We have summarised below the structure of the course. There is an optional introductory session specifically aimed at those with no Christian background such as people coming from introductory courses such as Alpha or Christianity Explored. The course proper kicks off with the key truths that growing disciples need to know (Part A). Then in Part B we look at the things that try to keep people from truth (the world, the flesh and the devil). In Part C we look at how we can, in Christ, resolve the negative effects of the past - this section includes the ministry component. In part D, we start to look at ensuring that people head off in the right direction towards fruitfulness by equipping them to stand firm and understand godly guidelines for relationships with others and their goals in life.
You can present the teaching yourself using the Leader's Guide which comes with a powerpoint presentation CD or you can use video presentations available on DVD presented by Steve Goss. There are Participant's Guides with notes for each session. Every participant on the course will also need their own copy of the Steps to Freedom in Christ (the ministry component that comes after session 9).
There are also subtitles in English for the hard of hearing and Torch Trust produces both large print (24 point) and braille versions of the Participant's Guide and Steps to Freedom book. Please call the Torch Trust direct to order these resources on 01858 438260.
Summary of session contents
Optional Introduction Session
We suggest you run this session if you have participants with no real Christian background. It introduces the course but its overriding objective is to show why believing that the Bible really is God's message to the people He created is a rational and reasonable position to take. Given that the rest of the course is based firmly on this premise, this session pre-empts potential questions.
Part A — Key Truths
Jesus said that we will know the truth and the truth will set us free! In the first three sessions we look at some of the key truths we need to know about what it means to be a Christian.
Session 1: Where Did I Come From?
When Adam and Eve were created, they had life in all its fullness. God met all their needs. They were perfectly accepted, secure and significant. In the Fall they lost their relationship with God. The result for us is that we were born physically alive but spiritually dead and with a huge need for acceptance, security and significance. Jesus came to restore the very same life, acceptance, security and significance that Adam and Eve had originally.
Session 2: Who Am I Now?
Many Christians think of themselves as simply “forgiven sinners”, but in fact the Bible makes it clear that, because of what Jesus has done for us, we are new creations in Christ. Knowing that we are children of God who can come boldly into God’s presence without condemnation changes everything.
Session 3: Choosing To Believe The Truth
Everyone lives by faith, even those who are not Christians. It’s who or what we put our faith in that determines whether or not it will be effective. As Christians, it’s essential that what we believe is in agreement with what God has revealed in His Word.
Part B — The World, The Flesh And The Devil
Every day we struggle against three things that conspire to push us away from truth. Understanding how the world, the flesh and the devil work will enable us to renew our minds and stand firm.
Session 4: The World’s View Of Truth
Depending on where and when you were brought up, you will have learned to look at the world in a particular way that seems right to you. But is it? You may also have come to believe that there is no such thing as absolute unchangeable truth. But is that right? When we become Christians we need to make a radical decision to stop looking at the world in the way we used to and start seeing it from God’s perspective by adopting the Biblical worldview.
Session 5: Our Daily Choice
Christians have a new heart and a new spirit, but we still struggle with many of the unhelpful ways of thinking and behaving that we grew up with (a primary characteristic of what the Bible calls “the flesh”). However, we don’t have to give in to the flesh. We can choose day by day and moment by moment whether to live according to the flesh’s urges or according to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Session 6: Demolishing Strongholds
The environment in which we grew up, traumatic experiences in the past, and giving in to temptation have led to the development of “strongholds” in our minds, which prevent us living according to the truth. Becoming a Christian does not instantly change the way we have learned to think, but we can demolish strongholds by choosing actively to renew our minds to the truth of God’s Word.
Session 7: The Battle For Our Minds
It’s important to understand that we are in a spiritual battle, which makes dismantling strongholds less straightforward than if it were simply a question of learning to think differently. Every day we face a battle for our minds. However, understanding how Satan works and our amazing position in Christ will equip us to win.
Part C — Breaking The Hold Of The Past
God does not change our past but by His grace He enables us to walk free of it. In this section of the course we look at how we can take hold of what Christ has done for us in order to do just that. This section includes going through The Steps To Freedom In Christ.
Session 8: Handling Emotions Well
We can’t control our emotions directly but they are, in a general sense, the result of what we choose to believe. If we don’t have a proper understanding of God and His Word, and who we are in Christ, it will be signalled to us through our emotions. Failure to handle emotions well may make us vulnerable to spiritual attack. The more we commit ourselves to the truth and choose to believe that what God says is true, the less our feelings will run away with us.
Session 9: Forgiving From The Heart
(often combined with The Steps To Freedom In Christ on an away day)
Our relationship with others must have the same basis as our relationship with God. Nothing keeps you in bondage to the past more, or gives the enemy more entrance to your life, than an unwillingness to forgive. The crisis of forgiveness is not so much between you and the person who has offended you, but between you and God. Learning to forgive from the heart sets us free from our past and heals our emotional pain. It’s really for your sake that you do it.
Leading People Through The Steps To Freedom In Christ
This is the "ministry" component of the course. Participants will be led through a repentance process using The Steps to Freedom in Christ, so that they can resolve their personal and spiritual conflicts by submitting to God and resisting the devil, and thereby experience their freedom in Christ (James 4:7). It is a straightforward process that is kind and gentle. During the process participants will uncover strongholds that have developed in their thinking that they can work on in the future.
We recommend that you either take people through the Steps as a group on an away day or give everyone the opportunity to have their own personal freedom appointment (in which case you might decide to take everyone through a shorter group session as a stop-gap measure because individual appointments for everyone may take some time to arrange).
Part D — Growing As Disciples
Having taken hold of our freedom in Christ, we now need to concentrate on growing to maturity. In this section we will learn how to stand firm, how to relate to other people and how to stay on the path of becoming more like Jesus.
Session 10: Walking In Freedom Every Day
If we dealt honestly with everything the Holy Spirit showed us during The Steps To Freedom In Christ, we have taken hold of the freedom that Christ won for us. Our success in continuing to walk in that freedom and grow in maturity depends on the extent to which we continue to renew our minds and train ourselves to distinguish good from evil.
Walking in freedom needs to become a way of life. In this session we look at strategies for renewing our mind and resisting Satan’s attack. Participants will learn how to deal with faulty ways of thinking that The Steps To Freedom In Christ process uncovered.
Session 11: Relating To Others
Jesus’ great commandment says we are to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls and minds, and to love our neighbour as ourselves. That sums up the whole Biblical message. We are called to love God and one another. We cannot have a righteous relationship with God to the exclusion of others. A right relationship with God should lead to a right relationship with our neighbours. In this session we will consider rights, responsibilities, judgment, discipline, accountability and the needs of others.
Session 12: Where Are You Heading?
It’s important that we understand the difference between godly goals and godly desires, and see that there is no godly goal for our lives that we cannot achieve in Christ. Our godly desires on the other hand may or may not be achieved. Their outcome is beyond our control and we must resist the temptation to base our value on achieving them. God’s goal for our lives is that we become more like Christ, and bringing our own goals in line with that will enable us to live a life of true freedom.
Session 13: Staying On The Right Path
If we want to be truly successful, fulfilled and satisfied we need to uncover and throw out false beliefs about what those things mean and commit ourselves to believing the truth in God’s Word. In this session we will examine what we believe concerning eight aspects of our own personal lives in the light of God’s Word. The purpose is to help participants understand how faith works in their daily lives, and to encourage them to stay on the path towards becoming more like Jesus.