AFS module 7 – Theology of Marriage

All of us have ideas about marriage that are shaped by our cultures and church culture. Can we find how the Bible uses this terminology and understand some of the concepts and practices that were surrounding marriage at the times these texts were written? This is the challenge we face as we re-interpret ideas and terms from Bible times into our daily experience. One of the exercises will ask you to identify differences in biblical and real-time culture.

As a reference text we will use a book by Ernest D. Martin. There are many books written on marriage from biblical perspective. Martin systematically unpacks the vocabulary used in the texts and contextualises it. You may find this book challenging and decide not to explore all of the chapters immediately. It is far better to work carefully through a few concepts rather than trying to read everything without grasping the ideas.

The learning process in this module challenges you to write a short article one of of the themes that has been significant for you as you explored the book. This provides the opportunity to dig deeply into a particular area, but also to create the structure and communication you need to explain these ideas to others. You will discuss your article with 2 or 3 other students in a group. If you are pleased with it you may even want to publish it somewhere!

Then you will be asked to prepare a subject for discussion with the AFS group. The idea is for students to take different topics and then lead a short discussion (20 – 30 minutes) around these ideas. I shortlist of topics is provided, but you could also choose something that is outside this list but equally relevant.

Finally, so as to broaden your reading a little more, you will dig into one of the chapters of Covey’s book. You can choose how you present your summary of these ideas, either in written form or by producing a short video.

The content of this module is based around a couple of authors, so clearly we will not have direct content with the teacher. We will take advantage of student interactivity and shared reflections to cover the required material.

AFS Module 6 – Parenting

There is hardly a job more common, yet so difficult to get right, than parenting. In one way or another we are all affected by (the lack of) parenting in our lives. As hard as it is to do it well, it is even harder to teach others to do this well. Parenting instruction easily becomes biased, or seen through a cultural lens.

This course will begin by exploring and evaluating a variety of lenses and cultural bias, each of which have led to different parenting styles and disciplines. 

We will then present a framework for parenting from one particular viewpoint (the Developmental Approach). This particular methodology will give students the opportunity to develop an understanding and culturally appropriate interpretation to parenting in various contexts, while remaining congruent with biblical values. By comparing other approaches (based on other methodologies), students can develop their capacity to communicate their values and chosen approach to parents.

The premise of this material is to teach students “how to see”, rather than give them instructions as to “what to do”. The student can then evaluate their ability to ask questions so as “to see” the child in the process of maturation. There will be several opportunities (via group discussion) for students to engage and respond with their observations. 

You will find exercise questions for each video session. The best way to work with these is to read the questions before watching the video, and then make notes as you go. These can then be tidied up as succinct answers to the questions.

Start this module by going to the first lesson.

AFS Module 5 – Family Dysfunction

During this course Erik Spruyt will draw on his experience of crisis and trauma debriefing to create a Christ centred approach to healing. This is a model that has been used extensively by Le Rucher Ministries, a centre for trauma recovery in France that Erik has pioneered. This is a Christian approach to the areas of stress and trauma, using Biblical processes and an understanding of the spiritual world as a basis for action.

The presentation of the material is primarily through short lectures followed by discussion questions that will be used in breakout groups. There are other reading resources to be studied, and some written work to pull together the ideas gained in a practical way.
To facilitate a broader approach to the the question of families and the effects on individuals we will refer to the book Families and how to survive them.

Learning objectives

  • Understand the principle ways trauma deviates from God’s original plan
  • Identify and understand the basic behavioural and neurological trauma reactions
  • Exploring a holistic approach through “The exchange at the Cross”, from Le Rucher Ministries
  • Observing how to link these concepts to current marriage and family difficulties

Start this module by going to the first lesson.

AFS Module 4 – Coaching, Sexuality & Gender

This module consists of 2 distinct parts, which will prepare you for the intensive modules later in the school.

  1. Coaching
  2. Sexuality & Gender

These two so called half modules are worth half a credit each. The intensive will feature both these topics again, to go deeper and to go into application, for 1 credit each. See the overview of modules and credits in Module 1.


