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Reflections on 3 Sundays of Auckland Church

31 October, 2004 8:55 PM

We had a great day today seeing the sites of Auckland. This morning we finally got to Cityside which I found really interesting. After hearing so much about it over the past few years it was nice to finally be there and participate in a gathering.

Its been quite a strange experience the past couple of weeks at both Cityside and Graceway to be at church on a Sunday and in a larger group (not that either are what I'd describe as a large church) - also singing took a little to get back used to again. I personally don't mind corporate singing at all - however it takes a while to get back into the swing of it (not that there has been heaps of it).

Whilst I'm not wanting to critique/evaluate either Graceway or Cityside (after-all I have only had one experience of Cityside and two of Graceway) I have come away from the experience with some half baked reflections to take back to LivignRoom.

Participation - Firstly I was really inspired and excited by the way in which both actively encouraged the participation of a wide variety of people in their gatherings. It is easy to fall into the trap of relying too heavily upon one or two people in a church to carry all the load and do all the up front stuff.

This is something I've been aware of with LivingRoom and something we'll need to make some changes in next year with me stepping out of a paid position. I really liked the way people naturally took roles in leading different parts of the gatherings at both churches.

Inclusivity - One of the other things I've come away pondering especially today is the way that churches welcome and incorporate new people into them. By no means does LivingRoom have it all together in this area but one natural advantage that I suspect we have is our size.

When a new person comes to LR everyone knows they are there. Generally its pretty easy to introduce a new person to the whole group very quickly and almost without failing the person is engaged in conversation over our meal within seconds of their arrival. It would be very obvious if they were being ignored so there is a sense of accountability I guess between us to incorporate them. Of course on the flip side it could be a little daunting to come to LR because there is little room for anonymity. Whilst we never force people to actively participate it is difficult to passively site and observe without yourself being observed.

I'm not wanting to say that Cityside or Graceway were not welcoming - but I did notice the different dynamic - especially today at Cityside where we did not come with regulars (like we did at Graceway) and were more strangers. Whilst one of the reasons many of us get involved in some of the newer models of church out of a desire to be more inclusive in our communities and worship it remains a real challenge.

Overall I've really valued the time of worshipping with people on similar journeys here in Auckland. I'm going home this Tuesday somewhat refreshed, energised and excited about LivingRoom and life in general.

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