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Source: (consider it) Thread: Discussions during church services
SvitlanaV2
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Of course, a scriptural text might also give rise to a discussion about hopes and dreams. The text would have to be chosen and presented carefully by the leader to avoid a very personal response.

I'm wondering if Boogie and Baptist Trainfan have their discussions during all-age worship, or only with the adults. My experience has usually been with the latter. I should think it's easier to focus on serious theological issues rather than personal stuff if only adults are present.

(OTOH, one of the arguments for having these discussions with adult worshippers is that it forces them to look at biblical passages in the light of their own - and their contemporaries' - experience. This isn't something that people listening to a monologue sermon automatically do.)

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Boogie

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Yes, they are during the sermon time, when only adults are there.

[Smile]

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Anselmina
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I must admit that when I attend a worship service as someone in the pews, I wouldn't expect to have to then turn my mind over to classroom mode and start engaging in discussions; especially a discussion that must necessarily be unhelpfully circumscribed by the circumstances of liturgy, location etc. I'm supposed to be giving myself over to worshipping, to the possibilities of God saying something in a moment of silence, or in the words of a hymn, or the action of a cup being lifted, or the preacher saying something that for some reasons just sticks with me, or happens to momentarily speak to my situation.

I'm there to appreciate the community of fellow worshippers, and also to have space - which is respected by everyone else - to reflect, meditate, think my own thoughts or not think at all, if that's how God is getting through to me at that moment.

If I want a discussion - which requires a completely different set of mental activities and attitudes - I'll go to Bible studies, lectures and workshops etc.

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Albertus
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As always, 'what Anselmina said'.

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MrsBeaky
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Oh yes, indeedy!

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Gamaliel
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Absolutely.

I've just come back from the annual conference of The Fellowship of St Alban & St Sergius. Enough for plenty of Ship threads there ...

But suffice to say that there were lectures, Q&A, discussions, an excursion, chats over coffee or in the pub ... but when it came to the worship it was as Anselmina describes.

So over the last couple of days I've attended an RC Mass - with an Ordinariness priest's wife leading the singing including some glorious Gregorian Latin chant, an Orthodox liturgy, Anglican Common Worship prayer and the most stratospherically High Anglican eucharist I've ever attended or even imagined possible that made both the RC and Orthodox Eucharists feel like the Plymouth Brethren ...

Ok, I know we were there to discuss, debate and chew the fat but to have introduced a stop-start discussion thing into the services themselves would have felt completely wrong.

The Quakers do a lot of talking and debate. They don't do it on a Sunday morning when they gather in silence - although there may be spoken ministry of course.

Yes, it will vary from tradition to tradition but is the worship time - and yes, the whole thing is worship - really enhanced in some way by any of this? When you already have housegroups and so on, why do you need to introduce this sort of thing into the services themselves.

It makes no sense.

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SvitlanaV2
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I wonder why we assume that 'worship' is what a Sunday morning church service should primarily be about. It's a tradition that we take for granted, but the reasons for it are rarely enunciated. Not to pew-dwellers, anyway, and not to the majority of Christians who don't think 'attending worship' is important.

But even if there are umpteen brilliant reasons why worship is more important than anything else we might do together in church, why isn't having a discussion included as worship? It is less worshipful than listening to a 20 minute monologue sermon or singing a bunch of hymns?

Well, perhaps it depends on the discussion - but in that case it also depends on the sermon, hymns and prayers, etc. The hymn sandwich experience doesn't always make us feel that we've truly 'worshipped' God, does it?

Some people argue that all sort of things count as worship. If so, then there's no reason why a discussion can't be one of them.

Of course, I personally respect the weight of our worshipping tradition. I don't think anyone could endure a lifetime of churchgoing if they didn't.

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Gamaliel
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It's an issue of context, of course. If you have a worshipping tradition where discussion rather than,say, a sermon, homily or whatever else, forms part of the practice then fine, pursue that. People would expect that to be the norm and act accordingly.

However, if you were to vire impromptu discussion into an established format where it didn't balready feature,then there's a problem.

I met a nose-bleed High Anglo-Papalist priest this week who sometimes holds more informal evening services with a discussion element in addition to the morning eucharist which is celebrated with as much ceremony as is possible in the CofE without everyone passing out with altitude sickness.

