Living Room Archives
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18 March, 2003 10:35 PM
Tonight was the first meeting of Living Room. It was a really interesting gathering of 6. We range in age from 10 to 30 some things - we have had a diversity of experiences of life and church.
We have decided to continue to meet Tuesday evenings for a meal together. We will spend the next few weeks continuing to get to know one another and to talk about our 'DNA' both as individuals but also as a community, following that we might do the 'Ignition' course.
Whilst I felt the night was a good start I find myself sitting here tonight alone in my actual 'living room' feeling extremely strange. It all seems rather surreal and very fragile. If any of you church planter bods have any words of wisdom feel free to shoot me a comment or email.
Its nice though to finally be moving forward in some tangible ways.
17 March, 2003 3:37 PM
Tomorrow night the Living Room takes another step towards being an actual community as most of the different individuals that I've been talking to about coming on board will come to dinner at our house and meet one another for the first time!
So far the 8 or so people that have committed to the idea have only met V and I.
I'm feeling quite nervous about it although I suspect they will get along pretty well as there are a few common interests that flow through us all. I'm also quite relieved that we are finally kicking off and very keen to get into the regular rhythm of meeting and relating.
Would appreciate your prayers at this time. Will let you know how it goes!
7 March, 2003 12:43 PM
Just sent a new prayer newsletter to our prayer support team. If you wanted to receive it but didn't please email me again. I've lost a few addresses in the swap of computers - sorry about that. New prayer team members are always welcome! Email Me
1 March, 2003 1:42 PM
Looking back on the week that was in Living Room Developments - had a few meetings with people interested in being a part of what we're doing with good results. Seems that we maybe have increased in number from 2 (V and I) to 7 this week! Now if I were good at maths I'd be able to work out the percentage growth....but I'm not. I'm sure in percentage terms it would sound much more impressive!
Seriously though - am excited about the quality people that are putting up their hands to journey with us (and have us share part of their journey) - in fact I'm excited that ANY people are putting up their hands to journey with us....its just a bonus that I get along with them all! Its a real relief to see a two year vision start to eventuate.
25 February, 2003 5:19 PM
The past two days I've spent time talking to two potential Living Room Roomies. Its been exciting to share the vision and hear where they are at. Both have indicated that they want to journey with us - this is very exciting for me, and also a real relief in many ways as I've sometimes found myself wondering what I'm doing - asking 'am I on track?', 'am I deluding myself' etc
Its great to hear that the vision I have connects with others who are also excited by the prospect of doing church in this way together.
29 January, 2003 8:29 AM
I've been toying with some different ideas for the types of gatherings that we'll start off with at the Living Room. As I said in a previous post - I've come up with these 'starting point' gatherings - and desire them to evolve as people join us and interact with the community. I'm interested in your prayerful feedback upon these. They are designed to facilitate our community going on the three journeys of 'inner' (spiritual formation), 'outer' (mission/justice) and 'together' (building community). (see here for more info on these 'journeys'). The gatherings are:
1. Vespers - A short weekly evening prayer gathering designed to give space for deepening individual and communal spiritual formation. (ie focus on 'inner' and 'together' journeys) Leadership of this creative time would be shared by regular attendees and from week to week would include alt worship experiences, meditations upon Scripture, storytelling and some discussion times. The use of the Creative Arts would be encouraged in Vespers and group learning and a hands on approach to prayer would be valued. It is not designed as a teaching time but from time to time may also include some short group learning on relevant topics. Vespers would be a gathering open to all from the local community to participate and could be held in homes, cafes, galleries etc. Vespers is likely to be held early in the evening on a weeknight - some have suggested an early morning time slot also might be suitable.)
2. Mission Cluster - This weekly gathering will be held over an evening (midweek) meal. It is designed to deepen the sense of community and mission (together and outer journeys). The focus of these meetings is upon developing the participants sense of 'call' and 'mission'. (they are similar in style and aim to 'mission groups' developed by 'Church of the Saviour - Washington DC'.) Mission will be explored using bible study, group learning, discussion, sharing and prayer. The style of this time will be based on an 'action relfection' style of learning. The aim of these gatherings is to inspire both corporate and individual missional activities which will be supported and resourced by the group as a whole over time. These gatherings will be held in homes with shared provision of food and hospitality by group members. They will be open to all people wanting to commit to develop a missional outlook. As the initial group grows it will split and another will be birthed.
