2. CHURCH PLANTING THEOLOGY at ACTS Seminaries
Dale taught Church Planting Theology (THS 633) at ACTS Seminaries
of Trinity Western University
in BC Canada Sep-Dec 2016, live-streamed from Tokyo Multicultural Church
1. Course Description
Literature on church planting is abundant, but can largely be classified as practical in the sense that it is characterized by case studies, development of strategies, goal setting, demographic surveys, church planting project reports, etc. Although such study is important, this course instead emphasizes theological reflection upon church planting. This reflection will require reading and critically interacting with theological source material for the purpose of integrating that material with issues encountered in church planting. The theological source material is taken from the fields of biblical theology, systematic theology, and missiology. The integration of theology with church planting praxis will build upon issues either raised in the practical literature about church planting or, in appropriate cases, upon the church planting experiences of the student. Although church planting experience is not a prerequisite for this course, at least one year of theological study is required.
2. Course Objectives
The purpose of the course is to think theologically about church planting. By the end of the course it is hoped that students…
• will be motivated and competent to identify and evaluate the theological bases or presuppositions of various church planting projects and issues; and
• will be able to use their particular theological understanding to develop their own theologically sound church planting strategies and projects.
3. Course Assignments
The assignments cover material falling within three categories: (1) Theological material relevant to church planting; (2) Practical material dealing with church planting (e.g., case studies, reports, strategies, etc.); and (3) Integrative work, bringing together the theological and practical aspects of church planting.
(1) Assignments in the first category are: (a) Read both required books (700 pages). (b) Read a minimum of 300 pages of additional material selected by the student. Selections may be taken from the reading lists below. Alternatively, students may choose their own reading materials not listed below. In this case, however, the professor must approve the selections. (c) Write a 900 word response to one of the books read in step (a) or (b) above. About half of the response should be accurate content summary and the remaining half should be critical integration of theology with church planting.
(2) Assignments in the second category follow two tracks. Track one is for students with church planting experience. Track two is for students without church planting experience. In each track students must read at least three articles or chapters (minimum 50 pages) dealing with practical problems encountered in church planting. This reading material is to be selected by the student but approved by the instructor.Track one assignment for students with church planting experience:
Write a 300 word case study from your church planting experience which is related to issues in the practical material just read. The purpose of the case study is to present a problem you have encountered in church planting. The case study should not include an answer to the problem. The professor will select some of these case studies to discuss in class. The discussion will focus upon thinking theologically about the church planting issues raised in the case studies.Track two assignment for students without church planting experience:
Write a 300 word response to one church planting problem described in the practical material just read. The response should consist of a description of the problem and a suggested answer to the problem.
(3) The assignment in the third category is an integrative paper. Write a paper of about 3500 words describing your theological reflections about church planting. This paper must adhere to Turabian style. You should identify a paper topic as early as possible so the readings you choose can help you develop your paper. Paper topics must be approved by the professor. You may use issues that have surfaced in either your own church planting experience or in this class. If you wrote a case study in the preceding step you may reflect theologically about it in your paper. Because this is intended to be a theological paper, limit your practical writing to about 10% of the paper. This should be adequate space to describe the practical issue your paper will theologically address. The first draft of the paper must be sent to the professor by e-mail two weeks before the last day of semester exams. One week later the graded paper with comments will be returned to the student by e-mail. If desired, students may submit a second draft of their paper by e-mail by the end of semester exams. This second draft should reflect the professor’s suggestions. If a second draft is submitted to the instructor, it may improve the student’s grade, but not necessarily so. The integrative paper will be evaluated in light of the following assumption: because any theological thinking about church planting is better than none at all, such thinking should be encouraged by providing significant positive reinforcement.