Living Room Archives
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5 May, 2006 1:22 PM
The last two weeks at LivingRoom have been good fun.
Two weeks ago was our 'big gathering' where both groups come together. We had Kim Hammond from Forge Victoria come along to share his story. Kim is a great guy who has taken on Forge Victoria's leadership and is helping it as a network to continue to grow into new areas. He's also a church planter of a church called The Junction which is quite similar to LivingRoom but meats out in the South Eastern areas of Melbourne in a number of groups.
Kim shared his story of growing up, coming to faith and some of his more recent discoveries of thinking through mission and emerging church. Kim's actually heading to the US in the next month or so so if any readers happen to have an opportunity to hear him speak it's well worth while.
Then this week at our LivingRoom group we had a night on 'Everyday Spirituality' where one of our group led us through some reflections on different people's spiritual rhythms. He had asked us to do a little research on a prominent person's faith and how they connected with God in their every day lives. People presented on all kinds of people from contemporary musicians, to sports people, to philosophers, to family members, to prominent Christian writers to old monks from centuries ago. I found it fascinating to hear the variety of things that were brought to the table. It brought home to me the diverse group of people we've got in our little gathering.
19 April, 2006 5:42 PM
Tonight at LivingRoom we're doing another Everyday Spirituality Tour and tonight it's my turn to take the group on a tour of my life. For those unfamiliar with the concept I've written about them here and here previously.
Tonight's tour will start at our place and then progress to a local Vietnamese restaurant that V and I enjoy just down the road where we'll have dinner.
After dinner we'll come back to our place for a walk through my daily life - largely focussed around my computer and blogs. I'll be telling the story of how I came to be a blogger and how I've transitioned from a full time 'minister' to a full time 'blogger' and how in doing so I've discovered God at work in some rather unlikely places! The irony is that somedays I find myself involved in more effective 'ministry' than I felt I was doing as a minister!
Then we'll take a look at some of the photos I've taken in the last few months (another place I find God moving around me lately and an activity that I find leads me to worship).
Along the way we'll hopefully stop for prayer.
Should be a fun night
30 March, 2006 3:12 PM
I spent 45 minutes on Skype this morning with Jon from the Matters of the Heart recording a podcast. The focus of it was LivingRoom and some of the basics of how we run, how we started and how I view other forms of church etc.
Listen to it at Fascinating Approach to Church - Australias Living Room Church (it goes for around 40 minutes - sorry about the echoey recording - might be my microphone).
11 March, 2006 1:22 AM
This past week at LivingRoom was one of our big gatherings (where our two groups came together - something we do every 7 weeks).
The night was a first on two fronts.
Firstly we had a sermon/preaching for the first time in 3 years (since we began). Yep LivingRoom is largely a church without sermons!
It's not that we're anti preaching - we're just experimenting with different ways of communicating, teaching and learning. This has largely happened through discussion, dialogue and different methods of creative communication.
Having said that - we decided that this year we'd have a night occasionally where one person would prepare a presentation or talk on a topic in a more monologue (ish) sort of way. This week was our first time).
The second 'first' was that it was the first time we've talked about money at LivingRoom since starting.
We've mentioned it in passing over the years - but this week we spent the night exploring the issue.
The reasons we've not talked about money so far are numerous but the main two are:
1. We've had no real need to talk about money. We don't have a building, we don't pay any staff and apart from an occasional expense have no need to spend anything.
2. Some of us have been part of churches where money became something of an obsession (or a distraction) from time to time. Some of us have also seen situations where money has been the source of big problems in churches - problem manipulation, division and hurt. This is in a minority of cases of course - but is probably one of the reasons we've kept off the topic.
Despite these reasons we've also had a growing sense as a community that money is something that we should talk about. For one it's a topic that the world we live in talks about constantly and so to think about it from a faith perspective seems a worthwhile discussion to have. The other reason is that the more I read the teaching of Jesus (and other passage of the Bible) the more I see that he talked about the topic.
