Memorial Day

World War 1

It’s Memorial Day weekend. This weekend, we remember those who  have died as a result of their service in the United States military. Many were career soldiers. They gave their lives because they wanted serve and defend the United States. Others were called into war by their country during times of need. We remember them all this weekend.

Remembering these men and women, most of them young, who died as a result of their Ardennenoffensive, US-Gefangeneservice, is painful. But this weekend, let us take some time and focus on them; show them our respect. Don’t worry about what other people are doing or about politics or about how whatever we do this weekend reflects on us.

Let us just remember them: who they were and what they lost. Let us ask God to keep them, forever, in the kind of peace that our fallen world may never see.

Vietnam War

In World War I, many soldiers prayed for protection using Psalm 91.  Read it this weekend and remember those who have died in service of our country.

Psalm 91

You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
    who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,[a]
will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
    my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence;
he will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
    or the arrow that flies by day,
or the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    or the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your refuge,[b]
    the Most High your dwelling place,
10 no evil shall befall you,
    no scourge come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
    so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder,
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.

14 Those who love me, I will deliver;
    I will protect those who know my name.
15 When they call to me, I will answer them;
    I will be with them in trouble,
    I will rescue them and honor them.
16 With long life I will satisfy them,
    and show them my salvation.

Amen.

640px-Poppies_Field_in_Flanders

 

Just Launched: Ministering with Millennials with Katie Nakamura Rengers

We have just launched Ministering with Millennials with Katie Nakamura Rengers For Individuals and For Groups. In this course, Katie discusses reasons that millennials aren’t attending church and ways to reach out to them.

We’ve seen the memes.

 

We’ve read the irritable lists about all the things that generations before the millennials survived.

Millennial list

 

We’ve seen the headlines.

Millennial meme 4.jpg

 

And yet we wonder why millennials (the subjects of these commentaries) don’t want to go to churches run by baby boomers (the people who tend to make these commentaries.)

Millennials are the largest generation alive today. They are not only important to the faith community; they are are a necessity if we want to bring the church into the new world — a world that they will be running in 20-30 years.

If we believe what we say about the good news of Jesus Christ, moreover, then we must remember that millennials need the church as much as the church needs them. They are a generation that has been steeped in dark news about the world since elementary school. Many of them were in their school years during 9/11. They have been bombarded with information about the evils of this world since they were very young — and, understandably, they have learned to question the people and structures that govern them.

Katie is an Episcopal Priest in Birmingham, Alabama, where she runs The Abbey, a nonprofit coffee shop that brings the church into the community. She’s also a millennial. In this course, she will discuss what characteristics define the millennial generation.  She will talk about how millennials view faith today and about millennials’ quest for community. Finally, she will discuss the importance of making room for this generation at God’s table.

We hope that you will learn a great deal from Katie about reaching out to millennials in the church. For a preview of Katie’s course, click here.

 

3 Ways To Use ChurchNext During the Summer

Summertime is on its way.  Cold lemonade and juicy watermelon. Waves crashing on the beach. The smell of burgers cooking on the grill. Opportunities for spiritual and intellectual growth.

Yes! You read that correctly. Opportunities for spiritual and intellectual development are not just a cold weather thing anymore. Now the summer brings relaxation, beach books, and the comfort of your own home or vacation spot as you seek a deeper knowledge of ways in which people worship God in our world. If you are as coordinated as the woman below, you could even take these courses in your hammock.

Untitled design (1)Two  useful aspects of ChurchNext classes are, they aren’t too intense (only 45 minutes long for most people) and they travel. If you can bring a phone or a computer and get internet access, you can participate in a course. Consider utilizing these benefits as you plan your approach to church ministries over the summer.

Here are 3 ways to use ChurchNext courses this summer:

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Bonus points for people who can demonstrate that they completed a course while sipping a mai tai. Photo Credit: Johnny Silvercloud.

1. Use “hybrid” courses. Churches that choose to do adult formation work over the summer run into the difficulty that people are in and out a lot. If you choose to do a series of ChurchNext courses, though, you can offer the courses on Sundays for people who are in town and have people follow the courses by taking them in their For Individuals format from whatever beach house, hotel, campsite, or mountain cabin they happen to be enjoying when they’re on vacation. That way, they can keep up. (Bonus feature: less preparation work to do for the courses, in keeping with the slower summer pace. )

2. Create a “learn from home” summer group.  Have your ChurchNext administrator email people to see if they would be interested in participating in a learn from home group over the summer. People who miss regular adult formation opportunities in the summer might be interested in this kind of opportunity. Others who might be interested: people who will be in and out on vacations, people who leave for extended summer trips and want to stay connected, and parents with children home from school for the summer who might like to feel connected to an adult resource on their own schedule.If you choose to do a learn from home group, we recommend:

  • Having someone (the ChurchNext administrator or some other interested member) be appointed to create a basic schedule and send out reminders so that people remember to participate.
  • Selecting a series of related courses that is likely to interest people in your parish. You could do a social justice series, for example — particularly relevant in the current political climate — or a Bible study series, or you might experiment with different approaches to prayer. Just look under categories in our library that interest you (such as the categories to which we linked above) and select related courses from that group. The ambitious among you might even choose to work toward earning a ChurchNext Certificate (but see our last point before taking on too much.)
  • You might also group courses by a favorite instructor. Michael Curry and David Lose, for example, both offer multiple classes with ChurchNext.
  • Don’t try to take on too many courses. People get busier than they think they will over the summer.

3. Create your own course. Churches that wish to create their own ChurchNext courses using their own material and material from existing courses may choose to create their own summer course. St. Peter’s Church in Charlotte, NC, for example, chose to focus their efforts one year on learning more about who Jesus was and what he said during his time with us on earth. As part of this effort, they combined four classes focused on Jesus into one large summer class called Befriending Jesus. The class met in person several times over the summer, but they also took it remotely so that people could participate while on vacation. Bishop Susan Goff created a course for the Diocese of Virginia that was so successful that we asked her if we could make it part of the worldwide ChurchNext library. (She very kindly said yes.)

We hope that these suggestions help you as you consider what kinds of programs to offer in your church over the summer.

We leave you today with this summertime musical experience with Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Have a blessed and peaceful summer.

summertime

Photo credit: Liz West.

Just Launched: Is My Loved One Addicted? with Jonathan Benz

jonathan benz

We have just launched Is My Loved One Addicted?with Jonathan Benz For Individuals and For Groups.

This course is designed to help family members and churches combat an epidemic. Dr. Lloyd Sederer, chief medical officer of the New York State Office of Mental Health, calls substance addiction “America’s most neglected disease.”  CASA, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse states that 40 million Americans age 12 and over are addicted to alcohol or drugs (including nicotine) — and that only 1 in 10 adults receive treatment for their addictions.

In this course, Jonathan Benz a certified substance abuse counselor and a pastor, author, and public speaker, discusses ways to recognize the signs of addiction — and what to do once you realize that a loved on is struggling with addiction. He emphasizes that shame has no place in recovery — either for the addicted person or for his or her family. Instead of blaming themselves, he argues, families should think about how best to move forward, using the resources available in their churches and communities to help their loved one escape the painful grip of addiction.

This course is ideal for churches that want to reach out to addicted members within their communities and for people struggling with substance addiction and their families.