Our Story

We’re out to change your life.

There we said it. At ChurchNext we’re passionate about helping you learn and want to help you go deeper. Our learning model has a bias and we want to admit it out front so that you understand exactly what you’re getting into.

D Lose NewFirst, we believe in learning from great teachers. We’ve worked really hard to find the best instructors we can, to present inspiring ideas and concepts from a mainline perspective that can
help you become better informed about your faith. Gifted theologians like David Lose and Brian McLaren give us deep insights into relevant topics, and combined with quizzes, discussion questions, and downloads, we believe that hearing the lectures and reading the materials makes us better informed and more mature in our faith.

Second, we believe in learning actively and socially.  We want you to get into discussions with other students, sharing ideas, debating points, and offering insights. That’s why classes are laced with interactive components – and why half of our courses are specifically designed to be used in group settings. This is also why we provide downloadable discussion questions and synopses at the end of each course. We want you to get together in conversation, online and in person. Social interaction is built into the expectations we have of you as a student. ChurchNext isn’t just a technology platform, it’s a learning ecosystem brought to life by your engagement.

Finally, we believe that God is in this. Therefore, the studies undertaken often have a transforming effect. We believe that the very act of drawing nearer to God brings God nearer to us. Students often contact us to share the inspiration gained from taking classes – which our team can attest to simply by putting these courses together.

So you’ve been duly warned. You are not only signing up to learn from the best, but to engage with others, and to delve into the mystery that God transforms seeking hearts. We are delighted to be with you on the journey.

The Team

C Yaw Cartoon

Chris Yaw, MDiv, ThM, Founder

Chris is an Episcopal priest who started ChurchNext for his church and everybody else’s. He serves a congregation in Michigan.

Email chris (at) churchnext (dot) tv

L Brignac Cartoon

Liz Brignac, MA, Course Design/Content Design Consultant

Elizabeth Brignac is a freelance writer from Cary, NC who has always enjoyed learning about the world through writing about it. She writes and produces many of our courses and is an active member of The Church of the Holy Family in Chapel Hill, NC.
Email liz (at) churchnext (dot) tv

C Graves

Carrie Graves, Course Designer

Carrie has a deep love for creating community and connecting people. As a communications professional for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, Carrie brings a wealth of writing experience and deep knowledge of how the Christian faith can be shared. She has a keen interest in dream work and the enneagram.
Email carrie (at) churchnext (dot) tv



Christina Dorn, Customer Happiness Specialist

An educator specializing in Christian Formation and Communications for her parish and diocese, Christina has a passion for helping ChurchNext subscribers make the most of their online school.
Email: christina (at) churchnext (dot) tv


M Hagan

Marie Hagan, Course Designer

Marie is an experienced instructional designer with experience in various aspects of education for a range of audiences and purposes. She’s a devout Episcopalian, committed to sharing the light of Christ with others through good works, and respect for the dignity of all living things.
Email: marie (at) churchnext (dot) tv

K Henry Cartoon

Karen Robertson Henry, Course Design and Administration

Karen is a writer and producer well versed in academic administration and support services. Karen has a passion for bringing educational resources to others.

A Busse Cartoon

Ashley Denham Busse, PhD, Course Design

Ashley is an educator, author, and active church member who is passionate about lifelong learning and spiritual growth.  She has written and produced many of our courses and attends St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Palm Gardens, Florida.

S Kelly Cartoon

The Rev. Shannon Kelly, DMin (Candidate), Content Design Consultant

Shannon is an author, digital formation curator, and consultant who has done much to shape course content and direction for ChurchNext. Shannon’s passion and ministry is lifelong formation with an emphasis on children, youth, and families.

J Lytle Cartoon

 Julie Lytle, PhD, Curriculum Design Consultant

Julie is an author, theological educator, gifted advisor, and distributed learning consultant. She’s deeply interested in the dynamic power of digital media to form, inform, and transform Christian community.

S Cook Cartoon

Sally Cook, Intern

Sally Cook has extensive experience in adult learning principles for physician professional development and volunteers for ChurchNext because she wanted to build her competency with Learning Management Systems.  She is a member of The Falls Church Episcopal, Falls Church, VA www.thefallschurch.org

Guiding Principles

The convictions we live by help guide our work. And they’re more about who we are than what we do.  Here are some of the ideals that shape and inspire us:

The Relationship Is Worth More Than the Project
We plan to be in this for the long fun, therefore a winning project is always good – but a good relationship is better. Our aim isn’t primarily to get people to come, but to come back.

