humbler church Bigger God - April 2022

HeartEdge is fundamentally about a recognition of the activity of the Holy Spirit beyond and outside the church, and about a church that flourishes when it seeks to catch up with what the Spirit is already doing in the world. There was a time when church meant a group that believed it could control access to God – access that only happened in its language on its terms. But God is bigger than that, and the church needs to be humbler than that. Kingdom churches anticipate the way things are with God forever – a culture of creativity, mercy, discovery and grace – and are grateful for the ways God renews the church through those it has despised, rejected, or ignored.

‘humbler church Bigger God’ is the new title for our ongoing online festival of theology, ideas and practice. We’ve developed this in response to our changing world. The church is changing too, and - as we improvise and experiment - we can learn and support each other. This is ‘humbler church Bigger God’’ - talks, workshops and discussion - hosted by HeartEdge. Created to equip, encourage and energise churches - from leaders to volunteers and enquirers - at the heart and on the edge.

The online programme includes:

  • Regular workshops: Church History (Fortnightly on Mondays), Sermon Preparation (Weekly on Tuesdays) and Community of Practitioners (Weekly on Wednesdays)
  • One-off workshops and series on topics relevant to renewal of the broad church including Contemplation as a Gift to the Church and Reconciling Mission: Being Better Neighbours.

April's humbler church Bigger God programme includes:

Faith in the time of the ‘new normal’: Session four - Practices for reflection: 7th April 7:15pm. Register at https://form.jotform.com/212773252401043. A series of Lenten conversations hosted by The Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education. This series aims to help congregations and house groups reflect on how Christians may understand the changes we’ve been through as a society, and the new ‘place’ we may be entering. It will draw on and introduce participants to resources from the tradition and offer them some tools for reflection to carry forward towards Easter. Sessions will take place on Thursday evenings during Lent and will be streamed live from the Queen's chapel to groups gathered online. Resources will be provided for the weeks where there are no hosted sessions.

Church History course: This course provides an introduction to and an overview of church history. If we are to see a humbler Church and a bigger God, we need to deal with the history of the Church to understand where we are now, and why? Ruth Gouldbourne has been a Baptist minister for more than 30 years, ministering in churches in Bedford, London and Cheadle Hulme, as well as being a tutor at Bristol Baptist College. An Associate Fellow of Spurgeon's College, she is also Senior Research Fellow of IBTSC Amsterdam, and a Research Fellow of Bristol Baptist College. Register at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/church-history-course-tickets-311211099777
• Week 6 A thousand years when nothing happened April 11
• Week 7 Middle ages; Light April 25

Tuesdays: Sermon Preparation Workshop, 16:30 (GMT), livestreamed at https://www.facebook.com/theHeartEdge/. Sam Wells and Sally Hitchiner discuss Sunday's readings and offer practical tips on preaching.

Wednesdays: Community of Practitioners workshop, 16:00 (GMT), Zoom meeting. Email jonathan.evens@smitf.org to register. This is a space for practitioners, lay and ordained, to reflect on theology and practice. Each week, we alternate between 'Wonderings' and discussion of a work of theology. The book we are reading is ‘Improvisation’ by Sam Wells. 'Wonderings' help us to reflect and pray on what has stood out for each of us in the last week. Newcomers are very welcome.

Find our archive of Living God’s Future Now and humbler church Bigger God sessions at - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWUH-ngsbTAKMxCJmoIc7mQ

The humbler church Bigger Church series also coincides with the publication of Samuel Wells, 'Humbler Faith, Bigger God: Finding a Faith to Live By', a major new articulation of the Christian faith that sees criticism as a gift to foster renewal. https://canterburypress.hymnsam.co.uk/books/9781786224187/humbler-faith-bigger-god?fbclid=IwAR1KSBkMlGhuU7_bt_Qcklc9J5mXRn0al9xMXUwGKd-WnNDSwaRgnr_rOe8 (Pub date 29 April 2021)

“I’m not sure who else alive could have written this book. Scholars are not usually this accessible. Pastors not usually this sharp-eyed. Critics not usually this devastating. Advocates not usually so beautiful. This unusual book calls to mind Augustine’s heart, Aquinas’s mind, Day’s activism, Temple’s leadership. You say I exaggerate? Take up and read before you tell me I’m wrong.”
— Jason Byassee, Butler Professor of Homiletics and Biblical Hermeneutics at Vancouver School of Theology