Missional clusters look like your traditional 'small group' in many ways - however the focus is less upon the development of attendees - rather they exist as much for those who are NOT part of the group as for those that currently do - the focus is much more outward than inward. These groups aim to resource and support attendees for the every day of their lives where they have opportunity to respond to the call of Jesus to service, mission and justice.
3. Sunday Brunch - This monthly (or fortnightly - to be assessed) gathering is designed as an informal time of developing community. It will be held in a local cafe or home and will be an opportunity to mix with both Living Room members and friends, neighbours and family. All will be welcome. No specific planned activities will take place on these occasions, rather the focus will be upon laughter, fun and developing relationships over good food and coffee.
This is all a work in progress - but I'm really looking forward to your thoughts and ideas. Thanks...
27 January, 2003 5:58 PM
Tomorrow its back to work at Doncaster Community Church of Christ for my last week at 4 days per week employment. After this next week I officially start working on the Living Room project and am only at DCCC one day per week. It is an exciting prospect - however also quite terrorfying to know that its actually happening.
I've wanted to plant a church for a couple of years now -actually its been about 5 years since an elder of my previous church prayed for me and sensed that I would be a church planter - but to actually be in a position to do it is rather freaky!
I'm worried about many aspects of this new journey - about if it will ever attract other members (except for my wife...who should be pretty regular :-) - about what direction to take - about the little logistical things like how to fund alot of the set up costs - about the toll it will take upon my family etc etc etc. These things (and others) have been keeping me awake at night a bit.
However mixed with the feelings of fear are some of inspiration and excitement (which also are keeping me awake at night!!!). I do feel a calling to make a difference in the region where I live - to help provide a place where people will connect with God and become reproducing followers of Jesus. I feel excited about the support I'm recieving from my denominations leadership and local churches. I'm excited by the excellent people I've been asking to consider joining us in building this community. I'm appreciative of the 20 or so people that have already joined my prayer support team and the couple of financial supporters that have given generous support. I'm inspired by the direction I feel led to head in in terms of the types of things we'll be undertaking. I'm so appreciative of the support of V, my family, friends and those I've been meeting of late through this blog.
I can't wait to see what is around the corner...
19 January, 2003 1:54 PM
Spent some time the past day or two thinking more about the Living Room and where to from here. The official start date for the Baptist Union of Victoria's grant for the new community is February 1st, just a week or so away now. I've been spending some time the past few weeks talking to individuals that are interested in being a part of what we're doing.
Its a frustrating period for a number of reasons - firstly I'm working for DCCC until the end of the month at 4 days per week which doesn't leave much time for the new venture (this will change at the end of the month when I begin the transition out of DCCC and into the Living Room - something I'm looking forward to. The other frustration is one that is a tension within me that seems to be growing. On one hand I want the community itself to be able to design and shape how it looks itself, but on the other hand people are reluctant to join a community that doesn't have much set in stone yet. They always ask - 'what will it look like?', and generally seem confused and disappointed when I tell them that that is something I'm hoping they can help me explore. Even though many of those I'm talking to are pretty relaxed, post modern, flexible type people, they seem to be thirsting for a bit of structure before they'll pitch their tent with us.
So - in talking with V this morning - I think I'm going to take things a step further and design a couple of weekly simple gatherings that will operate for the first three or so months of the existence of the Living Room. They will not be glitzy, highly programmed formal affairs, but rather will be defined enough to give some structure, but loose enough that they can be torn down and replaced in time with something that the group shapes. They will pick up and run with the three journeys(DNA) of the Living Room (inner journey, outer journey and together journey) and will give us a launching pad for the road ahead. I have some ideas about how they'll look and will blog about them in the week ahead.
My main fear is that my ideas and views will dominate the shaping of the Living Room - but I'm also sensing a need for a period of stronger leadership in these early days. I'm interested to hear the views and ideas of others on the subject and would value your prayers - I'm very aware of the embryonic nature of the Living Room and sense how fragile and vulnerable it is. In this early stage of formation it sometimes feels like touch and go - so I continue to value your support and prayer. Thanks for those of you I know who are already praying!
9 January, 2003 9:53 AM
Thanks so much to those that have emailed so far to say they'd like to join the prayer team. I really appreciate your thoughts and prayers so much. I fell asleep last night extremely happy to know that I'm not alone in my ventures with Dreamland and Living Room. You should receive your emailed newsletters today. Others are welcome to join the team any time.
