An introduction to the study of the ways the church has evolved in its corporate life since its birth in the first century. Special attention is given to studying its changing relationship and interaction with the surrounding societies in which it has existed. The intended readership will be those training for ministry in English speaking churches, so the studyguide will concentrate on those aspects of this subject of most relevance to this group. This means there will be greater attention to developments in the West than in the East, especially in later centuries, and to topics such as the nature of ministry, the sacraments, places of worship, authority in the church and mission. These will be examined at each period of church history, in each chapter, to provide reference points of comparison throughout the book. Each chapter will also contain a specific case study, presenting extracts of some key documents with notes, commentary and questions for discussion, to allow readers to develop skills in historical research. General discussion questions and reading lists will be provided at the end of each chapter. The final chapter will provide guidance for the study of the history of the student's own church and community.
Stephen Spencer teaches mission and historical theology on the Yorkshire Ministry Course and is a visiting lecturer at the University of Leeds.