Thinking and Believing Class at Christ UMC, Franklin TN

As you might have seen in the “About” section of the blog, what I write here will be related to a new Sunday School class I’ll be teaching at my church. Here is a schedule and brief introduction to the topics I’ll be covering in the year ahead:

9/13/09 – 10/11/09   Finding Faith in Film
Movies grab our attention for a lot of different reasons, not least because they touch on themes of hope, redemption, evil, transcendence, and a lot of other ideas equally at home in a church as in a theater. Sometimes movies offer profound insights into the spiritual life, and sometimes they just trot out tired cliches. We’ll explore how to tell the difference in this first session of our time together.

10/18/09 – 11/22/09    What Don’t You Believe?
The first Christians knew that in Jesus they had somehow encountered God among us. But what exactly did that mean? What did it entail for how they lived their lives, how they worshiped, how they earned their living? In answering these question they often started out on the edges, figuring out first what was beyond the “foul lines” of authentic Christian witness, and then moving toward the center to better refine and understand their faith. We’ll try to follow their lead, asking first what are the things we don’t or can’t believe in, and then finding what that means for what we do believe.

11/29/09 – 12/20/09    Advent Bible study

12/27/09    Christmas Bible study

1/3/10 – 2/14/10    Sinning Like a Christian: The 7 Deadly Sins
Yeah, I know; “sin” is a word they used a lot in the church you grew up in, which is part of why you’re here now, not there. But the fact remains that it’s a rare day when we don’t regret some of our actions and attitudes, don’t go to bed thinking that we weren’t the people we could have been, should have been. Call the problem what you want; the church has called it sin, a tragic flaw in our characters that keeps us from being the fully loving, fully mature people God created us to be. As a way to get our heads around this problem, Christians long ago came up with a list of the “seven deadly sins.” The list was never intended to be exhaustive, but rather to get us thinking about why we do the things we wish we didn’t. The list tells us, for example, that sometimes it’s the culture that pushes us into unChristian perspectives and behaviors (remember “Greed . . . is good”?); other times, the list shows, we choose these perspectives and behaviors just because we want to. But most importantly the seven deadly sins tradition assures us that God, in spite of all this mess, loves us anyway.

2/21/10 – 3/28/10    Lenten Bible Study

4/4/10   Easter: No Sunday School

4/11/10 – 5/2/10    Christ Figures in Fiction
His name is Joe Ransom. In Larry Brown’s novel Joe, he’s a hard living, hard fighting ex-con from rural Mississippi who you would not want to take home to meet your mama. And he is a Christ figure, a fictional echo of Jesus.

In this session we’ll see how the person of Christ has captured and haunted the imaginations of fiction writers, and how these characters hold a mirror up to our own attempts to be like Jesus.

5/9/10 – 5/30/10   What Kind of Christian are you?
Would you rather work on a Habitat for Humanity house or attend a Bible Study? Would you rather read and pray quietly or clap your hands and sing in a praise service? Would you rather talk theology, or plan your next mission trip? Your answer to these questions depends on your spiritual type, the preferences and aptitudes that define your spiritual personality. Using Corinne Ware’s book Discover Your Spiritual Type, we’ll help find out where your growing edge as a Christian lies, and the kinds of ministries and experiences to which you spiritual personality leads you.

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