Latest course: animate: Practices 1 with Brian McLaren and Sara Miles

Another fabulous course from Augsburg Fortress and Sparkhouse’s animate series launches animatetoday, called animate: Practices 1. We’re proud to partner with Augsburg Fortress in presenting some of the animate series as ChurchNext courses. The  series is unique in that it not only tackles some of the big questions of our faith, like “Is God real?” and “Is there such a thing as too much Bible?” but it does so not in order to teach a certain lesson or to impart fixed wisdom, but to challenge assumptions, spark conversation and dialogue, and encourage wrestling with the deep questions of our souls.

In this course, Practices 1, Brian McLaren explores the idea of prayer, admitting that he used to think of prayer as something onerous, a duty he was bound to perform and to perform “correctly” — and yet he has come to see the Lord’s Prayer as something simple, something active, something that reanimates our faith and our ability to live faithfully in this broken world. He breaks it down into four “moves” that can help us re-see the prayer given to us by Jesus himself.

Sara Miles tackles the idea of food and eating, noting that it’s (literally) a weighty topic in our society: poor people must think constantly about their next meal, and those with plenty find themselves also obsessed with food — how “pure” it is, whether it can save or kill, where it came from, who’s eating it. Sara challenges us to rethink our relationship with food, doing so with Jesus’ messy, unorthodox, and life-giving lens on the gift and blessing of sharing a meal. After all, she says, the Lord’s supper is for everyone, cannot be bought, and is never eaten alone.

We’re excited to share these talks with you and pray that they may help reanimate your faith and spark conversation in your small groups. Click here for more information or to register.

Brian D. McLaren is an author, speaker, activist, and public theologian. A former college English teacher and pastor, he is an ecumenical global networker among innovative Christian leaders.

Sara Miles is the founder and director of The Food Pantry , and serves as Director of Ministry at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. Her books include Jesus Freak: Feeding Healing Raising the Dead and Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion. She speaks, preaches and leads workshops around the country, and her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New Yorker, and on National Public Radio.

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animate: Bible 3 launches today

In our third course of the animate: Bible series with Augsburg Fortress and Sparkhouse Publishing, we are challenged to rethink how we read, interpret, and relate to the Scriptures. William Willimon and Jay Bakker offer us hopeful reminders that, though the Bible is complex and in need of interpretation, the overall message is simple: love and grace and freedom. animate

Though many have limited and oversimplified the Bible — even using it as a tool for inspiring fear or guilt — this course reminds us that the Bible is more complex than that. It cries out for interpretation and ongoing study, with prayer and in community. William Willimon reminds us that the Bible represents all the complexity and unpredictability of our God and speaks to us, who are complex creations ourselves. And yet, paradoxically, the Bible’s message of love and forgiveness are heart-freeingly simple. If you grew up in a tradition in which the Bible incited fear, guilt, and distress, Jay Bakker invites you to revisit it through the “lenses” of Jesus and St. Paul. They just may set you free.

We’re excited to offer this third opportunity to reanimate our thinking about the Bible, with such engaging and wise instructors.  Click here for more information or to register.