Living Room Archives

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Living Room Is Better than Church

29 December, 2003 1:20 PM

You heard it here first!

Yesterday around lunch we were talking a 'church songs' and V mentioned the song 'Father Abraham'. Everyone immediately knew what song she was talking about except 'Yol', the youngest member of Livingroom . Her dad explained to her that we were talking about 'church songs'. Then he said - I guess you havn't been around church too much.

Yol immediately came back with the statement - 'Oh, I like Livingroom much better than church!'

Makes you wonder about what we're doing - and about what her experience of 'church' is....hmmmm. Glad we're appealing to the 10 year old demographic!

Sing, sing a song

22 December, 2003 7:28 AM

On Sunday night V and I went to my old church to drop off the presents from last night. It was really nice to go back. They did a little interview with me to hear a bit about how Living Room is going. They also generously gave us a gift which was a complete surprise and greatly appreciated. The church there has a lot going for it and are very supportive of new things.

It was a strange feeling to be back in a 'contemporary worship' service (full of Christmas Carols) after 10 months of Living Room. It is only the second time I've sung a song corporately since February. I personally don't mind singing (although Carols are not my favorite) - I even used to worship lead occasionally - but I realized tonight that I haven't really missed it much at all. In fact it is quite refreshing to be a part of a community that has deliberately chosen to find other creative ways to worship.

By no means have we found all the answers when it comes to worship. We need to grow a heap more in it and will continue to experiment and explore - but I'm enjoying the journey.

Living Room Christmas Party

21 December, 2003 9:39 AM

candles.jpgOur 'redemptive party' last night went really well. About 30 friends of Living Room showed up from a variety of different places - some were churched others not.

It was an informal night of great food (V cooked up a storm), good music, interesting conversation, lots of laughter and a chance to reflect upon the birth of Jesus.

We invited people to bring a gift for a child in need. Tonight I'll take about 40 gifts over to an organization who works with refugees, families affected by drug dependancy and homeless people.

We also set up a place on our landing for people to reflect upon Jesus as 'the light of the world' - basically it was a spot to light a candle and read poems/prayers. It was really nice to see people taking time out from the party's center to light a candle.

Lastly we had a series of projected images shot up onto a wall where people walked in that picked up the Christmas story as depicted in art throughout the centuries. It was the thing that seemed to grab peoples attention the most.

I had some great conversations with a number of people on the edges of our community - one of whom has just decided to become a follower of Jesus after years of relationship with two members of the Living Room. Its been really exciting to be able to share some of her walk over the past few weeks since making that decision. Its brought a real life to the group as a whole.

Overall the night was a lot of work - we are very tired this morning - but well worth the effort.

Now....back to the cleaning up process!

Christmas Imagery

18 December, 2003 5:01 PM

Today among other things I've been putting together a visual display for this Saturday night's Christmas gathering. I want to have a series of images and videos rotate throughout the night on a projector that give people reason to reflect on Christmas. I want to put together a variety of traditional, modern, abstract, realistic etc images. They focus is Jesus - but not all of them have to depict the Christmas story as such. I'm not wanting to create a somber mood with them as it is a party - but rather to add another element to the night.

In searching for images this afternoon I've been a bit disappointed by the lack of variety. There are heaps of cheesey nativity shots with glowing faces and haloes. Even the donkeys and cattle look positively heavenly in some.

Apart from that I've not found much.

Does anyone have any images or video that they've used or seen? Its getting close to Saturday - I've got the skeleton of a good presentation - but do need a few more images to flesh it out. If its video it needs to be small enough to download via dial-up. Thanks.

Christmas Preparations

16 December, 2003 6:55 PM

Today I've been getting ready for Living Room's Christmas Celebration/Party which is his Saturday night.

As I said in the previous post we're hoping to make it something of a redemptive party by encouraging people to bring a gift for a child in need and by giving people some opportunities for reflection in different parts of our house during the night.

I'm looking for readings, poems, prayers, pictures or simple exercises and meditations that people might be able to engage with. Does anyone have any that they've used or written? I've got a growing collection of ideas, but am open to suggestions if anyone has anything that might be useful.

Advent at Living Room

3 December, 2003 9:53 AM

Last night at Living Room we had another rich time.

Rachel and Regan came and after main course (vegetarian BBQ) shared a little bit about their journey and especially their last year of going to Graceway. It was interesting to hear about a church that seems to be on a very similar journey to us - except that they are 9 years into it and we are only 9 months along the way. I found it really encouraging to see some very common threads.

