Living Room Archives

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Last Night

24 September, 2003 2:37 PM

Last night at Living Room was great. Chrissie led us through a guided meditation. She cleverly combined the crucifiction account with a great little childrens story.

It was really nice to be back with the group after a month away.

Small Things

22 September, 2003 10:11 AM


Sometimes its the smallest things that you miss the most while you're away.

This morning I'm going down to one of our local cafes - The Tin Pot Cafe - for a coffee, its been way too long between lattes!

Update: It was good!

Home

10 August, 2003 9:14 PM

groupsmlr.jpg We're back after a great weekend away. Great people (thats us on the left!), food, conversation and lots of laughing. We made some significant decisions about where we are headed as a community and got to know each other a bit better.

The more I get to know this group the more amazed I am by the way God has brought us together.

Away

8 August, 2003 11:08 PM

We are leaving for our Living Room weekend away first thing tomorrow morning - no blogging for a day or two. But there is plenty to read in the last post's comments and in the current Hot Topic on Alt Worship. Enjoy the dialogue and have a good weekend.

The Living Room hits the Road

7 August, 2003 5:18 PM

This weekend we're going to Barwon Heads as a group for some time away together. It will be a great time of growing relationships, sharing dreams, eating, praying and discussing who, what (etc) is the Living Room!? It will also be the first time that we've spent more than 2-3 hours together as a group which will take us into another dimension!

We are coming to the end of the Ignition course and I'm sensing that we've really been challenged as a group to think about who we are and what we are being called to missionally. The challenge now is to bring some of it together and discern the direction that we're to now head in.

We would value your prayers this weekend as continue our journey.

Neighbourhood House

5 August, 2003 8:55 AM

I'm meeting with a worker at the local Neighbourhood House today for lunch. I'm not really sure what might come from it but am keen to hear more of what they are doing in the local community. From what I hear they run some pretty amazing programs, including teaching English to new arrivals, homework clubs for kids in the local housing estates and other community development activities.

update: The meeting was postponed - nothing further to report.

Experiencing God

30 July, 2003 7:33 AM

Last night at Living Room I personally found myself very aware of Gods presence - more so than I've found previously at group. We prayed for one another and I found myself visualising other group members in their missional contexts - it was very powerful for me to know that each of them are so loved by God and are making a difference in their own places of work, rest, study, play and life. Very cool.

Missional Activity

23 July, 2003 11:36 AM

This morning I had to write a report for the BUV (the denomination that Living Room is birthed out of).

The process is a good one. We are one of the first of many (hopefully) experimental new forms of church that the BUV wants to launch in the next few years and as a result the report is not only about keeping us accountable, but also about learning from the process. I guess we're like R & D for our denomination. (I'm wearing my Lab Tech white coat as we speak)

One of the questions in the report was about what ways we've been engaging our community in mission over the past quarter?

When I first dreamt of Living Room I dreamt of a group of people, all living in a local area engaging in a shared missional activity. One possibility was to be working in one of the local housing estates with children. Another possibility was to set up a gallery space. The possibilities were endless but the vision to focus our missional activities in working together on one (or maybe two) combined missional projects.

After four and a half months of meeting together the idea of combined missional activities has rarely been mentioned. Yet the missional activity of this group is perhaps higher than any that I've ever been a part of before.

Every week we hear stories of opportunities for conversation or acts of love that group members have had in their own personal context. God has been at work in the lives of those we work, socialise, study and live with.

Group members are involved in one primary school, one university (two faculties), 7 work places, one homework programs in a housing estate, a swimming group, 5 houses (including a number of shared houses with non churchy types), a local tennis club, an artist studio, teaching religious education in a school....just to name a few missional contexts. Add to that the developing relationships we each have in our day to day running about down the street with cafe owners, librarians, neighbours and shop assistants and the potential to impact our community is overwhelming.

The exciting thing is that the group is not just going to these places, but that they are actively taking the opportunities to serve, speak and love in these places also.

One day we may (or may not) engage in a more formal shared missional activity in our wider community, but in the mean time we've each got plenty to keep us busy!

Out of the Loop

22 July, 2003 8:19 PM

Tonight Living Room is on - right now they're meeting a few kms away - WITHOUT ME!

The past couple of days I've not been feeling too well - this afternoon my body decided that I should stop pushing it and rest. (I think I caught something from Hamo or Rachel via their blogs)

So here I sit at home alone wondering what my church is doing without me.

Its a strange feeling. On one level there is no reason to be uneasy. Any one of the group is more than capable of facilitating tonight's gathering. I'm sure it will go brilliantly.