In fact he talked about money and possessions more than almost any other topic (it's second only to 'the Kingdom of God'). Of course his message was very counter cultural and had many layers (not something you can sum up in a night).
As a result this week we began tackling the topic.
I don't have time to type up what I said here right now - but will attempt to summarize it later in the week.
1 March, 2006 10:29 PM
LivingRoom tonight (our group at least) was another BYO Worship night where each person was invited to bring something along to talk about or lead the rest of the group through as Worship (more explaining how we do it here).
Tonight we did it without a set theme (ie everyone could bring whatever they wanted) but what we did do seemed to have some themes in it.
Our first two parts were both on Lent (one some teaching on what it is with some Ash being put on people's foreheads and the other being a visual representation of Jesus 40 days in the desert).
The next two parts were both guided imagination/meditation/wonderings from Luke (Luke 19: 37-44 and Luke 5:1-11).
They I shared some reflections on a poe by Edna St. Vincent Millay which Brian Mclaren shared last week at a session I attended (the poem is below).
Then someone shared some Tomato Relish with the group that she'd made (yummmmy) and our last part was the story of how one person is feeling drawn to worship though his involvement with sport, both in playing in a team and the involvement that this has opened up in his life and by an opportunity he has to coach a Cricket team of young kids.
All in all I found the night to be both interesting and challenging. I love these nights - to see what people come up with and how the different elements often come together in very complementary ways.
Next week at LivingRoom is our 'Big Gathering' where both of our groups come together (we do that every 6-7 weeks at present). These nights are always fun. I'll be sharing on the topic of 'Generosity'.
The poem from Edna St. Vincent Millay is below:
Upon this age, that never speaks its mind,
This furtive age, this age endowed with power
To wake the moon with footsteps, fit an oar
Into the rowlocks of the wind, and find
What swims before his prow, what swirls behind -
Upon this gifted age, in its dark hour,
Rains from the sky a meteoric shower
Of facts…they lie unquestioned, uncombined.
Wisdom enough to leech us of our ill
Is daily spun; but there exists no loom
To weave it into fabric.
24 February, 2006 11:50 AM
Just had an email question from someone who came across this site. it's a question that I've had on a number of occasions so thought i'd blog my answer:
'I've been traipsing around your site, (niceely constructed, by the way,) and impressed with both the sophistication and honesty of thought that i find. However as seems to be the case with a lot of emerging church talks, blogs etc, there's a lot of talk about mission and being incarnational etc but very little about anything practical that folks may have done....
I would love to have some practical examples of what real incarnational mission can look like.'
I think you're right in your observation but I would suggest that the reason why you probably don't see many examples written about (or at least it's why I don't do it) is for three reasons:
1. I don't write about this type of thing because the missional encounters that I/we have are with people that we love and care about who we don't really want to write in a public setting about. ie for me - a lot of my mission is done through my work which is in the 'virtual world'. Work leads me into all kinds of great relationships of different kinds and levels, but it's not really appropriate to talk about them in this setting (or perhaps any).
2. The other thing is that most of the mission LivingRoom people do is very 'ordinary' and 'everyday' type relational stuff and I suspect this is true for many. Perhaps the idea of writing about the coffees we have with people or the bbq we put on or the food we drop around to someone etc are not very 'bloggable' in most people's minds. It's a tricky one I guess because in a sense incarnation is about 'doing life' with those around you and sometimes that doesn't make very exciting reading :-)
3. Probably the third thing that I'd say is that to this point LivingRoom hasn't really engaged in any formal or program oriented missional activities. For us mission has been much more about the everyday. We're not anti programs, and have talked about doing mission in this way, but to this point we've had a different outworking of our outward journey of faith. Perhaps this is really the same as point 2 above, but I think it'd be easier to write about a program than actual relationships - maybe?
For these reasons I don't really have too many stories to tell.