After that we did a simple Advent meditation. Here is a brief outline:

- Brief Explanation of Advent
- Silence - people were encouraged to reflect on their day/week - in the style of Examen
- Reading - John 1:1-18
- Silence
- Reading and Prayer - 'The Great Reversal' from Alternative Worship (p15) Sharing of bread and wine
- Prayer for one another

We then shared the rest of our meal together (fruit platter and peppermint tea) and continued to chat. For me the talking after it was all over was best - filled with surprises and evidence of God at work in the lives of Living Room members and their friends. God is so Good.

Sermon on the Mount Mtt 5: 17-30

26 November, 2003 8:21 AM

We had another great discussion last night on the Sermon on the Mount. I think we are all challenged by the way Jesus spoke in this passage. His call goes beyond the way Christianity is so often presented.

Sometimes I wonder if we water down the gospel for today and gloss over some of his central teaching.

Can't talk too much at the moment as I'm off to a day of important meetings - would value your prayers today. Big decisions to be made (not Living Room related) - might be able to share more soon.

By the way - thanks for your questions a couple of posts back - I am looking forward to answering them - feel free to add more!

Living Room Redemptive Party

19 November, 2003 7:34 AM

Last night at Living Room we continued our discussion on parties. We decided to have a Living Room Christmas Party.

Our hope is that it will be more than just an end of year breakup but that it will something of a Redemptive Party.

There are three main ways we want to be intentional about this:

1. We will be inviting those on the fringes of our group in an attempt to let our world collide a little. We hope this will help us to get to know one another's friends and allow us to explore more of what it is to do evangelism as a community and not just individuals.

2. There will be a simple reflection/worship experience for party goers to participate in at their convenience during the night. This will probably take the form of a candle lighting ritual (around the theme of the 'light of the world') and perhaps some reflections (both written and artistic) to be posted around the party rooms for party goers to be stimulated as they party.

3. Party goers will be invited to bring a gift for a child. These presents will be donated to a Melbourne organization that works with refugees, the poor and displaced people.

It is unlikely that there will be any formal time where the party will be stopped so that we can do anything planned corporately - rather its hoped that the above elements will enable the night to not only be fun but a meaningful and life giving experience to all concerned.

Interested in your thoughts.

A Salty Metaphor

18 November, 2003 1:20 PM

Tonight at Living Room we are continuing our series on The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) by looking at Mtt 5:13-16 (and maybe Mtt 17-20 if we get time).

The words 'You are the Salt of the World/Earth' have struck me afresh as I've contemplated the passage this morning in preparation. A number of things are buzzing around my little head:

1. We don't get any choice in the matter - we are Salt. The choice comes in how (and if) we express this saltiness.

2. We are the Earth/World's salt. Our relationship to the world is central to Jesus in this description.

3. Salt is useless unless it interacts with another substance. On its own it does very little. It cannot enhance food's flavor or preserve food (as it was used in Jesus day) unless it comes into contact with that food. As Salt we are useless unless we interact with our World (or as some have said - get out of the salt shaker).

4. My memory of chemistry is that salt is a stable compound that can't lose its 'saltiness' by itself. The only way it can lose it's taste is to be diluted and mixed with other compounds. (water, dirt...anything) The danger in 'interacting with our world' is that we become diluted as we mix into it.

5. As I look at how many Christians interact with the world today I wonder if many fall into two camps. Either they remain in the 'salt shaker' (or their holy huddles) and don't interact with the world they live in for fear of being contaminated or they become so mixed up with the world that they become somewhat diluted. Instead of having an impact on the world the world dominates them and they lose their saltiness. I guess balance is sometimes hard but so much of Jesus message calls for it.



I really enjoyed tonight's discussion on Mtt 5:13-16 (yeah we only got through the four verses). Some really great things came out of our discussion - here are some of things we discussed:

In addition to the above we talked a lot about the struggle that all of us have to find that balance between losing our saltiness and removing ourselves from the 'earth' altogether. Its all very nice in theory but when it comes down to living it its bloody hard.

A few other things that came out of our discussion:

6. In the context Jesus was speaking into both salt and light were very valuable commodities. Salt was even used as currency and was seen in ancient Greek culture as divine. When we hear that we are 'salt and light' I think we miss some of the significance of what that means as we take both for granted.

7. Similarly both salt and light were essential components of life in Jesus day (as they are today). Those listening to Jesus would have known the implications of a life without access to them. Without salt they would not be able to preserve food - meat would rot within hours. To say to his followers that they were the salt and light of the world is actually to say to them that they are to play central roles in the world. He bestows on them (and us) an incredible honor, privilege and also responsibility.

8. When added to food salt gently permeates it and brings out the flavor of what is already there. When you serve up the meal you generally can taste the effect of the salt but would be pushed to identify where it is - you can't see it too much. Perhaps this is a model of how we should approach our world - mix through it - permeate - draw out the flavors and be a part of enhancing it.

Thanks for your comments so far - feel free to leave of your reflections.

