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LivingRoom digs into the News

30 March, 2005 5:42 PM

Tonight at LivingRoom we're going to do something a little different (when don't we) and watch the news together.

Its our 'topical' night and unfortunately the guest we were trying to line up to come and talk to us about abortion can't make it so at the last minute we're switching plans to see what the up to the minute topics of the day are. We'll video tonight's news bulletin from TV and replay it story by story with a pause between each one for a response from the group.

The responses might include any of the following (and more):

  • a time of prayer
  • digging into Scripture on the topic
  • debate
  • time of reflection
  • discussion on values
  • discussion on how we might respond
  • asking where the Kingdom of God is present (or absent) in the stories
  • ethical discussions

We might get stuck on the first story of the bulliten and go no further for the night or we might find its a slow news night and whip through them all really quick (lets hope there are not too many 'firemen rescue kittens stuck up a tree' stories.

The night could go anywhere depending what happened in the world today!

20 Point Easter Sermon

23 March, 2005 11:09 PM

I know this will freak some of my readers out - 3 posts in a day!

Tonight at LivingRoom we did the Easter thing - yes, in one night we did Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday - all in one.

I was tempted to just choose one aspect of Easter but in the end decided to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

I printed off the last few chapters of each of the Gospels from (basically the stories from the Last Supper onwards) from Bible Gateway and then basically cut them up into short bite sized mini stories/passages. By 'cut them up' I literally mean I cut them with scissors.

So tonight after our meal together we all sat around in a circle (it was squashy tonight cause we had 6 new people with us) and in the middle of the room I placed all the bite sized segments from the four gospels - there must have been about 40 of them.

I invited people to choose one or two of the stories to contemplate for the next 10-15 minutes. The invitation I gave was as follows:

Take the next few minutes to quietly read over the story/ies that you've selected.

Read them over a few times and ponder what you hear. Allow your mind to go in whatever direction the passage takes it. You might like to use some of the following questions as starting points.

• What words or statements ring in your ears after reading this passage?
• What does it leave your wondering?
• What does it leave your feeling?
• Does it call you to some sort of response?
• Where do you see yourself in the story?
• What hadn't you noticed before?
• What does it teach you about God?
• What does it tell you about yourself and humanity?


At the end of the time of contemplation I invited people to read out one of their passages and if they'd like to share where their contemplations led them.

So as people shared we pretty much heard the full account of the last day of Jesus life through to the resurrection accounts (although we did them in a kind of random order - which was quite interesting in itself) along with people's impressions, ponderings, challenges. It was like a 20 point sermon (as there were 20 of us there).

I found the whole exercise quite interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly the reflection on a short passage was an interesting exercise as it really focused me in on one story quite intensely (I looked at the Garden of Gethsemane). But then to step back and hear such a variety of interconnected stories and reflections was quite powerful for me. I was struck by the amazing array of emotions that were expressed by different people featured in the stories - the rollercoaster ride that these few days must have been for Jesus, his disciples and those around them.

Postcards from the Corporate World

23 March, 2005 1:36 PM

Forge CatalystThose of your in Melbourne might be interested in this event being held on 7 April on Business and Spirituality. Check out the blurb below or click the picture to the left to download a short PDF with details.

Christianity’s relationship with the business world seems to be tenuous at best. Christians who are not directly involved in some form of local church leadership often feel alienated and experience a profound sense of invalidation insofar as their church experience is concerned. It seems as though Christians who feel alive in business have no place in the church.

How do we move beyond this awkward relationship to a place where Christians in business are connected to their sense of vocation and calling, a sense that their activities in the business sphere could somehow intersect with God’s Kingdom agenda?

Postcards from the Corporate World
is a window into a chaordic network called Catalyst Innovations, a member network of the Forge Mission Training Network. Founded by Paul Steele, Col Duthie in conversation with Alan Hirsch, Catalyst seeks to create a supportive and creative environment that nurtures entrepreneurial business leadership that will hopefully lead to the redemption of one of the most influential spheres we experience, the business world.

Paul Steele and Stephen Said will facilitate the evening. Stephen will be introducing Catalyst, and describing the innovative relationship between Forge and Catalyst, including the entrepreneurial internship run in partnership with Forge. Paul will be facilitating a conversation around the notion of Transformational Business, one of the key concepts at the heart of the Catalyst Network, and a source of liberation for many Christians in business.

DATE: Thursday April 7 th
WHERE: Retro Cafe 413 Brunswick Street Fitzroy (upstairs)
TIME: 7.30pm - 9pm or come at 6.30pm for dinner (cafe prices) COST: $10 for students and $15 for workers
MORE INFO: Contact me

Who was Jesus?

23 March, 2005 9:34 AM

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Who was Jesus?

He began His ministry by being hungry, yet He is the Bread of Life.
Jesus ended His earthly ministry by being thirsty, yet He is the Living Water.
Jesus was weary, yet He is our rest.
Jesus paid tribute, yet He is the King.
Jesus was accused of having a demon, yet He cast out demons.
Jesus wept, yet He wipes away our tears.
Jesus was sold for thirty pieces of silver, yet He redeemed the world.
Jesus was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, yet He is the Good Shepherd.
Jesus died, yet by His death He destroyed the power of death.

Gregory of Nazianzus, A.D. 381

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Festival Victoria?

21 March, 2005 12:53 PM

I've held off on posting about this until the event was over - but today I feel its appropriate to say a few words about it. I hope this doesn't come across as a Rant - but I've been pondering it for a while and wonder if perhaps the Church needs to think through its approach to marketing.... let me explain...

This weekend was 'Festival Victoria' (Victoria is the state I live in).

It sounds like a pretty normal event really - like the 'comedy festival', the 'fashion festival', the 'film festival' - Melbourne has a lot of festivals so 'Festival Victoria' fits in doesn't it.

The question is - what is 'Festival Victoria'?

If you're a semi observant Melbournian you'd have noticed posters plastered all over Melbourne about 'Festival Victoria' for the past few months - there have been radio ads also this past week or so on some of the commercial stations and I suspect there were ads in newspapers and perhaps even on TV. They were all advertising 'Festival Victoria'.

But what is 'Festival Victoria'?

The first ad I saw for it was a poster plastered on the brickwork on the outside of a local cafe with all the other posters there advertising upcoming rock concerts. Right in the middle was an ad for Festival Victoria that advertised a 'Hip Hop' concert with a number of bands. The art work was in red, black and white and it stood out from the posters around it. I didn't take much more notice of the poster than that - not being into Hip Hop.

Then I started seeing ads on the sides of bus stops again in Red and White. With big words like 'IS', 'GET' and 'WHAT' with smaller writing around them advertising Festival Victoria. They had messages on them like 'IS there more to life than this...', 'WHAT if there is life after death?' Underneath these ads was a picture of some guy I didn't recognize who had a name that at first didn't mean anything to me - Franklin Graham. They were promoting some event with music, entertainment and 'featuring Franklin Graham'.

The next I heard about it was on the Radio - a commercial station that plays light rock/pop music. The ad was for 'Festival Victoria' which was an event with bands, famous sports stars (with messages on video clips) and musicians and 'featuring Franklin Graham'. Of course by now I knew what Festival Victoria was because a number of my minister friends had asked me if I was going and had explained that Franklin Graham was actually Billy Graham's son and that the event was a big evangelism weekend - it was a modern day 'Crusade' - a... Festival.

They gave me brochures, pointed me to the website and told me there were ads on the Christian Radio Station advertising it too. I tuned into the Christian radio station to see what they were saying there and heard an ad that was quite different from what was on the commercial stations - it was spelt out much more clearly what the event was - it was something to bring unsaved friends to - there would be preaching, prayer, worship.

I checked out the website and saw similar language being used - 'prayer over Melbourne', 'preaching of the word' etc.

