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The language and processes of theologically reflective learning amongst church-goers


Sarah Dunlop, Cambridge Theological Federation

Initial Description

The Church’s episcopal and administrative structures are currently wrestling with how to encourage church-goers to better connect their faith to their everyday life. This perceived gap between ‘Sunday’ and ‘everyday’ is often assumed to be a gap between the sacramental-cognitive faith and the activity-expression of faith within the person’s daily context. This research aims to unpack this assumption by increasing our understanding of what theological reflection church-goers already do informally that bridges this gap.

Initially, we intend to bring into conversation the literature on theological reflection, generally focused on ordinands, with the empirical research into the practices of church-goers. We see the increasing body of work on theological reflection for ordinands that bridges theory and practice as a rich source for thinking about the perceived gap between ‘Sunday’ and ‘everyday’ for church-goers. Bringing these into dialogue will enable us to develop a frame- work and definition of ‘theological reflection’ for a congregational context to inform the interviews.

During the interviews, we intend to explore the language used by church-goers, the extent of the processes that they use and the genesis of these processes and language. Language that may not be theologically or biblically sophisticated may nonetheless be a vital component of the person’s faith and an effective ‘bridge’.

Mapping a typology of existing theological reflection learning will enable resources for church-goers to be better matched. It is our hope that TEIs will also benefit in two ways: (1) by helping those in training for licensed ministry to understand how to support the theological reflection of their congregations and (2) for TEIs to understand the starting point of ordinands before they are taught theological reflection formally.