Continuing to Shape Small Groups of Disciples

This week, we launch the following courses in our For Groups format:hands cross

Three Prayers You’ll Want to Pray with George Donigan
Lessons in Belonging with Erin Lane
Introduction to Church History with Eric Williams
How to Share Your Faith with John Bowen
Making Sense of the Cross, Parts 1, 2, and 3 with David Lose
Crisis Communications with Meredith Gould

Three Prayers You’ll Want to Pray offers an engaging encounter with three different prayers that Methodist Pastor George Donigan says can help us focus and enrich our prayer lives: The Lord’s Prayer, the Prayer of Dag Hammarskjold, and the Serenity Prayer. This course would be ideal for a small group centered around prayer or spirituality, or a ministry within your congregation that meets regularly. Alternatively, you might offer this course for a small group of seekers or newcomers.

Erin Lane’s Lessons in Belonging is a wonderful course that gets people thinking and talking about why membership in a faith community matters. It’s an ideal course to offer visitors and newcomers, or groups of young adults who are feeling the urge to return to regular church attendance. And Erin’s book, Lessons in Belonging from a Church-Going Commitment-Phobe, is a thought-provoking supplement to this course.

Those seeking to learn more about our church’s history might enjoy taking Eric Williams’s Introduction to Church History, which surveys the highs, lows, and important milestones from Jesus’ day to our own. It’s a wonderful overview of our church’s rich history as well as a great refresher for seasoned students. This course would complement an Inquirers Class or Confirmation Series as well.

As we continue to shape disciples within our faith communities, offering John Bowen’s How to Share Your Faith can help folks better understand the Gospel we have to share, why sharing our faith is critical to our lives and the lives of others, how to invite someone to church, getting over fears and frustrations that come with faith sharing, and how to help your church become an evangelizing community. Why not offer this course to the various ministry groups within your church, from Eucharistic Visitors to Greeters and Hospitality Hosts, to youth groups and adult formation groups? This is a course that can benefit everyone who wants to spread the Good News they’ve learned but may not be sure how to go about doing so in a life-giving and encouraging way.

David Lose’s excellent series, Making Sense of the Cross, can help Christians wrestle with the big questions and mysteries around Jesus’ crucifixion, the very “crux” of the Christian faith. This series is an ideal one for those who seek a deeper understanding of what we mean when we think, pray, and speak about the cross. David presents a complex subject in a very smart but accessible format. Each of the three parts can be used independently, or as a series, perhaps in a fall Adult Formation program.

Finally, Meredith Gould offers a course that should be required learning for all in church leadership: Crisis Communications helps anticipate and plan for minor and major events and catastrophes that can plague any organization. It’s better to be prepared with appropriate ways to respond to these situations rather than reacting in fear and ignorance after the fact. We encourage you to share this course with your clergy and lay leaders so that, in moments of crisis, they can effectively and healthily care for their communities, and be a source of strength, reassurance, and peace for those watching events unfold.

We continue to give thanks for all of you who are using these courses to enrich your formation offerings and shape disciples — and we’d love to hear how you’re using ChurchNext For Groups!  Visit us on Facebook and share your story!

Advertisements

ChurchNext For Groups

This week, we’re excited to roll out nine more courses in our For Groups format:

Finding God in Divorce with Carolyne Callhands
Being Single, Staying Faithful with Beth Knobbe
How to Live a Spirit-Filled Life with Alberto Cutie
Grieving Well with Andrew Gerns
Developing Christian Patience with Jeff Bullock
Introduction to Advent with Tim Schenck
Introduction to Epiphany with Sharon Pearson
Introduction to Lent with Maggi Dawn
Who Is Jesus? with Jason Fout
Jesus at 12 with Chris Stepien

Many of these are particularly suited for small group use: Grieving Well, with Andrew Gerns, is an ideal course around which to gather a small group of folks who have lost a loved one. Many parishes have support or ministry groups for widows or widowers, or parents who have lost children. Taking this course together, as part of a healthy journey through the grieving process, can offer dedicated, safe space and time to wrestle with questions, share wisdom, and offer the mutually-beneficial gift of holy presence with one another.

Beth Knobbe’s thoughtful and joyful approach to the single life, Being Single, Staying Faithful, is another course well-suited to small group gatherings. Those who live alone, from the very young to the very old, can benefit from sharing time together; the course offers a lot of wisdom simply on becoming comfortable being alone — wisdom that even those in relationships can use. Beth’s lectures help explore what it means to be alone without being lonely, and how aloneness can be a very special time in one’s life, even a special call from God.

Finding God in Divorce, with Carolyne Call, is another wonderful resource for a group of folks navigating a challenging time, one with which the themes of the above two courses also dovetail: Divorce is a time of grief, a time of (re)learning how to be alone; it’s also a time many people find a great need for the support of not only those who’ve “been there” but also those in their faith communities. Finding God in Divorce helps find the gifts and the redemption in what might feel like a very dark and discouraging time.

We at ChurchNext are glad to be able to offer resources like these for creating intimate, life-giving, and Spirit-filled communities, and we hope that these latest For Groups courses help you minister even more intentionally to particular groups within your congregation.

More “For Groups” courses now available

two or three

This week, the following courses go “live” in the For Groups format:

Advent for Families with Heath Howe
Lent for Families with Kim Baker
Reimagining Children’s and Youth Ministry with FaithForward
The Spirituality of Children with Catherine Maresca
Healthy Relationships for Couples with Scott and Holly Stoner
How to Help a Sick Friend with Joyce Mercer
How to Deal with Difficult People with Peter Steinke
How to Forgive with Virginia Holeman
Introduction to Christian Marriage with Paul Walters
Overcoming Sex Addiction with Mark Laaser

as well as our series about financial stewardship, Managing God’s Money, with Timothy Dombek:

Managing the Household Budget
Managing Credit Cards and Debt
Managing Church and Charity
Managing Retirement and Savings

Many people have the impression that churches talk about money too much — in the sense that they feel like churches are always “begging for money.” And yet, oftentimes, churches don’t talk about money enough, whether that means intentional teaching about Christian stewardship, or addressing local economic inequality, or talking about what the Bible really teaches about money. Why not make use of the For Groups format of Timothy Dombek’s excellent series on managing the money with which God has entrusted us? Start healthy, encouraging, proactive conversations about money and each person’s fears or worries or relationship with this topic. Talking about money doesn’t have to be a stress-inducing chore; rather, it can be a way to deepen our faith in God, and to make us aware of what sort of giving and commitments we’re being called to — if only we practice that trust.

Honestly and intentionally exploring our feelings about money — and how God is asking us to use our resources — can be a revitalizing and rewarding spiritual practice. Because many Christians have never really been taught how to be good stewards or how to create budgets and financial plans, your parish might use these Managing God’s Money courses for small group work, alongside workshops on estate planning and budgeting. You could create small groups with a wide range of ages and economic backgrounds to give people the opportunity to learn from each other’s resources and experiences. After all, we are called from the beginning of time to be good stewards of the world God has given us and to help people destroy those barriers of fear, ignorance, or mistrust that keep us from living in abundance.

We pray that, however you make use of these For Groups courses, you may grow in relationship and community with each other and with Jesus Christ.