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Friday, 18 July 2014

#hof2014 - household of faith conference - blog about 1st day of conference

yesterday I was at the 1st day of the Household of Faith Conference 2014 (running Thursday 17/7/14 to Saturday 19/7/14) at Sussex University (Falmer Campus).  Here are my very partial cleaned up notes (partial because there were so many great ideas and quotes to note down I only got some of them.

here is my post on the 1st day  and  here is my post on the 2nd day and here is my post on the 3rd day.

Please comment to add to the notes if you want to.

Day 1 Thursday

Keynote 1 - Rev Dr John Westerhoff – The Making of Disciples – we are our stories – the church’s continual quest to transmit, enhance and enliven its faith in the Gospel.  “Christians are story formed people”.  John’s memories of 50+ years striving to answer the question, will the next generation have faith?  

My notes from John's reflections are a series of quotes as he walked us through his reflections. Here they are:

- To understand each other we need to understand each other's stories - our stories are what has happened to us which is part of how we got to where we are  - and what leads us to reach the conclusions we do.  

- Each of us is a mystery even to ourselves

- Preach when you teach and teach when you preach

- A good question for students - what 3 questions are you now asking that you weren't when you started this course and how will you answer them in the next 5 years?

- You never hear what I say, you only hear what you choose to - so if you are upset about what you thought I said  - think through why

- Frame the right questions to imagine alternatives to where we are

- It is an error to think there is only 1 approach - people organise life in all kinds of ways

- God won't judge us for how our children turn out - he will for how we did

- Revelation is always being opened and closed - rather than a static one off

Then after that 1st keynote, and a coffee break - various Seminars were held at same time.

I went to Bishop John Butler's on Church of England perspectives on Household of Faith

  1. Now, a whistle stop tour of recent church history & engagement with children and families

Here are my notes

1960's - Family Communion (Catholic) and Family Worship (Evangelical) - bought into cognitive development theory.  Failed to take account of changing family structures

1980's - All Age - sought to address perceptions of Family as only for parents and their children.  But whatever generation people come from  - some will like the approaches used in all age - (choral, drama, whatever)  - and some won't.  The all age approach was good at learning styles and  worship encouraging prayer across ages

Community - worshipping community at the heart of serving its local community

Household - given quick history summary above - household recognises that there can be many different types of people and also ties into the idea of the church as a house with all sorts in it.  But it does rely on those in the house having some connection.

Parish - we are here for everybody in this community. So we need to break out of the image that we are only here for those who come through the door. Also pray for and serve schools (not just assemblies - run the gardening club)

  1. "97% of non statutory work with under 5s in the UK is done on church premises" Amazing community support...

If anybody has a summary of the other seminar I could insert into this post please let me know. It was by Mary Hawkes on There is a season – using the church year as a way of nurturing faith in households (whether or not the household has children)

Keynote 2 – Rev Dr John Westerhoff – Contemporary Challenges – Striving to understand the historical cultural and social context in which we live and engage in the making of Christians

Culture = learned/shared understanding of life.  How to approach our culture options ....

1) enter into it - adapt our faith to it - but this isn't faithful
2) withdraw from it - provide a witness to it - equally isn't faithful
3) be in the world but not part of it - so speak in the language of the culture to transform it.  This is difficult as if we are in it then we can easily be of it  - so our ability to transform it is compromised - but this is still the better way

But to do so we need to take a bi-culturalism approach - the blending of 2 cultures where we maintain the uniqueness of the 1st

Western culture can be characterised as periods of history where there is a dominant culture with periods between where culture is in transition. E.g.

- 1st 4 centuries - apolistic - pre Christendom
- 5th century - Christendom
- 10th century - Middle Ages - Age of Faith
- 16th century - Enlightenment - age of reason - start of modernity 
- 21st century -  a period of transition - we behave as if Christendom still exists - but it doesn't   This period is most similar to the 1st 4 centuries.  Similar but not the same.

  1. Westerhoff talking on how the church is in period of transition: a new era in Christianity will emerge.

So our approach to baptism and confirmation is changing as the significance of it changes as does the expectations of it (e.g. - will it lead to a significant behaviour change OR is it simply a rite of passage to communion).  So we need to rethink how we initiate people into our community.

With the intellectual way of thinking - faith is now belief so the church becomes anti intellectual. We have lost out on the intuitive approach which was nurtured by arts.  And we have lost the art of praying of scripture as the intellectual approach triumphs  - and a cause and effect approach to the universe means mystery is eliminated.

If technology ='s progress and control of our world then our definition of people becomes functional - they are what they do.  So there is less concern about being (reminded me of that saying we are human beings not human doings).  

In such an approach faith or belief becomes defined as a perception of how we see/envisage the world.  And justice moves from being getting what you need to getting what you deserve 

Whereas actually belief is a moral truth taught whereas faith is a character formed.

So going back to the 21st century as being a period of transition - we know what it is being transformed from. But we don't know what it is being transformed into. We are unsure.  We would like to be sure  - but can't be  - so maybe its more honest to say we are not in control.

  1. "We aren't called to make a difference in the world but to live in the difference that God is making"

    1. Re-found the church on the story that we inhabit God’s world, not ours, join in with God’s activity in God’s world

  1. when freedom and responsibility are in conflict, responsibility must rule. Loads to think about.

We are totally dependent on God (Our nature not choice) yet God choose to be dependent on us (God's choice not nature)

Then after that some Seminars held at the same time.  I went to Lucy Moore's on Messy Church Theology – Why and how is the all age church community providing a gathered and dispersed household of faith for families

Lucy described the Messy church journey as being a bit like going on a walk with a big dog where it drags you where it wants to go and you hang on

And Messy church as a form of all age church to enjoy coming together - usually monthly -  with 

a) a warm intentional welcome (tea, juice, biscuits, board games, word searches)  - purpose to provide an easy way in to chat and get to know each other; 
b) an intro and welcome
c) several activities in a space - e.g. on theme of Samson story - where people show others how to do the activity - the people choose which and how much of the activities they do - and the activities are used to open up the story and for people to get to know each other
d) all together 15 minutes of the story/song/prayer - as participative as possible
e) a meal together

What are we trying to do with this?  Answer questions about what God is like, what the Kingdom is like, what context is best for nurturing faith - for transformation of belief, to grow faith as best can in long term, to be all ages in community together

Households - even if people come on their own they come into our church family

5 values of messy church

1) christ centred - and all the messiness and interaction with those on the margins that means
2) creative
3) celebratory - a party
4) all age - all parts of the body
5) hospitality

Lincoln Harvey quote - ‘when we play – unnecessarily but meaningfully – we are living out our deepest identity as unnecessary but meaningful creatures. Simply put, we reverberate with ourselves. We chime with our being.’

Weaknesses of messy church - not formal intentional learning.

If anybody has a summary of the other seminars held at the same time as the Messy Church one that I could insert into this post please let me know.

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