What does mission and incarnation look like in practice? For me and most of LivingRoom mission is about friendship and relationship. It's about letting our world's collide with each other and getting to know each other's friends. It's about being aware of our community and the issues it faces and challenging ourselves to look for what God is doing around us and to find ways of joining in. It's about going about daily life attempting to find God in the everyday stuff of life - it's about living with 'holy intent' to coin a phrase a friend of mine uses a lot.
In practice this means coffees, bbqs, emails, IM conversations, talks over the fence with neighbors, getting involved with the local sporting club, parties and many other aspects of normal life.
18 January, 2006 11:31 PM
Today was a fun day.
The Australian Open (Tennis) is on and I spent the day with a mate in the sun enjoying some hard hitting.
I took along my camera and had a great time testing out it's zoom (I've posted a handful of the photos I took here).
Tonight was LivingRoom and we went to the Night Market at the Queen Victoria Markets. It was packed (being the balmy summer night that it is).
The night market was full of food stalls, stalls with all manner of handmade goods, entertainment (bands, clowning etc) and a section with an array of new age/spirituality/holistic health stuff going on (lots of Tarot, Readings, All kinds of Massage therapies etc).
I'd prepared a reflective exercise to do but due to the large crowds it didn't quite seem to fit the mood of the evening so we just wandered around, ate, shopped a little and had one of the best sorbet's that I've had for a long time. It was good to see a few of the group who've been away for a while.
I've included a copy of the reflection that I had prepared for us to do for those who are interested (below in PDF - click to enlarge). It was a bit of a rush job so please forgive that - but the basics are that it's something I've used before with groups to consider how God might be interacting in a place that might be seen as 'secular'.
I guess the challenge is to practice spotting what God might be up to around you in the everyday.
22 December, 2005 7:00 PM
This week at LivingRoom we had our Christmas celebration. The night was a good way to end the year.
Each of the three groups came prepared to lead the rest of us through a reflection/activity on Christmas. Our group focused in on Christmas Carols and had some discussion around what resonated (and didn't resonate) for us in a variety of carols. Another group brought a reflection on Christmas in the wider community and then looked at an acronym for the word Christmas (you can read it at Kitty's blog). The other group showed a visual presentation of images from around the world (places where many in that group have been traveling lately) with a reflection on Isaiah 61.
After that we had a thanksgiving time where we reflected upon the things we were thankful for in 2005 at LivingRoom.
Lastly we shared a Kris Kringle gift swap (I got an icecream shop voucher - wooooohoooooo!)
Now LivingRoom has a few weeks off as many are away for their Summer Holidays and the three groups are getting together in January as one larger group for some semi-social nights. We kick off again properly at the beginning of February.
15 November, 2005 11:18 PM
Tonight I went along with one of the LivingRoom groups to visit another church - Eltham Baptist - to talk about LivingRoom and the past two and a half years of doing community in the way we've been exploring it.
It was a great night of meeting new people - some great food - and sharing.
One of the things that talking about LivingRoom always does to me is to force me (us) to think through what we do, why we do it that way, who we are and how things are going.
It also always reminds me just how hard it is to put into words what your community is and how it operates.
All the questions we were asked tonight were asked graciously, insightfully and with a lot of thought and love - however sometimes it's just hard to find words to describe LivingRoom (I guess it would be hard to describe any church in an hour).
All in all though I'm really excited about the opportunity to connect with a more established larger church.
One of the things I've heard numerous newer emerging churches saying lately is that they feel they'd like to interact with other churches more - so tonight was fun and refreshing.
28 October, 2005 10:14 AM
This week at our LivingRoom group we did a BYO worship night.
Bring Your Own Worship is always a meaningful night where each person is invited to bring something to share around a particular theme. This week the theme was Passion.
The idea is that each person considers during the week what they could bring to the group to do for 5-10 minutes (depending upon the size of the group) on the theme. Previously we've had people sing songs they'd written, brought bible passages, brought things that meant something to them, get us doing something hands on and creative, read us passages from books, played us bits of video/cds, taken us on walks around the neighborhood or lead us in meditative exercises.