To me, that makes perfect sense. It respects the tradition and expectations of his congregation and also gives space for discussion and interaction without it impeding the flow and format or atmosphere of the particular way the eucharist is celebrated in his circles.

It's the High Church equivalent, if you like, of the services Baptist Trainfan described and both are consonant and commensurate with the integrity of each tradition.

Shoe-horning an ineptly managed discussion time into an Anglican communion service violates both formal and informal approaches - to my mind. It does not 'work' in any level.

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SvitlanaV2
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Well, in your case it apparently 'worked' on at least a single level - i.e. most of the congregation appreciated it.

But as I say, if doing things in a traditional way in certain services is essential then the reasons why need to be made much more explicit to all worshipping Anglicans. In these modern times the allegiance and understanding of the people can't be taken for granted.

The RC has it easier; AIUI tradition is believed to be one of the holy pillars of the Church, and the laity and priests are so much more deferential. The CofE is simply too broad, and probably too much in decline, to enforce traditional standards in every case.

And I suspect that the push for more evangelism in the CofE is dangerous for traditional worshipping traditions.

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Anselmina
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
I wonder why we assume that 'worship' is what a Sunday morning church service should primarily be about. It's a tradition that we take for granted, but the reasons for it are rarely enunciated. Not to pew-dwellers, anyway, and not to the majority of Christians who don't think 'attending worship' is important.

But even if there are umpteen brilliant reasons why worship is more important than anything else we might do together in church, why isn't having a discussion included as worship? It is less worshipful than listening to a 20 minute monologue sermon or singing a bunch of hymns?

Well, perhaps it depends on the discussion - but in that case it also depends on the sermon, hymns and prayers, etc. The hymn sandwich experience doesn't always make us feel that we've truly 'worshipped' God, does it?

Some people argue that all sort of things count as worship. If so, then there's no reason why a discussion can't be one of them.

Surely, we can give God at least an occasional hour or so of exclusive discursive-free attention, as part of our public testimony to his worthiness to be worshipped?

Isn't there a time and a place for everything?

I do think your comment about feeling as if 'we've truly worshipped God' is important, however. What does that feeling feel like, I wonder? What kind of boxes have to be ticked, emotionally, intellectually, psychologically before I can leave the church having felt that I have truly worshipped?

Ought the question not to be: Does God feel as if he's been worshipped when we've finished our Sunday shenanigans?

I think the best we can hope to do in our Sunday services is to say: I have tried to give to God the worship he deserves today, to the best of my ability. It won't have been enough; there'll always be a vacancy in my devotion, love, gratitude towards him. But I have attempted at least to give him the time, the space and the opportunity to receive some of what I can offer - without ego, without self, with him at the centre - and to receive from him the bit of oomph I need to get through the next week.

If I get anywhere near 'feeling' that way about worship, I reckon I've probably done as much as I humanly can.

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Gamaliel
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I'd go along with that ...

I would caution against SvitlanaV2's endorsement of 'if people like it and vote with their feet then it must be ok', approach.

Aryanism was clearly popular and 'working' for many people in the 4th and 5th centuries.

Slavery was clearly working for slave owners too ...

I'm not against discussions and workshops and whatever else. But as Anselmina says, there's a time and place.

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SvitlanaV2
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Anselmina

I'm still not sure why quietly listening to the minister talking is somehow godly and ego-denying, but congregational talking is out of place. If nothing else, the former routine practice is pretty questionable as far as the minister's ego is concerned!

More importantly, some might argue that the problem with the laity's silence is that it allows their self-satisfaction and lack of effort to go unchallenged. They can switch off and allow all the fine words to wash over them. This might not be happening, of course, but who knows? Who cares?

As you say, some churches do have small groups for discussion and learning, but my guess is that most churchgoers don't attend them. In most denominations its Sunday 'worship' that's prioritised.


Gamaliel

I certainly haven't said that growth is all that matters. I agree that there's a place for utterly traditional forms of worship service in which the congregation listens to, and sings and prays along with someone else's words. They can be very beautiful and calming. I just don't believe that all Sunday morning services should be that way.

