Listening in Mission

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 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.


Rev Dr Mark Johnston is Pastoral Studies Tutor with GU 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 and mission trainer. 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. “The Missio Dei, embodied in local community ministry in Scotland” published in Ecclesial Futures, Dec 2020, explores Mark’s experiences both working at the local level and in equipping others in theology and practice.  He is a lover of the outdoors, curious about local history and cultures and enjoys a good conversation over a beer.

How to Apply

For initial registration, email: stating your name, contact details and the title of course you wish to take. 


These courses are delivered through the University of Glasgow. We will contact you with more information and guidance regarding the process for completing registration and enrolment which we have worked to streamline and simplify. If you have any questions regarding the process, you can contact us on the above email address. 


Applications close on April 18th.

Timetable & Duration

May 10 - June 28

This course will take place online on Monday evenings,7.00pm-9.00pm GMT.


This course will be taught over 8 weeks via online real-time meetings & instruction.


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 we emerge from our homes, and churches reconvene in person, we are in a space both familiar and new. We have discovered both existing limitations of former patterns of life and ministry and new possibilities of re-engaging in relationship with neighbourhood and neighbours. So how do churches and mission teams take up the challenges left by this? Listening in mission takes the stance that the Spirit of God invites us to pay attention and to learn where Gospel work in the world is already emerging and where invitations are open to 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; 

  • Learning to be receptive and listen in local communities as an integral skill of mission practice;

  • Common church mission approaches, and what are we not seeing or hearing;

  • Community mapping skills and approaches for local discovery;

  • Listening in mission in order to discern God possibilities;

  • Noticing and diagnosing local assets, features and stories and deepening the listening;

  • Recognising openings and invitations and discerning Christ patterned responses;

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

Course Information


This course is suitable for learners from a wide variety of backgrounds including those new to university-level learning, and those already familiar with it. 

Learners may choose to undertake assessments, and thus qualify for 10 credit points towards a Higher Education certificate or other Glasgow University approved programmes, or may engage with the learning programme for their own personal benefit without the final assessments. Graduates are equally welcome.

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. For technology you will need to have access to:

  • broadband/ wireless (at least 1.5 megabites per second up and download)

  • a computer with Dual core 2Ghz or higher and 4GB of RAM or Ipad with OS 13 or later,

  • minimum of Windows 7 or Mac 10.7.

  • a speaker and microphone, built in, USB or wireless Bluetooth

  • Webcam, built in or USB

Delivery & Assessment

Each class will be taught through a range of online discussion, exercises, and activities, viewing and reading. Each week participants will be introduced to a range of online materials, including video, articles, and tools for use or adapting to your own local context.

In addition, learners who enrol for credit will be able to access digitised materials, articles, and books via the University of Glasgow's library.

The formal assessment for this course is optional and consists of the following:

  • Portfolio: This will consist of four journal entries of approx. 250 words each (50%)

  • Report: 1000 words, including diagram content (50%)

Support, guidance and feedback will be available for all assessment.


Credit Award


Completion of the course carries with it 10 Undergraduate credit points for those who wish to undertake the formal assessments. There is also the option to undertake the course for audit without certification.


£207.50 (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 1st May 2021.


Applicants should still register for the course by following the instructions under ‘How to Apply’ below. 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 for training or study purposes and we encourage you to approach them with the details of the course.











If you have any difficulties with this process – please contact or