Living Hope Community Church, located in Brea, CA, is spending this summer sharpening up on the essential aspects of faith. Three classes taught by the church's own pastors and elders are being offered over a four-week period, which began on July 24: "The Gospel," "Bible Survey," and "Theology." Some 150 members -- and even some people from outside of the church -- registered for classes beforehand.
"We [the pastoral leaders] thought, 'If we had four hours to teach our family something regarding faith, what would it be?'" said Pastor Steve Chang, the lead pastor of Living Hope. Out of that thought was birthed the three aspects that Living Hope's leaders were essential to the Christian faith.
"These are the core things we want our members to know," Chang said.
"We thought that the summer will be a great time for us to gather our church family to learn together," said Pastor David Kim, who heads the Teaching Ministry at Living Hope, and who also oversees the Summer of Learning courses.
"The Gospel," taught by Chang, goes in-depth on the different facets of the gospel. In the first class, Chang explored two: God and evil; and God and man. After showing two video news reports -- one of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, and the other of a gay man who was pushed off of a building in the middle east for his sexuality -- he asked the 40-some congregants in his class, "What is your visceral reaction to these videos?"
"There is evil. And human lives matter," Chang continued. "And we can conclude that it is evil to take human lives because human lives matter."
"But is there evil in the world?" Chang posed. "People in modern society tell us to define morality on our own terms. 'You define right and wrong.'"
Chang continued to explore the ways that the concept of evil, and the value of human life, are inevitably tied with God and cannot be defined apart from God.
The first class of "Theology," taught by Pastor Steve Lee, who pastors college students at Living Hope, delved into the trinitarian nature of God -- defining, explaining, illustrating, and backing the Trinity, and how it changes and affects a Christian's life.
There are non-negotiables of the Trinity, Lee said: that the Trinity is one God; that the Trinity eternally exists as three distinct persons in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and that each person of the Trinity is fully and equally God.
"God is totally His own being, in a category of His own," Lee said, as he showed that no common illustrations of the Trinity -- the egg, the apple, the three-leaf clover, among others -- fully and accurately portray the Trinity.
"Though we can't fully master the Trinity, we can know enough. Enough to know what is or is not the Trinity, and enough to worship Him," Lee said.
"Bible Survey" class participants were taken into an introduction to the Bible, exploring aspects including the fact that it is the Word of God; the different portions of the Old and New Testaments; Jesus as the central figure of the Bible; and the importance of the Bible.
"The authors of the Bible were not just 'inspired,' -- they were moved by the power of the Holy Spirit," said Elder Dooro Park, who taught the first Bible Survey class, as the class examined 2 Timothy 3:16.
Participants shared one word responses to what they learned about the Bible at the end of the class. "Listen," said one. "Reverence," said another. "Life," said yet another.
Summer of Learning courses will continue until August 14. An apologetics course is also being offered for four weeks on Sundays, from July 16 to August 16.
"We want our church family to have a posture of learning as a disciple of Christ," said Pastor David Kim, regarding the Summer of Learning courses. "We hope that through the Summer of Learning they would be excited in the lifelong journey of learning and growing."