Water the Green Spot
If it’s growing, water it. Feed it. Fertilize it. Applaud it. And by all means, fund it. Success is found in spending less time on what’s not working and more time on what’s working.

Rearview Mirrors Are Small
There’s a reason rearview mirrors don’t take up the entire windshield. Spend all day looking behind you and you will crash. Sure, check it often but spend more energy concentrating on what’s in front of us. Keep the mission front and center. Always.

Ships Are Off Course 98% of the Time
There’s no beeline to any destination – just ask a bee – or a sailor. You will drift off course. There will take a detour. You will get distracted. The journey is about constant course correction. When the wind changes and the waves kick up, the job is to get back on track as fast as possible.

Throw It at the Wall and See What Sticks
We’ll try (almost) anything. Today’s wacky idea is tomorrow’s wonder-filled innovation (who remembers Dick Tracy’s wristwatch?). If someone’s got an idea, go for it. We don’t know who salutes unless we run it up the flagpole.

Everything We Do Is Wrong
The day we look at what we’ve done and say, ‘That’s the best it will ever be’ is a good day to cash in the 401k. There is always a better way, perfection is an illusion. And yes, the burden of continuous improvement is the cross we bear when we’re serious about a broken world and our determination to fix it. There is a better way. Be patiently impatient.

The Price of Knowing Is Too High
By the time the bank okays the loan, the bargains are gone. Rewards comes to those who risk. Every life is lived on faith, so embrace it and go with your gut, it’s probably the right direction and it’s the only one worth following.

Go Deep
National studies indicate American Christians prefer an emotionally comforting, self-focused, and intellectually shallow faith. We won’t go there. We’re not here to win popularity contests, but to change lives. This only happens when we push, prod, and promote what’s challenging, other-centered, and genuinely sacrificial.

Christ Is in All
Jesus is present in everybody. Christ is in you and me. That’s why everybody deserves to be treated like the incredible people they are. Bending over backwards to welcome, respond to questions, and to painstakingly do whatever it takes is the only credible response.

Being You Fits
God created you to be you. Everyone is made in God’s image and put in a world God called ‘good.’  No isms allowed (racism, sexism…). Accept, welcome, create space where all are free to be who God authentically created us to be. Confirm and affirm.

Say Yes
Shouldn’t everybody’s default setting be ‘yep?’  It’s always easier to point out all the ways it can’t be done. It’s much easier to pass it on and put it off. But figuring out how to make it work right here and right now is something everybody appreciates.

Contrarians Welcome
It’s easier than ever to be surrounded by sycophants and like-minded seers. But when everyone digests the same books, websites, TV shows and radio programs, who’s got the new angle?  Looking at everything the same way opens everyone up to blindsiding and backstabbing. Value strong, independent thinkers who are unafraid to call ’em like they see ’em. Creative solutions come from diverse connections.

Go with the Flow
Before the alarm clock rang God knew that lunch date would cancel, the car would break down, and the bank would be closed. There are no such things as accidents – just routine discoveries of how God is working. Avoid the temptation to put more weight than necessary on life’s inconveniences. They don’t freak out God, they shouldn’t freak us out. Keep calm and carry on.

Seek Feedback Not Applause
Frame the accolades, delete the criticisms. It’s the temptation everyone faces. Admitting we can’t see the whole picture means other people can, and being open to their opinion brings invaluable clarity. A Hebrew sage once wrote, ‘A wise man loveth reproof.’

You Never See a Luggage Rack on a Hearse
There’s no worse investment than making life all about the money. The only thing better than getting it is giving it away. Investing in what really matters means pursuing a vision with passion. This has its own reward. We don’t make courses to make money, we make money to make courses.

Right Ho, Jeeves!
Sure it’s fun to be the boss, but it’s ultimately more rewarding to be the valet. A life of service is the better life. Just because you didn’t take a course on fixing paper jams doesn’t mean you can’t – or shouldn’t – do it. Take attitude over ability. A posture of enthusiastic service is the tortoise that beats the hare.

Curiosity Not Certainty
Name one thing you’re in control of. Ya, me too. Zero, zip, nada. Certainty is a mirage. But curiosity opens doors to to creativity and imagination which fuels innovation and new ideas. Certainty breeds judgmentalism, curiosity breeds openness and wonder.


4 thoughts on “Our Story

  1. Pingback: Leverage the Internet for your small congregation - Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth

  2. Pingback: 2 Years In | ChurchNext

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