Old Brethren Courses

Course Description

Mutual longing—ours for God and God’s for us—is at the heart of the spiritual journey. The congregation plays a unique role in supporting and nurturing life-giving Christian faith. But in order to support and nurture the spiritual life of its members, the congregation must embody a sense of vital spirituality: inviting people—individually and corporately—into the presence of God, increasing their awareness of God’s presence and activity, and empowering them to bear witness to God’s presence and activity in the world.

Through assigned reading, personal reflection, online discussions, practical application, and written assignments, participants will:

  • Articulate an understanding of Christian spirituality;
  • Examine the cultural dynamics impacting the spiritual journey;
  • Explore elements of vital congregational spirituality;
  • Examine the role of pastors and lay leaders in nurturing spirituality;
  • Examine the unique spiritual life of different populations within the context of congregational life;
  • Explore and experiment with variety of spiritual practices.

As a result, students will take away an enriched theoretical and theological understanding of Christian spirituality and the congregation’s role in nurturing a vital Christian faith in a turbulent world as well as enhanced practical skills for guiding the faith community toward spiritual growth.


Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Articulate a definition of Christian spirituality that is grounded in scripture, theology, and theory.
  2. Articulate an understanding of the cultural dynamics that impact the spiritual journey.
  3. Articulate an understanding of the congregation’s role in nurturing life-giving faith among individuals and within the life of the community.
  4. Recognize the characteristics of spiritual vitality within congregational life.
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of the role of pastors and lay leaders as spiritual guides.
  6. Demonstrate a basic understanding of human development and the spiritual needs of specific populations within the congregation.
  7. Demonstrate an understanding of a variety of spiritual practices.
  8. Demonstrate practical skills in program development and congregational leadership related to the spiritual growth of individuals and the community.


While the Church of the Brethren has long held the New Testament as its focus, the Hebrew Bible, also called the Old Testament, is the basis of much of the New Testament’s faith. In this course, we will work through the various books of the Hebrew Bible and look at their ancient context. We will attempt to better understand how these books interact and how they influence the New Testament texts. We will also look at a number of modern theories about these texts and how these theories influence how these books are read today.

In the midst of hectic lives, it’s not easy to “be still and know that I am God.”- Psalm 46:10 Spiritual practices help ministers and congregations to learn how to stop and notice God in everything they do.

During this class students will explore: what it means to pray without ceasing, what the Bible says about spiritual practices, spiritual practices for nine different learning styles, how we get in the way of our relationship with God, and how spiritual practices can help congregations thrive.

As a result, students will gain a deeper theological basis for spiritual practices and develop the tools and experience needed to encourage spiritual growth within their ministry context.

Introduction to the academic discipline of Biblical Studies as well as to online learning, and Brethren approaches to Scripture. Required for beginning TRIM students, optional for EFSM.

To speak about polity is to explore how groups are organized and governed. In the Church of the Brethren, our polity grows out of our history, our practices, and our ecclesiology (who we are as a church). Talking about polity as ministers and members of the Church of the Brethren naturally uncovers who we are, what we do, and how we shape our lives together.  In this course, we will engage the current and past polity of the Church of the Brethren in order to understand how it has, and continues to, shape “another way of living.”