Philipino Challenges

12 November, 2003 11:32 PM

Last night at Living Room we had our Philipino Guests spend the night with us.

It was fantastic to see them again after almost two years since I was in Manila. Their stories were really inspiring. One of the guys (Sherwin) who shared was a 24 year old who lives in one of Manila's slums. When he was 19 years old both his parents deserted him and his 5 brothers and sisters. Since that time he's been the parent of his family. His youngest sister (who was 3 at the time) had a severe cleft palate and needed quite intense care.

Sherwin now lives in a tiny house (from memory of my visit its around 3 meters by 5 meters maximum) with 10 others from his extended family. They are all between the ages of 6 and 25! He gets up at 4am every morning to get his siblings off to school and doesn't get to bed until after 11pm most nights after a day of study (he is at college studying teaching), volunteering at a mission organization and working in the evenings for a youth organization.

Sherwin's story and faith was inspiring to me. Please pray for him and his family as they continue to struggle through their circumstances. Despite things being incredibly tough for them they are on the improve in many ways. Sherwin has been sponsored by a family here in Melbourne for many years as are a number of his siblings. This enables them to get a good education and provides them with some basics of life. His youngest sister has also been the recipient of sponsorship to enable her to have an operation for her face. She is doing a lot better.

I also heard last night that Slick who I previously blogged about has been taken into care by a government social welfare department. The workers we travelled with in Manila have lost contact with him but trust that he is ok.

Living Room Guests

11 November, 2003 8:09 AM

Almost two years ago I was privileged enough to be able to visit the Philippines on a missions trip. We spent a lot of time with a group of Christians from an organization called International Needs.

Tonight some of them are coming to Living Room. To share with about the work they do. I'm really looking forward to seeing them as they are amazing people. Its a little strange to think that last time we saw each other it was in one of the poorest places in the world - a Manilla Slum - and tonight I'll be entertaining Aussie style in our modest (by Australian standards) yet ridiculously big lavish (in the scheme of things) home.

Redemptive Parties

7 November, 2003 7:41 PM

Andrew and Jason have been talking about Partying and Church. Andrew writes:

It might be better to have a party that is redemptive than having a boring service that has moments of drama/fun.

I agree - its something that I've been thinking about a lot lately. I commented on Jasons blog:

We've had a couple of LivingRoom parties lately and they have been excellent. The girls in our group had a Breast Health Party (I wasn't invited) - and we also had a party to raise money and awareness of refugee issues. Both were very small but went well. And heaps of fun too.

We're also planning a Christmas one for the end of the year....

The thing I love about the party is that it is usually an inclusive gathering where people let their worlds collide. Friends of friends meet and become friends. We've been talking about the idea of the community as the evangelist rather than the individual and parties lend themselves to this idea.

Parties are also a celebration of life. They are a part of the natural rhythm of life and a 'normal' place for people to go, be themselves and interact.

What do you think?

Update: Michael is also talking about the same thing.

Update - we had our Christmas Redemptive party

Fuzzy Logic Bible Study

4 November, 2003 7:46 AM

Tonight at Living Room we're going to have a Fuzzy Logic Bible Study on the Beatitudes. I'm looking forward to getting out of my comfort zone a little and looking at this well known passage through the eyes of someone very unlike me.

Update: Although we were a little down on numbers tonight the above exercise went really well. Those participating in the discussion included George W Bush, Mother Theresa, Pauline Hanson, a Homeless gentleman and a 9 year old refugee girl. The discussion was really fascinating.

Sermon on the Mount

3 November, 2003 8:02 AM

This week we're going to start a series on the Sermon on the Mount at Living Room.

I guess the motivation for the series is having seen the movie Bonehoeffer as a group a couple of weeks ago.

We were challenged by his call not just to see this teaching of Jesus as an ideal that cannot actually be lived out because its impossible - but as being an actual way to live.

I've looked at the passage many times before but am excited (and a little scared) about what may come out of our learning over the next few weeks together.

What does the Sermon on the Mt mean to you? What are you drawn to in it? What puzzles you about it? How does it mean to live by it to you? Interested in your thoughts.

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.

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!

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).

  • Bonhoeffer

    22 October, 2003 8:59 AM

    bonhoeffer_poster.jpgLast night for Living Room we went to to our local cinema to see Bonhoeffer - the documentary which tells the amazing story of theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

    Having read some of his work I found the film added a new dimension to his writing as it brought alive the circumstances he found himself in. I always knew of his imprisonment by the Nazi regime and his part in the plots to kill Hitler, but seeing the photos and hearing first hand accounts added so much.

    We all left the cinema very challenged by the cost that he paid for his faith. Whilst its no hollywood blockbuster (it is a little dry) its an important and challenging film that I highly recommend. I'd rate it 7.5 out of 10.

