Yesterday I wrote the following synopsis for a course I hope to teach at my church this late August/September. I am on my way out the door to a meeting to see if a couple of other leaders like the idea. We shall see. In the meantime, I thought I'd post what I wrote (I am not crazy about the course title since the "Dummies" series of books seems more Western than Eastern to me, but I know where our pastor is headed when he recommended this title). The trick with such a course, given to a busy congregation with a limited attention span, is to make it brief and employ learning activities that will result in actual learning (imagine that). Tough tasks.
Theology for “Dummies” – Part I (or some other title)
Friday evenings – Summer/Fall 2008
Background: Many Christians, even those who have followed Jesus for several years, have only a little idea of what they believe and why they believe it. “Theology” seems like a big, hard-to-understand word and the study of theology seems irrelevant to the practical, daily problems we face in living our busy lives. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Christian theology is not only intriguing (and fun) to study, it is essential to our everyday lives. No Christian can afford to be uninterested in theology (literally, the study of God).
Goal of the course: Therefore, as a result of this course participants will develop tools that will facilitate an understanding of the theological issues present in the basic human questions about the authority of Scripture, the reality of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the human person. A second course (Theology for “Dummies” – Part II), will deal with sin, salvation, the church, and the future from the Bible’s perspective. The two courses together will be an invaluable part of a Christian’s spiritual formation.
Course Overview: The course will take place in five sessions as follows.
1. The Revelation of God, Part I
2. The Revelation of God, Part II
3. Jesus Christ (Christology)
4. Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)
5. The Human Person
Underlying all of the topics is the authority of Scripture, which we will handle briefly at the beginning of the course. From there we look at the question who is God? What is the nature of God and how do we know what his nature is? We will also spend significant time on Jesus and the Holy Spirit, who complete the Trinity. In the last session we will deal with practical issues facing people in relationship to God (e.g. sin, forgiveness, human sexuality).
This course will be practical, not theoretical. At the end of each session participants will be given a real-life case study that will help them wrestle with what was discussed and taught. The case studies prompt participants to apply theology to tough questions from anonymous people wrestling with the dilemmas of life in this world. This will be interactive and challenging!
Course format: Each Friday evening will start with an introduction of the topic followed by interactive activities, small groups, and/or question and answer. Adult learning methods will be employed to make sure participants are actually learning theology and making the hours together worth their time. Each session should take 2.5 hours, with a break included. Participants are welcome to bring dinner.
Participants: We’d like to have 2-3 Care Groups (these are small groups at our church) to commit to the five sessions, and then extend a general invitation to the congregation to welcome their participation.
Facilitated and taught by: Mark A. Swallow
Suggested Dates: Friday evenings, August 22 & 29, September 5, 12, 19th, 2008