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Reimagining Christian Practice in an Age of Uncertainty

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

Course Description

Church and Christian devotion are facing a time of change unprecedented since the Middle Ages and made even more intense and uncertain by the Covid-19 pandemic. History suggests that such times of crisis provide the environment for innovation, creativity and renewal. Using insights from scripture, theology and the social sciences, this course will aim to identify the challenges while also offering examples of emerging expressions of Christian life and spiritual practices that are sustaining people at this time.

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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olive fleming.jpg

John Drane and Olive Fleming Drane have shared a passion for a radical approach to Christian discipleship since they were young teens. John has written many books on missional topics as well as two best-selling books on the Bible which have been translated into more than ninety languages.

Olive has extensive experience of working with Christians of many different traditions, notably through her use of clowning in ministry which is the subject of her book Clowns, Storytellers, Disciples. She is also the author of Spirituality to Go: rituals and reflections for everyday living, as well as numerous articles in journals and encyclopaedias.


They bring extensive experience of online teaching, most recently with doctoral candidates at Fuller Seminary, California, where they have been teaching together for more than 20 years.


They have both been involved in Fresh Expressions from its inception and were instrumental in the development of the mission-shaped ministry course. Olive is a Visiting Fellow of St John’s College, Durham, and John is also currently co-chair of the Mission Theology Advisory Group (a partnership between the Church of England and Churches Together in Britain & Ireland).

Timetable & Duration

September 27th - November 29th, 2021

This course will take place online on Monday evenings, 7pm-9pm BST. This course will be taught via 9 online real-time meetings & instruction, and after-class activities.


Introduction to the course

Since the emergence of Covid-19 as a worldwide emergency, we have gained a fresh realisation of the fragility of many of the habits we previously took for granted – including going to church. Some churches rose to the challenge in ways that surprised even themselves, while others really struggled to know what to do next. As we reopen buildings it is evident that numbers of those who previously gathered for worship will not return, while many others who have connected with church online for the first time will be left without that connection if all our activity returns to church buildings. The shape of the future is still a work in progress, and in this course we will not only be reflecting on all that is going on but also exploring the new opportunities that might be opening up in this time of upheaval. There will be many questions, and no simple answers – in fact, we may be doing well if we manage to identify some good ways of asking the questions. In the process, we will all be learning together, digging deep into the traditional resources of the Christian tradition as well as learning from the experience and insights of one another as we journey together.

​Core topics will include the following, adjusted along the way so as to connect with insights and concerns brought by members of the class:

  • Understanding pre-pandemic cultural trends and the impact of Covid on lifestyles and expectations

  • Exploring digital media in relation to ministry and mission

  • Developing and encouraging contextualised rhythms of prayer and devotion

  • Revisiting some fundamental questions: what is church, what is worship, and what is discipleship

  • Learning from our forebears in faith, especially the Celtic saints

  • Evaluating online congregations as fresh expressions of church


In addition to presentations and conversations, each meeting of the class will also include times of spiritual practice and reflection.


Course Information


This course is conducted online. The directed online instruction will be explored in weekly real-time presentations & conversations along with materials and interaction using the learning platform, Moodle. Zoom as an online meeting tool will be used for the real-time 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 online materials, including video, articles, rituals and activities for practicing in your own local context. Participants will be expected to interact and offer feedback to others through after-class online forums.

The formal assessment for this course is optional (if completing for University credit) and consists of the following:

  • Potfolio of reflections 50% (1000 words or the equivalent in any other media that you may choose.) A summary reflection on key learning from class.

  • Report on a practical project proposal 50% (1000 words or the equivalent in any other media that you may choose.) submitted within 4 weeks of the end of the course

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


£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 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.

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:

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