But a purer, more traditionally worshipful CofE would need to be even smaller than it is now. You'd have to lose the 'right' people and avoid picking up the 'wrong' ones.

I imagine that many FE's are unhelpful in this regard, because they give seekers inaccurate and inappropriate experiences and expectations of church life.

[ 19. August 2017, 18:42: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Gamaliel
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Well yes, and it's an issue within Orthodoxy, for instance, that a lot of the punters only turn up part way through the Cherubic Hymn ...

But if lectures, conferences and mid-week meetings are, whatever the tradition, something for the keenies, then I'm not so convinced it'd make a great deal of difference to introduce them into the main services. - unless they were handled very skilfully.

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Chorister

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I don't like these sort of discussions very much at all. But if we have to have them, I would much rather have the sermon first and then we actually have something to discuss. Otherwise it just encourages those who like talking about themselves to talk about nothing much at all - I fail to see how this helps anyone to greater understanding.

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Gamaliel
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Indeed, and in the context of an Anglican service where such things take place you only have 4 or 5 minutes anyway, which hardly seems time enough to develop anything ...

I've rarely known anything of any great weight to emerge from these discussions, and I have heard quite serious heresy being touted by one discussion group during a service that went uncorrected and unchallenged by the vicar.

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SvitlanaV2
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The question to ask is what purpose the discussions are meant to be serving.

The Baptists benefit from a heritage of seriousness regarding biblical knowledge, so their clergy can always argue that if members don't want to attend weekday meetings then the teaching has to take place during the Sunday 'worship'. I know of one such church where seasonal Sunday discussions and plenaries have specific pedagogic aims.

But I suspect that in Methodist and CofE congregations interactive sessions are more often about encouraging sociability and/or generating a change of pace during a service. This would explain the 5 min light-hearted 'share with your neighbour' activities.

This isn't surprising. After all, both denominations tolerate a wide diversity of theological perspectives, so 'teaching' is simply less important. And how can the CofE make a big deal out of 'heresy' when the vast majority of its adherents hardly ever step inside a church?

Finally, there are the interactive sermons, which are a good way for a minister to ensure that the congregation is still hanging in there, although some ministers waste the opportunity by asking silly questions about the peripheral stuff rather than getting us to respond to the real core of what they're trying to stay.

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Gamaliel
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The CofE wasn't making a big deal of heresy. I was.

The issue I had on that occasion was that the vicar did bugger all to politely correct outright Arianism from a group that received a round of applause from the rest of the congregation for its heretical observations.

The vicar isn't Arian. But he felt that to tackle it publicly would have been to put people off. Rightly or wrongly, his hope was that the main culprit would pick things up by osmosis if he was made welcome and continued to attend.

I'm the event the fella stopped coming after a while.

I'm not saying I handled it properly either, politely tackling the guy after the service ...

But hey, if the discussion had revealed a Christological error that the vicar addressed in subsequent teaching, then no harm done ...

But even so ...

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Baptist Trainfan
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That is a very real issue, if you subscribe to the "all views are equally valid" school of thinking (which I don't), or if you as leader don't want to publicly put someone down - though there are ways of doing it politely.

This is where discussion possibly works better in a small group where people know each other than in a public "all comers" service.

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Anselmina
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Anselmina

I'm still not sure why quietly listening to the minister talking is somehow godly and ego-denying, but congregational talking is out of place. If nothing else, the former routine practice is pretty questionable as far as the minister's ego is concerned!

More importantly, some might argue that the problem with the laity's silence is that it allows their self-satisfaction and lack of effort to go unchallenged. They can switch off and allow all the fine words to wash over them. This might not be happening, of course, but who knows? Who cares?


I suppose I feel that worship, in the way I'm understanding it, is a contemplative, receptive and mentally active, absorbing, internally reflective and provocative exercise which we direct towards the Object of worship. Indeed, I feel I can't state that enough.

And I truly feel that talking ABOUT God, as in a discussion, is not the same thing at all as making his presence real to us, which is the object of an act of worship; where he is the sole and careful focus of our energy, our thoughts and our attention. Not the arguments of our discussion, or our pew-mates. Not at that moment.

