Parish Based Learning Materials
One of the joys and responsibilities of being a Christian is to continue to grow in understanding our faith. Our learning deeply enriches our awareness of Christian life and equips us to undertake ministry in our community, with our family, in our workplace, and at church.
There are a number of excellent enquirer course materials available and used by parishes in the Diocese. these are listed below, with links for further information, and where possible reviews by some of those who have used the particular material:
The Alpha Course
Alpha is a series of sessions exploring the Christian faith, typically run over eleven weeks. Each talk looks at a different question around faith and is designed to create conversation. Alpha is run all around the globe, and everyone’s welcome. It runs in cafés, churches, universities, homes – you name it. No two Alphas look the same, but generally they have three key things in common: food, a talk and good conversation.
“I have run Alpha in 3 parishes and have it an easy to run and helpful introduction to Christianity and living the Christian life. Where Alpha has run well people have been motivated to do the course themselves, and then, having experienced it, to invite others. The meal, discussion groups, and weekend are key to the course and should be built in.
Sometimes we have been encouraged by the teaching, other times challenged, and at times differed. The discussion groups are really helpful in teasing these matters out.
I have found Alpha to be great for building leaders, and also for encouraging people to invite others to share faith. I will never forget the excitement of a parishioner who for the first time ever had invited people to come and share her faith, and her excitement when both of those invited said yes. Those two guests are still regularly at church and involved in their local parish. This story could be told in many parishes.”
– Bishop Sonia Roulston
Find out more: https://australia.alpha.org/
Jesus The Game Changer
In this series, host Karl Faase travels to the UK, USA, Singapore, India and Australia, interviewing authors, academics and modern-day game changers about how the life and teaching of Jesus changed the world and why it matters.
“Conducted at St James Wyong in 2018 through a Sunday Evening and Wednesday Morning session with the sermons also picking up the themes. Was also used by 3 of the parish Home Groups. Attendance was approximately 60 persons with 100 impacted when Church services were included. Four Roman Catholics from St Therese’ next door also attended along with six new comers attracted by our marketing.
The course is effective in energising a congregation to see the importance of evangelism and assisting them in understanding apologetics. It is more holistic than many courses in that it points to the social impact of the gospel as well as personal change.
It is not as efficient in terms of gaining a Christian commitment in the same way that an Alpha Course would.
In Newcastle Diocese it would be a useful first step for congregations that are not accustomed to reaching out.
I would recommend it as a first step.”
– The Reverend Kevin Wares
Find out more: https://www.olivetreemedia.com.au/jesus-the-game-changer/
Parish Based Study Materials
EMMAUS: The Way of Faith
A course designed to welcome people into the Christian faith and the life of the Church. It aims to involve the whole Church in evangelism, the nurture of new believers and ongoing Christian discipleship. Very popular and well-used.
- Stage 1: Contact (outreach ideas in 4 sessions);
- Stage 2: Nurture (15 sessions on basics of Christian life and faith);
- Stage 3: Growth (4 x short courses: Knowing God; Growing as a Christian; Christian Lifestyle; Your Kingdom Come: 4 or 5 sessions each).
CDs with handouts for participants. Bible Resources also available.
“Starts with contacting non-churchgoers, and grows through basics, and into the Christian life. Really thorough and applied, including theological understanding.Very practical. Both in thinking things through, and applying in worship and action.Breadth and depth of Christian life potential explored with inspiration and clarity.Great foundations for connecting with life.”
Find out more: http://www.disciplekit.org/resource/emmaus-the-way-of-faith/
Pilgrim is a major teaching and discipleship resource from the Church of England. It aims to help every local church create a place where people can explore the Christian faith together and see how it can be lived out each day.
Pilgrim takes a different approach to other Christian programmes. It approaches the great issues of faith not through persuasion, but participation in a pattern of contemplation and discussion with a group of fellow travellers.
Pilgrim is comprised of two stages: the Follow stage for those very new to faith, and the Grow stage for those who want to go further. Each stage contains four short six-session courses which focus on a major theme of Christian life.
Wallsend Parish did 2 units of this excellent Church of England resource a couple of years ago.
Although it was stated as being for novices in the faith, we found that people at all stages of their Christian journey got a lot from this course. It uses screen presentation, plus a workbook.
