'Living Room Church is an incredibly caring and supportive community'

First published on: 18th November 2022

Living Room Church, one of our Joshua Centre congregations have shared an update with us on their progress so far in establishing the new congregation within the community. The highs and lows of the last couple of years and their hopes for the future. 

'Living Room Church is an all-age congregation that meets over lunchtime on a Sunday for food, fun, fellowship, and a fair amount of crazy dancing! Our vision is to do church in a way that really encourages everyone to join in and be part of what’s going on, not just on a Sunday but throughout the week. As a church family, we’re about five key things: celebrating God’s goodness, enjoying being his family, learning from his word, praying for his world and sharing what we’ve got. Each week we have between 10 and 25 people present. It’s led by three lay people but participated in by everyone who comes.

For some time, Christ Church had thought about starting a second congregation that reached out to those families who were attending our groups for preschool children and their carers. Initially, we thought this would just be a once-a-month celebration service and we trialed a couple of these in late 2019 and early 2020. Then the pandemic struck and all our well-laid plans went out the window. As a church, we still really wanted to connect with the families we had formed relationships with but realised that watching a streaming service wasn’t necessarily going to work for everyone and so, from one screen in one living room to another screen in another living room we started gathering together online to be Church. There was a short story, some singing and dancing and time to pray together. In Spring 2021 as restrictions changed and being able to meet in person again became a possibility we shifted from an online to an outside gathering meeting weekly for picnics in the church garden. And Living Room Church – although no longer meeting in Living Rooms (!) – has continued weekly ever since.

I think one of the things Living Room Church has really mastered is being adaptable. In the pandemic, we all had to learn the hard way that we are much less in control than we thought we were: sometimes the things you plan and prepare for just do not work out the way you want them to. Being born in a time of lockdown has meant that the Living Room Church family really understands that church is not something that you do on a Sunday but something that we are all the time. As a result, Living Room Church is an incredibly caring and supportive community that looks out for one another throughout the week and not just when we gather at the weekend – this includes a weekly bible study that meets over food on Thursday lunchtimes, an active Whatsapp group where we share life and prayer requests and a new after-school discipleship group for children.

It’s very easy to write something in hindsight with rose-tinted glasses on and forget about all the things that were hard at the beginning. Perhaps the hardest thing about starting something new is being prepared for the possibility of failure. Sometimes on a Sunday, we have 28 people; sometimes with have just a handful (and 4 of those are my own family!) It is hard not to measure success by numbers but we are learning that people are way more important than statistics and that forming deep, meaningful relationships takes a huge amount of time and effort.

At the moment, we are working hard to shape Living Room Church all together (rather than just the leadership team). Were we to start all over again, I would want to involve more people from the start and allow the congregation to really be shaped by those who want to be part of it. Having the young people involved on a Sunday is really significant and I think – at times – we should have listened harder to the younger voices in the room instead of making decisions for them.

With the cost of living crisis and Winter approaching, we are wanting to eat a hot meal together each week rather than bring a shared picnic. We are keen to keep Living Room Church as participatory as possible. We really believe in different people using their different gifts and we hope to invest more in local leaders and give people more opportunities to serve and grow together. We’d also love for Sundays to become an even stronger place of invitation and welcome as we share the good news of Jesus with our community.'

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