I totally agree the minister's ego - indeed the choir's, the organist's, the readers' egos - can all get in the way, even of a good liturgy. Sadly, that is the penalty of being human. It's also why it's even more important to make sure that the worship is directed towards God and away from distracting and unnecessary human interpolations. I don't even like it when the notices go on too long! It's about God, not why we're having to call back the plumber to fix the boiler - again! And while I would be thrilled to discuss my pew-mates take on the opening verses of John's gospel, or the annihilation of the Amalekites, or whatever the reading is for the day in a time and place suitable for that discussion, when I want to focus on hearing God's voice - well, that's what I want to do. Undramatic, undemocratic, boringly non-verbal as it may be!

Similarly, I'm willing to run the risk, when listening to a sermon, of hearing something which while it might be self-regarding from the preacher, might nevertheless shed a bit of light, or give a bit of hope. Some sermons have even been known to challenge the self-satisfaction and lack of effort you refer to. We can't have it both ways!

Still, the space of the sermon, gives me time and space to do with that time, what I want, or what God wants, more to the point. If I'm receiving discursive input from folks around me, demanding a very specific range of interaction and response, I get no chance to just 'be' in God's presence. And I think that that is what God calls us to, when he calls us to worship him.

Finally, I can't pronounce as confidently as you seem able to on the laity's complacence and what is meant by their silence during worship. I know that both each individual and God knows what's going on. For one hour every week, I would say that's enough for me to know about the hearts of the worshipper at that moment. It's been my experience that congregation members are not backwards at expressing feedback either.

Sometimes, too there are many times when having fine words wash over you is as refreshing and healthful as being plunged head first into a jacuzzi of busy, noisy, water!

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Anselmina:


Some sermons have even been known to challenge the self-satisfaction and lack of effort you refer to. We can't have it both ways!

Yes, sermons often exhort listeners to do better. The problem is that just listening to a monologue can have a limited ability to effect change. This is something that John Wesley realised.

quote:


Still, the space of the sermon, gives me time and space to do with that time, what I want, or what God wants, more to the point. If I'm receiving discursive input from folks around me, demanding a very specific range of interaction and response, I get no chance to just 'be' in God's presence. And I think that that is what God calls us to, when he calls us to worship him.

I agree that a sermon can have this effect, but for me I think sitting in silence without listening to a sermon is more likely to do so. I suppose it depends on the kinds of sermons we're talking about.

I do actually feel that we need more silence in church, but I mean total silence, not just congregational silence.


quote:

Finally, I can't pronounce as confidently as you seem able to on the laity's complacence and what is meant by their silence during worship.

Unfortunately, I've heard several preachers express exasperation at how impervious their congregations can be when it comes to taking on board and actually living the messages they've heard during worship. It's as if there's an impenetrable barrier between theory and practice. This is what church discussions, at their very best, can address.

However, I accept that we come from different traditions and have different expectations of worship. You're also a minister, I understand, so yours is a very creative part of this process. Sitting very still in the pews is presumably a refreshing break for you, not a permanent way of being.

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Gamaliel
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I've heard people from all traditions say they would value more silence.

It think discussions can address the issues you mention, but not in the way they're applied in the example I've given. In other settings, and in Baptist Trainfan's example, I'm sure they can and do.

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Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I've heard people from all traditions say they would value more silence.

One church I served was adjacent to a railway line with a very frequent service, many trains rushing past hooting as they went. We would sometimes have a time of silence but this could often last for rather less time than intended, usually with giggles from the congregation ...

It would not have made a good Quaker Meeting House!

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ThunderBunk

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I've heard people from all traditions say they would value more silence.

It think discussions can address the issues you mention, but not in the way they're applied in the example I've given. In other settings, and in Baptist Trainfan's example, I'm sure they can and do.

Preachers who are also celebrants (within a C of E/RC eucharist) have only themselves to blame in this regard. Dragging people to their feet to recite the creed before they have had any time to digest the sermon ensures that the latter is forgotten by the time the elements are distributed.

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Bishops Finger
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It has become the custom at Our Place, almost by accident, to now have about a minute for silent reflection between the homily and the Creed. Not a lot, I know, but every little helps.

The same applies after Communion, before the Post-Communion Prayer.