This week we had a variety of things including:
- A time of complete silence
- A discussion on Food
- A reflection upon Paul's passion in Acts as well as some video footage of Ephesus
- A reflection upon some of Paul's words in Timothy to 'fan the flame'
- A time of communion and reading of the Lords Supper
- Reading of a short article by Henri Nouwen titled From Action to Passion
I always love BYO Worship nights - they tend to be nights of surprises and nights where God's Spirit moves through the variety of reflections and personalities of the group.
22 September, 2005 11:40 AM
Last night at LivingRoom we continued through the Ignition course that we've been doing and I was struck afresh by this quote by the author - Mark Sayers on the topic of Incarnation.
“Jesus in order to complete his mission on earth chose to live amongst us. He lived the life of a human man in a particular time and place, he spoke particular languages and he lived in a particular culture. The gospel writers apart from his first and last few years see his life as so ordinary for that time and place that they do not even record it in any detail. When he begins to preach in his hometown people are shocked, and see him as only the carpenter’s son.”
The challenge was to consider how this might not only be the way Jesus went about life, faith and mission - but how it might shape our approach.
26 August, 2005 4:01 PM
I'd like to introduce my first podcast (or sorts) to LivingRoom. The MP3 file below (just under 4MB and 16 minutes long) is the first in a mini series of recordings that I've done with a good friend of mine - Mark Sayers.
Mark is a local guy that I've come to know and respect in the past few years that is involved in the starting of a new network of churches here in Melbourne called 'Red'. Red emerged out of a church named South Melbourne Restoration Centre (South Melbourne Church of Christ) which has had an amazing influence upon our city over the last decade or two under the leadership of Alan and Debra Hirsch.
Anyway - Mark's a brilliant thinker so when we stumbled upon the idea of recording some interviews with one another talking about our lessons of planting LivingRoom and Red I thought it was too good an opportunity to pass up.
This first recording is Mark interviewing me about how the Core Values of LivingRoom. We explore a little of how we came up with our Values and how we reinforce them etc. In part II of this series I ask Mark some questions about Red's values. I hope you enjoy this - it's pretty basic in terms of quality but we'd like to do more of them if people find them useful. here it is:
Core Values of LivingRoom.mp3
3 August, 2005 11:03 PM
I really enjoyed our LivingRoom gathering tonight. We decided a couple of weeks ago to go through the Ignition course again. I say 'again' because it's a course the original LivingRoom group did 2.5 years ago as founding members. Only V and I have ever done it from out group though so it seemed appropriate to go back and do it again.
For those of you who are not long term readers - Ignition is a 12 week course that walks a small group of people through the book of Acts. It looks at principles of Mission and gives a framework for participants to look at their own missional context by identifying a 'missional exploration or experiment' to reflect upon as they read Acts.
Each week there is a little reading and a reflection to do as individuals before coming together to discuss a different missional principle.
I've done it twice now and found it incredible helpful - especially as a new group meeting together and forming identity as its essentially an extended reflection on the first church and how they formed.
27 July, 2005 11:30 PM
Tonight at LivingRoom we continued to share our 'time lines'. It was V and my turn to share the significant moments of our lives with the group.
It's an interesting idea to walk through your life and to share the highs, lows, epiphanies and lessons from life. In doing so you revisit moments you'd put aside, confront patterns in behavior and hear others reflect back to you what they notice about your sharing.
It's also a real privilege to hear others stories and have your own heard.
It makes me realize just how little in our world people actually take time to stop and listen to the stories of others. It's a real honor to be heard like that - but also unusual and at times an uncomfortable experience - something I'm not used to in a sense. In a world of small talk to share deeply about your own life can at times be something we find ourself out of practice of.
Maybe it's just a male thing, maybe it's a minister thing (we tend to get good at asking others questions and avoid revealing much of our own lives) or maybe it's just a human thing for the time and place we live. Whatever it is it felt good to break through it a little tonight.
12 July, 2005 3:33 PM
I'm looking forward to tomorrow night at LivingRoom when two of our groups will be doing the Labyrinth with eddie from breathing space. Despite doing many similar activities over the years and recommending others go do it, I've not done it myself yet. Should be an interesting and meaningful evening.
7 July, 2005 12:19 AM
Tonight at LivingRoom we got together for our first 'big event' where our three smaller communities got together for the first time since multiplying. It was nice to see everyone (including my own group who we've missed gathering with since being away in June). We also had six visitors along which is always a nice thing.
We started the night off with a couple of people sharing stories from their life (we call it a minute with 'insert name here' - although it generally goes longer than a minute). We also fare-welled and prayed for a family who is going away for six months to Oxford on study leave (very sad).
After those stories we had dinner (soup, bread, wine, tart, salad) and caught up. After dinner each of the three groups talked about their first 5 weeks of meeting separately. The reports were generally positive although the groups being smaller now has both positives (more intimate and participatory) and weaknesses (it's hard when people are away to get things done). The groups have largely been doing some of the things we did when we first started LivingRoom 2.5 years ago. In particular one of the main things we've been doing is 'time lines'/storytelling of our lives to one another. This has been most enlightening for some.
After this sharing time we briefly talked about leadership and then had a time of reflection which I led.
I reflected on being in Turkey and hearing the call to prayer 5 times each day. I actually found the call to prayer to be a very meaningful thing whilst over there (as I have on previous trips to Islamic Countries). The idea of a daily rhythm of prayer that permeates each day is one that captures me every time I consider it.
I've been reflecting upon my own daily rhythms since returning home and wondering where the calls to prayer are in my own life. The calls to stillness, the calls to relationship with God and others, the calls to healthy living and life.
Coming home from holidays is an ideal time to think through one's daily rhythm and to make some changes.
After sharing on this for a while I played an Islamic call to prayer (one of these mp3s) and asked the group to reflect on their own daily rhythms. I also showed them an english translation which I find quite challenging in and of itself.
To hear something like this five times a day from before sunrise until after dusk could be a very meaningful experience that could really help draw one to God - I wonder how I could do something similar in my own day.
1 June, 2005 10:14 PM
Tonight was the first night that LivingRoom met in its new multiplied form (three smaller groups meeting in separate homes). It feels a little strange not seeing the whole group but also quite exciting to recapture some of the intimate aspects of a group of a smaller group. It's sort of like starting again.
It'll be interesting to see how the next few weeks unfold and how things are when we come back together as a large group in five weeks.
I wonder how the other groups went...
19 May, 2005 6:34 PM
I wrote a week or so back about how at LivingRoom we are testing our theory of Multiplication. When we first started as a group we wanted to grow by starting new groups rather than growing into a larger one - the time has come for that as a result of some numerical growth over the past year.
The question we were left with was not one of 'should' we multiple - but one of 'how' do you multiply?
After over two years of journeying with each other we find ourselves in an interesting place - a rich mix of people from different walks of life who've been sharing a few hours together each week in order to resource them for the rest of their lives together.
In thinking and praying about this dilemma I began to realize that the process of choosing how to multiply could become quite complicated. The choice of 'how' to form new groups could be based on many factors - but three main ones seemed to emerge in my thinking.
Logistics - whilst we all like to be postmodern and liquid in these types of communities the fact remains that sometimes we need to consider the life situation of people when making decisions. It's not very sexy I know - but factors like where people live, families (sometimes its easier to meet at the homes of families with younger children) and time availability come into play.
Relationships - there are a range of relational factors to keep in mind. On one hand people would like to be with people they feel comfortable with, that they share interests with, that they are in similar life circumstances to. People like being with people like them - I guess its part of who we are as humans. On the other hand we don't want to just split into homogenous, comfortable, like-minded groups. One of the things we've enjoyed about the journey so far is that we are a bit diverse - by gender, age, work situations, students, families, singles, marrieds etc. We all expressed a desire to find a balance between having diversity but maintaining relationships.
Mission - a couple of weeks ago we had a conversation where people shared their missional heart - the places that God was stimulating them to join him in. One of the suggestions that we've been playing around with was about forming communities around some of these passions, ideas and interests.