8 January, 2003 4:28 PM
Sent out letters to potential support team members yesterday. I'm trying to raise up a team that can support me in my new ventures with Dreamland and Living Room. Specifically I asked for Prayer and Finacial Support. I feel SO awkward about asking for money to help fund the Dreamland work - does anywone else struggle with this? Would love to hear peoples views on raising support, how and if you do it etc.
I'm so aware at the moment that in planting this new community I'm out on a limb. Its strange resigning from a secure ministry with hundreds in the congregation to support and care, with 140 years of history behind it and to step into something so small, new and fragile. The realisation that I have is that I need to pray more and I need to be asking others to pray for me too. Will you join my prayer team? If you do I will email semi regular prayer newsletters to keep you up to date with developments.
If you are interested in being a part of either my prayer (or financial) support team I'd be more than happy to email you my newsletter - just shoot me an email here.
30 December, 2002 4:10 PM
Two developments today. Spent some time developing an info brochure for people interested in joining the Living Room team. I've had a few people interested in the community of late so thought it might be good to put something in their hands that communicates the general 'vibe' and latest developments. It will be a fluid document that changes shape as we discover more together. Will attempt to post it somehow soon....Does anyone know anything about posting documents online? Gee I'm a novice.
Secondly met with another person who I was told might be interested in what we're doing with the new community. She was great value. I was surprised by the similarity of the journeys we've been on in our lives. I came away from the conversation stimulated by the direction of our chatting - out of her own journeying she has made alot of really insightful discoveries about church, life and faith. The conversation itself has been a significant step for me, got me thinking - if she were to come on board I'd be very excited!
Tonight is a night with my family - celebrating birthdays of father, sister, brother and wife all at once! Great times!
14 December, 2002 9:25 PM
Living - Possessing life; In active function or use; Of persons who are alive; Full of life, interest, or vitality; True to life; Room - A space that may be occupied; Area separated by walls from other similar parts of the building in which it is located; People present in such an area; Living Room - A space for life
What is the Living Room?
The Living Room is a new experimental church that was birthed by the Baptist Union of Victoria and the Yarra Baptist Churches Network into the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne Australia at the beginning of 2003.
Who are we?
The Living Room is currently a small group of people living 'a bike ride' away from one another in the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne. We range in age from 10 through to our late 30's. We are diverse in both the variety of occupations and courses of study that we are involved in and our previous experiences of church yet we are united in our passion for Jesus and our desire to explore what it means to be followers of him in postmodern Melbourne.
The shape of the Living Room is still emerging and is likely to remain liquid in its form but to this point three broad core values have surfaced as follows:
The Inner Journey – Connection with Christ
a commitment to develop spiritual formation of members. Through culturally relevant and creative forms of prayer, reflection, engaging with Scripture, learning and worship Living Room seeks to create an environment where people grow in their own relationship with God.
The Outer Journey – Connection with our World
a commitment to encourage and resource members on a journey of service justice and mission to others. Living Room seeks to both provide opportunities for corporate mission and to support and resource individuals in their own daily mission. We seek to keep in balance our call to be counter cultural but also Incarnational and Relational in our outward journey.
Together Journey – Connection with One Another
a commitment to travel the inward and outward journeys in community. Living Room seeks to develop inclusive community through, hospitality, inspiration from Scripture, shared life disciplines and intentional involvement in one an others lives.
In beginning to unpack the implications of these journeys we have come to the decision that we would like Living Room to be localised in its focus. A decision has therefore been taken that at present we would like all core participants to live in the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne. Whilst this will exclude some we believe it will enhance our ability to develop community (together journey) and also will make our call to mission more focused.
Living Room currently meets largely in the homes of its members over a weekly evening meal. The form of these gatherings is generally very different in 'feel' and 'content' to most Churches worship services – but they have the same intentions at their heart and aim to develop our 'Three Journeys'. These times include periods of prayer and reflection, discussion, sharing and teaching. For more info see this blog entry on a typical Tuesday night gathering.
It is our hope that these times do not have a purely inward focus but rather resource us for life in the 'real world'. It is also our intention that in future gatherings may also happen in other spaces such as cafes, galleries and other public spaces as we attempt to engage with our local community.
The Living Room is not a community that has been set up in isolation. We are aware of our need for fellow travellers on the journey in which we have embarked and foster the following relationships.
- The Baptist Union of Victoria is a major supporter of our group both in an initial financial way but also with practical support and accountability.
- The Living Room has been birthed into the Yarra Baptist churches network. In particular the communities at North Carlton and Abbotsford (St Lukes) have been most supportive and inclusive to us.
