Other Church Based Courses
Discipleship Courses (Information obtained from Norwich Diocese web site)
There are a large number of courses which are specifically designed to help groups and individuals in their growth as disciples. Here is a selection (in alphabetical order).
Most people think of Alpha as an evangelism course but it began life as a six-week discipleship course written in 1977 by Charles Marnham, then a curate at Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB). It was originally designed for new Christians, although it attracted inquirers almost from the beginning. Today it is used by thousands of churches of all denominations around the world. Yet many churches do their first one or two Alpha courses with church folk in the majority and they find that it is a real source of spiritual growth, even for those who have been attending church for years.
Alpha consists of fifteen talks:
- Introduction week: Christianity: Boring, Untrue and Irrelevant?
- Week 1: Who is Jesus?
- Week 2: Why did Jesus die?
- Week 3: How can I be sure of my faith?
- Week 4: Why and how should I read the Bible?
- Week 5: Why and how do I pray?
- Week 6: How does God Guide us?
- Weekend/day away: Who is the Holy Spirit?
- Weekend/day away: What does the Holy Spirit do?
- Weekend/day away: How can I be filled with the Spirit?
- Weekend/day away: How can I make the most of the rest of my life?
- Week 7: How can I resist evil?
- Week 8: Why and how should I tell others?
- Week 9: Does God heal today?
- Week 10: What about the church?
Each session starts with a shared meal, followed by the talk, and ends with small group discussion in which questions and opinions can be aired. The principle is that, “Alpha is a place where no question is too simple or too hostile”.
There is a huge range of resources. A starter pack, containing everything you need to administer and run an Alpha course for up to 20 guests, including 1 Alpha Course Leaders training video, 5 Alpha Course Leaders training manuals, 1 Alpha Course Administrators handbook, 1 Alpha Course DVD set (including Alpha Express), 20 Alpha Course manuals, 1 Searching Issues book, 1 Alpha – Questions of Life book, 1 Telling Others – How to Run the Alpha Course book, 50 Alpha Course invitations, and 20 Why Jesus? books.
A Life Worth Living was designed as a discipleship follow-on to Alpha, though it can be used as a stand-alone course. It uses the basic Alpha format of shared meal, talk by the leader or from video, discussion groups and prayer. Based on Phillipians it is in nine sessions:
- Session 1: New heart
- Session 2: New purpose
- Session 3: New attitude
- Session 4: New responsibilities
- Session 5: New friendships
- Session 6: New confidence
- Session 7: New ambitions
- Session 8: New resources
- Session 9: New generosity
A starter pack to run the A Life Worth Living course with 10 guests contains 1 DVD Set, 2 A Life Worth Living books, 2 Leader’s guides, and 10 Guest manuals.
Mike Breen, was rector of St Thomas, Crookes, where he developed the notion of life shapes. Now at Community Church of Joy in Glendale USA he has written the book A Passionate Life with Walt Kallestad. It is an easy to read guidebook (236 pages) that takes the reader through eight shapes providing memory models for key areas of discipleship. It has been developed into a training course with:
- an eight-session DVD featuring 15 minute presentations by Mike Breen and PowerPoint presentations for group leaders
- a leader’s guide book
- a participant’s work book
The eight sessions cover:
- Session 1: A circle of repentance and faith
- Session 2: A semi circle of rest and work
- Session 3: A triangle of relationships
- Session 4: A square of priorities
- Session 5: A pentagon of ministry
- Session 6: A hexagon of prayer
- Session 7: A heptagon of life
- Session 8: An octagon of peace
The resources are supported by a website that provides further stories, audio and video features and news of online training events.
A Passionate Life is available from Kingsway. The small group resource kit contains A Passionate Life book, Leader’s guide, six workbooks and DVD, including PowerPoint slides.
