In a previous post I mentioned the sparse intellectual offerings of my earlier church life.
My first encounter with studious engagement with the Bible occurred in a home group associated with a Billy Graham event (I think). It was organised by an old school friend and conducted by a couple who were keen and widely read Calvinists (a near-oxymoron there). This couple impressed me greatly, particularly their prayerfulness, their grasp of the scriptures and their generosity. They lead me into literature that was completely and welcomely new to me. I read this avidly for a number of years, and it was through their encouragement that I attended summer schools at Capenwray's Australian operation.
But I'd still not really encountered anyone who thought about the sermons they heard and talked about them critically until I met a young woman at one of the many church 'camps' (I much prefer the Anglican term 'house party') that I attended.
On our first date we visited a huge civil engineering project that my employer was completing (don't panic, it wasn't a mine, sewerage treatment works or dam; it was a public recreation area on previously waste land). All went well, and we seemed to have little incentive to part, so attended a local church together that evening.
The sermon was unremarkable, but I was thrilled that Foxtrot (code word to hide identity...not her real name, in case you were wondering) remarked upon the sermon: the benefits of a BA degree, I guess. This was a welcome first in my experience, as I'd known no one in my circle who even entertained the possibility of so doing.
I'm pleased to say that one of my brothers and his family regularly discuss the sermons given in their parish (and one of his children is studying to be a minister), as do my wife and I and a number of our friends. I encourage it.