Dwelling in the Word

Did you know that every Bishop’s staff meeting starts with dwelling in the Word? This edition of Pathways asks people around the Diocese about the difference it can make for any small group or church meeting.

This year we are encouraging everyone in the Diocese to dwell on Acts 20.17-38 (click here for a worksheet). If you’ve never tried it, see the Spring edition of Pathways to find out how dwelling in the Word can help groups listen to scripture, to each other and to God.

“It’s a gentle, but powerful process,” says the Revd Mark Bennet, Team Rector at Thatcham. “I’ve heard it described several times as a listening exercise, but it is more than that, and I prefer to describe it as an exercise in paying attention.

“Because the people I meet as partners in the process speak for me, I lose control of what I have said – they even get to decide whether what I said was worth sharing,” says Mark. “And if I listen carefully to what they tell others, I get valuable feedback on what someone else has heard me say.

“The fact that my partner is ‘a reasonably friendly looking stranger’ means that they are unfamiliar with me and my foibles and can’t use their personal experience of conversation with me to decode what I am saying. How often do we get such valuable feedback on the way we speak of our faith?” Eileen Fletcher, from Woosehill, adds: “It got people talking about scripture in a way that few other processes do. Personal Bible study is great – but hearing what others see in the Word is fascinating.”

Dwelling in the Word has even transformed PCC meetings at All Saints, Wokingham. “There was resistance at first as people struggled to get the benefits. But now we’d miss it if we stopped,”  says the Revd David Hodgson. “It focuses us on God from the start and helps us to share our faith experiences. We also use it sometimes in small groups at Sunday morning worship instead of a sermon.”

Speaking to Bishop Steven in an episode of the My (extraordinary) Family podcast, Bishop Andrew spelt out the difference the process made for the Berkshire Area Team. “It’s very important for all of us to have somewhere we can really connect deeply with our colleagues and hear what God is saying. God is always at work in this world for good, however things appear to be, and it’s a matter of trying to notice what he is doing, and who God is sending to you.”

Episode 3 of My (extraordinary) Family explores dwelling in the Word and the impact of Partnership for Missional Church. Listen at blogs.oxford.anglican.org