It’s easy for Theology Network hubs to become merely theology debate clubs on the one hand, or generic Christian ‘small groups’ on the other. If you want to see your department transformed by the gospel, it is important to keep your hub focussed on the three-fold aim of supporting, equipping, and mobilising one another for a gospel-centred engagement with academic theology.
Let this vision shape the way you plan your hub and remember to communicate it regularly to the group:
Supported through the challenges of studying theology.
As a minimum, every hub has a role as a field hospital – a safe-haven for those whose faith is being challenged by theological study. Your hub can serve as a clearing house for the faith-shaking questions that you and your coursemates are facing, modelling what it looks like to positively engage with them as evangelicals.
Your hub should also be a place to pray for and practically support one another through difficult assignments, exam seasons, and the ups and downs of student life.
Equipped to integrate academic theology and gospel-centred faith.
Hubs are a place to be trained in the thought-patterns and practices that lead to faithful and fruitful theology. You should be committed to approaching theology in a way that is academically rigorous, doctrinally coherent, and personally consistent. This includes the spiritual side of studying theology, nurturing genuine disciples of Christ who are continuously growing as true worshippers of God.
Mobilised to witness to the gospel in the academy and to their coursemates.
Your hub is well placed to run or support CU mission events which address the specific concerns of your coursemates. However, this doesn’t always have to be through public events. Your hub is able to be missional in-and-of-itself. It can be a little like an ‘explore/impact’ group - invite theology students from a variety of backgrounds along to explore theology and the Christian faith.
Meet as regularly as you can (at least once a month) while being realistic about your capacity. Weekly or fortnightly meetings make for a consistent pattern.
Lunchtimes or evenings can create a relaxed environment, but there may be other times that you know will work for most people. Be sure to talk to the CU committee to avoid clashes with other regular CU meetings.
Meet somewhere central for all your members. If you’re booking university rooms, do this early and book for the whole term if possible.
Consider the areas of theology that are addressed in your department; what are the challenges or common questions that come up each year? Plan to spend most of your sessions on focussed discussions around these topics. (Check out these pre-written discussions).
If you want to do a Bible study, consider how it applies to being a theology student or choose to study passages that are the source of some difficulty in class and tackle them head-on.
Try to have a few sessions where you invite an external speaker to bring insight into approaching a given topic from a gospel-centred worldview.
Dedicate some of your programme to encouraging your hub to engage in evangelism. You could invite the Theology Network Co-ordinator or a Staff Worker to speak about reaching your coursemates.
Plan to put on one evangelistic event each term as a hub. This could be as simple as getting everyone to invite coursemates to one of your regular hub meetings and planning your topic and questions to lead to gospel focussed conversations. (Check out the ‘Speak’ section of the website for ideas and resources).
When are key CU events such as mission weeks? Keep these weeks free in your programme and encourage your hub to show up and support the CU mission by volunteering and/or bringing along their friends.
Make the most of central Theology Network events. Why not encourage those in your hub to book on to Word Alive through your CU and come as a group to the Theology Network seminars.
Keep an eye out for other Theology Network events that you could attend as a hub.
You might want to set up a Facebook group or group chat to post your plan for the term, communicate regularly with your hub, and share resources and prayer requests (be sure to add the Theology Network Co-ordinator to this group).
Organise a slot at a CU main meeting to tell the rest of the CU about your Theology Network hub and ask them to pray for you. This will be a good opportunity to advertise the group to theology students in the CU.
Ahead of welcome week, be sure to see if you can give a notice about the hub in your department’s induction lectures/seminars. Also, get in touch with the CU committee or the CU welcome week planning team ideally before the summer and get a Theology Network event listed on the CU’s welcome week publicity material. (See below for more on making the most of welcome week)
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