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LivingRoom Gatherings for 2005

6 February, 2005 3:53 PM

One Wednesday night at LivingRoom we met to discuss the way we want our weekly gatherings to look this year. There have been a number of changes that have impacted the way we meet. For starters we are now regularly over 20 in number - if everyone were to show up at once it would be over 25. Secondly, some weeks we now have up to 5 children with us. Thirdly we're still toying with the idea of starting a new group and want to minimise the the amount of time and energy that goes into preparing for the time together (in my experience of church too much energy is often put into weekly gatherings that could be put into other areas). Lastly I've gone back to a voluntary leadership role and have scaled back how much time I have to offer the community and we've moved to a more group led approach.

As a result we decided on Wednesday night to trial a cyclic approach to our gatherings where each week will have a different focus and be lead by different people. Our cycle will be of 7 weeks which takes us through a variety of different nights. Of course there will be overlap between the different styles (for example we'll pray and read the bible most weeks but in different ways depending upon who is leading and what the focus is. The 7 weeks are as follows:

Week 1 - Spirituality Tour of the life of one of the members of the group. In these weeks we meet for a meal at the person's house and then get into cars and they take us to places that are part of their everyday existance which might include, work, uni, school, caf´┐Ż, gym, the park, place where they volunteer, friends houses etc etc etc. They tell us about those places and what they do there - who they meet etc. They share the rhythm of their life and we pray for them along the way or at the end. I've written about these here, here and here.

Week 2 - Reflective Night - These nights will be more reflective in nature and led by a different person each time - or perhaps a few people together. They could range from simple nights reflecting upon an image, verse, quote to using reflections/meditations that we've done before like Examen, Lectio divina etc. They might be individualistic or corporate. Really depends on who is leading and what they feel they'd like to lead us in.

Week 3 - Bible Focus - again this could cover a range of things from a bible study, to a 'Godly Play' exercise to some teaching etc. It might focus on a passage or be more of a topical survey of different passages.

Week 4 - Vision/Logistics/Review/Planning nights - From time to time I've been aware that we probably are not putting enough time into thinking through our direction and being intentional about what we do. I don't want to become overly rigid but perhaps from time to time it might not hurt to be a little strategic and to think through direction. These nights might be anything from thinking through an issue of 'giving' or 'how do we multiply/grow' through to planning topics/themes for the next term through to talking about the nitty gritty of our food roster, micro groups etc. These nights could also include having some guests from other communities come and share how they do things.

Week 5 - Real Life Spirituality - from time to time we have done nights that simply give each other opportunity to talk about what has been going on for them in terms of their 3 journeys. Particularly we've focused upon our 'outer' journey in these times and shared about the opportunities we've had to join with God in what he's doing in the world around us. Maybe we could also make these nights a 'BYO worship' night where everyone is invited to bring something for the group - whether it be a story of their week, a short reflection, a short reading/bible focus, etc. Its an opportunity for us to each listen to what God might want us to bring to the group in a very informal way.

Week 6 - Topical Night - We've done a few of these over the two years and they have ranged from hypothetical topics through to topics like Food and spirituality, to Refugee issues, to sexuality etc. They could be a range of formats from visiting a debate/event on an issue to someone doing some teaching/bible study through to a guest speaker. Again the topics would depend upon the person putting up their hand to run them and the desires of the group.

Week 7 - Mission and the Outer Journey - These nights are more focused upon the Outer Journey of mission, justice and the world we live in. They might range from actually going out and engaging in some activity in the community around us, to a guest from another faith journey, to a sharing night on what God's doing around us in this area, to some learning/study/teaching on the area.

The 7 weeks might seem a little rigid but they are not intended to box us but rather to stimulate our thinking and help us to be intentional in cycling through the values that we've identified as a group.

We've done some planning on the first 7 weeks and each of them have been allocated to a different person to lead. I'm really looking forward to seeing how they unfold and go.



Well done, sounds fantastic. I really like the idea of the spiritual version of a pub crawl (I think you had a more elegant way of putting it). It seems like a wonderful way to get to know another side of someone. Often we only see the 'side' that they expose us to (eg. in work setting / relative setting / social setting etc.) and it can be quite a surprise to find a whole other dimension to a person.

Maryam » 6 February, 2005 9:49 PM

Sounds great. We do a similar thing at my church, but we rotate through four weeks - the first is a topical forum, the second uses liturgy, the third is contemplative worship, and the fourth is based around arts and worship. We've found it really helpful - as you write regarding your cycle, the 'themes' haven't boxed us but have instead stimulated our thinking, and have provided the impetus to explore ways of 'doing church' that we might not have otherwise thought of. I look forward to reading more of your experiences with your cycle!

Bec » 7 February, 2005 9:43 AM

Yeah I am looking forward to participating in this cycle :)

Kitty » 7 February, 2005 11:27 PM

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