Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Getting on the hamster wheel

Confession time. I've found it really hard getting back on the hamster wheel.

Autumn is coming and I need a teaching programme for the church. I've tried this and that, one permutation of topics with another of exposition - you know the kind of thing... And always at the back of my mind has been the nagging question 'why?'

I've blogged before about how the church is good at teaching programmes but not very good at learning outcomes (as you can see from the fact that I'm bloigging about this again!) I have been constantly thinking as I've wrestled with dates and deadlines, subjects and scriptures 'what's the point of all this?'

Our church has a reputation as a good teaching church. but is anyone learning anything? Isn't the autumn just one more turn round the hamster wheel where we move from week to week tackling a new meaty subject before we've had the chance to digest last week's meal?

And what difference does it make? are our people better equipped to make sensible judgements about relationships, decisions about what to spend their money on? Are they kinder, gentler, more gracious and out-going people at work? Do they embody the values of Jesus in their daily lives and conversation?

So I was having a chat yesterday with one of our young adults, an intelligent, thoughtful committed guy, who was telling me - in effect - that he was all sermoned out. What he'd really like is a chance to reflect on what we're learning, interact with others learning the same things, pray through issues we're facing at home and work.

Of course, we get a chance to do this in home groups. But the trouble is that church on Sundays just gives a whole load more stuff to process and really nowhere to go and process it.

So, as I've said before, we're going to try to be even more interactive at our Later Service on Sundays, more responsive to where people are at with the material we've already engaged with, more alert to the issues people have faced in the previous week and how what we're learning might help them face them more faithfully.

In short we're going to try to turn our hamster wheel into a hamster ball - something that actually goes somewhere rather than just round and round in circles.


Anonymous said...

What a refreshing post!

I guess it won't surprise you, as your intermittent interlocuter, that there is a lot happening in the world that sermons won't solve.

Now I'm not a vicar, and apart from having a visceral aversion to Graham Kendrick songs, I reckon that you could do a lot worse than doing that old fashioned thing of taking the good news message out to people who haven't heard it.

If you can get a little of that "still small voice of calm" into a Bromley that's full of shopping, X Factor, materialism, consumerism and short-termism, I reckon you'd be onto a winner.

Maybe you could be radical. Shorten your Sunday evening service to a half-hour "off load" for the congregation and then get out and try to make non-believers lives a little bit better.

simon said...

You're not the first person to suggest that and who knows, we might just do it as part of this new way of engaging with what we're supposed to be here for.

Thanks for your continuing contribution to the conversation

Ben said...

Having returned to TLS after a short 'break'- or episode- I sensed some of these changes even this evening.

As a hopeless 'emergent', I enjoyed the mixture of canned music and conversation; and the fact that- crucially- the questions posed did not have proscribed answers, revealed at the end.

Perhaps your message on the 'ancient ways' revealed at crossroads was equally applicable, tonight, to the TLS itself... as well as we pew-dwellers. Or that's my intuitive take on it, anyway.