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Saturday, 19 July 2014

#hof2014 - household of faith conference - blog about 2nd day of conference

yesterday I was at the 2nd day of the Household of Faith Conference 2014 (running Thursday 17/7/14 to Saturday 19/7/14) at Sussex University (Falmer Campus).  

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.

Below 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 down in writing).

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

Friday Day 2 

Keynote 3 – Rev Dr John Westerhoff – the Christian life of faith – naming goals for our educational ministry.  As always John explained this was where his thinking was now - that it might change in future - and he was explaining his thinking to help us think through and develop ours.

A Christian lives a particular way of life informed from the faith of one baptised (one included into the church which is the body of Christ on earth)

The only Jesus the world will see is us and we need to think through 3 characteristics of our christian life - 1) Faith, 2) Character, 3) Consciousness  (traditionally these were Beliefs, Right/Wrong and Experience - which mean different things)

Faith – how you perceive things/how you see others and the world – how it is for you.  Not rational ascent to a truth or law or experience. So what is faith?
-  I give my love and loyalty and life and obedience to this God I image here in the baptismal creed.  
- I am betting my life on its truth – but this faith is an act of trust.  
- This is a covenant – not a contract – so I have to offer whatever love demands (as God does to me).  
- We are created for 1 purpose – only 1 for all – a vocation – to grow in a deepening and loving relationship with God and therefore with our true self and all other souls and nature.  It is what we are called to be – in community. 
- In our baptismal vows we reject the power of evil in our lives (and acknowledge we need God’s help to do this) and say we will adhere to Christ (and so his church as his body in our time).  
- Jesus was prepared to die so we will know how much we are loved despite our sin.  
- God is present and active in human history and is about restoring to unity that which is broken.  
- The Holy Spirit comes to give life, encourage us and move us. 
- Redemption turns negatives into positives.  
- God is the creator or all things, the redeemer of all things, the perfecter of all things.  
- The Apostles creed in Baptism is a series of promises with implications for the ways we live life.  
- We continue in the apostles teaching, we break bread, we pray. 
- We can’t be human on our own outside of relationships.  Living in a faithful community we strive to be the presence and action (grace) of God in the world
- We resist evil and when (not if) we fail we repent so healing is possible.  

John used a sailing analogy here. You are in a boat – wind (or the lack of it) - alters your course from where you were trying to aim for.   So you get off course and you may not realise that.  Every now and then you check on your course using a compass and chart.  And then adjust your setting so you are going where you originally wanted to get to.  So an insight from this analogy is that we need to regularly critically reflect on our life - on our course.

- We proclaim the good news in God and Christ – in all we say and do through peace and harmony with the world in community.  
- We live so others may know what is already true for them.  
- We seek and see Christ in all. 
- The power of evil is broken – we are liberated
-  The reign of God is here – but is also coming.   
- We need to die to things. Birth and death are part of life so for church change is a given.

Character - What are the character traits of a Christian – see Matthew’s account of the beatitudes.  Character is how we are disposed to behave.  If I continue to behave this way - what will I become in the future – will I be happy or ashamed of that?  
-        Poor in spirit – depend on God
-        Mourn – troubled by sin
-        Meek – open minds
-        Hunger – for a deeper relationship with God
-        Merciful – empathy
-        Pure in heart – take action to love without expectation of return
-        Peacemakers – reconciliation
-        Persecuted – pay any price
  1. Religion is always danced before it is believed - Hoff

Conciousness - how we nurture these character traits.  Need to reflect critically on ourselves, on what is going on around us and on the possibility of the gospel.  It values the imagination over reason and an awareness of the Holy Spirit. Piety. Our interior life.
  1. Consciousness to the gospel - imagination over reason - aware of Holy Spirit. Parish life is learning to live this way of life

To be a person fully is to be in relationship

After John’s keynote there were a number of seminars one of which was by Lucy Moore on Messy Discipleship – understanding the ranges of faiths in households and building on that reality. If you have notes on the other seminars that were held and are willing to share them then please let me have them and I’ll insert them into this post with a credit to you the contributor.

So you're running a Messy Church and people are coming.  Now what?  What next in terms of development? Discipling? And how to do that?

Lucy got us to think of images we might use to represent what a disciple is – lover, athlete, a limb of a body, slave, mirror, soldier, sheep, fish, partygoer, pilgrim, work in progress, loser – letting go, a spoke in a wheel, a family member

In small groups she asked us to choose one of those images - and use paper to make a representation of the image.  

We were then asked a series of questions about the image we had chosen

- What would progression/moving on look like for that image?
- How would it look in a church?

