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 1:1-11)
- Week 2: Living in Christ (Philippians 1:12-26)
- Week 3: Standing together in Christ (Philippians 1:27-2:11)
- Week 4: Transformed by Christ (Philippians 2:12-30)
- Week 5: Righteous in Christ (Philippians 3:1-9)
- Week 6: Knowing Christ (Philippians 3:10-4:1)
- Week 7: Rejoicing in Christ (Philippians 4:2-9)
- Week 8: Content in Christ (Philippians 4:10-23)
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