The three questions were:
1 How has leading worship and preaching changed in the last 20 or so years.
2 What new skills and insights might preachers need to adapt to the next 20 years or so?
3 How can we work more cooperatively as neighbouring circuits in the Walsall Borough?
We broke up into three groups with a mixture of people from each circuit in each group along with ministers from each circuit in each group.
The groups then came back together and feed back to the larger group and there was much of interest that came out of the conversation and surprisingly I thought a fairly broad consensus of opinion about some topics.
Naturally there were some differences as well and an example of this was that one group thought service were less formal where another one thought they were more formal.
A thought that seemed to resonate with all three groups was that people today are not as knowledgeable in respect of the bible as they were 20 years ago.
Some of the skill and insights we felt would be needed were a greater understanding and use of audio visual equipment - not just PowerPoint but other things as well. One group felt that we may need to become more like TV presenters using short sound bites to communicate with our congregations.
There was in our group some discussion of the liturgy/worship book as the meeting had commenced with a prayer from the covenant service in the 1930's book of offices using the language of the day - one member of the group said they disliked the current worship book immensely and felt it should be burned. Nobody objected too vehemently to that suggestion so it makes you wonder how popular it is.
Mention was made of music in worship and the variety of worship material available now as opposed to 20 years ago and we touched on the possibility of a new hymn book and it seemed in our group at least we thought this was totally unnecessary. I was at conference when the current hymn book was approved and although it is only 26 years old sometimes I feel it is very dated. One of our group said that they felt as soon as a book comes out it is out of date.
All in all I think it was a very useful evening and we have agreed to meet again on Ascension Day for a joint communion service followed by our individual preachers meetings for a short time and then a joint meeting.