At the heart of NEXT is The CORE Experience. Set over two and a half days per week, the CORE Experience draws everyone into a radical experience of learning, development and growth. You can also add ELECTIVE options to personalise NEXT and focus on the things you want.
“NEXT has been an unbelievable experience for me. Its changed my perception of everything: money, God, society, politics, current affairs and people…. I’ve been exposed to a whole new faith.”
But the best part is the flexibility of NEXT. The various combinations of CORE +ELECTIVE elements allow you to study part or all of a Higher Education Diploma across two, three or four days per week. NEXT’s flexibility also means you can combine your experience with other stuff – like working, an internship, volunteering or even studying at another institution.
The NEXT CORE follows the academic calendar and provides a dynamic experience of exploration, learning and discovery that draws upon the ancient and contemporary Christiantraditions of:
- Spiritual formation
- Theological exploration
- Bible investigation and interpretation
- Discipleship & Purposeful Living
In each of these ways, the Core experience helps you figure out what it is you believe, why you believe it and help you to test to see if your beliefs are strong enough to see you into the future.
Spiritual Formation: Experiencing God
This class will help you uncover the unique ways you engage with God and nurture within you an awakening to His activity in your life and the world around you. Spiritual Formation is a truly transformative experience that draws you in to the different traditions of Christian Spirituality, helps you uncover the unique ways you personally experience God and establishes practices of faith that can be drawn upon for the rest of your life. Diving into this aspect of NEXT means you can complete the Diploma unit: DS0002W Experiencing God.
“I feel like I’ve been given the how of living for God, instead of being told to just do it. And there was that beautiful moment when I finally felt that absolute freedom of the love of God rather than just cognitive agreeance that God loves me.”
“This year I have experienced how deeply saturated this world is with the sacred pressence of God”
Theological Exploration: Developing Theological Insight
Each week we will explore an aspect of the Christian tradition as well as engaging and responding to the beliefs of other religious communities in Australia. Though it can be a little confronting as you experience this diversity, the NEXT process helps you to carefully examine your own beliefs and develop a creed that is strong enough to thrive in this complexity. Getting this aspect of NEXT under your belt means you will have completed the Diploma Unit: CT0150W Developing Theological Insight
“Studying theology and bible has been one of the main highlights of the year for me … it has enabled me to begin journeying and wrestling with who God actually is and what his Character is actually like.”
Bible Investigation & Interpretation
We recognise that for some, the Bible is “Sacred Scripture” while for others, its just plain weird or irrelevant. Each week we will explore this ancient text together in order to discover the BIG story told by Scripture as well as to develop your own skills in interpreting the Bible so that you can learn to hear God’s voice from within His Word. We’ll also spend a fair bit of time exploring the life of Christ, piecing together the impact of his revolutionary life. Tackling this part of NEXT means you can complete the Diploma Unit BS0131W Engaging the Bible.
“Throughout the year I began to see how much the Bible is alive and that it is a really beautiful thing.”
Discipleship & Purposeful Living
Bringing faith to life is about living with purpose. Each week through personal coaching, small group work and community-based experiences you will be guided through a carefully crafted program that clarifies who you are, what is important to you, and how to begin to live out your faith in ways that are true to yourself and faithful to God’s call on your life. Working through this aspect of NEXT means you can complete two Diploma Units: DP0150W Discipleship and Purposeful Living.
“Learning about the Kingdom of God has encouraged me to examine where my life is going and has given me a new vision: to work my whole life to try to bring God’s Kingdom to earth.”
Community Time & Growth Experiences
Each week we also spend a good chunk of time together – often out and about exploring and experiencing stuff that brings your faith and the NEXT process to life. It’s really important to us that your faith is not just something you think about, but is something you actively do and discover and experience. Your life is asking the questions, but we suspect that you will find answers in the lives of others, in the classroom of culture, in the vitality of experience all sorted and tested through the wisdom of the Christian tradition and the insight of Scripture.
“I have learned … it is not me against the world, its not me against anyone or anything, but me against my fears, doubts and insecurities. … I now understand the true meaning of community and support…. I don’t know where or who I’d be if I hadn’t come NEXT.”
“I’ve loved learning about community by being one.”
The flexibility of NEXT means that you can tailor your experience to your hopes and goals. You can personalise NEXT by adding on to the CORE experience any number of elective options (well, almost any!)
NEXT Elective Options include:
- faith, cultural critique and social engagement :
A relationship with God is always personal but never a private matter. This elective option will help you to unpack the shaping influence of culture and the way it impacts almost every aspect of our lives. At the same time, you will explore God’s alternative culture, which He calls His Kingdom, and the incredible things that happen when you join God in His Kingdom work. Completing this elective will achieve the Diploma Unit DA0001W Faith, Culture and Social Engagement.
- creative spirituality :
For those who’d rather pick up a paint brush, a stick of charcoal, a guitar pick, or whatever else in order to explore their spirituality, this elective is for you. This elective will help you to explore your creativity as an expression of your soul. You will have the chance to develop your creative expression as well as uncover the way it engages your spirituality. Completing this elective will achieve the Diploma Unit DS0001W Creativity and Spirituality
- other electives :
If you are someone who grows through learning and wants to pursue more study opportunities, then you can choose from a variety of relevant and challenging subjects offered at Whitley College. These electives open up a wide variety of options and you could add between one and three additional units of study to your NEXT experience. Available units change with the college’s timetable each year. We can help you sort through your options through the application process, but to give you an idea of your options the list of available units for this year is pictured above or click here.
