Syllabus

This is the complete syllabus for all three 12-lesson modules of Growing Church Leaders, each of which is available as a separate volume.  Each lesson starts with a Devotional time (Adoration, Admonition, or Anecdote) to help nurture a worshipful rather than academic attitude. It should ideally be led by a student, as part of their training.

A. Think Biblically

Each lesson includes assigned readings from Wayne Grudem’s Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings and R. C. Sproul’s Essential Truths of the Christian Faith; students should buy and read at least one of them.

A.1 God’s Word: The Authority of Scripture

  • Adoration: Psalm 19
  • Bible Study: 2 Timothy 3
  • Content: The source, role, purpose, sufficiency, and clarity of the Bible, as well as its relation to other sources of authority. Emphasizes the dual authorship of Scripture (many human authors, yet simultaneously one divine author).

A.2 God’s Commission: Our Call as Leaders

  • Adoration: Psalm 47
  • Bible Study: Matthew 28
  • Content: Since Christ ultimately owns all power and authority, how does He want us to exercise it on His behalf? Emphasizes disciple-making as the process of dying to oneself and being reborn into the name (character) of God, both individually and collectively.

A.3 God’s Identity: Relationship and Transcendence

  • Adoration: Psalm 8
  • Bible Study: Exodus 3
  • Content: God “names” Himself to Moses in terms of His relationships, His mission, and His transcendence. Emphasizes transcendence as the root of God’s omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence.

A.4 God’s Character: His Glory, Our Grace

  • Adoration: Psalm 103
  • Bible Study: Exodus 3334
  • Content: Moses seeks God’s presence, and is rewarded with His glory (His name). Emphasizes the tension between God’s love and justice.

A.5 God’s Tri-Unity: Trinitarian Transformation

  • Adoration: Isaiah 42
  • Bible Study: Romans 8
  • Content: Discusses the roles the three members of the Godhead play in our sanctification. Emphasizes their distinct identities and roles yet common “substance” and purpose.

A.6 Father’s Kingdom: His World, His Image

  • Adoration: Psalm 100
  • Bible Study: Genesis 1
  • Content: God the Father is also our Father, both as creator and as king. Emphasizes how the created ecosystems are “very good” because they conform to God’s character.

A.7 Man’s Rebellion: His Law, Our Sin

  • Adoration: Psalm 51
  • Bible Study: Genesis 3
  • Content: How we chose to seek our own glory instead of God’s. Emphasizes how “original sin” and “total depravity” are signs of mis-alignment with God’s character.

A.8 Christ’s Salvation: His Pain, Our Gain

  • Adoration: Psalm 22
  • Bible Study: 1 Corinthians 15
  • Content: The good news of Christ’s death and resurrection, His complete authority, and our hope of being formed in His image. Emphasizes how He fully represents both humanity and divinity.

A.9 Spirit’s Conviction: Connect, Chastise, Convey

  • Adoration: Psalm 51
  • Bible Study: John 16
  • Content: Introduce the third-person of the Trinity, and His work on sin, righteousness, and judgement. Emphasize His role in communicating the glory of Christ to us.

A.10 Soul’s Sanctification: His Call, Our Destiny

  • Adoration: Psalm 25
  • Bible Study: 1 Peter 1
  • Content: What our new life looks like, and how we get there. Emphasizes the total surrender of mind, body, heart, and soul.

A.11 Christ’s Body: The Church

  • Adoration: Psalm 122
  • Bible Study: Ephesians 4
  • Content: Manifesting the unity of the Spirit through our various callings. Emphasizes that the goal of leadership and structure is growing into the headship of Christ.

A.12 Christ’s Return: His Judgement, Our Reward

  • Adoration: Psalm 75
  • Bible Study: Revelation 2021
  • Content: How God’s kingdom is (re)established at the end, with the removal of all evil. Emphasizes that heaven is primarily basking in God’s manifest presence.

B. Live Wisely

Each lesson includes assigned readings from Back to Virtue: Traditional Moral Wisdom for Modern Moral Confusion by Peter Kreeft, as well as Dick Hockett’s Foundations of Wisdom: The Book of Proverbs; students should buy and read both, as they are complementary.

B.1 From Humanism to Wisdom

  • Admonition Proverbs 1
  • Bible Study: Psalm 107
  • Content: The humanity of the Simple, Mocker, and Fool versus the fear of God’s Wisdom. Defines wisdom as the ability to live out God’s name, and virtue as the different facets of wise character.

B.2 From Simplicity to Faith

  • Admonition Proverbs 8
  • Bible Study: Hebrews 11
  • Content: The simple need to trust that wisdom is possible, even though it is unseen, and pursue it with their whole heart.

B.3 From Mockery to Hope

  • Admonition Isaiah 28
  • Bible Study: Romans 5
  • Content: The mockers must have the pride crushed out of them through suffering, to realize the limits of their earthly wisdom. To endure, they need hope in God’s goodness.

B.4 From Folly to Love

  • Admonition Proverbs 26
  • Bible Study: John 13
  • Content: Folly is a cycle of self-punishment disguised as the pursuit of pleasure. The only way out is to receive God’s love, to the point where we love Him more than the false gods to which we’ve enslaved ourselves.

B.5 From Pride to Humility

  • Admonition Proverbs 16
  • Bible Study: 1 Peter 5
  • Content: Pride is the deadliest of the deadly sins, and the one we tend to least recognize in ourselves. Embracing godly humility is a foundation for all the other virtues.

B.6 From Greed to Generosity

  • Admonition Malachi 3
  • Bible Study: 1 Timothy 6
  • Content: If we truly understood God’s claim of ownership over everything we have or desire, we would realize the best way to “possess” wealth is to use it in accordance with His commands.

B.7 From Envy to Submission

  • Admonition Proverbs 14
  • Bible Study: 1 Peter 2-3
  • Content: Envy is wishing we were in the place of another, experiencing their rewards or privileges. The opposite is submitting to our circumstances and position, trusting in God’s ultimate sovereignty.

B.8 From Anger to Reconciliation

  • Admonition Proverbs 15
  • Bible Study: Matthew 18
  • Content: Few things destroy the church more rapidly than anger and unforgiveness. To carry our cross means extending forgiveness to those who don’t deserve it, as Jesus did to us.

B.9 From Sloth to Fruitfulness

  • Admonition Proverbs 6
  • Bible Study: John 15
  • Content: The dangers of laziness, and the rewards of perseverance.

B.10 From Lust to Purity

  • Admonition Proverbs 7
  • Bible Study: James 4
  • Content: Understanding why our desires are often at war with God, and how they must be cleansed and harnessed for His purposes — before they destroy us.

B.11 From Gluttony to Self-Control

  • Admonition Proverbs 9
  • Bible Study: Colossians 23
  • Content: Learning to control our appetites is essential for spiritual as well as physical health, as it teaches our flesh its proper place in God’s created order.

B.12 From Shame to Glory

  • Admonition Habakkuk 2
  • Bible Study: Philippians 3
  • Content: Ultimately, we will never fully live out these virtues here on earth. We can try to hide our shame through licentiousness or legalism. Or, we can embrace Christ’s work in destroying our shame on the cross. From there we can live the virtues for His glory, not our own — and in doing so, find our true glory in Him.

C. Serve Faithfully

Each lesson includes assigned readings from Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster, as well as Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney; students should ideally read both.

C.1 Desire and Discipline

  • Anecdote: 1 Corinthians 9
  • Bible Study: Hebrews 12
  • Content: True discipline is neither rigid nor legalistic, but a formalization of our heart’s desire to appropriate the “name” of God — His person, purpose, and character. Discipline is the living skeleton which hosts the muscles of Faith, the marrow of Love, and the sinews of Hope.

C.2 Meditation and Memorization

  • Anecdote: Joshua 1
  • Bible Study: 1 Timothy 4
  • Content: The purpose of the disciplines is to bring us into the presence of God, and nothing is more effective for that that deeply meditating upon and memorizing Scripture. In contrast to Eastern meditation, which is about emptying and detachment, Christian meditation is about drawing near to the Father and being filled with His Spirit as we take on the mind of Christ.

C.3 Persistent Prayer

  • Anecdote: Luke 18
  • Bible Study: Matthew 6
  • Content: Prayer is the process of aligning our thoughts, desires, and decisions with the Name of God, so that His Spirit can work through us to transform our lives, our relationships, and our world.

C.4 Fervent Fasting

  • Anecdote: Nehemiah 1
  • Bible Study: Joel 2
  • Content: Fasting denies our the body its most basic physical need so that God can supply our soul with its most fundamental spiritual needs.

C.5 Studying Scripture

  • Anecdote: 2 Kings 2223
  • Bible Study: 2 Timothy 2
  • Content: The Word of God is a lamp to our feet — but only if we know how to turn it on and where to shine it.

C.6 Stewardship and Simplicity

  • Anecdote: Mark 12:1-17,38-44
  • Bible Study: Luke 12
  • Content: If we truly understood God’s claim of ownership over everything we have or desire, we would realize the best way to “possess” wealth is to use it in accordance with His commands.

C.7 Silence and Solitude

  • Anecdote: 1 Kings 19
  • Bible Study: Luke 4
  • Content: To know God fully requires knowing ourselves. Silence and solitude reveal to us our true faces, so that we can in turn approach God face to face.

C.8 Submission and Service

  • Anecdote: Luke 7
  • Bible Study: 2 Corinthians 4
  • Content: The discipline of submitting ourselves to serve others, when done properly, brings us near the heart of Christ — and forces us to confront our pride and sloth.

C.9 Confrontation and Confession

  • Anecdote: Nehemiah 9
  • Bible Study: James 5
  • Content: To grow more like Christ, we need to honestly examine our lives to see where we are wrong, then freely confess (“agree with”) to God and others what is right.

C.10 World-Changing Worship

  • Anecdote: 2 Chronicles 7
  • Bible Study: John 4
  • Content: God inhabits the praises of His people, so by worshipping God in spirit and truth we bring His kingdom into our heart, soul, mind, and strength — and our world.

C.11 Discerning Direction

  • Anecdote: Acts 16
  • Bible Study: Proverbs 3
  • Content: We all want to know God’s will, but the path to true knowledge (plus the ability to apply it) lies in faithfully practicing all the Disciplines.

C.12 Joy in the Journey

  • Anecdote: Deuteronomy 34
  • Bible Study: Matthew 25
  • Content: While we will never be perfect in our understanding and practice of the Disciplines — much less in appropriating the Character of Christ — God grants us partial success and sufficient joy along the way. Ultimately, it is in the very midst of struggle that we best see God’s heart for us, and bring His kingdom to earth.

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