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 mission within local communities and how this may renew imagination and impact of the church in a rapidly changing society. Course attendees will explore common mission approaches and be introduced to practices of local community research, theological reflection, and spiritual discernment, in order to develop practical skills in mission attentiveness. Processes that enable group reflection, observation, listening to stories and interpretation 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.

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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

Sept 29th - Nov 24th, 2022

This course will take place online on Thursday evenings, 7.00pm-9.00pm. This course will be taught over 9 weeks (incuding a break on 27th October) 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.

This course aims to:

  • Help participants explore a local practice of church mission that attends to the mission of God in their social context. 

  • Develop skills in local community research, theological reflection, and identifying local mission opportunities, that can be deployed in churches.  

  • Stimulate participants and their churches to renew their imagination and impact for local mission through improved awareness and understanding of the local community and its social changes  

  • Reflect on current church approaches to mission

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Reflect on their own mission postures and attentiveness to local mission opportunities within the context of the mission of God.

  • Undertake observational and listening research exercises in their local neighbourhood

  • Sort and analyse research results into forms that can extend comprehension in church communities

  • Apply theological evaluation and discernment to identify the most relevant information for designing future mission action in the local community.

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.



How to Apply


Formal Applications open Summer 2022. Notify your interest now via email:


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 Ellie Hayes (office administrator) at: