Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Taking Faith Seriously?

I spent this morning at an excellent CME event on preaching from St Matthew...two good speakers and lots to take home and ponder. What struck me most, though, was not directly related to the subject, but an incidental observation which was offered. As one who comes firmly from the Catholic end of the spectrum, and has in any case far more confidence in my ability to ask questions than to furnish answers, I've never been a great one for stressing the importance of the sermon. However, it really did hit me when someone said that to rely on 10 to 15 minutes each week as a sufficient input to allow faith to grow, and to resource congregations to share that faith in the world, was clearly absurd.
Put like that, of course they are right.
Someone else compared the C of E unfavourably with ECUSA, where "Sunday School" for all is an expected pattern, with an hour of study of age appropriate material preceding the main act of worship each week...
Yes, that does sound thoroughly demanding, but exciting too....Somehow, though, I suspect that lead balloons would positively soar in comparison with the likely reception of such a proposal here...so, how to persuade our people that to be serious about their faith means to engage with it with minds as well as hearts and souls? I'm sure that someone will remind me that simply because there are few parish initiatives promoting study, this doesn't mean that nobody is doing any, and clearly we should neither hope nor expect to corner the market....but it is so much more rewarding to explore together.At the moment, I'm left wondering how much of a priority faith really is for a high proportion of my congregation, and in the gloom of a damp November evening, I'm tempted to answer myself with a negative.


Rhys Morgan said...

I've just come back from leading an Emmaus course. In a clergy school a year ago We were told that one of the marks of a growing church was that they ran process evangelism courses like Alpha Emmaus Y course.
Jeffrey John in Going for Growth recommends the same. But he says do your own one.
The emmaus website gives you full details and under the academic section has a report comparing alpha and emmaus and linking them in with Mission shaped church and Healthy Churches.
As an experiment we did 4 sessions from Stage 2 Nurture including Learning to Pray, reading the bible belonging to the church and sharing Holy Communion - just to see how they would take to it (this ran after Easter and we started running the nurture section in September.
Try getting someone from a church which has already run it to come and talk to your PCC.
But your vicar must be interested.....it is not the curates job to do this. Do it when you get your own Parish. If he can't see the point, neither will your congregation.

Karin said...

The trouble is taking faith seriously needs time and energy and some guidance. What should people be reading to help them? How can they put their faith into practice? And anyway, when can they find the time to start thinking about such things between getting the kids ready for school, going to work and coming home to make tea before sitting down exhausted until bedtime?

I hope I'm being pessimistic because I'm hoping to encourage the members of my church to be a bit more proactive about their faith, through the pages of the church magazine. A number are quite good about buying Fair Trade and we are working to become a Fair Trade church in a Fair Trade Town, but there are so many other aspects of faith to work on! At least that gives us plenty of choice.

By the way, have you seen Greenbelt's A Year of Living Generously website? http://www.greenbelt.org.uk/generous/ That's one way of trying to get people to take faith seriously. :0)

Best wishes with your efforts Kathryn.