TAP is a judicatory-based program of theological education designed to help participants discover their own theologies and develop their ministerial skills within the context of an intentional learning community. The curriculum focuses on Study of the Bible, Theological Reflection, and Practice in the Arts of Ministry. Participants commit to a three year process of mutual teaching and learning in a supportive group environment, guided by a trained facilitator.
TAP groups generally meet once a week for two hours each session. Each course lasts eight sessions (16 contact hours). Textbooks and course materials are provided to guide the study and application of each topic, and include weekly assignments to be completed at home. The group decides upon the time and location of the sessions at its initial meeting.
In addition, TAP participants meet periodically for TAP Convocations, which include worship, workshops, and an opportunity to interact with participants from other groups. TAP is open to all members of the Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ and our ecumenical partner churches.
The United Church of Christ recognizes that God calls the whole church and every member to participate in and extend the ministry of Jesus Christ by witnessing to the Gospel in Church and society. The … Southeast Conference [seeks] to undergird the ministry of its members by nurturing faith, calling forth gifts, and equipping members for Christian service.
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The methodology of the TAP program is known as Shared Christian Praxis. Shared Christian Praxis is a method of theological reflection that invites participants to reflect critically upon their own experiences in light of the gospel in such a way that it leads to a new way of being and acting in the world. The methodology is based on the work of Thomas Groome, who himself was influenced by the Latin American educator Paulo Friere.
The word praxis refers to critical reflection upon action. i.e., becoming aware of and thinking critically about our own ways of being and acting in the world.
The word shared refers to the communal aspects of this methodology, both as it relates to our sharing this experience with others in intentional learning communities and to our acknowledgement that we are social creatures who live and act in the world in relationship to a myriad of “others.”
The word Christian places us in the midst of the story and vision of Jesus Christ and the Church as told through Scripture, tradition, worship, and mission, making this methodology an act of faithful learning that leads us to the possibilities of change/conversion, and not just a pedagogical exercise.
In other words, Shared Christian Praxis is not just about “head learning;” it is also about “heart and hand” learning. According to Friere, if we are not changed by our new and deepened understanding of our life situation, and if we do not somehow translate this new understanding into action, then no true learning has taken place. Shared Christian Praxis is not just about the acquisition of knowledge; it is about the transformation of individuals and communities.
Shared Christian Praxis begins with a focusing activity that engages participants around a “generative theme,” that is, an idea, symbol, or Scripture passage which they recognize as reflective of their own or their society’s experience or life story. The process then proceeds through five movements, much like the movements of a symphony, that take the participants from naming and reflecting on their own stories, to engaging the Christian Story and Vision, to dialogue and subsequently to a decision for action. The movements are not meant to be rigid stages or steps, but are a part of a natural flow in the dialogical process.