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.
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:
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.
Photo credit: Liz West.