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.