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Supporting laos ministry ...

with eLearning in Christian education

New Year combined newsletter

... to those who kindly take one or other of the two newsletters that go out a couple of times each month.  Plans, news, information, items for thanksgiving and prayer in a boxy newsbyte format - please use and pass on to others.

Yours in Christ,
Peter Nicholls

The number who receive the laos newsletter, which seeks to help us to become better at thinking and acting Christianly in every corner of life, has gone up to well over 500 during the past year - 20% growth.  And more than 180 - 80% growth - are interested enough in eLearning in Christian education to allow me to send them that newsletter twice a month.

Each two-weekly newsletter costs several pounds (GB) to mail out using the Vertical Response system.  If you could help with the growing cost of this, click here to go to the secure ecommerce site where you can make a contribution of any size you choose.

Finally, guest writers are welcome - let me know if you'd like to help in this way!

other events >>>

Knowing Jesus >>>
Living Images >>>
Christian at Work >>>
Life, Death, Hope >>>

new for 2005 - Being Beside Someone Bereaved >>>


What does eLearning “feel like”?

Connected Community LearningA course unit typically lasts a week and there might be four units to the whole course.  Before the course begins, you'll connect to the Internet a couple of times to visit the learning web site, protected by your own id and password.  You'll practice using the learning tools in an embarrassment-free way, contributing to discussion, sending emails, reading multimedia material, participating in live text-chat.  Easy and quick to get familiar with the technology so it's a tool, not an impediment. 

The course begins, you visit the site.  Nice that Activity 1 is to write a few words about yourself and send a mugshot so that everyone gets to know other course members right at the start.  Take in some learning material, visit the first discussion to read contributions so far made and log off.  Over the next day ponder what you're going to offer to the discussion, maybe even compose 75 words off-line if you prefer.  You log on next day, visit the discussion forum, send your contribution, see who else has said what, make a response to something that interests you.  Read the next learning material, print it if you wish and log off.  No time tomorrow evening, but Saturday morning's OK so you visit to check whether anyone has responded to your contribution to the first discussion.

There may be three or four topics in each unit, with an activity of some sort associated with each.  Surprising how engaged you become even when you're not connected.  As someone said, “It was more like an extended 24/7 ‘quiet time’ than a course.”  After the four weeks of the event (and a week's breather in the middle), you're surprised how much you've learnt, how much you remember, how devotional as opposed to cold and academic it was and how much you've changed.  It probably took a total of 3-4 hours a week, but you feel that you've learnt significantly more than you would have done for this investment of time in a face-to-face environment.

wanted, 3 eLearners ...

Called to be Holy was developed to help learners understand why we are called to be holy and what this means.  A number of mature Christians have followed it and found it challenging and developmental.  “Why haven't I met this basic and crucial material in churches before?” is a typical evaluative response.  Please consider joining this course for the January 14th start or for Lent on 9.2.04.   more >>>

Don't forget (1), if you're unfamiliar with eLearning as an educational and formational tool, and want to find out more, the best first step is to join a course and participate.

Mini-reflection: Back at work, have you faced the question: “so your God creates a planet so perfect that it kills people 100000 at a time?”

My tiny contribution is perhaps more a perspective for us as Christians than for lobbing at not-yet-believers in defence of God, and it's to explore the fallen nature of creation as something cosmic and not merely personal. Genesis 3 (17-19) suggests that in some way the Earth is cursed as a result of humankind's desire to be in control. How and to what degree, we have little idea beyond what life's experience reveals. I am interested, though, that earthquakes are sometimes associated with ‘cosmic activity’ such as is described in Romans 5 - for example in Matthew's account (27:54, 28:2), an earthquake accompanies both Jesus’ death and his resurrection.  Jesus himself (Mt 24:7, Mk 13:8) describes them as “birth pangs”, not aberrations, and a number are mentioned in Revelation, an allegory, so we believe, of the concluding ‘scenes’ of the present era.

So perhaps earthquakes are very much part of the fallen, being-redeemed cosmos, entirely in line with a biblical understanding of the kingdom of God as both now and not yet. Not to be explained away with embarrassment, but explored as congruent with a Christian world view.

Read Romans 8:18-23, but also Rowan Williams in Sunday's Telegraph ( lest God seem mere accomplice to suffering on the scale we've seen this week. And let the last word go to Alan Amos: This is not a God who merely manipulates nature and humanity, interfering at whim; our God endures and suffers with us the consequences of the act of creation.

wanted, 3 with a heart for mission ...

Mission: Tradition meets the Future is a radical look at what ‘Mission’ means in the 21st Century western world.  How do we build on people's own spiritual interest and sensitivity?  What is crucial?  What is cultural or ecclesiastical accretion?  There are currently three learners waiting for more to join them in a learning community that will take 10 weeks to read Vincent Donovan's Christianity Rediscovered (“One of the great books of mission theology in the last couple of decades”) plus passages from Acts of the Apostles.  This is a course for leaders.  After its 2004 run, one said “Very challenging, very stimulating, very enjoyable and very worthwhile. I shall still be learning as a result of this course well into the future and that to me is the measure of a good course.”  Don't miss this chance; it won't run again before September.  more >>>

This Spring, most CCL learning events will also be run over the  5 weeks of Lent, starting on Ash Wednesday (9.2.04).  Please consider joining yourself, or encourage others to.  In particular if you'd like some flyers for your church, let me know how many and to where to send them.  Just ‘reply’ to this newsletter.

Don't forget (2), all courses are available on a “whatever you can afford” basis and there is a money-back-if-not-satisfied guarantee.