So two weeks ago I shared these three areas with the group and we began to sort through the different issues associated with each. The general initial feeling was that all were important, but that most of us were probably more leaning towards the missional and logistical side of things than the relational. I guess we realized that two years ago when we started we didn't know each other as a group and the relationships looked after themselves over time.
That night we came up with three draft lists of possible new groups to think about for a couple of weeks. In the mean time I invited people to give feedback and reactions to these groups via email or in person.
Last night I brought the feedback to the whole group and we tweaked two of the groups to align them even more towards along missional and relational lines. We now have three pretty firm groups!
So - I'm excited, apprehensive, curious and really looking forward to how it all goes.
Next week is our last week before splitting up - at which time we'll move into a new cycle of meeting separately most weeks and then coming back together as a larger tribe semi regularly (maybe monthly initially and then transitioning to every 6 or so weeks).
We still have to address some issues of leadership - but as I look at the three new groups I'm really excited about the mix of people in each. We've managed to keep an element of diversity yet some threads of commonality in each group and each group is made up of wonderful and capable people - each of whom could lead it in their own right.
5 May, 2005 9:48 AM
Last night at LivingRoom we met to talk about how we should grow.
Since starting just over 2 years ago we've grown numerically from a group of 7 (including one child) to a group of 25 (including up to 5 children).
The dynamics have obviously changed in this time - we've gone from meeting around a table to meeting around a lounge room. We've gone from an easy to organize meal to something that requires a roster. We've gone from an intimate group where all can quite naturally find a space to be heard to one where some personality types find it more difficult to speak.
These changes are not necessarily bad - they're just different and have led us to go back to rethinking some of the founding values that we started with.
This week I went back through the notes we made when we first started meeting and was interested to discover that we'd actually named 'smallness' as a value.
Ok - it never made it into our three core values - but it was talked about a lot early on.
I shared last night a little of why we initially valued smallness and as a result named right up front that we wanted to grow by multiplication (starting new groups) rather than by growing into a large group:
- Previous Experiences of Large Church - We were all pretty honest about our previous experiences of church in the early days. While most of us had had pretty positive experiences of churches of all sizes - one of the themes that emerged early on was that we'd seen things in larger churches that left us thirsting for something different (including some of the following). I don't think any of us were (or are) 'anti' large church - we just wanted to experience and try something different.
- Intimacy - We all desired to be in a group that was connected and able to share on a deeper level.
- Community - There was a real sense that people longed for an experience of shared life
- Local Focus - We all initially lived reasonably close to one another and had a real heart for the local area
- Commitment and Participation - Whilst we were keen not to let 'church' dominate and take us away from the rest of our lives - we also desired to be a community committed to one another - to participation (not just attendance) and to unashamedly growing in and exploring our core values.
- Accountability - The group felt that out of the intimacy, community and commitment would come a level of accountability between one another.
- Logistics - There was a desire that we not become a group distracted by the logistics of staff, buildings, resources etc. 'Simplicity' was a word that was used early on a bit.
These things are not impossible in a large church - and they are not guaranteed in a small one. However our theory at the time was that perhaps in a small setting these elements would be a more natural thing. It was an untested theory - but it was something we wanted to test and out of it we made a decision to be a multiplying group.
Nice theory - but is there any truth to it?
Last night we had some good discussion around this question and the general feeling was that as we've grown, these things have become more difficult. Of course as we've grown other wonderful things have happened (there is a sense of momentum, variety, freshness, diversity etc) - however there are some costs to these things also.
So the decision has been made to multiply.
I'll post at some point in the next few days about the dilemma of 'how to multiply'.
21 April, 2005 12:02 AM
Good night tonight again at LivingRoom. We did another Everyday Spirituality Tour of one of our community's members. Going from home, to local shopping strip, to child care centre to work place for a tour of where he spends his days.
I am always amazed at the things that these little tours reveal about people who do them that none of us would ever know without them.
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