    Godly Play - The Aftermath

    8 October, 2003 9:41 AM

    godlyplay.jpg Thanks to those who asked how our Godly Play time went last night in the last posts comments and via email. Thanks also to those who prayed for us last night - I appreciate everyones interest in what we're up to.

    How did it go? - Personally I felt it went really well. The group probably thought I was a little nuts when I started explaining it, but they through themselves into it.

    We used Luke 15 (the parables of the lost sheep, lost coin and lost son). I read each story and then we paused for a time of 'wondering' (as outlined in the last post). I had prepared some of my own 'wonderings' to get the ball rolling, but didn't need them at all as the group took the initiative. The only rule I set at the start was that if you wanted to say something you had to phrase it as an 'I wonder...statement or question. While we played with the passage we also played with play-doh to help us get into a more playful frame of mind. (see pictures)

    godlyplay2.jpgThere were a number of things I liked about the activity.

    * Its an all ages way of engaging with Scripture. Our youngest member Yol (who is 10) got into the play-doh and wondering along with the rest of us and had some good things to contribute to the conversations.

    * The wondering process is actually a very freeing experience. You can wonder anything at all without having to worry about someone correcting you, without having to come up with something deeply profound. Its actually quite fun to do as a group. I also loved that it approached Scripture in a much more imaginative and dreamlike way. Not that I don't like the academic/thinking approach (we're going to do that next week) but sometimes I think we think way way too much about it all. Jesus told stories that evoke the imagination, that leave the listener questioning, that are often open ended - perhaps we need to relearn how to listen to them. Godly play is a good starting point.

    * Its a truly collaborative experience. There will be periods of silence during the activity and then one person will wonder something which will often stimulate a stream of others to wonder things related but adding to the first. It was amazing how quickly we got to some quite profound insights purely though asking questions.

    godlyplay3.jpg* In each of the three parables I felt we really explored well. I tried to write down all the 'wonderings' of the group so I could reflect back to them what they had said - as I look back over the list now I'm quite staggered by the depth we went to and by the new thoughts that came out that I'd never considered before. We ended up looking at each story from a whole heap of perspectives.

    In all it was well worth the effort. In fact I think its something that could be used in all kinds of settings. I'd like to experiment with it in a larger gathering both in small groups and big ones. I think it will be very useful for me in my private reading of the bible and in sermon preparation and I also think it would be good for a worship team trying to plan a service with a particular passage.

    I could talk about this for ages, but I'll leave it at that - if you want to know more about how we did it feel free to converse with me via email or in comments.

    Godly Play

    7 October, 2003 2:07 PM

    Tonight at our weekly LivingRoom gathering we're going have a time of Godly Play.

    I first heard about Godly play when Ian Mobsby blogged about it. It grabbed my attention straight away as it reminded me of the fuzzy logic bible study I've experimented with a few times.

    When Steve blogged about Godly Play in such a positive way I decided it was something worth exploring and experimenting with. Following the links I ended up at which is a site dedicated to sharing a method of helping children engage with Scripture.

    As both Ian and Steve say - to limit this method to being used only with children seems a bit of a pity (although I have no doubt its brilliant with them). To me it seems like a perfect way of helping both children and adults to engage with Scripture in a very postmodern kind of way. It allows people to engage their imaginations, to connect through story and it brings some of the mystery of God into an interaction with Scripture.

    Having said this, I've never done it or seen it done in a group before (or been trained in it) - but this afternoon I gave it a go by myself and found it to be a very rich experience.

    What is Godly Play?

    Well its described on all the above sites better than I can - but the basics of it entail the telling of a story/parable/passage from Scripture and then having times where the group is allowed to 'wonder' out loud.

    In this time anyone can put a 'wondering' to the group.... 'I wonder who was listening to Jesus when he said that?....I wonder why he chose fishermen as disciples?... I wonder what it was like to be a Pharisee?...I wonder why he talked so much about sheep?' You can wonder about anything at all.

    The facilitator can wonder back at participants...'I wonder what makes you wonder that?... I wonder where you see yourself in the story?...'

    The point isn't necessarily to come up with a whole heap of answers or a three point sermon, but to 'play' with the passage, to ask questions, to engage with it, to tease it out, to step inside it and look at it from different perspectives.

    Oh yeah - they 'experts' suggest you use some visual aid that will help bring the story alive. They suggest a sandpit. Might be a bit much for us tonight so we're going to be using play-doh/clay to help us get into the 'play' frame of mind.

    As I said, I'm yet to try it with a group (I'll let you know how it goes tonight) but in preparation I spent some time playing with Luke 15 this afternoon and found myself in a very refreshing and energizing space with God.

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