“It’s unbelievable how much you don’t know about the game you’ve been playing all your life” 

“It’s unbelievable how much you don’t know about the game you’ve been playing all your life” 

An introductory unit running at United Theological College next term will explore why the church is the way it is.  

Rev. Liam Miller will be teaching the unit, Being The Church.  

“Being the Church is one of the great introductory topics that is offered at UTC. The course introduces the subject of ecclesiology – that is the study of the church (what the church is, why it is, how it comes to be and is sustained, what marks it out from other bodies/assemblies, etc). But as soon as you start to consider the church you realise that you can’t stay in the abstract for long,” Rev. Miller said. 
“When you begin to talk about the church, you invariably start talking about churches. So we get to explore together what it might mean to be the church here and now, within varying traditions and contexts, with a long and complex history and a varied and unpredictable future.” 

“For this reason the subject begins (after some explorations on what ecclesiology is and what makes it difficult or complex – especially in our context in light of the colonial complicity of the church, the abuse scandals, the cracking of Christendom) with the theological foundations of the church (the doctrine of election, the activity of Christ, the movement of the Spirit), and then begin to consider the tasks, activity, and identity of the church (mission, word and sacrament, architecture and ritual, art and music, order and governance).” 
“In the final part of the subject, we will explore some more contemporary images and conceptions of the church (drawing on various cultural expressions, performance studies, disability theology, queer theory, and more).”  
“Within all these topics and discussions, we will engage theological texts from a range of historical, denominational, and cultural loci, and in a range of forms (academic writing, visual art and music, confessions and creeds, literature etc.).” 

The subject is available to study for credit or audit. Rev. Miller told Insights it would suit a wide range of church members.  

“If you are or have been in a church and have any interest in why it is the way it is or what it could become, this course is for you,” he said. 
“It is a really good one to audit as the main subject is intimate to all church goers; it is something we participate in and have a vested interest in its form and identity. The subject then, while considering a broad scope of the Christian tradition and a wide array of questions hovers close to the ground of our religious life. So whether you’re enrolled in a theology degree, a minister or pastor doing continuing ed, or a lay member just wanting to know a little more about why the church does what it does, is what it is, and faces the questions and crises it does, come along for the class.” 

“There’s a great little quote at the beginning of the movie Moneyball, from the baseball legend Mickey Mantle, “It’s unbelievable how much you don’t know about the game you’ve been playing all your life.” I went to church for a long time before I started enquiring after and learning more about the nature of the church and what the church is for, or why my particular church did things that were different than what other churches did or had done. “ 
“There’s nothing wrong with that mode of engagement with the church – but I found it inspiring and energising to begin to learn about the church, with others, and start to form richer notions about something I’d been doing all my life.” 

Being the Church will run at United Theological College from Monday, 8 July. For more information, visit the UTC website and to download the Session Two timetable. 


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