This part of the module teaches you some basic coaching principles, to lay the foundation for the intensive module on Coaching. This topic consists of 1.5 credit and is divided into a primary half module, exposing the student to the literature and principles associated with Motivational Interviewing. The second part (1 credit) will be accomplished during the intensive part of the course and significant emphasis will be given at this stage to practical application of the theoretical model.

Learning outcomes for part 1:

  • Familiarisation with the theory of MI (Motivational Interviewing)
  • Evaluating the application of the MI model in real situations
  • Identifying the learning needs to practice MI competently

Sexuality & Gender

This part of the module has as purpose/outcome to gain a basic biblical understanding to use as a framework for looking at and describing Gender development and analysing Gender ideologies. We will use this framework as a starting point for our Intensive module on this same topic.

Start this module by going to the first Lesson.

AFS Module 2 – Genograms

Welcome to the second module of the AFS. This module has the focus on Genograms and how to confidently use them in working with individuals, couples and families. It is currently only available as part of the full AFS program and not as a stand alone seminar. Are you part of the full program? Then you’ll have access when this module launches.

AFS Module 3 – Family of Origin

This module refreshes the student in their understanding of the Bowen Family Systems-Family of Origin’s 8 concepts & the Genogram model. This review of the Knowledge & Understanding of the interrelationship of the concepts of these two models to the dynamics of family life, together with the students working knowledge & skill of the Genogram model will be demonstrated by the completion a 3-generational Genogram on the family of King David (Solomon,David,Children) from the Old Testament.

This means that the student must use critical thinking for integration of the Bowen Model & the Genogram model. This integration requires that the student understands the interrelationship of the 8 concepts and be able to explain the family life dynamics of King David’s family.

To start this module go to the first lesson.

AFS Module 10 – Capstone Project

A Capstone project is a way to sum up skills and competencies the student has gained during the AFS. This kind of paper may be presented in various forms: case studies, research papers, surveys, outcome-based evaluation, focus groups, and more.  You will need to pick a capstone project idea related to the AFS and write a paper. Typically, a Capstone project will be connected with your future specialization (so it also relates to your personal growth plan) and requires strong skills in teamwork, public speaking, and critical and analytical thinking. 

AFS Module 1 – Introduction & Literature review

In this first module of the Online Advanced Family Studies you will be introduced to the course and start your first assignments. By the end of this module (May 2021) you will have:

  • An understanding of how the Online Advanced Family Studies works, how you’ll submit your work, how you’ll engage with the teaching, assignments and group work.
  • Completed a current literature review: A critical look at current literature. Understand current writings, identify gaps in the knowledge of the subject in literature.
  • Created a personal growth plan, helping you get most out of this online study through auto-evaluation on your personal journey in ministering more effectively to families.

This module consists of self study through watching video content, completing the corresponding assignments and studying literature. Additionally this module will have group video calls to get to know one another, to introduce the course and its practical workings and answer questions you might have about this.

Advanced Family Studies Online

Are you ministering to families on a daily basis? Have you done an FMS or FFS and want to deepen your knowledge & skills to work effectively with Families, yet you can’t leave your ministry for 3-5 months to do a UofN school?


With the Online Advanced Family Studies (AFS) you’ll dive deeper into topics like:

  • Genograms & Family Systems
  • Coaching/Mentoring skills
  • Parenting
  • Sexuality & Gender
  • Contemporary Family Issues

…but you’ll do this mostly from your home! All you need is a computer and a good internet connection!


This school will be run mostly online, ending with an onsite intensive. The opening days will be in July. The intensive is planned for June in the following year. The 12 modules will take place over the course of 12 months and require self-study, online teaching and Zoom small group meetings. The online modules will become available each month, starting September.


This school will be registered as 12 seminars with the Extension Studies Center. All modules combined could count towards the third level AFS school (FAM 351), building upon the existing Foundation for Family Studies. We expect you will do outreach and a practicum, details to be confirmed at a later stage. If you are interested in pursuing a degree in Family Studies, please indicate this when registering for this school, so we can discuss the requirements.


The tuition fee for the online part of the AFS is 490 euro. This excludes costs for books and other resources.
The intensive (planned for May/June) will cost 650 euro, including accommodation and meals.


Application for the 2021 Online AFS is not yet open. You can indicate your interest and ask further questions through: