Listening in Mission

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Online Practical Theology Short Courses
Trinity College Glasgow & Theology & Religious Studies, University of Glasgow

Course Description

This course will explore the practice and theology of listening in God’s mission within local communities and how this may renew church imagination and impact in a rapidly changing society. Course attendees will explore mission approaches and be introduced to practices of local community research, theological reflection and discernment, in order to develop practical skills in mission attentiveness. Tools that enable group reflection, observation, and listening to local stories will be introduced so these skills can be deployed in church or mission teams. This course is applicable to those who lead in local church situations and those interested in innovating and pioneering in church mission.

This is an open access course available as a 10-credit course (accredited by the University of Glasgow) or audit-only for those who just wish to engage with the learning programme for their own personal benefit.


Rev Dr Mark Johnston is Pastoral Studies Tutor with the Dept of Theology and Religious Studies. He has leadership experience working in education, churches, mission projects and not-for-profit sector. He has served the Church of Scotland in mission innovation and for the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand as a Minister and a theological educator in missional leadership. He has developed and taught “Listening in Mission” approaches for a number of years with those training for ministry, church planters and experienced church leaders. He is a lover of the outdoors, curious about local history and cultures and enjoys a good conversation over a beer.

Timetable & Duration

Oct 5th - Nov 30th, 2021.

This course will take place online on Tuesday evenings, 7.00pm-9.00pm. This course will be taught over 8 weeks via online real-time meetings & instruction and after class activities.


Introduction to the course

The way we think about and practice mission in our local communities has been disrupted and, in some cases, turned upside down by the pandemic. As churches reconvene in person, we are in a space both familiar and new. We have discovered both limitations in mission and ministry and new possibilities of re-engaging in relationship with places and neighbours. So how do churches and mission teams take up the challenges left by this? 'Listening in mission' takes the view that the Spirit of God invites us to pay attention and to learn where God is ahead of us and where invitations are open to demonstrate and share Good News. For churches or for new mission or planting teams starting out, 'listening in mission' offers practical pathways for becoming more attuned to local mission opportunity, and for discerning responses that are Christ shaped in their local context.


The course is designed to introduce activities, spiritual practices and practical steps that can be deployed in a local church or a new mission team setting. Hands-on practical work, introduction to key frameworks and resources, online supportive conversations and feedback, will involve participants in an 8 week journey of discovery.


Topics include:

  • God's mission in Christ's way; 

  • Being attentive to places;

  • What are we not seeing or hearing?;

  • Community mapping skills and approaches for local discovery;

  • Diagnosing local observations, features and stories;

  • Discerning God possibilities

  • Discerning Christ shaped opportunities;

  • Cultivating church spaces for conversation and shared practices of mission attentiveness.


Course Information

This course is conducted online. The directed online instruction will be explored in weekly real-time conversations along with materials and interaction using the learning platform, Moodle. Zoom as an online meeting tool will be used for the real-time conversations and online group times. Access to these tools will be supported by the course administration. More information about the use of these will be provided once enrolled.

Each learning module will be taught through a range of online group discussion, exercises, and activities, viewing and reading. Participants will be introduced to a range of hands on practical work for practicing in their own local context, and invited to feedback to the class.

If you wish to take the course for credit - the formal assessment for this course consists of the following:

  • Portfolio. (1000 words - 50%)  Four journal entries (250 words approx each.) 

  • Report. (1000 words – 50%) including diagram content.




£200 (this covers access to all resources and administrative costs).

Funds & Subsidies

Part-funding subsidies from Trinity College are available to leaders from Church of Scotland Priority Area (PA) parishes via separate application directly to us. To be considered for a subsidy email your interest to Principal of Trinity College, by 30th September 2021.


Applicants should still register for the course. We are unable to provide the subsidy upfront so we ask you to pay the full fee initially and arrangements will be made for the subsidy as a direct grant subsequently. 

Funds or subsidies may also be available through your own church system for study/training purposes and we encourage you to approach them with the details of the course.

How to Apply


These courses are delivered through the University of Glasgow. We will contact you with more information and guidance regarding applying, completing your details and payment in time for the course start date. If you have any questions regarding the process, you can contact us on the above email address. 

If you have any difficulties with this process – please contact Mark Johnston or Eleanor Hayes at:

Registration now closed