We had an interesting discussion last night about how Sunday church relates to small groups such as house groups. People were saying how they found sharing in smaller groups was the way in which their faith deepened and became better related to their daily life. Church on Sunday was more a place to be moved by liturgy and the power of worshipping with greater numbers. As one suggested, Church was like a lecture, the small group like a seminar.
But at Holy Trinity, quite a lot of the congregation only experience ‘church’ – the Sunday worship. So should we be trying to introduce some of what the small group offers into that? I tried a slightly interactive Bible study at the morning service once, and got – well – a mixed response. Is it the dynamic of our liturgical worship that makes it hard, or just unfamiliarity with that kind of learning in church?
The ‘Ministry of the Word’ – the first part of the liturgy, with its BIble readings and sermon – goes back to the synagogue teaching of the early church, which would have been followed by the Christians going off to an ‘agape’ feast – Holy Communion. So it is a teaching/learning section of the liturgy.
We know that people learn differently these days: in schools, there is far less of the ‘chalk and talk’ and much more of the ‘personal discovery learning’. The same is true of workplaces and professional development. So should our learning in worship ‘move with the times’ too?
I can almost hear at least one of our hard-pressed professionals at Holy Trinity saying to me: “No, not more dialogue/flipchart/feedback stuff at church! I do that all week and want church to be different!” So should we re-think the readings/sermon slot at church more radically? Not make them just a pseudo-house group, but something more meditative, dramatic, what?? Or should we – with a more mission focus – be presenting the Basic Truths of the faith?