Announcing… A Free Online Adult Education Course on The Pietist Option

As I’ve spent more and more time on Charles Lindbergh, I’ve had less and less time to spend on Pietism. So I’m always thrilled when a church asks me to give a talk on our 2017 book, The Pietist Option, which was always meant for large and small group discussion in churches and is still spreading by word of mouth.

Earlier this spring, for example, I was scheduled to share an adult forum presentation on Pietism at our new church, Roseville (MN) Lutheran. Alas, RLC ended up suspending worship and other events because of our state’s sheltering-in-place order, so I didn’t get a chance to give that talk.

Instead, RLC was nice enough to let me put together an online alternative, which I can now share with you all!

Yes, while I was learning how to make narrated PowerPoints for my courses at Bethel, I decided to try something similar with the Pietist option class for Roseville Lutheran. At the end of March, I produced a series of four 15-20 minute films that I posted on YouTube, along with recommendations for further reading. Now that the whole series (“Hope for Better Times”) has debuted at RLC’s website, I’m happy to make those videos and links available for anyone who’s interested.

The series was subtitled “The Pietist Option for Lutherans,” but I think much of it translates more broadly. The third segment digs into the historic relationship between Lutheranism and Pietism, but segments two (on definitions of Pietism) and four (on how Pietism helps Christians love God and love neighbor) should have wider resonance. I’ve also curated a playlist of other YouTube videos that address Pietism from other angles.

And segment one steps back to ask a larger question that seems pertinent in lots of respects right now: Why bother looking to church history in the middle of a crisis — both the crisis of vanishing membership and attendance facing mainline denominations like the ELCA (which I’d always planned to talk about in that RLC adult forum) and the larger public health crisis that led us to move the class online in the first place?

Nothing I’ve done here rises to the level of video production that my friend and frequent collaborator Sam Mulberry has achieved. But I enjoyed this relatively simple experiment enough to want to try it again with other topics, either in partnership with RLC or another church’s adult education program (here’s how to contact me) or on my own. I’ll keep you posted.