Pat Conover: Sharing the Journey
Overview of Mark Class

Course Proposal
Pat Conover
January 26, 2006

Note: As it turned out, this was a terrific class. I led the class along with another Seeker. On reflection, the greatness of the class seems totally opaque to me when I read over the following organizing plans again. We followed these plans and, I think, proved once again that the success of School of Christian Living is all about the quality of conversations, all about trust and vulnerability, all about engagement, community building, and a willingness to explore more deeply. The most prominent aspect of this class was repeated discussions of forgiveness because that is what is so important in Mark. I trusted that the following outline and plan would allow the good stuff to show up and it did. Sure, I did my homework so I could put out biblical scholarship regarding Mark, but most of my comments were fairly brief and aimed at providing context for the discussions and discoveries of the students.

Title: Jesus: So What (The Gospel of Mark)

First Session


Share background and perspectives and interests of the class members.
Introduce the main perspectives and distinctive features of Mark.


Brief journal writing on the following topics. (10 minutes)
What do you know about Jesus?
What is your relationship to Jesus? Or, Does Jesus matter to you: why?

Discussion of the two topics in groups of three. (10 Minutes)

Whole group discussion on the two topics. (10 Minutes)

Introductory Lecture on Mark with discussion. (20 minutes)

Who was Mark and what were his interests and perspectives.
Mark as core narrative. (No Christmas or Easter) (Last few verses a later addition.)
Jesus as Leader, Healer, Teacher
Jerusalem as destination (political and spiritual)
Synoptic perspective: How was Mark like/different from Matthew, Luke.

Open Discussion and homework assignment. (Remaining time)

Homework Assignment: Read Mark 1.

Journalling Questions:
Why did the disciples follow Jesus?
What was the relationship between John and Jesus?
Would you follow Jesus if you had been there?

Second Session


Open up the perspectives and situation of the disciples. Open up, why would they follow Jesus. Work toward an identity with the questions and concerns of the disciples.


Whole group sharing around homework questions. (30 Minutes)

3 person group sharing on the following questions: (30 Minutes)
What did the disciples have to gain or lose from following Jesus?
How much could they guess about what they were getting into?
What were the inner journey and outer journey challenges facing the disciples?
Whole group sharing and homework assignments.

Homework Assignment: Read Chapters two through seven. Write two versions of a Mission Group Call Statement for Jesus and the Disciples: one by Jesus and one by Andrew.

Third Session


Open up the Question: What is the Call to be a Christian?
Open up who else was interested and involved: The women with Jesus, the crowd, the family of Jesus, the spirits, the opposition.


Discuss homework assignment in the whole group. (30 Minutes)

Break into small groups. Divide up and assign the five topics of the other "players" in this narrative to the small groups: women, crowd, family of Jesus, spirits, opposition. (20 Minutes)

Share from the small groups in general discussion and assign homework. (Remainder of the time)

Homework Assignment: Read Chapters 8-10. Write a journal entry by a disciple or another player in the narrative. What’s going on? How do you feel? What are your questions?

Fourth Session


Open up the image of Jesus as a Healer.


In groups of three, discuss the homework assignment? Ask each group to bring one question to the larger group. (20 Minutes)

As whole group, list and discuss the questions from the small group. (20 Minutes)

As whole group: either building out from previous questions, or freshly introduce the questions about Jesus as healer. Who did he heal? How did he do it? What is the relationship between Jesus and the Spirits? What is a miracle? (20 Minutes)

Journal in class on: If you could ask Jesus for a healing, what would you ask for? (10 Minutes)

In groups of two, discuss your hunger for healing. (Remainder of time.)

Homework Assignment: Read Chapters 11-13. Summarize the elements of the teaching of Jesus.

Fifth Session


Open up the teaching of Jesus.


Discuss the teaching in the whole group (40 Minutes)

Break into pairs and discuss how each one relates to the teaching of Jesus. What does it mean to me? What are the challenges for me in trying to take the teaching of Jesus seriously? How do I see the teaching of Jesus translating into this day and time? (Rest of the time.)

Homework Assignment: Read the rest of Mark. Journal about the challenge of Jesus from the point of view of the leading priests. What were they trying to preserve? Why might they have had difficulty in hearing and appreciating Jesus? Or invent your own dialogue between Jesus and one of the priests.

Sixth Session


Open up the radicalness of the challenge of Jesus to the established order of the day.


Meet in groups of three to discuss the homework assignment? (20 Minutes)

Present some background on the political, economic, and religious situation in Jerusalem and the Temple. (Whole Group 20 Minutes)

Discuss the radicalness of the challenge of Jesus in the whole group, including how the participants interpret that challenge in the current time and the challenges they feel in taking the challenges of Jesus seriously.

Whole Group (Remainder of the time)

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