Lucy commented that another useful question to ask is - How does your church help people grow as a disciple?   Her observation was that people rarely answer sermons - and that often their answer includes home based groups or friends

So how is the Messy Churches approach to Discipleship different?  To start with its worth thinking trough how Messy Church is different - it's:

- Once a month
- Family not individual based
- Relationship building
- People are generally not christians - they are a way off commitment
- Children are significantly present
- there is a different learning emphasis

To get us thinking about how a Messy approach to discipleship might differ Lucy told us a story (or is it a parable?) roughly like the one below

This is the story of a family in a wilderness.  Its a tough life to survive and keep the family together in the wilderness.  One day the family  see a tribe of people near an oasis.  Our family aren’t sure whether to approach the other tribe  - as they think the tribe might be guarding the oasis. And if they are guarding it then will they share its resources?  So our families' uncertainty about the tribe stops them from approaching the oasis - even though they need what it has.  As it happens somebody from the tribe comes over to the family and starts chatting to them.  The family learn that the oasis tribe is on a journey to a city.  The family decide to join the tribe on the journey to the city. As they walk with the tribe toward the city they talk about what the city will be like.  Eventually they all arrive at the city.  Initially some of the tribe and the family settle in the suburbs.  Over time they get used to the limited offerings the suburb can give them - even though that offering is things they originally used to wish for when they were on the journey through the wilderness.  Others of the tribe and family press on into the centre of the city.  They discover the further riches the city centre has to offer in terms of pubs and theatres and other life enriching experiences.

Lucy then had a slide with a 4 box model (sorry! didn't get a pic - not quick enough!) where:

-  the vertical scale was an Engel Scale (-10 ='s no spiritual knowledge, 0 ='s a christian, +4 ='s spiritual awareness) 
- the horizontal scale was from Closed (on the left) to Open (on the right)

- Top LH box ='d cynical suburbia - so generally closed but can have some spiritual awareness or indeed be christian
- Lower LH box ='d desert - closed and low spiritual knowledge
- Top RH box ='d city - open and christian spiritual knowledge
- Bottom RH box ='d oasis - open but low spiritual knowledge

Lucy explained how one useful Messy Church team exercise was to think of a family and where they were when they started coming to Messy Church using the scale described above.  And then to think about where the same family are now.  Then to repeat this analysis on several different families - and then to use the insights gained to review the types of activities the Messy Church uses.

Lucy then showed us this slide in terms of thinking about how to (and how not to) roll into Messy Church an approach that grows disciples

Keynote 4 – Rev Dr John Westerhoff – Christians as a household of faith and the body of christ – what does it mean to look like and live in a Christian community of faith 

- What we mean by family has changed over history – Tribe – Extended family – Nuclear family. 
- People marry later, they don’t have children by choice, some stay single, some are in a gay relationship or marriage, some have been through divorce, some are unmarried.  

- So if  we talk about the family we are probably excluding around a 1/3rd of our congregation

- Teach as Jesus taught – he went out looking for students and then asked them to follow/observe/imitate him

 - A community of faith can’t play the role of a family but it can be familiar 

- Parents need help as much as children do

 - A community of faith has - a common story - common authority - and a common life together

A common story 

– the story in the book watership down is a picture of community
- how we approach the seasons – what about - instead of starting with xmas and explaining the seasons that come after it in the light of xmas  - that instead we started with good friday and explained the seasons after it in the light of good friday - how would that change how we told the story?
- God has preserved us as a Christian people despite the fact that we didn’t do anything to help
- How to do things to bring that story together together - we all learn in different ways – so don't just always offer one way to learn - give some choice – even if you are only able to do so some of the time
Scriptures are myth (but not the modern meaning of myth - Myths are the only true stories there are as they point beyond themselves to a reality of truth)
- How do we read and pray scripture rather than study it?

A common authority

Catholic approach is scripture and tradition – have unity only if all accept that authority
- Protestant approach is all can interpret scripture alone  - this leads to no unity  - so this is solved by literalism
- Anglican contribution = scripture, reason, tradition  - Interpret scripture through reason (intuitive and logical)  - tradition = history of changing interpretations

A common life together
 - Common rituals – humans are ritualistic beings – sports – nature - art - hidden meanings -  symbols - supported by the life of church.  Think of the rituals in your service and how different approaches or sequencing may better realise the power of the ritual

- a Common life together....

In an institution I play a role – in a family I have a claim on all
In an institution relationships are neutral – in a family they can and need not to be
In an institution relationships are contractual – in a family we do whatever love demands
In an institution there are rules and laws – in a family its by custom
In an institution our worth = our contribution - in a family our worth is being

At the conclusion of this keynote - due to the fact my brain was overheating - I took some time off to try and mull all I'd heard so far.

Therefore I don't have any notes of the seminars after the afternoon keynote.

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