Reimagining Christian Practice in an Age of Uncertainty

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

Course Description

Church and Christian faith practices are in the midst of critical sea-change made all the more intense and uncertain by the Covid 19 pandemic. Navigating this contemporary cultural change challenges Christian practice with unsettling questions, and the need to re-imagine and experiment in both ancient and new vessels. This course creates a space for charting the challenges. Insights from history, Scripture, theology and the social sciences will help provide portals to interpret an increasingly disruptive environment. This will be accompanied by exploring a range of creative expressions of Christian life and spiritual practices to sustain people in diverse local contexts this Advent.

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.

Enrolment is now closed.



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 a virtual travel course to Holy Island for 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).

Further Information

Timetable & Duration

September 23rd - December 2nd, 2020

This course will take place online on Wednesday evenings, 7pm-8.30pm GMT +1


This course will be taught over 12 weeks via 10 weeks of online real-time meetings & instruction, a one week mid-course break and a week at the end for writing up a final project (credit participants only).


Introduction to the course

Who would have believed this time last year that our churches would be doing anything other than “business as usual”? Yet here we are, facing what is probably the greatest cultural crisis since the end of World War 2 in which all our norms and expectations are being questioned. It’s not just about redesigning building use, face-masks or distancing in order to keep ourselves and others safe – the crisis brought about by Covid-19 is challenging the relatively comfortable lifestyle that we have enjoyed in the West throughout our lifetime. When you add the political upheaval that can be seen all around the world, we are indeed in an age of uncertainty. As Christians we are being invited to reimagine our faith for the new world that is emerging. While we will be reflecting on all that is going on, a major emphasis will be the creation of safe spaces in which we can explore the new life that might be coming to birth in this time of upheaval and potential chaos. Given the time of year, a particular focus will be on appropriate ways to celebrate Advent in this strange new world. 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.

This course will cover the following topics although the order and concentration will be reflective of the particular circumstances and situations of participants in this course.

  • From post-modernity to post-Covid: Cultural trends before, during, and after the pandemic

  • Theological and practical explorations of the world of digital media and emerging patterns of church online and online church

  • How does the online environment affect how we view ourselves and how we think of faith?

  • Rhythms of prayer and devotion

  • The call to discipleship in these times

  • What is church and what is worship now?

  • Excavating the tradition for ways to approach this disruption

  • Insights from the Celtic church for mission in a world full of fear and anger

  • Lessons learned in the development of fresh expressions of church for the time we are in

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 learning module will be taught through a range of online group discussion, exercises, and activities, viewing and reading. Each week students will be introduced to a range of online materials, including video, articles, rituals and activities for practicing in 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:

  • Reflective assignment 50% (1000 words or the equivalent in any other media that you may choose.) A summary reflection on the key learning from this class submitted at the end of the course.

  • 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.


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.


£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 Urban Priority Area (UPA) parishes via separate application directly to us. To be considered for a subsidy email your interest to Principal of trinity College,, by 21 September, 2020.


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.








This link will take you to the Glasgow University Short Courses Enrolment page for this course. Enrolment for our courses close on 21st Sept. You will need to click on the date of the course further down and this will take you to a basket to purchase the course. Follow the instructions – including registering your details as a new applicant and then undertake payment (through their secure system) for the course. You will receive an email indicating success that you have enrolled. If you have any difficulties with this process – please contact or

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