Yet its the first time they've met without me and I'm curious as to how its going. I wish I could be a fly on the wall. It would be really fascinating to watch the dynamics without me.

Wish I was with my Living Room family tonight.

Village Life

16 July, 2003 10:02 AM

Some of the local gathering points in our community are in the 'village' shopping strips. These seem like logical places to connect with our wider community. The question is how? buy? rent? use someone elses place?

Has anyone got some spare cash?

Don't worry, I'm not about to put a paypal link on my site or start a blogathon to raise money. I'm not seriously looking for money....well not too seriously.

We live 10 minutes walk from four shopping strips. There are no shopping centres (Malls) close by - we're in the inner suburbs and they are mainly out a bit further) and there is a real 'village' atmosphere in each of the strips.

Each village has its cafe's and arty little gathering points. Some of them have galleries, libraries, doctors surgeries, internet cafes, alternative healing centres, retro furniture shops, bars, pubs and one even has a cinema.

As I've been reflecting in the last few weeks upon the rhythms of our local community I've become more and more convinced that these local shopping strips are key connecting points for us. They are places where people gather, socialise, learn, relax, heal and explore spirituality.

Last night at Living Room I shared a little with some of the group about some ideas that are percolating in my mind. Nothing formal or ordered yet, but some urges really.

I've noticed that in each 'village' that shopfronts are periodically up for lease. Yesterday I saw three in just one street. As I walked past each one I found myself stopping and peering in the window trying to visualise the possibilities of what we could do with such a space. All kinds of ideas flashed through my mind.

Learning centres, Cafes, Galleries, Drop in centres, Tea Houses, Art studios, book shops - spaces for exhibitions, poetry readings, bands, food banks, philosophy discussions, book and movie clubs and story telling - just to name a few ideas.

Our area is very artistic, very alternative, very social justice oriented. There would be many possible ways to connect.

I got excited - I started to dream. But then two things pulled me back.

1. We are only 8 people (with only 3 working full time). We have less than $100 in our little bank account. Property prices in this area are out of control. A shopfront like the ones I'm looking at with a small residence at the back went for over $1,000,000 recently. Even to rent would be a massive monthly outlay. Would such an approach be a responsible use of resources?

2. As I look at the above list of dreams I can identify a place in one of the shopping strips where such activities are already happening, or could easily happen without us having to buy or rent our own space. Would another approach to join with other community groups, to go onto their turf, to build relationships there rather than to expect people to come to our little cool patch?

I can see the pros and cons of each way - wondering if you have any thoughts?

Conversations @ Work

10 July, 2003 9:19 AM

'Hi Darren how are you? I'm glad you could take the shift. How's your wife going? Hows that lounge church thing you're starting?'

Yesterday I got called into a warehouse that I've worked in over the years to do an afternoon shift. The last time I worked there was just before we started Living Room. All my work mates know that I'm a minister and have heard about the new venture that we're starting. Some have even expressed an interest in coming along to see what we do.

I was blown away yesterday that every one of the 9 people I worked alongside during the shift specifically asked about how the 'church thing' was going. I didn't have to start one conversation - the initiative was totally with them. Most of my work mates live fairly alternative lifestyles, they are into all kinds of stuff, but each of them in their own way is prepared to talk on a spiritual level and each of them is more than willing to consider the idea of a new form of church.

The thing that blew me away most was hearing that the reason that they called me in to do the shift was that four of them (including my supervisor) had been talking about me in the lunch room earlier in the week and had been wondering how the church was going. I got the shift purely so they could get an update!

Going back today and tomorrow - can't wait to see where the conversation goes!

Missional Explorations

12 June, 2003 10:31 AM

At Living Room we're up to week 2 of Ignition. Those of you doing it already will know that as part of the process participants identify a 'Missional Exploration' that they will commit themselves to for 12 weeks while they engage with the book of Acts. The exploration can be whatever you like: members of our group are exploring a wide range of things from groups of friends, to a local neighbourhoods, to a local school.

V and I have decided to try to go to one local community activity every week for the next 12 weeks. The suburb where we live (North Fitzroy) is very community focused and there are no end of regular activities to choose from.Our aim is to meet more locals but also its an observational exercise where we want to begin to understand and become a part of the rhythms of our neighbourhood.

So we're going to be getting out and about - bring on the film nights at the local pub, the African drum lessons, the Spanish classes, the poetry readings, the art exhibitions and the men's conversational club! (I still can't find the website....anyone got any ideas!?)

