Learning about Christianity
We are all at different stages in our knowledge, understanding and acceptance of our Christian faith. But whatever stage we're at there is still room to learn more, to deepen our faith - & there are different places we can turn to to learn.
The most obvious place we learn more is from attending services & listening to the sermons preached there. Every service at Holy Trinity includes a sermon, usually 5 to 10 minutes long. Generally they are based upon the scripture readings set for that day.
Over the course of a year the sermons will cover a wide variety of subjects. Some will focus on what the bible reading means, putting it into context & thinking through what it means for us today - not always what you might assume! Others will focus on major events in the world, & how people of faith might respond to them. Usually there will be something there to prompt you to think more deeply about your faith.
You can keep up to date with any sermons you miss by listening to them on our Sermon page.
We have a Learning & Discipleship Group who organise a range of events aimed at developing our understanding of Christian Faith. These include:
- occasional one-off study days, often led by guest speakers
- house groups, often in the Autumn, each of which studies the same 5 or 6 week course.
- Lent courses, which are often arranged in co-operation with our Anglican cluster. In recent years these have taken a range of formats including a series of 'interactive lectures', & house groups.
Details of these are published in advance, & all are welcome. There is occasionally a small cost (to cover the cost of the study books, or on study days to pay for lunch!) but we can help with that if needed.
As part of the Diocese of Birmingham, we are also able to make use of courses organised by the diocese across the region.
- The 3D course happens every year, with people meeting in small groups across the diocese - there's usually one in the Sutton Coldfield area. Groups meet once a week during term time to learn in more depth about the key themes in scripture. If you would like information on this, please ask John, our Priest-in-charge.
- 'Growing Gifts' days happen throughout the year, a number of them being based at the Trinity Centre. Watch for details!
A few people want to take their study of theology deeper. The Queen's Foundation (a Church of England & Methodist Church theological college based in Birmingham) run a range of courses in combination with the Diocese. These usually run for one session a week over a term, & cost a little more. Again, ask John if you are interested.
Of course, not all of our faith development is done in church groups. Many people read on their own at home. And increasingly some material is available on the internet.
The choice of books on the Christian faith is huge. To narrow things down a little we asked John to give a list of 5 of his favourites. He came up with ...
- The Curious History of God, by Russell Stannard. It's meant as a book for teenagers, but in fact it's the most accessible book I know on how human understanding of God develops in the bible.
- The Shadow of the Galilean, by Gerd Theissen. Almost a novel, this follows the ministry of Jesus as it's told by others who are on the edges of the gospels.
- The Community of the Beloved Disciple, by Raymond Brown. A look at different layers at which John's gospel can be read.
- On Job, by Gustavo Gutierrez. A study of the book of Job, which had a huge impact on my faith.
- Christianity Rediscovered, by Vincent Donovan. The story of how a missionary to the Masai realised that the gospel has to be taught in different ways in different cultures.
By all means track these down, but also browse a Christian bookshop. In Birmingham there are two particularly well-known places to go, where you'll find a reasonable range:
- St Paul's, by the Roman Catholic cathedral - whilst there are many books with a distinct Roman Catholic slant, there are lots of others which have a broader appeal.
- Wesley Owen, at Carrs Lane (Behind M&S!) - this is at the more evangelical end of theology, but again they have things with a broader Anglican appeal.
Lichfield Cathedral Bookshop is also well worth looking at as well.
Bible reading notes
Many people base their study - & their prayer life - around reading a passage from the bible every day & reflecting on it. There are lots of bible study notes around to help with this. The best known are from BRF (the Bible Reading Fellowship) & Scripture Union. Each produces a range of different booklets published every 3 months. Look at their websites to see what's available.
There are plenty of resources on-line to help with study. The problem is that the internet makes it easy for anything & everything to be published - there's no quality control!
We plan to have a look at what's available on-line over the next few months. When we find things we think are appropriate we'll put links in this space. Until then. one of the best places to look for particular topics is probably Wikipedia!
Confirmation is a major step in each person's faith journeys. Confirmation is all about you 'confirming baptism promises', & a bishop 'confirming your membership of the church'.
Most people are baptised as children, & don't make their baptism promises themselves - parents & godparents do it for them. If they are still involved in the church, when they're old enough they make the promises themselves. That happens at a Confirmation Service, presided over by one of our bishops.
Once you're confirmed you can receive communion with everyone else in church. The service happens once a year (usually the last Sunday in June), & it rotates between the Anglican group churches - ourselves, St Chad's on Hollyfield Road, & St Peter's Maney.
Before you're confirmed, you attend a preparation course at which one of the clergy will teach about the key issues of faith - God, Jesus, human nature, scripture & so on - & help you reflect on what you believe.
If you're interested in being confirmed have a word with one of our clergy.