Beta describes itself as a multimedia pastoral course. It has no direct relationship with Alpha though many see it as a useful follow-on from Alpha. It was produced by Sara Savage, Fraser Watts and Ruth Layzell of the Psychology and Christianity Project, University of Cambridge. Each session of Beta is designed to last for one and a half hours and includes Bible study, video presentation, group discussion, creative reflection, prayer and homework (private journaling and reflection). There are ten sessions:
- Week 1: An introductory session
- Week 2: Relationships
- Week 3: Community
- Week 4: Sin and atonement
- Week 5: Forgiveness and reconciliation
- Week 6: Depression
- Week 7: Loss and change
- Week 8: Stress and coping
- Week 9: Suffering and wholeness
- Week 10: Self and God
Written by Rico Tice, Associate Minister at All Souls, Langham Place, in 2001, Christianity Explored is modelled on the Alpha course and designed as much for inquirers as for Christians. Compared with Alpha there is a greater emphasis on the centrality of biblical exposition and less emphasis on the person and work of the Holy Spirit. But the structure is the same, with an opening meal and a focus on small group work. The course is based on Mark’s gospel and there re are fourteen sessions, including four which are run on an awayday or weekend:
- Week 1: Introduction
- Week 2: Jesus – who was he?
- Week 3: Jesus – why did he come?
- Week 4: Jesus – his death
- Week 5: What is Grace?
- Week 6: Jesus – his resurrection
- Exploring Christian Life weekend or day away: the Church, the Holy Spirit, Prayer, the Bible
- Week 7: What is a Christian?
- Week 8: Continuing as a Christian
- Week 9: Choices – King Herod
- Week 10: Choices – James, John and Bartimaeus
A lot of the illustrations are contemporary, drawn from movies and modern novels. You are also encouraged to add your own illustrations. As with Alpha, a set of videos are available for leaders who do not feel able to deliver the material themselves.
Discipleship Explored was developed by the Christianity Explored team and provides follow-on material based on Paul’s letter to the Philippians. The course lasts eight weeks, with each session lasting about 2 hours and comprising of a group discussion, a study in Philippians, a short talk, & further discussion. The sessions are:
- Week 1: Confident in Christ (Philippians 1:1-11Philippians 1:1-11
English: Good News Bible (UK) - GNB-UK
1 1 From Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus — : To all God's people in Philippi who are in union with Christ Jesus, including the church leaders and helpers: 2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. Paul's Prayer for his Readers 3 I thank my God for you every time I think of you; 4 and every time I pray for you all, I pray with joy 5 because of the way in which you have helped me in the work of the gospel from the very first day until now. 6 And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus. 7 You are always in my heart! And so it is only right for me to feel as I do about you. For you have all shared with me in this privilege that God has given me, both now that I am in prison and also while I was free to defend the gospel and establish it firmly. 8 God is my witness that I am telling the truth when I say that my deep feeling for you all comes from the heart of Christ Jesus himself. 9 I pray that your love will keep on growing more and more, together with true knowledge and perfect judgement, 10 so that you will be able to choose what is best. Then you will be free from all impurity and blame on the Day of Christ. 11 Your lives will be filled with the truly good qualities which only Jesus Christ can produce, for the glory and praise of God.
- Week 2: Living in Christ (Philippians 1:12-26Philippians 1:12-26
English: Good News Bible (UK) - GNB-UK
To Live is Christ 12 I want you to know, my brothers and sisters, that the things that have happened to me have really helped the progress of the gospel. 13 As a result, the whole palace guard and all the others here know that I am in prison because I am a servant of Christ. : 14 And my being in prison has given most of the brothers and sisters more confidence in the Lord, so that they grow bolder all the time to preach the message the message; some manuscripts have God's message. fearlessly. 15 Of course some of them preach Christ because they are jealous and quarrelsome, but others from genuine goodwill. 16 These do so from love, because they know that God has given me the work of defending the gospel. 17 The others do not proclaim Christ sincerely, but from a spirit of selfish ambition; they think that they will make more trouble for me while I am in prison. 18 It does not matter! I am happy about it — so long as Christ is preached in every way possible, whether from wrong or right motives. And I will continue to be happy, 19 because I know that by means of your prayers and the help which comes from the Spirit of Jesus Christ I shall be set free. 20 My deep desire and hope is that I shall never fail in my duty, but that at all times, and especially just now, I shall be full of courage, so that with my whole being I shall bring honour to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For what is life? To me, it is Christ. Death, then, will bring more. 22 But if by continuing to live I can do more worthwhile work, then I am not sure which I should choose. 23 I am pulled in two directions. I want very much to leave this life and be with Christ, which is a far better thing; 24 but for your sake it is much more important that I remain alive. 25 I am sure of this, and so I know that I will stay. I will stay on with you all, to add to your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that when I am with you again, you will have even more reason to be proud of me in your life in union with Christ Jesus.