IJ

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balaam

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There is little difference, in practice, between the phrases, "We are going to split into groups for discussion," and, "Anyone on the autistic spectrum can fuck off now."

When you have difficulty in switching off distractions it is almost impossible to concentrate on the discussion you are in when you can hear the discussion of the next group and there is also birdsong from outside.

Discussion is great in a home group setting, but several groups in the same space - no thanks. It is hard enough to keep attention on one thing. When several things are happening at once... I'm listening to the birdsong from outside.

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Albertus
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I've heard people from all traditions say they would value more silence.

One church I served was adjacent to a railway line with a very frequent service, many trains rushing past hooting as they went. We would sometimes have a time of silence but this could often last for rather less time than intended, usually with giggles from the congregation ...

It would not have made a good Quaker Meeting House!

Doubtless not helped by you rushing out with your camera and notebook every time it happened.... [Smile]
One of the things I always liked about worshipping at Southwark Cathedral was the sound of the trains going by at high level in & out of London Bridge. Made it feel very grounded.

[ 20. August 2017, 21:23: Message edited by: Albertus ]

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Albertus:
Doubtless not helped by you rushing out with your camera and notebook every time it happened.... [Smile]

Cheeky! they were actually London Underground trains (= Not Exciting) [Cool]
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Anselmina
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Unfortunately, I've heard several preachers express exasperation at how impervious their congregations can be when it comes to taking on board and actually living the messages they've heard during worship. It's as if there's an impenetrable barrier between theory and practice. This is what church discussions, at their very best, can address.

To be sure, I'm not saying that listeners are sitting there taking it all in and going out being brilliant responders to what they're hearing. I'm just saying I don't know what's going on inside their heads! Many individuals within congregations are evidently impervious to even good sermons; God knows, I often am! I'm also saying that I don't think any amount of in-worship discussion will necessarily make up for the flaws of sermonizing. My fear is that forced discussion would either exacerbate the flaws of a bad sermon or pull the punch of a good one. And discussion in place of a sermon would just be a complete non-starter for me. I'd rather have silence, or just move on.

I like that you're obviously open to, even excited about the possibility that discussion during worship could be that ideal time to increase opportunities to expand on points made during exhortations which could help people practically work out ways of building on what they hear. And maybe I'm just too narrow in my ideas to see the potential. Too wedded to how I perceive worship.

quote:
However, I accept that we come from different traditions and have different expectations of worship. You're also a minister, I understand, so yours is a very creative part of this process. Sitting very still in the pews is presumably a refreshing break for you, not a permanent way of being.

Sitting still is a great challenge for me. I'm a dreadful fidgeter! Maybe another reason why I need the verbal 'space' of liturgy; to help me submit to the discipline of making myself physically aware that I'm in God's presence.

Thanks for this discussion, by the way! You've made me think hard about some things, which is helpful. It's been very thought-provoking for me and I've enjoyed it.

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Albertus
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
....! they were actually London Underground trains (= Not Exciting) [Cool]

Some would say that was fighting talk...

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Brenda Clough
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quote:
Originally posted by Anselmina:
[QUOTE]Sitting still is a great challenge for me. I'm a dreadful fidgeter! Maybe another reason why I need the verbal 'space' of liturgy; to help me submit to the discipline of making myself physically aware that I'm in God's presence.

Yes! That's what I really benefit from, at church. The sitting still, not at a keyboard or with a book. Then, even if you're not listening to the sermon, you can really hear the Spirit.

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Baptist Trainfan
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I've just been listening to a programme on Radio as to whether the time for sermons is past.

I have thought of a half-way house which has sometimes been used, which is to have a discussion by two people at the front, with others listening but not contributing (think "Newsnight", though you don't necessarily need a neutral interviewer).

This could be useful if one is trying to examine two sides of a moral/ethical issue, or a passage of Scripture which admits of diverse interpretation. Of course it is personnel-heavy as it needs those two "experts" rather than a single preacher!

(One could even come back for a Q&A or congregational discussion over coffee afterwards).

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Enoch
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I seem to remember back in the fifties or sixties of the last century, one of the 'smart' churches in London deliberately installed two pulpits so they could do this, but I can't remember which church it was. The two pulpits may even still be there - possibly occupied by cats (see references to cats above).

Does anyone know?