Last night we went to on our first 'exploration' to the local library for a slide presentation by a guy who has travelled in Morocco (where we'll be travelling in August). Whilst no real opportunities to build relationships with others arose, I did find it very interesting to observe the number of people willing to come out on a cold night to their local library to hear an old guy talk about a holiday he took 10 years ago! The presentation itself wasn't that fantastic, yet about 40 people of all ages and stages of life showed up and seemed to enjoy the gathering.

People are obviously interested going to such evenings to hear stories, experience other cultures and to meet other locals....nothing staggering about that observation I know, but an interesting one to put in the mental filing cabinet as we think about how Living Room will interact with its neighbourhood.

Local Focus II

21 May, 2003 9:43 AM

There is some good discussion here a few posts back on the localised focus of church and if its still for today.

I chatted with some of the Living Roomies over dinner last night about it. I guess part of the reason we've come up with the 'bike ride away' 'rule' is that a number of our group choose to ride bikes and not drive cars. Along side of this, we have chosen to meet in each others homes and local cafes - so to lose the local focus would be to run the risk of exluding some.

I can see Steve's point in comments though about how cities now days operate according to the laws of 'the car'. The definition of 'community' changed considerably when people started having the ability to travel quickly and cheaply. Still interested in others thoughts.....its an important conversation.

Local Focus

20 May, 2003 9:03 AM

One of the few decisions we've made in terms of who can be a part of the Living Room is that we strongly desire all participants to live in our local area. The criteria is that people live within a bike ride of the rest of the group. (I looked on the map yesterday and we all live within 4-5kms of each other - so its not extremely localised) We've already been approached by a number of Christian people outside this area who have expressed interest in joining us who we've suggested we may not be the best community for them while they live where they do.

Our reasoning for this localised focus is twofold.

Firstly, we believe it will help build community. Journeying together is one of our three core journeys and so we desire to be involved in each others lives on a week to week and even day to day basis. Living in the same neighbourhoods should help in this.

Secondly, we hope it will help us in another of our core journey's - that of the 'outward journey' where we desire to impact our community. Its our desire to make a difference to the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne and think that that can be done best by people living there. Incarnation might be the missiological word, we just think it makes sense.

One of the dangers I have seen with other new forms of church is that they can attract alot of 'tourists' who travel in from other areas to be a part of the 'latest new thing' but who have little committment to stay for the long haul. I wonder if a more local focus will limit this?

I'm interested to hear what others think about having a localised focus? What are the advantages and disadvantages that you see in this? What is your experience of it?

The Death of Community

2 May, 2003 9:27 AM

On Tuesday night at Living Room we had a rich discussion about Community.

We started by examining Zygmunt Bauman's notion that Community no longer truely exists. That while its something that we all yearn for, its unfortunately not available to us in the world we find ourselves living.

It was an amazing discussion - we really got our teeth into some cultural observation and fleshed out how Individualism, Consumerism, Transcience, Globalisation etc have all made building community a difficult thing.

I think we all came to the conclusion that we agreed with Zygmunt in many ways. In its purest form perhaps community is unattainable.

Yet, perhaps paradoxically we also all feel strongly that it is a call of Jesus and therefore one of our three core journeys for the Living Room. Its one of those Kindgom principles that we are called to strive for in the present, but that won't fully and purely be realised until the Kingdom of God is fully realised.

Its a strange feeling to make a strong committment to something that you believe will never fully be realised in this life.

Easter Reflections II

16 April, 2003 9:59 AM

Last night we did our Easter reflections (as outlined here. I think the others found it good - I personally was challenged by it. The 7 sayings of Jesus really have struck me in the past 48 hours.

To me they speak of both the Divinity and the Humanity of Christ.

'Father Forgive them for they know not what they do.' What an amazing statement! Its one I'm not sure I can actually relate to being able to say! I get so peeved when someone does something small against me - but to say it about your torturer, your killer....

'I am thirsty.' Now that is a statement I know about and can relate to. Its a very 'human' thing to say - I can almost feel my mouth drying up as I think about it.

'My God my God - why have your Forsaken me?' That hits me hard every time - there are so many implications of that statement...to me it speaks of both his humanity and divinity all in one. It speaks to me of the brokenness and fracturing of the God-Head. I cannot fully comprehend it.

I really enjoyed the discussion last night after we took in the images and statements and took the bread and the wine. It was great to see how it had affected us each differently.

Easter Tuesday

15 April, 2003 11:49 AM

Tonight Living Room meets for its first ever Easter gathering. It feels a little strange doing it on a Tuesday but thats the way its worked out for us. We will all be away over the coming weekend so we decided to do it tonight.

