So I’ve recently finished the Guiding Reading Course which I piloted with some folks here at Grace using Grudem’s Systematic Theology. It’s taken a year longer than it should have but my overall impression is that it has been a useful time and well received by the participants. We’re planning on rolling it out again soon with a bigger group so, in light of that, here are my general reflections:
- Regularity is important. By missing sessions here and there the course did drag toward the end. Stick the dates in and plough on through.
- Drop out is inevitable. Some people discovered quickly it wasn’t their thing. Others’ circumstances changed over the course which meant they couldn’t continue. That’s ok – part of the process, and not something to stress overly about.
- Less is more. Initially my question sheets and extra reading was overly ambitious. Fewer questions, a bit less/lighter/easier supplementary reading, and space for discussion works better. Think discussion group, not lecture.
- Grudem is a good source book. I don’t agree with everything in there but it is sufficiently solid, thorough, clear, and readable that I haven’t found anything better.
- Range in the supplementary reading is important, both in terms of view-point, but also across the centuries. One of the best bits has been to read across history from Athanasius to Keller. A little exposure to the big names has been useful and appreciated.
- People won’t always complete the reading. Busy people with busy lives will sometimes struggle to get through it – that’s ok; don’t beat them up. They can still partake and benefit from the chat.
- People need reassuring of the value of what they’re reading. What I mean is some of our folk felt they couldn’t retain anything. Actually we retain more than we think and an introduction to theology is never wasted.
- Application is crucial. At least one final question on the ‘so what’ of all this heady theology is so important to transform theory into practice. Theology done right must lead to doxology.
- The personal benefit to me of reading and prepping this stuff is huge. If we keep this thing going it means every couple of years I’ll revise this stuff, which can only help me as a pastor, right!?
- If you have a smaller group (3-4) a pub is a great venue – ale, pig jigsaw (pork scratchings), and meaty theology – don’t get much better people.
You can find the course syllabus and all the session sheets on the Guided Reading Group Tab at the top. Feel free to use and amend in any way you like, if at all useful. Any tips do let me know.