So on a dark October evening, I joined a group (one of three around the Diocese) of like-minded Christians in a church hall for the start of the autumn term.
Walking in I was immediately surprised by just how many of us there are and reassured by smiles that we all felt as nervous as each other.
After some prayers and an explanation of the purpose of the course, to help people grown in discipleship and to perhaps find the ministry in to which God is calling them, we settled down to our first lecture.
Session 1: Making Connections
After reassurance there was no wrong answer we started by discuss how our past experiences from all the different and varied church back grounds we came from might make for a fertile ground for us all to grow in faith. That to grown in maturity as a Christian we needed a two-way process with life influencing faith and faith influencing faith. In short we had to live our faith, not just turn up on a Sunday and by Monday be back to our old ways. It soon became clear that this course was going to challenge my whole way of living.
How do we use the bible? What is Theology? On what is your faith-based? How can that understanding grow?
My head was spinning.
THEN we were told we were all Theologians. ME!! the person who can’t quote anything or remember who said what when!!! A Theologian. DO be serious!!
But again I was told YOU are here to do theology.
An “ology!!” said the Maureen Lipman in my head.
And then the gentle reassurance. “Theology is faith seeking understanding.”
And it all made sense and as the night progressed it suddenly all started to slot into place. Understanding the context of the scriptures, the history and lifestyle at the time and then making it relevant to the here and now so that I could explain to people in a way they would understand and be encouraged. That small voice whispered you could do that.
After a much-needed coffee break we split into smaller groups in separate rooms and headed off with our lovely mentors to discuss the evening further.
Now throw a group of very different people in a room who have never met and ask them to introduce themselves and to say a brief bit about their personal journey to date and you could get into a huge pickle. We might be all emotional and give testimony or stiff up lip and give nothing away but oh my, what a blessing our group are.
We did get a bit emotional, we did share very personal things quite openly, we did explain a little of our journey so far, but under our mentors guidance we all had a chance to speak, to express and to bond.
I came away from that first night so encouraged and enthusiastic and with some fab new friends. We all came from different churches with different styles of worship but we all have so much to give and share.
Never have Thursday evenings been so exciting!