- Forge/Dreamland are informal partners with Living Room through the involvement that Darren has in both groups. Forge is a missional training network who has a lot of experience in innovative mission and church planting. Whilst the relationship between Living Room and Forge is informal in nature – it will provide a wealth of experience to this new community.
Who is Darren Rowse?
Darren is the team leader of the Living Room. He is 31 years of age. He is married to Vanessa and currently lives in North Fitzroy. Darren has been working for the past two and a half years as a young adults minister at Doncaster Community Church of Christ. Previously he managed the band 'Corazon' as it toured nationally doing high school evangelism in 1999 and was employed for four years as youth pastor at Glenbervie Baptist.
Darren is currently completing his Bachelor of Theology at Whitley College and completed an internship with Forge in 2001. He also works as an associate for Forge/Dreamland one day per week. He feels that he is called to develop new forms of community in the inner north of Melbourne and is excited by the birth of the Living Room. Darren is a creative thinker, gifted communicator and has a growing passion for relevant mission to young people.
If you would like more information on the Living Room project please email us.
5 December, 2002 7:27 PM
Finished my last essay for the year off today - based it on Living Room - it was a companion paper to the proposal I submitted to BUV. Expanded vision, DNA and did a bit of work on the subcultures of North Fitzroy. It was pretty rushed, but every time I think about it it grows.
Spent this afternoon at another FORGE session. It was good stuff again. Mike Frost spoke on 'belonging before believing'. It was good stuff as per usual. Spent some time with Mark talking about the network of emerging churches here in Melbourne that he's trying to get off the ground through South. Sounds interesting, but I think I need to hear more at this stage.
Some of what the guys spoke about today in one of the sessions was around the idea of developing 'practices' for the community. Rather than getting bogged down in designing detailed programs, services etc - the thought is that we should spend time in developing DNA (values) for the community. Then comes the stage of helping the community to formulate how to translate the values into a reality in their lives. So a value of being a community where people grow in their passion for Jesus might develope a communal practice of daily prayer, or reading scripture using a particular method like Lectio Divina.
I feel like this is the place I've been coming to with LR perhaps intuitively.
Met some guys today from 'Third Place Communities' in Tasmania. They seem to be pretty switched on people. They have planted one community called re(verb) which sounds similar to what I'm wanting to do. Will try to make contact and hear more via email.
V out tonight - am home alone struggling with getting our TV working again....ever since we watched 'Attack of the Clones' on it on video it won't pick up any local stations! Spooky.....those crazy clones got us...
4 December, 2002 6:25 PM
Caught up with a potential Livingroomer yesterday for coffee. He was pretty interested in a non committal kind of way about what we were doing. Gave him a copy of the proposal to have a look at and talk about with his partner.
Tis hard to know how to approach the recruiting process - the type of person in the initial core team is probably quite crucial when you think about it - could make or break the community - they would really have a telling impact upon the direction things will take I guess.
And what type of person do we want anyway? Everyone I talk with has a different opinion - what's yours? Email me with your thoughts....I am really interested!
Some say - stay away from the 'disgruntled' type - the ones who are peeved with church - the ones with angst. The opinion is that they will just drag things down - something I've seen before. However this is the 'type' of person that often seems to be attracted to alt style churches!
Others say - pick a demographic and get people fitting the mould! I'm not so sure on that one - I worry about single generational communities. Do they run the risk of being too one dimensional?
What is the criteria for such a team!? Share your ideas....
3 December, 2002 8:17 AM
Might have to revise at some stage - Think I've changed a tad!
I DREAM OF A CHURCH
- that is centred around worshipping and following the person of Jesus.
- that is highly relational and focuses upon creating growing community between its members
- where faith is not just an individual thing but rather something to journey in together as a community
- that is an open and inclusive community (centred set not bounded)
- where all people are seen as being made in the image of God and therefore seen as worthy of love, respect, dignity, wholeness and acceptance.
