The five dimensions of Formation School

Formation School grows character and confidence in the ways in which God gifts us and sends us. Four theme tracks unpack how the Bible equips us to live for God in today’s world, while a fifth dimension – huddles – grounds the teaching and provides mutual support and accountability.

Track 1: Bible

God’s Big Story

Human beings are in search of a story. We desire to know who we are, why we exist, and how life is best lived. However, we can answer these questions only by setting them in the context of a greater story. The Bible answers this deep longing, teaching us that it is God’s own story – the purpose (mission) he is pursuing in creation and salvation – that provides the true context in which our lives belong. We trace the story through creation, de-creation, re-creation, and new creation, to see how the story revolves around Jesus and is the defining story of our humanity.

1.1 – Introduction: What is the gospel? What is the Bible? Truth to make your heart sing

Bible Overview

1.2 – Bible Overview 1 – The Big Picture and Genesis

1.5 – Bible Overview 2 – Exodus to the United monarchy

1.7 – Bible Overview 3 - Divided monarchy to Babylonian Conquest

1.9 – Bible Overview 4 - Babylonian Exile to Intertestamental period

1.13 – Bible Overview 5 - The New Covenant Era

Understanding the Bible (tools)

1.4 – Authors Purpose Tool

1.6 – Context Tool

1.8 – Structure Tool

1.14 – Repetition Tool

Teaching the Bible

1.3,4 – Leading Small Groups

1.11,12 – How to understand and teach a gospel

1.15-16 – How to give a Bible talk

1.17,18 – Giving Bible Talks

1.19 – Conclusion

Track 2: Blessing

Intimacy with God

Personal identity is shaped by how we view of our life-stories. This track is all about exploring our personal identities within God’s over-arching story. At the heart of this endeavour is the task of re-orienting our hearts, allowing the Holy Spirit to transform who we are and how we conduct our lives in relationship with God. We will look at developing practices that keep us oriented towards God. As we grow in our knowledge of Him, he will begin to form our identities as biblical, spiritual leaders in God’s mission.

2.1 – Introduction: a transformed heart – living and leading out of abundance

2.2 – Identity: knowing who we are in Christ

Grace-filled Patterns of Life

2.3 – Experiencing the grace of God

2.4 – Worship with an emphasis on the Psalms

2.5,6 – Developing rhythms and habits of life

2.7,8,9,10 – Responding to God Day in the Rhythms and habits of life

2.11,12 – Experiencing the Holy Spirit 

Growing in Grace

2.13-14 – Emotionally Healthy Leadership

2.15 - Dealing with disappointment

2.16 - Silence, Solitude and Simplicity

2.17 – Trusting God in Suffering

2.18 – Tools for understanding ourselves

2.19 – Conclusion – Loving Christ above all

Track 3: Mission

Serving and Reaching

Track 3: Mission: Serving and Reaching

The gospel is far greater than saving us so we go to heaven. God is reconciling everything to himself through Christ. He created us for wholeness in relationship with Him, each other, and the environment. In track 3 we reflect on how Jesus calls us to gospel-shaped living in every part of life. We probe the mindsets of those around us, and consider some of the challenges we face. And we explore our part in God's mission of serving and reaching the world.

3.1 – Introduction: Mission for all of Life

3.3,4 – What is Evangelism? What is the Gospel?

3.2 – We are what we love

3.5,6 – The Meaning of Life

Challenges to the Gospel

3.7 – Part 1. Our Fear

3.8 – Part 2. Our Questions

3.9-10 – Part 3: Our Identity and Sexuality

Contexts for communicating the Gospel

3.11 – Part 1: Works

3.12. – Part 2. Web

3.13-14 – Part 3: Work

3.15-16 – Part 4: World

3.17 – Conclusion

Track 4: Discipleship

Growing and Releasing

Jesus initiates the story arc for his church in his uncluttered commission: go and make disciples. What Jesus taught as that normal expectation now often appears to be confined to the elite. This Track puts being a disciple who makes disciples back into the reach of the average Christian. Having carefully laid a foundation for the grace-fuelled nature of the discipleship journey, we build a picture of the stages of that journey. We conclude by evaluating the key contribution each one of us could make within our own disciple-making community.

Being Disciples

4.1,2 – Introduction: Discipleship that is Essential, Radical and Missional

4.3,4 – Discipleship is intentional and Costly

Making Disciples

4.5,6 – Discipling not yet Christians: Everyday Discipling for ordinary People and Tailer-made Discipling

4.7,8 – Discipling Spiritual infants: Discerning needs and making a plan to meet them

4.9,10 – Discipling young adults: Understanding Needs and creating environment for growth

4.11 – Developing a disciple-making mindset: Trellis and the Vine

4.12 – Practical Disciple-Making: The Art of Story Telling

Making Disciple-Makers

4.13-14 – Developing a disciple-making culture

4.15,16 – Discipling Spiritual Parents: Generational Impact

4.19 – Conclusion


Many churches are finding that huddles are great places for growing leaders who make disciples. They are small groups for reflection and discussion designed to help leaders share in the learning experience. By emphasising the corporate nature of discipling, a huddle is a place where leaders find support and accountability.

We sandwich huddles between the two teaching sessions on a typical Formation School Tuesday evening. The change of pace and opportunity for sharing and discussion are integral to the learning experience. More significantly, they remind us that the classroom is not the natural domain of discipleship. When Jesus told his disciples to, ’Go and make disciples’ in the Gospel Commission (Matthew 28:18–20), it was in the sense of ‘in your going (living), make disciples’. As the huddle groups share together from their daily lives, they help each other apply the teaching to real circumstances.

Over the years since Formation School started, we have seen huddles become a vital part of the course as they have enabled deep and significant friendships to flourish within the group, producing a great sense of being a vibrant learning community.

Formation School is a partnership between Above Bar Church, and Living Leadership, as well as a number of churches around the area.

Above Bar Church is a charitable company limited by guarantee. Registered in England and Wales, registration no 6959469. Charity registration no:1131075. Registered office: 69 Above Bar Street, Southampton, SO14 7FE.
Living Leadership is registered as charity number 1121621.
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