Discussion Courses

The seven-session discussion course on Christian Simplicity is an opportunity for anyone interested in going deeper into the information offered through the weekly take-home materials and handouts.

What is the purpose of the discussion course?

The goal of the discussion course is to help participants become better informed of the issues and find a supportive community for making the personal changes which interest them. Set within a context of faith and personal study, the course focuses on attitudes within the modern mindset which distract us from caring for our spiritual welfare, our relationships, and God’s creation. It encourages participants to ask questions about the way we live. In a society that enjoys such unprecedented prosperity and abundance, why is there so much personal unhappiness and discontent? Why is there so much poverty and hunger? How do we overlook our responsibility to care for creation? Simplicity is surely a Gospel value for our time. It is the path to a life that protects creation, promotes justice, and nurtures spiritual fulfillment.

Christians are called not just to believe in Christ, but also to follow Christ by embodying the values of Jesus. The course offers a reorientation for Christians to move from being negligent consumers to responsible citizens who see the connection between their lifestyles and their faith. Simplicity entails learning how to consume in a manner that protects God’s creation and embraces Gospel justice.


How do the discussion courses work?

Groups of 8-12 people agree to meet weekly during Lent to participate in a learning process. Prior to each session participants read a chapter of selected essays from the course book, "Christian Simplicity: A Gospel Value". Then each week of Lent they gather to discuss what they read. Generally sessions are scheduled to last for 60 to 90 minutes.

"Christian Simplicity: A Gospel Value" is a seven-session course book designed to accompany and supplement the seven weekly themes of Lent 4.5. The chapters are comprised of a collection of essays and articles related to the weekly topic. The readings represent the voices of leading experts in each area and expand on the faith issues involved in living a just and sustainable Christian life in a materialistic culture. Each session also includes an opening prayer service, a list of suggested questions to initiate a lively discussion, a group challenge for each week, and a menu of options for taking personal action. The course books are intended to be a resource for stimulating conversation, not a platform to be preachy.

The courses are intended to promote dialogue, not consensus. They will impact people at different levels because every participant is unique and in different circumstances. Each person brings their own experience and critical thinking to the process. By reading articles related to various aspects of simplicity and participating in the discussion format, participants learn from themselves and from each other. Significant transformative learning can happen when we become informed and have conversations about things that matter.


What is required to organize the discussion courses?

1.  Form Discussion Groups – The first task is to form groups of people who are interested in the seven-week course.

8-12 is the optimal number for an adult learning experience. With fewer than 8, a lively discussion is difficult; with more than 12 people in a group there is little time for each person to share and interact. Most churches will have more than one group participating in the course.

2.  Select Group Leaders – Each group has a designated leader whose responsibility is to keep the group organized and running smoothly during the seven-weeks. 

Group leaders often help recruit people to participate in their discussion groups.

3.  Establish a Place and Time for Groups to Meet

The location can be a room at the church, someone’s home, or even a coffee shop. Make sure the space has a seating arrangement conducive to conversations. If multiple groups are formed, offer the courses on different days and at different times so people can choose one that is convenient for them. 

4.  Discussion Course Books – "Christian Simplicity: A Gospel Value"

Discussion course books are available through the Passionist Earth & Spirit Center. To purchase books: email lent@earthandspiritcenter.org or call 502.452.2749. Usually it is best if each participant has a course book.

Imagine if the Earth were divided equally among all of us. Each person would receive 4.5 acres. Now imagine that everything you need – food, energy, home, clothing, gadgets – must come from those 4.5 acres. But it takes 22.3 acres to maintain the average American lifestyle.There is a new way of observing Lent that helps us care for God’s creation by taking steps toward using only our fair share of its resources. Moving in the direction of 4.5 is essential for anyone walking in the footsteps of Jesus today.

Our Ministry

Lent 4.5 is a seven-week faith formation program which inspires and informs Christian communities on how to use the traditional Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving to protect God’s creation, embrace Gospel justice and nurture spiritual fulfillment. It offers practical opportunities for people of faith to apply the values of Christian Simplicity to their everyday lives.

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