While I was at camp this past weekend I did a bit of work on a powerpoint reflection focusing upon the last sayings of Jesus upon the cross. Imagine my surprise to log onto Rachel's blog last night to find she's linked to a similar, but much more technologically advanced series of macromedia presentations at ReJesus. They are releasing one saying of Jesus every day for holy week. Its worth a look! (as you watch you'll get a feel for what i've prepared for tonight, except mine is just a series of crucifiction images/text and probably a radiohead or massive attack track behind it...no cool English accent either)

Above image found at Chalk Painting

Week 3 in the Living Room

2 April, 2003 11:00 AM

LR met for the third time last night - I'm really enjoying our Tuesday night meals together. Great food, great company and great discussion.

Our discussion last night focused in on Core Values again - we basically each shared the important aspects of what Church means for us with one another.

As with last week there were some interesting common themes that emerged and from my perspective some real potential for connection between us all.

Our homework this week is to each take the list of our collective thoughts away to spend some time praying with, discerning and looking for the central themes. Its our hope that we'll be able to refine it into something that will give us a framework to move forward as a community of faith.

As we prayed together last night I got a strong sense that as we do this exercise we need to continue to not only look at 'our' core values - but really focus in on seeking what God values. I am going to spend a bit of time this week taking another look at some of Jesus teaching on the Kingdom of God - I am continually challenged by it and strongly believe that it should inform the way we do church. Afterall Jesus didn't really talk much about church - rather the Kingdom was central to his preaching.

Time Lines

25 March, 2003 10:01 PM

Last night at our Living Room gathering we did an interesting exercise to help us think through our core values/DNA. Its one I've taken groups through many times before but it was still worth while.

I asked the group to draw a time line of their lives marking on them their key experiences, relationships, decisions and events that have brought them to the point where they currently are in their spiritual journey. Out of our time lines we each looked at the themes and influences that have shaped us. We talked a little about the values we've taken on from from key individuals and organisations and also those that we've reacted against and rejected.

It was also great just to hear each others stories - I was astounded by some of the depth of the sharing from a group who've largely only met one another once before!

Next week we'll continue and extend the conversation as we begin to see how our values connect. Should be fun.

Living in Heaven

22 March, 2003 12:37 PM

I've received a few emails of late (I love getting them from fellow bloggers so please feel free to shoot me one - I wont publish it unless you give me the go ahead!) asking me to tell them what the area I'm living in is like. So I thought I'd try to give you a bit of a picture (in words) of what this part of Melbourne is like - I personally think its like living in heaven - but I'm biased.

I like in North Fitzroy which is sandwiched between North Carlton and Clifton Hill - about 30 minutes walk to the centre of Melbourne's CBD. The area was originally an area that would have been fairly low socio economic in population with lots of little Victorian terraces - cottages really.

However things have changed - this area has become somewhat yuppiefied and the little cottages have become much sought after and most have been renovated. Its a pretty trendy part of town to live in with some amazing parks, beautiful architecture and an incredible array of eating and drinking establishments. The range of cafes, restaurants and hotels is stunning. I'm sure you could eat in a different one every day of the year and still not get through them all.

Housing prices have gone through the roof over the past couple of years as a result of the increased interest in the area. This has caused some problems in the area as there is a real shortage of affordable housing.

Mingled amongst the million dollar plus 'mini mansions' of the area are quite a number of public housing estates. Some are high rise blocks others are low density estates. The demand for this housing is out of control. Its quite a unique part of town because its quite common to have people at both ends of the socio economic extremes living side by side - generally in harmony.

As I walk down the busiest street in our area (Brunswick St) I'm be confronted with the most amazing sites, smells and sounds. This is one of my favourite streets in the world - the international variety of food and drink on offer is staggering - but so is the real sense of community I get there. Its a fairly 'edgy, alternative, bohemian' crowd - but its also incredibly accepting of 'all sorts' of people. The inclusivity is quite challenging to me as I compare it with how many churches operate.

Social Justice is one thing that is very evident in this region. The environmentally friendly political party 'the Greens' generally does pretty well around here. Social groups like 'Amnesty International' are also active.

The council municipality that I live in (city of Yarra) is very multicultural. The nationalities represented is quite staggering. There is quite a large population of older European residents, especially Italians and Greeks - but there is also a growing number of people from Asia, Africa and the Middle East - many coming seeking asylum.

The Arts are an important aspect of life here. Local movie theatres do a roaring trade, generally focusing upon alternative type films. Artist studios and galleries are dotted throughout the streets and a variety of live music is on tap most nights.

I love my city and the area of it that I live in. It is not perfect - there are real elements of greed and consumerism reflected in the 'yuppieness' but there is also some really 'Godly' characteristics being demonstrated in this community.

I see so many ways that 'Living Room' can connect with the wider community here and am excited at the opportunities.

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