- where prayer is central to the communities life
- where worship is central and participated in in culturally and personally relevant ways
- where ancient, modern and futuristic tools for prayer, contemplation and worship are free to be explored by the community. (creative arts valued)
- where interactive, creative and innovative ways of teaching/learning are explored (action/reflection)
- that is serious about mission (incarnational/relational)
- that is interested in multiplication and reproduction rather than growing large (spawning faith communities)
- that is serious about justice issues
- who aims to facilitate the bringing of hope and wholeness in a holistic way to those it touches (physically, emotionally and spiritually)
- where the gifts of the Holy Spirit are used by members
- where leadership empowers others
- that takes its culture seriously and actively works towards engaging it relevantly
- where creativity, innovation and enterprise are valued and encouraged
- where fun and food are key components to gatherings and interaction between members
- where Scripture is seen as authoritative
- where permission is given to try new things and both successes and failures are acknowledged and celebrated
- where spirituality is stimulated in a variety of areas (holistic) including Community, Truth, Justice and Wonder.
- that is generous in its giving
- that is networking with and accountable to other communities of faith
- where people of different ages and backgrounds interact together
- where mentoring/discipling relationships are encouraged
- that theologises together out of the circumstances that they face
- that imagines and forges their own future
- that shapes its activities, gatherings etc not purely to meet its own members needs, but by the needs of those who are not yet a part of the community.
30 November, 2002 12:13 PM
Jesus said 'I have come that they might have life – abundant life'. John 10:10. Jesus was interested in helping those around him to find life. He did this in a holistic and relevant manner, bringing life physically, emotionally and spiritually, journeying and living in community with those to whom he ministered. The concept of the Living Room takes on some of these principles in its vision as it seeks to connect people with Jesus, the designer and source of life.
• The living room is a space designed with the idea of LIFE at its heart.
• The living room will seek to connect people in community as they seek to live life to the full. Life is not something that one person imparts upon another, rather its found as people journey together in community.
• The living room acknowledges that 'life' may mean different things to different cultural groups. It will seek to provide a relevant space to explore this for the subcultures of the inner north of Melbourne.
29 November, 2002 9:50 AM
What will it look like?
A full and clear picture of what the Living Room (TLR) will look like will emerge when the core team begins to meet to pray, explore and dream. However three themes have emerged from initial thinking and conversations that may form the foundations of the new community. These themes all take on the idea of 'journeying' and have been based loosely upon observations of the 'Church of the Saviour' in Washington DC. Each is expanded upon below with 'possible explorations' included illustrating potential directions TLR may investigate.
• Each 'journey' is of equal importance to the life and mission of TLR and will need substantial time, energy and resources dedicated to their growth.
• 'Journeys' are interdependent and overlap and sustain one another.
• Each 'journey' will evolve and need to remain fluid as it seeks to be relevant and life giving within the subcultures TLR operates in.
The Inward Journey – a commitment to developing the spiritual formation of members. Through culturally relevant forms of prayer, reflection, learning and worship TLR seeks to create an environment where people grow in their relationship with God. Possible explorations include:
• Vespers - prayer gatherings • Develop own liturgy
• Instillation worship and teaching • Spiritual direction
• Shared learning activities/workshops • Alternative worship
• Films/Galleries/Arts based gatherings • Individual Disciplines
The Outward Journey – a commitment to encourage and resource members on an outward journey of service and mission to others. TLR seeks to both provide opportunities for corporate mission and to support individuals in their own mission activities. Possible explorations include:
• Mission groups (COS style) • Housing Commission – breakfast program
• Book/Movie Clubs • Spirituality Seminars – café based
• Café culture • Arts Culture – gallery/studio space
• Primary school • Student Accommodation
The Communal Journey – a commitment to inward and outward journeys within community. TLR seeks to develop community through shared common life, disciplines and intentional involvement in one another's lives. Possible explorations include:
• Common Disciplines • Practicing Hospitality
• Common Social activities • Mentor/Spiritual Directors within community
• Meal focus gatherings • Shared living – Common life
• Emphasis on common learning/prayer • Accountability circles
27 November, 2002 11:40 AM
The Living Room lives!
After months - years even - of dreaming, prayer, conversation and writing this new community last night took a large step towards coming into being.
Last night Paul and I spent 45 minutes with the BUV Exec explaining our proposal and seeking their support. I suspect they had not seen a proposal like it before - not because my ideas are completely new or original - but rather because of its fuzziness.
How does one describe what a baby will look like before it is born? The Living Room is still in embryonic form and therefore any attempt at describing what it will look like will only be a guess.
Rather last night we sought to talk about the influential 'adults' in this babes life and the principles that they seek to bring to it as it grows.
I'm scared - I'm excited - I'm overwhelmed
The response from my news (mass email this morning) has been great. Email from around the globe is coming in as people hear the news. I'm not sure anyone is surprised - I guess its been bursting out of me for some time now.