1st Principles Overview & Resources

Dear Sisters in Christ;

Warm greetings and welcome to the Charles Simeon Trust 1st Principles for Women online course hosted by Three Rivers Grace Church! I hope you are as excited as I am about our journey over the next few months, starting on June 2 for the Tuesday evening group (6:30 p.m. start) and June 5 for the Friday morning group (9:00 am start).

I look forward to “seeing” you and working through this outstanding course to help develop tools and provide practice for understanding the word and teaching it to other women. To accomplish this, we will spend time together as a group learning via video about principles for studying the Bible with an eye towards teaching it and also have a chance to connect in small groups in order to gain practical experience in our preparation. For those who are diving into Track 2, we will be meeting for an additional hour (approx.) after the instruction time to review and critique practice work completed in the week preceding each lesson.

The agenda for each time we meet is as follows:

  • Open in prayer
  • Watch the video, pausing to practice as directed
  • Review the study questions worksheet and any feedback from the group
  • Dismiss Track 1 participants/Break
  • Worksheet presentation and review
  • Close our meeting

I will share the video on my screen for all to watch, stopping and starting for the practice work. We’ll utilize Zoom’s break-out session option for these practice sessions (groups of 2 or 3). 

For all of the ladies participating, you will need to be registered with the Charles Simeon Trust website—have not already done so, please remember to indicate in your registration that I am the group leader. Upon completing this sign-up process, each of you will have access to all of the videos in the course as well as the worksheets, the preparation material, and countless other resources on reading and studying God’s word and making it known to others. The materials all of us will be using for this course include:

I will be setting up a shared Google Drive folder with all of these documents in it, as well as each lesson’s study questions. If you have trouble accessing any of the files inserted in this email, please let me know.

In addition, those who are embarking on Track 2 will need to download these two documents:

The syllabus shows the passage that is to be prepared for each week prior to our meeting together. For the first week, it is John 14:5-14.

How to Prepare for Track 2*:

Small groups are the heart of our time together. Your study of Scripture will be honed through interaction with six other women who, like yourself, believe in the power of the Word taught well.

Prior to each week’s meeting, you will need to spend some time on preparation on these passages. Use the Course Outline Worksheet (titled Small Group Preparation Worksheet) to prepare a five-minute presentation on the assigned text(s). The presentation format is flexible, but it should be based on the material on your worksheet. The presentation is not a five-minute “mini-talk,” but rather a summary of your preparatory work using the Preparation Worksheet provided. You can also find it and more information about how to prepare for the Small Group online (www.simeontrust.org/prepare/). I am fully aware that you will feel like you are flying blind, which is more typical than not! And you won’t find at the CST site any samples to model —I’ve tried! Here are two thoughts from the Q&A section of the preparation guide:

Why don’t you provide a sample completed worksheet? We have found that two things happen when we give sample answers. First, it limits the scope of answers that participants give. That is, without intending to, participants limit themselves too much to the confines of (the types of) answers we give in the sample worksheet. We’d rather handle the discernment necessary for doing this work in discussion in the small group rather than limit the work upfront. Second, sometimes participants view the answers we give on the sample worksheet as what we view as ‘the right answers.’ We hope that we are still making progress and will do a better job on our worksheets every time we approach a passage. We certainly don’t want anyone thinking we have perfected any particular passage. We are still growing too! 

What if I get it wrong? This is the last question listed here, but often the first question on everyone’s minds. It’s okay to be nervous. We all worry about handling God’s Word well. As Christians, we recognize the learning process is ongoing. We can always be stretched in new ways. Part of the hope of having interactive instructional sessions and these small group discussions is that the Instructors and small group leaders learn new things as well. Our small group leaders are trained to foster a collegial environment where we will each be encouraged and challenged to grow. Most of us are not used to peer-review of our work, but we will all find it is invaluable in helping us grow as preachers and teachers. 

Following your presentation, others in the group will be given the opportunity to engage in your presentation. Remember, we are none of us pastors or Bible teachers like Paul—as for me, I’m not even close to the many effective and capable women teachers I know. Most of us are not typically used to peer-review. But, you will benefit from the input of other women who are passionate about their teaching and have the opportunity to benefit them.

I encourage you to work hard—your good preparation will be rewarded.  We are linking arms to work at being “workmen approved by God” in the way we handle His Word! I do understand how this is an activity that is demanding and will take time. Please do not feel as though you need to perform perfectly every time; we will all have down weeks and up weeks. I believe each of us to be gracious and patient according to the generosity of the Lord.

*much of this section is from the CST emails sent to workshop participants and revised for this setting

If you haven’t decided yet about your level of participation or which day you will be joining us, please let me know so that I can plan accordingly. And please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. 

Thank you, and may you go in grace and peace as you prepare for this study. I am praying for your time to be fruitful.