 1:55 PM

I'm running this competition on my other blogs and thought some of you might like to participate.

Do you own a digital camera, printer, scanner or camera phone? Would you like the chance to win a $100 (US) gift from Amazon simply by writing a short review of your experiences with it?

Digital Photography Blog, in conjunction with Camera Phone Zone and Printer Blog are giving you the chance to win a $100 gift voucher from Amazon for each review of a printer, scanner, digital camera, camera phone or photo editing software package. You get one chance in the draw for each review submitted in the next 30 days. Entries close on 5th November 2004. Please carefully read the following Conditions and Guidelines before submitting entries.

Entries should be submitted via email to Darren at:

darren at livingroom.org.au or by using this contact form (please ensure you leave a contact email address so that we can contact you regarding your prize if drawn on November 5).

Conditions of entry:

- Reviews will be published on one or more of the above mentioned blogs.
- Reviews must be at least 500 words in length and include a rating out of 10.
- Reviews must be your original work.
- We don't mind if your review has been previously published but we would like to know the URL of where it appears (we will publish a link to it).
- The prize is a $100 gift certificate from Amazon. You may spend it in any way you wish. We will purchase and forward the certificate via email within 14 days of the announcement of your winning the competition.
- If you would like to include a link back to your own blog in your review we would be happy to credit you in this way.
- You may submit as many reviews as you wish and will receive one entry into the competition for each entry. The more you submit the better your chances of winning the $100 gift.
- You may write the review in a format that suits you but we would strongly recommend that you include some or all of the following categories in your format.
- We reserve the right to reject any reviews that do not meet the above requirements or that we feel do not meet a reasonable standard - if we do this you will not receive an entry into the competition. Your reviews do not need to be super technical - but they do need to be reasonably written and show genuine knowledge of and experience with the product under review. We reserve the right to do some editing of the reviews for spelling, grammar and other reasons.

Suggested Review Format/Categories
- Introduction to the cameras features
- Your First Impressions
- Description/Comments on Layout and Design of Product
- Description/Comments on Quality of results (images, printing, scanning, phone) produced
- Description/Comments on Ease of Use/Usability
- Comments on Value for money
- General Comments/Recommendations
- Rating out of 10 and your reasoning for such a rating
- You may wish to provide 1 or two sample pictures with your review
- What you like/What you don't like
- Any relevant links/sources for your review

Once again - we're not after highly technical reviews (although if you're a techy person please submit them) - rather we want real comments about digital imaging products from real users. So be yourself - speak the truth about the product and send your reviews in.

Reactions to Shapings of Things to Come

5 October, 2004 11:07 AM

Just stumbled upon a review of an event in London where a couple of Aussie colleagues of mine from Forge spoke - and it seems caused something of a stirr. Check out this commentary at small ritual for one opinion of the 'blah' event.

'it made me angry because thrown together/ordeal/deadline/risk/survival is my everyday work experience, and it's no fun when it happens all the time. it burns. and this 'communitas' as described by frost sounds remarkably like the conventions of team-work and team-building within large corporations.'

Emergent Like Slime was impressed with the teaching:

'Actually I found that Frost and Hirst's enthusiasm for innovation and a church in 'proximity' to the community, 'practicing the presence of Christ'won me over; the final appeal to us to stop expectingcongregations to be evangelists and start enabling them to be christlikealmost made me cry as well as laugh, though of course I'm a sucker for rhetoric blended with sincerity.'

Si (no permlink?) took some good notes of the different sessions which look pretty similar to our Forge Intensives.

Maggi was also less than impressed with the sessions writing:

'I'm a lot less than excited about the Hirsch and Frost vision of Church. It's too much hard work for the wrong kind of ends, in my opinion. No time to pray. No space for the kids. No time to visit the hungry, the elderly, the sick. In this vision you'll be too busy giving away the gospel to have time to contemplate what it means. You'll have no energy either if you buy into the macho, gangland-inspired Fight-Club vision of Church.'

update - it seems Maggi was not writing about the talk (she wasn't there) but the book.

Nouslife doesn't seem to have been there either but bounces of Steve's comments and writes:

'I am concerned that liminal and risky are considered normative. I think I know where that stuff is coming from; I've served my apprenticeship in church growth circles and in circles where faith is spelt R-I-S-K. But to seem to encourage continual hyped-up-ness is not going to help burnt-out church leaders [or memebers come to that]. I once took over in leadership at a church where the constant sdginess had been a norm. It's great for a while; really exciting, encouraging, giving a sense of direction, of purpose that we are changing the world. Then we run into the wall: we go emotionally numb, all the old tricks don't work any more at enthusing us, relationships that had been put on hold start falling over though lack of maintainance and everything begins to feel tired. People start leaving; they can't keep up the pace and their lives have been wrecked. Our paralimbic systems are not supposed to be switched on all the time. We need times of normality, of consolidation of -God help us!- Sabbath.'

I've often suspected that what is happening in 'Emerging Church' circles around the world might have different accents - I wonder if some of these reactions reflect that. I'll be interested to continue to follow how the reactions are from other bloggers as they get back to their computers. Andrew Jones was there but is yet to update - and Jonny was too but is probably so busy organizing and trying to keep Alan and Mike out of the pubs that he hasn't yet given much of an opinion.

Great conversation - following it with interest.

emerging church = hillsong?

3 October, 2004 10:16 PM

Steve has an interesting post titled emerging church = hillsong? that reminds me of comments I've heard increasingly at the mention of the term 'emerging church' recently. I'll let you head over there to ponder Steve's question and read my response.

What Blogger do you aspire to be like?

1 October, 2004 3:53 PM

Rachel at Cre8d Design asks the question Which Blog or Blogger do you Aspire to be Like?

'Im looking for a list of blogs youd like your blog to be like - what is it about these blogs that makes you say this? Their hits, creativity, ideas, humour, interesting stories, breaking news, community of commenters?'

Head over and answer the question there.

Blog Tips for Beginners

1 October, 2004 2:28 PM

Update: I have recently moved all my blog tips category to a new blog dedicated to blogging atProBlogger.

Thanks to Rod, Tim, Randy, Josue and Fabian who submitted their top blog tips a couple of posts ago. I've now written my mini piece and have used most of what you're written (I had a word limit) which was great stuff and similar to what I was thinking. I've put what I submitted below:

Blog Tips for Beginners

- Keep it simple. Start with a free and easy to use blogging tool like Blogger. Pick a simple design and just start writing. You can tweak the design and make it look good later.

- Write for yourself. It takes time for others to find and read your blog so use it as a space to think out loud about the things that interest you. Pick topics that you are passionate about and you'll find people with similar interests will connect with you.

- Interact with your readers. Make sure your blog has a commenting feature - when someone leaves a comment email them or leave a reply comment. People will come back if you take the time to acknowledge and interact with them.

- Set boundaries and think about the purpose of your blog. Remember what you are writing is in a public domain so you might want to refrain from talking about your personal life - people WILL find it. Decide up front about what you will and won't write about and stick to it.

- Read other blogs and link to those that interest you. One of the best things about blogging is how it connects people thinking through similar issues. Link to them, add your own ideas, leave comments on their blog - blogging can bring about rich and wonderful conversations and lead to lasting friendships.

- Be patient, post regularly and have fun. It can take a long time to build up a readership. In the mean time just enjoy the writing process. Make it a daily exercise (it takes some discipline) and don't give up if it seems no-one is reading - just be yourself and have fun.

Emerging Church - Theological Position?

1 October, 2004 1:04 PM

I've had a few people email me in the past weeks asking me to describe 'Emerging/Emergent Church' theology - particularly on issues of how open-theistic we are. I've responded with a number of comments that can be summed up in these sorts of points:

- In my experience of EC it is very difficult to make general statements about theology because it tends to vary as much in these circles as it does in the wider church. Some communities could be described as being more open/liberal in their understanding on some issues, but others could be described as a little more fundamentalistic in their approach with of course there being plenty that would fall in between.

- In my experience in Melbourne EC circles most churches/individuals probably fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum - perhaps even erring on the side of conservative in their understanding of Scripture, God etc. Maybe this is just a Melbourne thing? Most in my experience are perhaps a little more radical/open when it comes to mission - but less so on their theological thinking.

- In my limited experience of interacting with people in Overseas contexts I would reflect that there seem to be different strands/accents of the EC in different regions. I suspect EC means something a little different to those in the UK to the US and then again different again in Australia and NZ, Asia etc. I'm not experienced enough to make any real statments on this - its just a suspicion. If anyone wants to buy me a round the world ticket I'd love to do some research into that! :-)

Interested in others thoughts and experiences on the theology of the Emerging Church

More BYO Worship

1 October, 2004 9:00 AM

This week at LivingRoom we had another night of BYO Worship. These nights are always interesting - you never quite know what you'll get. For those of you who haven't heard me talk about them before - BYO worship nights are nights where in stead of everyone bringing an element of the meal that we normally share together at our gatherings - everyone brings an element of the worship time. No one knows what anyone else is bringing and spends time during the week preparing a 5-10 minute exercise, meditation, reading, teaching, poem, contemplation, story, prayer, creative project etc for us all to do.

We fast on these nights which gives us time for everyone to share/lead something.

This week we had a couple of stories, a Bonhoeffer reading, a writing exercise about encouragement, a reflection on a quote that led into thinking about Art and Spirituality, a couple of readings from the Gospels that led to a time of prayer about our missional contexts, some more reflections and prayers on our food theme, a meditative creative exercise on the Bigness of God and some time of silence.

It was interesting to see how a number of the things we did related strongly to one another. I love these nights because it is a truly participatory and interactive time of learning and worship. There is no leader in the centre, no expert, no passivity. We wouldn't probably do it every week but its a valuable part of the LivingRoom experience.

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