Interesting. I began to ponder the different messages I was hearing and as I did became more and more uncomfortable with was I was seeing and hearing.

Whilst I am totally behind the idea of evangelism and mission - I worry that the marketing and promotion that is being done of this event could be seen as somewhat manipulative and getting people to attend under false pretenses.

As far as I could see on the more public advertising on posters, billboards and radio - there was very little indication that this was a Christian event, that there would be preaching, prayer, worship or a call to faith given. There were a few hints that there might be something a little deeper going on - for instance the radio ad said that the sporting stars appearing on video would tell stories about what they'd found to be helpful for their lives (thats a paraphrase) - but really the statement was open to interpretation.

I mentioned my concerns to one of my minister friends and his defense of the Festival was that it was clear that Franklin Graham was going to be speaking and 'eveyone knows who Franklin Graham is'. The implication was that his name would be enough indication for people to know what the event was about. Of course until someone told me I didn't even know who he was - and I've been hanging out in church for 32 years - I'm not sure any of my non churchy type friends would have any idea.

I questioned the use of the word 'Festival' and was told it was a more relevant word these days than 'Crusade'. I agree - its a more relevant word - but wonder if perhaps its been used to mask what the event really is.

The word Festival does get used a lot in Melbourne - but it usually gets used in conjunction with a word that describes what the event is - 'Film Festival', 'Comedy Festival' to name just two examples. 'Festival Victoria' - what's that say about the event?

Ok - I'm probably sounding like I hate the idea of 'Festival Victoria' by now. I don't - I just have some concerns about the way it was marketed. I know of people who went along and enjoyed it, that took friends who had conversion experiences - I think thats great.

We could probably have a good discussion about the place of event evangelism vs relationship evangelism at this point. I personally don't find the big 'event' style fits with my own experience of evangelism - but do acknowledge that it has its place and has obviously had an impact upon many people over the centuries - however I do have a problem with people showing up to an event thinking that its going to be one thing and finding out when they get there that its another.

How many people showed up to the 'Hip Hop event' expecting a night of 'Hip Hop' only to find that as a special extra they actually get a message from a middle aged (and probably very nice) man from another country telling them about Jesus?

Now I'm not wanting to doubt that God can't move through a middle aged man from another country sharing the gospel to a bunch of hip hoppers (is that what you call hip hop fans?) - but I wonder how transparent and genuine it is. I wonder what the cost of such an approach is on the Hip Hoppers who don't respond to the gospel positively - the one's who go home furious about being sucked in possibly a step further away from Christ when they went to the event?

Again - I'm speaking as someone who is passionate about mission and as someone who didn't attend - but as someone who works among people who are skeptical enough about the Church without having to be exposed to this kind of marketing campaign.

Ok - I'm happy to be put back into line here and have others share opinions and experiences of Festival Victoria - am I a looney for thinking this way?

American Idol Winner

19 March, 2005 1:57 PM

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American Idol this year is hotting up after a great competition last year when Fantasia Barrino became the American Idol Winner in front after 65 million Americans cast their votes.

This year the American Idol Results will make the winner either 21 year old Carrie Underwood from Checotah (OK) or 29 year old Bo Bice from Helena (AL).

The competition to be the American Idol Winner is hot - with internet polls at American Idol Blog neck and neck. At the time of publishing this Bo Bice was just edging out Carrie Underwood - but really the American Idol Crown is anyone's!

Update - The Winner of American Idol this year is Carrie Underwood.

Last to leave American Idol this year was 20 year old Vonzell Solomon from Fort Myers.

'A postal letter carrier, Solomon endeared herself to fans with her emotional openness. Always an underdog, she had tried out once before for "Idol" but was rejected. This time, she made it all the way to the top three, which is sure to yield her a recording contract.

"My 'American Idol' journey has been crazy - a lot of emotions balled up into one. But it's been all worth it," Solomon said in a video montage played after host Ryan Seacrest announced that she had received the fewest votes.'

- Source