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.

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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.

Got Questions? Check here.

Why would they do this to me-Those of you who have been using ChurchNext for a while may have noticed that the page for your church’s school has changed a bit in the past month or two.

Pathwright (our dauntless online education platform) has updated the platform, and the result is that it should be easier in the long term for you to add classes, add members, etc. to your courses.

In the short term, however, those comfortable with the old ways — the ancient traditions that go back at least a couple of years — may be wondering something along the lines of “What’s going on?” or “Why did they change it?” while getting used to the new formats for adding courses, inviting participants, etc.

ChristinaFear not! Behold: a new manual to help you figure out anything that might have changed. We bring you the new Getting Started manual. Written by the hand of one Mrs. Christina Dorn, ChurchNext tech guru extraordinaire, this updated manual should tell you anything you need to know as you adjust to our transition.

If you have any problems that the manual does not answer, please email us at hello@churchnext.tv .

 

 

Earn A ChurchNext Certificate in Prayer Book Studies

ChurchNext has created a new certification program, in partnership with Bexley Seabury Seminary.

Announcing our new prayer book certification program. 

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  Image: Flickr. Creative commons.

ChurchNext has already created a certification program in vestry leadership, which has received positive feedback. Now we are adding a prayer book certification program, in which students take eight courses that explore the Book of Common Prayer. The courses are all taught by professors at Bexley Seabury Seminary.

By the end of this program, students will be extraordinarily well-educated about the Book of Common Prayer.

BCP

  • They will know who wrote it, and when, and why.
  • They will know how and why the collects were written.
  • They will know the history of the creeds most central to the prayer book.
  • They will learn how the prayer book incorporates scripture.
  • They will know the prayer book’s history in England, the United States, and across the world.
  • They will even learn how to sing it.
  • This list will get too long if we include everything that participants will learn, but you get our drift.

Students can earn a certificate by completing all eight 45-minute courses, which will take an average learner a total of 3 hours. The courses are also available in a For Groups format, making them ideal for small group learning.

Successfully complete all of these courses and receive your custom Certificate in Prayer Book Studies.

Learn more about the prayer book certification program here. In the meantime, here is a list of the courses included in the program.

Please remember, these courses are available in For Groups format as well as for individual study.

For a preview of Roger Ferlo’s course on Scripture and the Prayer Book, click here.

 

Just Launched: Congregations as Sanctuaries with Paul Perez

Paul Perez

We just launched Congregations as Sanctuaries For Individuals and For Groups.

As most people in America know by now, the Trump Administration’s policies are hostile to undocumented immigrants. The U.S. government, which formerly tolerated most undocumented immigrants as long as they avoided committing serious crimes, has ICEadopted a much more aggressive approach, deporting people who are living here without permission even if they have no criminal history as well as hugely increasing the budget for policing the border and requiring local police offers to act as immigration enforcement agents. For more information about the Trump Administration’s policies toward undocumented immigrants, click here.

Many communities of faith in Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other religious traditions see these laws as unjust and cruel, especially because so many families are being brokenup as undocumented parents are deported away from spouses and children who are legal U.S. residents. In response to laws that they see as inhumane, these faith communities have chosen to offer sanctuary to undocumented immigrants who are being threatened with deportation.

Lincoln Park Pres

Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church in Chicago is one of the first congregations to have offered sanctuary to undocumented residents since the Trump Administration policy changes.

To offer sanctuary today means to offer a place on the church grounds for undocumented individuals to live, prepare food, and sleep while they work toward getting permission to remain in the U.S. U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement internal regulations treat churches and other sacred spaces as sensitive areas, and agents are generally reluctant to forcibly remove people who seek sanctuary in such areas — though churches are not guaranteed the right to offer sanctuary to undocumented immigrants.

In this course,  Paul Perez, founder and director of  Justice For Our Neighbors  in Southeastern Michigan, explains why and how faith communities in the U.S. have chosen to offer sanctuary to undocumented immigrants. He offers guidance about how a congregation might prepare itself to offer sanctuary to an undocumented individual or family, and he suggests ways in which congregations might join a larger network of faith-based organizations, nonprofits, and legal aid programs that assist undocumented immigrants.

We hope that any congregation that is discerning about a call to offer sanctuary to an undocumented immigrant or family will get some guidance from this class about how to proceed. For a preview, please click here.

 

 

Online Resources for Holy Week

The most sacred week in the Christian year will soon be upon us. As you consider ways in which you and your family will experience Holy Week this year, consider utilizing the following online resources:

ChurchNext Courses: We offer several courses that you can use to enrich your Holy Week.

Online Holy Week Retreats: Here are two Holy Week retreats available online:

  • A blog called Pins of Light has offered popular online Holy Week retreats for the past ten years. On Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, go to the site and click on that day’s retreat video. Each retreat takes 45 minutes-1 hour and includes passages from scripture, reflections, musical selections, and opportunities for prayer. This year’s retreat is entitled, “Are You The One? Praying in Disenchantment.” 
  • Creighton University offers a Holy Week retreat as part of its Lenten Retreat series. The retreat includes suggested readings, reflections, suggestions for prayers, the Stations of the Cross, and an opportunity to reflect and share thoughts with others.

Online Stations of the Cross: Many organizations offer online Stations of the Cross experiences.

  • The Catholic Online website’s Online Stations of the Cross  includes individual videos for each station, each about 3-4 minutes long.
  • Busted Halo’s Virtual Stations of the Cross offers videos with music and images. Participants read reflections at each station.
  • Creighton University’s Online Stations of the Cross offers images of each station and prayers that users may read themselves.stations of cross children
  • Loyola Press offers a multimedia Stations of the Cross for children. Using music, images, and simple meditative text, it offers a child-friendly service that older children who can read can use alone and that younger children can use with their parents’ help.
  • You might also try a virtual pilgrimage through sites in Jerusalem that traditionally have been associated with each of the fourteen Stations of the Cross. The site brings visitors to a numbered map through Jerusalem. At each numbered station on the map, the site offers an introduction to what viewers will find there and a slide slow of the buildings and the markers that designate the site as one of the traditional locations for each station. (Be patient with the slide show; it moves slowly.) After the slide show, viewers are shown an image of the altar associated with each station and invited to pray. Each virtual prayer station includes background music and textual prayers.

We hope that these resource suggestions help you experience a sacred Holy Week as we reflect together on Jesus’ death on the cross, what it means, and why it was necessary.