It was easy to use once set up, with facilitator having done some preparation as one normally would: ie, run through each session first to become familiar with the material, and to be sure the technology works.
The course material is on the website, and once paid for, can be downloaded onto USB. There’s a very good workbook for each participant, and with Bible and Prayerbook, is all that is needed.
The cost worked out for us at $10 each. Books came in packets of 10, I seem to remember.
We found it very effective. We organised participants into groups of about 6, sitting round tables where they could easily hear each other, and discuss the questions together. Everyone said they enjoyed it, and certainly the discussion round the tables was lively, with everyone able to join in.
We had cuppa and cake/biscuits on arrival, then the session went for about an hour and a half.
Things to note:
Leave plenty of time for workbooks to arrive. Shop around suppliers to get the best deal.
We found when watching and listening each session on the screen that the audio level went up and down, with some of those interviewed being quite difficult to hear. Would be best heard in a situation where participants could be gathered quite close to the screen.
– The Reverend Sally Gero
Find out more: http://www.pilgrimcourse.org/
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD
The Centre for Public Christianity has produced this engaging video and an accompanying study guide. It is suitable for Parish groups wishing to engage in a study of the broad history of the church, both its high and low points.
The accompanying study material is easy to follow and should be engaging guide for parishes using this material.
Christian history is full of violence, corruption, and oppression. So would we be better off without Christianity? Does religion poison everything?
The history of the church offers plenty of ammunition to its critics. Crusades, inquisitions, witch hunts, the oppression of women … ‘For the Love of God: How the church is better and worse than you ever imagined’, a documentary by the Centre for Public Christianity, confronts the worst of what Christians have done – and also traces the origins of Western values like human rights, charity, humility, and non-violence back to the influence of Jesus.
“For the Love of God” has 4 sessions:
- War and Peace
- Rights and Wrongs
- Rich and Poor
- Power and Humility
There is a 90 minute cinema version, or a more complete 4 program version which you can rent or buy. There is study material which also includes links to the parts of the DVD referred to.
Find out more: https://www.publicchristianity.org/fortheloveofgod/
Sharing Our Faith
‘Sharing Our Faith’ is booklet of four studies, along with some helpful reflections, designed to help and encourage Christians to share their faith and their faith journey. Each study has a bible passage, a series of reflection questions and a prayer. Written by Bishop Bill Ray, to help you think about ways you can share how you came to faith in Christ, how you live out your Christian faith in daily life, and what your love for Christ is like now.
Study One: The Good Samaritan
Study Two: The Ethiopian Eunuch
Study Three: The Early Church Example
Study Four: The Parable of the Sower
Download a copy: Sharing Our Faith
Transforming Repentance: Coming Home to God (BACI Lent 2019 Resource)
5-part series of Bible Studies for Lent 2019 put together by BACI (the Biblical Association for the Church of Ireland) and by members of RevoLectionary. The series examines closely the five Gospel readings from the Lectionary on each of the five Sundays in Lent, with an emphasis particularly on repentance.
The Lent gospel readings from Luke, which include the parable of the prodigal son, have inspired the title “Transforming Repentance: Coming Home to God”. Repentance, of course, is a key Christian command, but the English word fails to convey the drama of the Greek metanoia, which implies a complete turnaround of a person’s life. Scott Evans explains: “Rather than falling prey to the shallow version of repentance as ‘saying sorry for not being perfect’, we will reflect on repentance as a return to who we are called to be as part of God’s redemptive plan.” The key texts for the studies will be the gospel readings for the first five weeks of Lent.
The sessions are as follows:
- Temptation- resisted by ‘coming home’ by Katie Lynch
- Repentance- turning towards our death by Philip King
- From Roots to Fruits- the barren fig tree by Scott Evans
- Coming Home- Prodigal Son by Emily Murtagh
- All my love- Mary anoints Jesus Feet- Emily Murtagh
Download a copy: Transforming Repentance
Faith and Worship
faithandworshop.com is a prayer resource containing a growing collection of hundreds of ancient, traditional and contemporary prayers. There are prayer resources for all kinds of occasions – daily prayers, prayers for healing and wholeness, quiet prayers, morning and evening prayers. You can also find a range of bible study guides and tools as well.
Find out more: www.faithandworship.com