New course: Introducing Methodism

“Beware you be not swallowed up in books! An ounce of love is worth a pound of knowledge.”

“Catch on fire and others will love to come watch you burn.”

“We should be rigorous in judging ourselves and gracious in judging others.”

“Do you not know that God entrusted you with that money (all above what buys necessities for your families) to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to help the stranger, the widow, the fatherless; and, indeed, as far as it will go, to relieve the wants of all mankind? How can you, how dare you, defraud the Lord, by applying it to any other purpose?”

“I continue to dream and pray about a revival of holiness in our day that moves forth in mission and creates authentic community in which each person can be unleashed through the empowerment of the Spirit to fulfill God’s creational intentions.”

All of the above are attributed to John Wesley, who, in attempting to revitalize and renew the Church of England, ended up setting in motion a whole new kind of church.  Our latest course, Introducing Methodism, shows us how Anglicans John and Charles Wesley forever changed the landscape of Protestant Christianity. Methodism reminds us that God calls us to help the poor, to be on fire in our hearts, and to work towards holiness in this life. byassee

Whether you’re a stranger to the Methodist Church or a longtime member, even if you’re happily dedicated to another denomination, you’ll find much wisdom and food for thought in this course.  Jason Byassee’s fascinating reflections encourage us all to renew and revitalize our own faith, and to remember that faith is a verb, that our hearts should always burn for Jesus Christ. Click here to learn more or to register.

Jason Byassee is a popular speaker, author, and pastor of Boone United Methodist Church in North Carolina.

 

 

New course: The Roman Catholic Tradition

The word “catholic” — with a little c — means universal. In many ways, the Roman Catholic Church is also universal: it’s the largest Christian church in the world.  Everyone knows at least a little about Roman Catholicism, or about the wonderful work Pope Francis is doing in his ministry.  But what exactly does “Catholic” with a big c mean? What is universal about farristhis faith tradition?  What is unique?

You’ll find much of interest in the four lessons that comprise this course:  Roman Catholicism’s origins, its distinctive beliefs, its diversity, and then lecturer William Farris’s own testimony of faith.  Even Roman Catholics may something new — or forgotten — in this wonderful course. All who confess faith in Jesus Christ will benefit from this overview of one of the richest faith traditions in world history. Click here to learn more or to register.

William Farris is a Franciscan priest and pastor at Transfiguration Catholic Church in Southfield, Michigan.

 

New course: Introduction to Church Marketing

Some folks may raise their eyebrows at the title of our latest course, Introduction to Church Marketing – after all, isn’t marketing something sales-y people do, or companies trying to sell services or products?  Well, as Jake Dell points out, the opening sentences of Luke’s gospel show a pretty great example of someone selling a product and service — with a “money-back guarantee” to boot!

Marketing really is just evangelism by another name.  We believe in what we’re selling, don’t we? And our “product” promises everlasting life, peace, and grace. Our marketing efforts should match our enthusiasm for our mission. If we think about marketing our churches in this way, we can see dellthere’s a lot to learn from commercial marketing wisdom, and a lot that can be adapted for our purposes.  We’ll learn what marketing means, how to do it, when and where to do it, and just how important it is.

This course is perfect for those in church leadership, both lay and clergy; it offers a wealth of knowledge and tips for getting our gospel message out and getting folks in the door.  Click here for more information or to register.

The Rev. Jake Dell has worked in marketing and advertising for years and currently serves as the manager of digital advertising and sales for the Episcopal Church.

New Course: Redemptive Charity with Robert Lupton

How would you feel if you discovered that your well-meant charity project, instead of providing long-term relief and a greater sense of dignity, actually undermined someone’s self-sufficiency and sense of empowerment?  Have you ever thought how it might feel to be on the other end of your mission work?  Do those to whom you minister actually become involved, accepted members of your congregation?

These are the kinds of questions our latest course, Redemptive Charity, raises, and the answers are luptonsometimes unsettling. Robert Lupton has spent the last four decades living and serving within needy communities, and what he’s learned and observed may surprise you. We give and serve because we mean well and we want to help people, but many of our efforts actually end up hurting.  This course helps us reassess our mission and charitable outreach in the hopes that we might redeem our efforts. At the same time, it encourages us to rethink our own motives and practices.

We recommend this course for anyone with a heart for mission and outreach, for congregations, individuals, charitable organizations, and clergy.  Let’s make sure we’re helping those we aim to serve. Click here for more information or to register for this powerful course.

Robert Lupton is a speaker, advocate, and expert in individual and congregational best practices regarding charity work. He is the author of several books including Toxic Charity.

New Course: Introducing Stewardship with Kristine Miller

We’re excited to launch Introducing Stewardship in time for churches’ traditional Fall campaigns. And yet, one of the things Kristine Miller reminds us in this course is that stewardship isn’t just for a season. If we want to see real change and improvement in our fundraising, we need to remember that stewardship is more than money: it’s an ongoing practice of faith to which God calls us as we seek to do God’s work.miller

This course offers valuable advice on assembling a stewardship committee, strategizing communications efforts, and responding to changes in culture and practice so that we reach people where they are, as they are, and communicate our passion for our ministry.  If we’re excited about and committed to the work our church is doing, why shouldn’t we ask others to be?  No more apologizing or skirting around the issue.  People want to invest in things that matter — and we believe that our churches matter.

This course will be valuable to congregations, stewardship committees, church vestries and governing bodies, and clergy alike.  Click here to register or for more information.

Kristine Miller is a professional stewardship consultant, speaker, and writer. Her titles include Climb Higher: Reaching New Heights in Giving and Discipleship.

Introducing Judaism with Joseph Krakoff

We’re excited about our latest course, Introducing Judaism, a fascinating overview of Jewish history, belief, and tradition.  There is so much wisdom to be found in Jewish law, not only for Jews but for those of us who share a belief in the one true God and a heritage in Abraham. krakoffFor example, in Lesson Two we are reminded of God’s commandment to honor the Sabbath as a day of rest and enjoyment of God’s gifts, and of the injunction to respect each other, to let no idle chatter, gossip, or unkind words about each other leave our mouths.

Such wisdom is just one of the things we share with our Jewish brothers and sisters.  You’ll find much of interest and value in the lessons provided by Rabbi Joseph Krakoff, who is an engaging and interesting teacher.  Click here for more information and to register.

Joseph Krakoff is an educator, speaker, and rabbi of Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield, MI.

New course: The Spirituality of Children with Catherine Maresca

“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” ~Luke 18:17

Children have unique experiences and understandings of God, and these understandings change as children grow and develop.  What’s more, the joy and sense of communion that children feel with God can be nurtured and encouraged; in fact, beginning spiritual formation at a very young age can ensure that children grow up with a deep sense of the benevolence and closeness of a loving God.  We as adults can learn — or relearn — a great deal from children’s spirituality.maresca

This course is a fascinating look at how children’s spirituality begins and changes according to identifiable developmental stages.  The research and wisdom that Catherine Maresca collects and shares in these lessons can benefit parents, children’s ministers, and anyone who longs to recapture a childlike joy and connection to God.

Catherine Maresca is the director of the Center for Children and Theology, which publishes resources and research related to the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.