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Baptist Trainfan
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I can't answer your question - but I do remember that idea. I seem to link it in with Malcolm Muggeridge, but obviously others took part.

I was thinking perhaps of something slightly more informal; a couple of chairs or lecterns (depending on architecture) rather than pulpits.

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Albertus
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Possibly St James Piccadilly?
I've seen something like what you suggest, BT, used at Lent evening services, very effectively.

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mousethief

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We sometimes have discussions during Liturgy. If it gets too loud, Father will tell them to take it outside. I'll get my coat.

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Curiosity killed ...

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I've been part of something like that one Lent - a series of dramatised interviews followed by discussions in groups and a final plenary where the groups fed back and overall themes drawn out. That was looking at buildings - foundations, water, electricity - so the interviewees were an architect, an electrician, and etc.

And another one where the evidence for the resurrection was tried as in a court followed by group discussions and plenary

But these were discussion groups rather than services, even if topped and tailed with prayer.

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Jengie jon

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I am used to something slightly different.

Bible passage read

Quite often a spell of silence

Leader may give a five-minute intro

It is opened to the floor

However, not really a discussion. More like a Quaker set of leadings. Someone will comment on something. When finished normally a spell of silence. The next person may develop the comment or they may take a totally different tack. Sometimes an idea will take off and three or four will comment, other times the tack will change with each speaker and you will have maybe six different perspectives. There is no agenda topic to be discussed. It continues until everyone is finished (there is no requirement to contribute) when we will return to the formal liturgy.

It works in the setting but the setting is highly collaborative anyway and there would be genuine discomfort by some with a traditional sermon to this audience. The setting is small (half a dozen will be a good turnout). The core group actually know each other quite well and expects this so no surprise. The core group has a dominant personality trait which means that it is happy to not have the ministry of the Word tied down to three neat points.

Jengie

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Bishops Finger
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And I bet those discussion groups took a fair bit of organising!

@BT and Albertus - yes, St. James, Piccadilly, sounds familiar, perhaps during the incumbency of Donald Reeves? Wikipedia articles on the church, and on Mr. Muggeridge, don't mention twin-pulpit debates, though, and the church itself appears to have just the regular one pulpit.

Some knowledgeable Shipmate will be along soon to lighten our darkness, I hope.

IJ

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Anselmina
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:


I have thought of a half-way house which has sometimes been used, which is to have a discussion by two people at the front, with others listening but not contributing (think "Newsnight", though you don't necessarily need a neutral interviewer).


Not the same thing, but that reminds me of those lovely Peter and Jesus dialogues that were popular a while ago. Little dramatic set pieces, which could fit in so nicely into an act of worship. Thought provoking, dialogic but contextual to the liturgy.

Mousethief, I laughed out loud when I read your post! I could almost be persuaded about discussions...
[Big Grin]

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Bishops Finger
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Little dramatic set-pieces can indeed work well within the context of a service, and the thought reminded me of the rather delightfully subversive dialogues in the Lutheran Satire cartoons of Hans Fiene.

Go to YouTube, enter 'Lutheran Satire', and enjoy!

IJ

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by Albertus:
Possibly St James Piccadilly?

Donald Reeves's meant an extra hour added to a service.

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Jengie jon

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quote:
Originally posted by Anselmina:
Not the same thing, but that reminds me of those lovely Peter and Jesus dialogues that were popular a while ago. Little dramatic set pieces, which could fit in so nicely into an act of worship. Thought provoking, dialogic but contextual to the liturgy.

[Big Grin]

Eh Jesus.., Yes Peter by John Bell and Graham Maule

Jengie

[ 22. August 2017, 20:50: Message edited by: Jengie jon ]

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Chorister

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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:


I have thought of a half-way house which has sometimes been used, which is to have a discussion by two people at the front, with others listening but not contributing (think "Newsnight", though you don't necessarily need a neutral interviewer).


St. Bride's, Fleet Street have used this to great effect (although a separate event, not part of a service). The one I went to was a discussion between Rowan Williams and Simon Jenkins (the other one), I seem to remember RW sounding more impressive.

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by Jengie jon:
quote:
Originally posted by Anselmina:
Not the same thing, but that reminds me of those lovely Peter and Jesus dialogues that were popular a while ago. Little dramatic set pieces, which could fit in so nicely into an act of worship. Thought provoking, dialogic but contextual to the liturgy.

[Big Grin]

Eh Jesus.., Yes Peter by John Bell and Graham Maule
I have to admit that things like that are just as off-putting to me as discussions in lieu of a sermon, maybe even more so. I really can't stand them.

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Anselmina
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Indeed, Nick Tamen. Not everybody's cup of tea, of course.

And if they are done, even for those of us who don't mind their occasional appearance - for my money - they have to be well done, or not at all.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by balaam:
There is little difference, in practice, between the phrases, "We are going to split into groups for discussion," and, "Anyone on the autistic spectrum can fuck off now."

That may well be true (and I do think changes in worship style ideally ought to be explored and interrogated by a whole congregation as part of a shared vision, not just randomly imposed by a minister) but as it is, church must be unpalatable for folks who find it very hard to sit totally still, or who are frustrated at being empty receptacles for other people's contributions on a routine basis. Those people can '*@#* off' too. I should think most already have - long ago.

Thinking about it more broadly, the problem is that the church service, as commonly understood, is really only suitable for a limited group of people. We've developed something that doesn't speak very well to certain personality and psychological types, probably at both ends of the scale.

Of course, it's a very difficult issue to address without upsetting the kinds of people who are already at home in the pews, or the leaders whose leadership style suits those people.

quote:
Originally posted by Anselmina:


I like that you're obviously open to, even excited about the possibility that discussion during worship could be that ideal time to increase opportunities to expand on points made during exhortations which could help people practically work out ways of building on what they hear.


I'm glad my comments have been thought-provoking.

Putting aside the occasional and lighthearted 'share with your neighbour' interludes (although I don't think they detract from the average MOTR service as I know it), it would certainly be exciting to encounter serious, proficient, focused examples of interactive and educational preaching, or well-organised group discussions followed by plenaries. I can see why the Baptist churches are particularly good places for this kind of thing - and why other churches might not be.

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
church service, as commonly understood, is really only suitable for a limited group of people. We've developed something that doesn't speak very well to certain personality and psychological types, probably at both ends of the scale.

Yes - we forget that most people rarely listen to monologues any more. If we are mission-oriented, we must appeal to them. Or die.

[ 25. August 2017, 12:17: Message edited by: leo ]

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Gamaliel
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Yes, I think that Baptist settings lend themselves to this kind of thing better than some others. I've certainly seen it done better in Baptist churches than in Anglican ones.

It depends on what the expectations are.

Swings and roundabouts to a large extent.

I've had goose-bumps and a sense of the numinous in ultra-High Anglo-Catholic communion services - which were choreographed to the nth degree - in a way I mightn't at a Baptist communion service, for instance. But in the latter I might very well be moved by something else, the sense of simplicity and of sharing in community for instance ...

Thinking about it, the priest I saw involved with a vertiginously high eucharistic service tells me that he holds informal evening services several times a month where there is room for discussion and debate ... He's not against those things, but feels they should be kept separate from the eucharistic services.

So, in the discussion/interaction sense I feel that Baptist churches are better geared up for that and so such times don't feel as if they are artificially vired in as they might in an Anglican service - of whatever 'height' as it were.

It's all down to context.

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SvitlanaV2
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The problem, I suppose, is that the Baptists (and most other groups) only have limited coverage. Only the CofE is present in every community, and so in theory could provide interactive worship wherever there were people who wanted it.

Perhaps people expect too much of the CofE, though. There's almost a sense that it ought to satisfy every Christian need or requirement. But as it closes more churches in the upcoming decades this attitude may decline. Closures will make churchgoing Anglicans more accustomed to travelling to the churches of their choice (as Christians in other denominations have to do) and the rarity of the traditional communion service could enhance its appeal.

[ 26. August 2017, 20:04: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Gamaliel
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To an extent that's happening already, SvitlanaV2.

People who want traditional Anglican services and are prepared to travel a bit, already do so.

I'm not so much concerned here about Anglican services as distinct from other types of service, simply making the observation that the style and ethos of Baptist churches making the 'discussion' element a better 'fit' in that context.

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