- volunteering / working with one of our partner organisations :
Sometimes the best thing you can do for your faith is get busy alongside others who are doing some great work in the name of Jesus. Taking on a mission placement is about you intentionally exploring your faith in a challenging setting as part of your NEXT experience. We can help you set up a placement and we have a number of partner organisations who are keen for NEXT students to join their work. You can find more information about placements here. Completing this elective will achieve the Diploma Unit DP0155W Reflective Practice.
- internship in a church / youth ministry setting :
NEXT is also a chance for your own discipleship to benefit the formation of others in your local church setting. If you are keen to develop your youth ministry leadership skills while growing in your experience of church-based ministry, this elective option could be for you. Completing this elective could achieve the Diploma Unit DP0155W Reflective Practice (see above) and/or units focusing upon Youth Ministry and Spirituality. We can help you and your church set up a framework for internships that provides you with a great opportunity for ministry experience. You can find more information about internships here. Please contact us if this is of interest to you.
Constructing Your NEXT Experience
Putting together your NEXT experience is a bit like playing lego! There’s heaps of flexibility, and there are lots of options available to you – so you can construct your year (or years!) in any number of different ways.
Of course, with so many options, the choices can get a bit dizzying. So the best part about NEXT is you don’t have to decide on everything in advance. Instead, you can just get going with the CORE and if you want to add on electives, you can do so down the track.
When thinking about your NEXT experience, follow these easy steps to consider your options:
- Start with the CORE: This is the starting point of NEXT. Comprising of explorations in Spirituality, Theology, Bible, Discipleship and Purposeful Living, the NEXT Core takes place over 2.5 days per week.
- Consider the NEXT Electives: Most NEXT students will do at least one elective to personalise their experience. With elective options exploring social engagement, art and creativity as well as various forms of ministry and missional engagement there is something for everyone.
- Timing: Finally, think about whether you want to get everything done in a year, or if you will benefit from taking a little longer. NEXT options can extend over 1, 2 or 3 years.
Here’s a couple of different ways people are thinking about NEXT and how it fits into their lives:
Anita is competent, organised and likes getting things done. She has been at her church for a number of years now, has benefited from the youth ministry that is going on there and is getting more involved as a leader. She is looking to NEXT as a way of growing deeper in her faith and is considering an internship opportunity at her church. Anita wants to make her year a year of exploring different options while deferring her Uni placement in Psychology. Anita has lots of NEXT options which might include:
Anita could also consider spreading out these options over more than one year.
Jake is also competent and likes to get things done, but is not quite so academically oriented as Anita. Jake’s a bit more creative. He’s been playing music for a while and has recently been experimenting with digital imaging. He’s wondering about taking his creativity a bit more seriously and also finds the music and art he produces to be very personal expressions of his faith. Jakes wants to give at least a year to exploring this a bit further but also needs to work part time to support himself. A good fit for Jake might be:
CORE + Creativity = 6 Diploma Units (about 20 face-to-face hours per week spread over 4 days).
Cameron has become intrigued by a more radical Jesus than he had first been introduced to as a young teenager. Through listening to podcasts and attending some conferences he has started to wonder if there is more to the Christian ‘thing’ than rocking up to church and hearing about how your sins have been forgiven. This radical Jesus seems to have a lot to say about power and money and the marginalised, but Cameron is still not sure if this is just some fringe reading of the life of Christ and wants to figure this out for himself. A good start for Cameron might be:
CORE + the Faith, Culture and Social Engagement elective = 6 Diploma Units
(about 20 face-to-face hours per week spread over 4 days)
Cameron could also add to this a missional placement with one of NEXT’s partner organisations (like Urban Seed, Scripture Union or Tear Australia) = 7 Diploma Units (effectively a full time study load)
Angie feels like she’s lost her way a little bit – or maybe a lot. Wrong crowd at school, a few bad decisions and … well … you know the story. God still seems real, at least sorta real. And a bit distant. And her Grandma keeps pestering her about her future and asking what she wants to do with her life. Frankly, Angie doesn’t have a clue (even though she filled in her Uni placement form). What Angie wants most of all is a break. Just a little bit of space and time away from the merry-go-round of life where she can stop and figure some things out.
A good option for Angie might be just doing the CORE = 5 Diploma Units (2.5 days per week).
If there is a spark of creativity there as well, she may want to also add on the Creativity elective = 6 Diploma Units (about 20 face-to-face hours per week spread over 4 days).
Matt is a bit the same as Angie, except he left school at the end of year 10 and has been doing concreting and garden work for the last 4 years. Matt feels like it’s a bit of a dead-end job for him and is wondering about a change of direction, but doesn’t have a clue what that might be, or even if he will be any good at study.
Like Angie, a good start for Matt might be getting going with the CORE = 5 Diploma Units.
While he doesn’t have to decide on this straight away, Matt might also want to consider the possibility of retuning to NEXT for at least a second year and completing a Diploma. A completed award provides a great springboard into other study options or career pathways.
Note: Because Matt is 21, he can enter NEXT as a mature age student. If Matt was younger, he would need to have a Cert IV instead of a completed VCE certificate to commence.
We get that reading this alone is probably not enough to make a decision, or even really get a clear sense of what NEXT is all about. So if you are a little bit curious, want to be kept in the loop, or would like to find out more, just complete the following form and we’ll be back in touch with you as soon as we can.