- Week 3: Standing together in Christ (Philippians 1:27-2:11Philippians 1:27-2:11
English: Good News Bible (UK) - GNB-UK
27 Now, the important thing is that your way of life should be as the gospel of Christ requires, so that, whether or not I am able to go and see you, I will hear that you are standing firm with one common purpose and that with only one desire you are fighting together for the faith of the gospel. 28 Don't be afraid of your enemies; always be courageous, and this will prove to them that they will lose and that you will win, because it is God who gives you the victory. 29 For you have been given the privilege of serving Christ, not only by believing in him, but also by suffering for him. 30 Now you can take part with me in the battle. It is the same battle you saw me fighting in the past, and as you hear, the one I am fighting still. : Christ's Humility and Greatness 2 1 Your life in Christ makes you strong, and his love comforts you. You have fellowship with the Spirit, You have fellowship with the Spirit; or The Spirit has brought you into fellowship with one another. and you have kindness and compassion for one another. 2 I urge you, then, to make me completely happy by having the same thoughts, sharing the same love, and being one in soul and mind. 3 Don't do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble towards one another, always considering others better than yourselves. 4 And look out for one another's interests, not just for your own. 5 The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had: 6 He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain remain; or become. equal with God. 7 Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness. 8 He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death — his death on the cross. 9 For this reason God raised him to the highest place above and gave him the name that is greater than any other name. 10 And so, in honour of the name of Jesus : all beings in heaven, on earth, and in the world below world below: It was thought that the dead continued to exist in a dark world under the ground. will fall on their knees, 11 and all will openly proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
- Week 4: Transformed by Christ (Philippians 2:12-30Philippians 2:12-30
English: Good News Bible (UK) - GNB-UK
Shining as Lights in the World 12 So then, dear friends, as you always obeyed me when I was with you, it is even more important that you obey me now while I am away from you. Keep on working with fear and trembling to complete your salvation, 13 because God is always at work in you to make you willing and able to obey his own purpose. 14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may be innocent and pure as God's perfect children, who live in a world of corrupt and sinful people. You must shine among them like stars lighting up the sky, : 16 as you offer them the message of life. If you do so, I shall have reason to be proud of you on the Day of Christ, because it will show that all my effort and work have not been wasted. 17 Perhaps my life's blood is to be poured out like an offering on the sacrifice that your faith offers to God. If that is so, I am glad and share my joy with you all. 18 In the same way, you too must be glad and share your joy with me. Timothy and Epaphroditus 19 If it is the Lord's will, I hope that I will be able to send Timothy to you soon, so that I may be encouraged by news about you. 20 He is the only one who shares my feelings and who really cares about you. 21 All the others are concerned only with their own affairs, not with the cause of Jesus Christ. 22 And you yourselves know how he has proved his worth, how he and I, like a son and his father, have worked together for the sake of the gospel. 23 So I hope to send him to you as soon as I know how things are going to turn out for me. 24 And I trust in the Lord that I myself will be able to come to you soon. 25 I have thought it necessary to send you our brother Epaphroditus, who has worked and fought by my side and who has served as your messenger in helping me. 26 He is anxious to see you all and is very upset because you had heard that he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill and almost died. But God had pity on him, and not only on him but on me, too, and spared me an even greater sorrow. 28 I am all the more eager, then, to send him to you, so that you will be glad again when you see him, and my own sorrow will disappear. 29 Receive him, then, with joy, as a brother in the Lord. Show respect to all such people as he, 30 because he risked his life and nearly died for the sake of the work of Christ, in order to give me the help that you yourselves could not give.
- Week 5: Righteous in Christ (Philippians 3:1-9Philippians 3:1-9
English: Good News Bible (UK) - GNB-UK
The True Righteousness 3 1 In conclusion, my brothers and sisters, be joyful in your union with the Lord. I don't mind repeating what I have written before, and you will be safer if I do so. 2 Watch out for those who do evil things, those dogs, those who insist on cutting the body. 3 It is we, not they, who have received the true circumcision, for we worship God by means of his Spirit and rejoice in our life in union with Christ Jesus. We do not put any trust in external ceremonies. 4 I could, of course, put my trust in such things. If anyone thinks they can trust in external ceremonies, I have even more reason to feel that way. 5 I was circumcised when I was a week old. I am an Israelite by birth, of the tribe of Benjamin, a pure-blooded Hebrew. As far as keeping the Jewish Law is concerned, I was a Pharisee, : ; 6 and I was so zealous that I persecuted the church. As far as a person can be righteous by obeying the commands of the Law, I was without fault. : 7 But all those things that I might count as profit I now reckon as loss for Christ's sake. 8 Not only those things; I reckon everything as complete loss for the sake of what is so much more valuable, the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have thrown everything away; I consider it all as mere refuse, so that I may gain Christ 9 and be completely united with him. I no longer have a righteousness of my own, the kind that is gained by obeying the Law. I now have the righteousness that is given through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God and is based on faith.
- Week 6: Knowing Christ (Philippians 3:10-4:1Philippians 3:10-4:1
English: Good News Bible (UK) - GNB-UK
10 All I want is to know Christ and to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death, 11 in the hope that I myself will be raised from death to life. Running towards the Goal 12 I do not claim that I have already succeeded or have already become perfect. I keep striving to win the prize for which Christ Jesus has already won me to himself. 13 Of course, my brothers and sisters, I really do not not; some manuscripts have not yet. think that I have already won it; the one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. 14 So I run straight towards the goal in order to win the prize, which is God's call through Christ Jesus to the life above. 15 All of us who are spiritually mature should have this same attitude. But if some of you have a different attitude, God will make this clear to you. 16 However that may be, let us go forward according to the same rules we have followed until now. 17 Keep on imitating me, my brothers and sisters. Pay attention to those who follow the right example that we have set for you. : 18 I have told you this many times before, and now I repeat it with tears: there are many whose lives make them enemies of Christ's death on the cross. 19 They are going to end up in hell, because their god is their bodily desires. They are proud of what they should be ashamed of, and they think only of things that belong to this world. 20 We, however, are citizens of heaven, and we eagerly wait for our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, to come from heaven. 21 He will change our weak mortal bodies and make them like his own glorious body, using that power by which he is able to bring all things under his rule. Instructions 4 1 So then, my brothers and sisters, how dear you are to me and how I miss you! How happy you make me, and how proud I am of you! This then, dear brothers and sisters, is how you should stand firm in your life in the Lord.
- Week 7: Rejoicing in Christ (Philippians 4:2-9Philippians 4:2-9
English: Good News Bible (UK) - GNB-UK
2 Euodia and Syntyche, please, I beg you, try to agree as sisters in the Lord. 3 And you too, my faithful partner, I want you to help these women; for they have worked hard with me to spread the gospel, together with Clement and all my other fellow-workers, whose names are in God's book of the living. 4 May you always be joyful in your union with the Lord. I say it again: rejoice! 5 Show a gentle attitude towards everyone. The Lord is coming soon. 6 Don't worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. 7 And God's peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus. 8 In conclusion, my brothers and sisters, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honourable. 9 Put into practice what you learnt and received from me, both from my words and from my actions. And the God who gives us peace will be with you.
- Week 8: Content in Christ (Philippians 4:10-23Philippians 4:10-23
English: Good News Bible (UK) - GNB-UK
Thanks for the Gift 10 In my life in union with the Lord it is a great joy to me that after so long a time you once more had the chance of showing that you care for me. I don't mean that you had stopped caring for me — you just had no chance to show it. 11 And I am not saying this because I feel neglected, for I have learnt to be satisfied with what I have. 12 I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have more than enough. I have learnt this secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am content, whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little. 13 I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me. 14 But it was very good of you to help me in my troubles. 15 You Philippians know very well that when I left Macedonia in the early days of preaching the Good News, you were the only church to help me; you were the only ones who shared my profits and losses. : 16 More than once when I needed help in Thessalonica, you sent it to me. : 17 It is not that I just want to receive gifts; rather, I want to see profit added to your account. 18 Here, then, is my receipt for everything you have given me — and it has been more than enough! I have all I need now that Epaphroditus has brought me all your gifts. They are like a sweet-smelling offering to God, a sacrifice which is acceptable and pleasing to him. : 19 And with all his abundant wealth through Christ Jesus, my God will supply all your needs. 20 To our God and Father be the glory for ever and ever! Amen. Final Greetings 21 Greetings to each one of God's people who belong to Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters here with me send you their greetings. 22 All God's people here send greetings, especially those who belong to the Emperor's palace. 23 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
There is a leader’s book for this course and study guides for those taking part.
Emmaus was written in 1996 by Stephen Cottrell, Steve Croft, John Finney, Felicity Lawson and Robert Warren, all then in the Diocese of Wakefield. A wide variety of learning methods are used including exercises, buzz groups, Bible study and group discussion. Emmaus has three stages:
- Contact – a simple guide to help churches make contact with their local communities and build relationships.
- Nurture – a 15 session course on Christian belief, life and growth.
- Growth – a number of short courses on different aspects of Christian discipleship.
The 15 sessions of the Nurture course are:
PART 1: WHAT CHRISTIANS BELIEVE
- God is there and he matters
- We need God in our lives
- Jesus – his ministry and death
- The Resurrection of Jesus
- The Holy Spirit
- Becoming a Christian
PART 2: HOW CHRISTIANS GROW
- Learning to pray
- Reading the Bible
- Belonging to the Church
- Sharing Holy Communion
PART 3: LIVING THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
- Living God’s way
- Serving the Lord
- Your money and your life
- Learning to love
- Sharing the faith
There is also Youth Emmaus, an interactive, hands-on course, designed to help young people aged between 11 and 16 to explore the basics of the Christian faith.
Foundations21 is a discipleship course from Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF). It is:
- web-based – using your own computer
- for new and experienced Christians who want to be more effective disciples of Christ
- a combination of personal exploration and interaction with other people
- a mix of Bible exploration, web-based activities and personal application
There are twelve ‘Rooms’, with one theme per Room, each of which takes about a month to work through, including a small group meeting. The expectation is that each Room will take a month to explore so the whole course will take about a year. There are four pathways through the material, each based on a different gospel. Participants choose the pathway which seems best suited to their own learning style. Course participants have access to a whole range of multi-media resources including over 6 hours of video, more than 3,500 web pages and thousands of web links.
Access to the course is by subscription.
There is also a trial version which gives full access to the learning environment and the Foundations21 community, plus all the DVD content for Room 1 – Jesus.
A DVD, Adrian Plass introduces Foundations21 is available free. It provides a brief overview of Foundations21 and how it works.
Freedom in Christ Ministries UK is the UK arm of Freedom in Christ Ministries, an American organisation with a conservative doctrinal basis. It offers a thirteen-week discipleship course in a clear, straightforward style. There are three basic components: discipleship teaching that helps Christians understand who they are in Christ, the nature of the spiritual battle, and how to move on to maturity; a ministry process called Steps To Freedom In Christ which helps Christians deal with negative influences and unresolved spiritual conflicts in their lives; and help to stand firm in the freedom gained. The thirteen weekly sessions are:
- Week 1: Where did I come from?
