FCS3200EN - Historical Foundations of Faith Community Services

Course description

A survey of the historical development of faith-based community services including early classification of social needs and Christian responses to urbanization and social problems, immigration and ethnicity, morality and moral reform, the church and its relation to society, and the social forces of the press, platform and pulpit in community services. Students will read original source materials, discuss faith-based approaches to historical issues and apply their learnings to key social issues in the 21st century.

How this course benefits students

While 21st century social problems in American cities and in the countryside abound, solutions to those problems often seem to evade us. Many students may understand some of today’s social issues but they tend to only know about the Christian responses which they have seen or in which they have participated. By immersing oneself in historical eras of great social upheaval and listening to the historical voices of Christian leaders struggling with crafting both an effective and biblical response, students gain insights into the ongoing process of the contextualization of faith community service.

Why this course is important

Solomon wrote that there is nothing new under the sun. Certainly this is true when it comes to the existence of social issues and how Christians have responded to them. This course uncovers social unrest and upheaval during times of enormous social change and gallant Christian believers who wrestled with understanding their times and responding through faith community services. Students will learn from historical figures who struggled but attempted the social work of Christian mission.

Credit hours
3 hours
Subject area
Faith Community Services
Educational level
Learning type
Upcoming terms
* Schedule subject to change. Please contact the Registrar's office with schedule questions.
Dr. Curt Watke, Professor of Missiology & Evangelism

How this course relates to missional core values

Biblically based

Since God is a social being, our social experiences, while tainted by sin, reflect the social nature that God has created. By grounding faith community service in a Biblical sociology, students gain the theological reflection skills with which to evaluate missional practice in faith community service. This course will reflect on historical conceptions of sociotheology in applied Christianity.

Missionally driven

Faith community service joins in the mission of God in the world as He works in and through the social order to redeem and reconcile humanity to himself and to each other. This course highlights the social work of Christian mission in historical context.

Contextually informed

Historical periods of great social change provide opportunities to watch God at work through his people in very specific social contexts. By reflecting on the nature and influence of these social contexts in relation to the social work of Christian mission, students will grasp the contextual nature of faith community services.

Interculturally focused

Faith community service embraces cultural diversity as a more complete reflection of God and fosters cultural understanding in interpersonal, intragroup and intergroup relations. This course evaluates historical approaches to intercultural issues in a social work of Christian mission by reflecting biblically and missiologically.

Practically minded

Often faith community services arise out of pragmatic necessities combined with utilitarian approaches. For many people community services become the perfunctory delivery of services to meet common physical needs. But practical mindfulness in the social work of Christian mission combines a concern for personal, social, spiritual and environmental issues in order to see personal and community transformation.

Experientially transformed

While this course is historical in nature, attempts will be made in the course development to encourage students to delve into the social history of their own communities in an attempt to see God at work in the past.