- Week 2: Who am I now?
- Week 3: Choosing to believe the truth
- Week 4: The world’s view of truth
- Week 5: Our daily choice
- Week 6: Demolishing strongholds
- Week 7: The battle for our minds
- Week 8: Handling emotions well
- Week 9: Forgiving from the heart
- Week 10: Walking in freedom every day
- Week 11: Relating to others
- Week 12: Where are you heading?
- Week 13: Staying on the right path
Their website offers some case studies from churches which have used the material.
Glad You Asked is a process evangelism/discipleship course from Innovista, a group dedicated to reaching out to the emerging generations. It was launched at St Hugh’s College, Oxford in 2004 and is designed to connect with younger people, especially students. It developed from the question, ‘If you could ask God any question, what would you ask?’. They then asked the same question in a survey across Europe and Eurasia. They found that people were asking essentially the same 10 questions, which became the basis for the 10 sessions of Glad You Asked. The sessions are:
- Session 1 – part 1: Does God matter?
- Session 1 – part 2: Does God exist?
- Session 2: How can God allow pain?
- Session 3: Do the differences between religions matter?
- Session 4: Can the Bible be trusted?
- Session 5: Why is religion full of hypocrites?
- Session 6: What was Jesus really like?
- Session 7: Questions Jesus asked: ‘Why do you call me good?’
- Session 8: Questions Jesus asked: ‘Why have you abandoned me?’
- Session 9: Questions Jesus asked: ‘Why are you crying?’
- Session 10: Questions Jesus asked: ‘Who do you say I am?’
A promotional video is available on the website, as are video clips from each session.
This is a six week interactive course developed by Community Mission, a partnership between the two charities Tearfund and Livability. The aim is to help Christians grapple with issues of poverty and social injustice, and consider how to develop a local response.
This web site offers a course intended to inspire and equip Christians to put their faith into action in tough places. At the moment the course is only available through a DVD, but the organisers are hoping to make it available online soon.
The three aims of the course are to prepare Christians to engage with others in:
- Experiencing the extravagant welcome of God
- Finding freedom from the things that hold them captive
- Challenging and changing the injustices that oppress them
This web site offers courses on developing the gifts of prophecy and and revelation which have been written by John Paul Jackson.
The courses are:
- Advanced Prophetic Ministry
- Advanced workshop in dream interpretation
- The art of hearing God
- Understanding Dreams and Visions
- Dream Interpretation Workshop
Courses from Workbooks
Called to Serve: A Workbook for Leaders and Members of a Local Church is a discipleship course written by Tony, Patricia and Michel Higton.
Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren at Saddleback church in California, is an evangelical approach to spiritual growth. It is intended to last for forty days and it contains:
- Worship – six special worship services, with sermon material, leading to a Celebration Sunday at the close of the journey.
- Small groups – with study material designed to take the Sunday message deeper by studying specific scripture passages.
- Personal study – each member engages with the daily personal devotional readings in the book The Purpose Driven Life.
The course is arranged around five key purposes:
- Purpose 1: You were planned for God’s pleasure
- Purpose 2: You were formed for God’s family
- Purpose 3: You were created to become like Christ
- Purpose 4: You were shaped for serving God
- Purpose 5: You were made for a mission
The World We All Want by Tim Chester, this evangelistic seven week course, designed for people who have little or no Bible background, looks at the story of the Bible and how it all fits together. The seven weeks are headed as follows:
- Week 1: God promises the world we all want
- Week 2: Jesus shows us God’s new world
- Week 3: We have spoiled God’s good world
- Week 4: God promises a new world
- Week 5: We cannot create God’s new world
- Week 6: We can enjoy God’s new world because of Jesus
- Week 7: Christians are God’s people waiting for God’s new world